By Stephen McKinley
Ireland.com, the Irish Times’ Internet portal, will start to charge for what it calls “premium content” in the next few months.
Calling the move “part of a growing trend,” the website’s spokesperson added that advertising revenues are no longer enough to sustain a website such as Ireland.com.
“This is no different to paying for a copy of a newspaper or email alert or a premium TV channel,” said Mary Mangan, chief operating officer of ireland.com.
“Now that ireland.com has built significant brand equity and a very loyal customer base, we feel that we are in a good position to charge for our premium services.”
Other top news websites have also started charging for certain premium content areas, including the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times.
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Most, however, continue to provide their main news services for free, and Ireland.com will do this as well, the spokesperson said.
Galway temps lose jobs
Boston Scientific has decided to lay off 160 temporary staff at its Galway factory, but a spokesperson said that the layoffs came as the temporary staff had reached the completion of their contracted tasks.
Other redundancies continued throughout Ireland during the month of March. A total of 2,097 jobs went in March to date, according to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Consignia, the newly named postal service in Northern Ireland and the UK (farewell Royal Mail), also laid off 140 workers in the North.
Zinc mining return
Navan’s small zinc mining operation will reopen in June, according to the mine’s owner, Outokumpu, a Finnish company. The company expects to eventually employ a staff of 670.
Omega dodges trouble
The Irish aircraft company Omega Air looked as though it had been hit with a major setback, according to sources in Ireland. The organization is owned by Des and Ulick McEvaddy, who is dreading a European Court of Justice ruling that the Boeing 707s that they refurbish, can no longer be flown within EU member states.
The court eventually decided not to press the ruling into law.
The minister for public enterprise in Ireland, Mary Harney, has announced a euro 300 million plan to bring broadband Internet service to many parts of Ireland over the next five years.
As many as 15 million cigarettes smuggled into Belfast from Antwerp, were seized by police officers at the weekend.
Three million were seized last week in Larne.
The Irish economy will grow by 3.5 percent this year, according to Ulster Bank analysts. The bank sees moderate growth in the second half of the year
“It will be later in the year before the true extent of the pick-up becomes evident in the published data,” said the report by Pat McArdle, head of economic research.
McArdle added optimistically that a 3.5 percent rate would be much better than performance in 2001.
AIB ripe for takeover?
Why, asked the Irish Independent, is AIB’s share price so high, given the crisis over John Rusnack, Allfirst and that missing $691 million?
The answer apparently lies in one word — takeover. A strong brand name plus weak management must surely mean that predators will circle the bank and make a buy.
But the Independent noted that AIB has been issuing 633,000 new shares to staff under the share option program, initially a move that suggests staff confidence in the bank. The Independent suggested instead that staff were taking the options and selling them immediately, hardly a “vote of confidence.”
AIB said that this was because the bank had just come out of a “closed period” when trading was not permitted, so a bump in share selling was to be expected. The Independent remained dubious.
Food board bites at exports
Only in Ireland could An Bord Bia officials describe the country as having a “1,000 percent self-sufficiency” in beef. The officials went on to complain that in spite of this, 25 percent of beef in the state is imported.
Pork and poultry meat supplies are similarly overstocked, yet somehow, An Bord Bia noted, pork and poultry are still being imported.
Georgina O’Sullivan said: “we didn’t realize it was as big. We knew but not to that degree and I think our worry is for the next five years — will we have a food industry?”
“If price is the only criterion, where are we? We’re never going to compete on price alone. We have to pursue the quality route and diversity. We can’t force people to take what we produce. They have to want it.”
She noted that rarely was food correctly labeled, so as to allow consumers a choice in supporting home industry.
The figures emerged as the board prepared to launch its Spring FTile Bia week, its first major celebration of Irish food in 2002.
Over 400 restaurants, hotels and pubs are participating in the fTile. The spring festival takes place in the first week in May.