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Worker shortage hobbles civil service

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Dublin may be choking with traffic, property prices have rocketed, the weather at times may not be the best, and, for some, obtaining planning permission to build a new home in some counties may be difficult. Yet, now more than ever, Ireland is out to show it’s a great place to work. The government even has allocated £4 million in its effort to lure workers back. The country certainly needs them if its economic boom is to continue. According to Tánaiste Mary Harney, about 200,000 people will have to be brought into Ireland during the next few years to fill job vacancies.

Harney was speaking in London at the opening of a two-day jobs fair to attract Irish and other nationalities back to Ireland to avail of the job opportunities there.

While opportunities are available in areas such as software, electronics, business and construction, there are also vacancies in lower-paid sectors such as catering and hospitality where many non-Irish are now working.

Even the civil service, once the place for coveted "permanent and pensionable" positions, is not immune to problems caused by the tight labor market. While people were more likely to seek state jobs in times of economic difficulty, the booming economy means there are now opportunities aplenty in the private sector. Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy has admitted the service is facing an "acute problem" retaining staff, adding that officials at senior, middle and lower levels are leaving government departments.

Initiatives were needed to ensure that the civil service " holds its own in relation to attracting and retaining top-class people," McCreevy said. The minister is also concerned that because fewer people are seeking entry-level positions, there will be a shortage of people for top-level positions in time to come.

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Genuine deposits

Most of the non-resident accounts in Irish banks appear to be genuine, according to preliminary examination by major institutions. This finding is contrary to that following investigations by the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, which concluded that there had been "large-scale, systematic" use of bogus non-resident accounts to evade deposit interest retention tax, now commonly known in Ireland as the DIRT tax.

"The vast majority of these accounts are turning out to belong to genuine Irish expatriates working abroad, and the sampling results have been very robust on that,” a banking source told the Irish Independent newspaper.

Non-resident accounts remain a large part of the banks’ deposit base, amounting to more than a quarter of the total.

Acquisitions

Riverdeep, the Dublin-based educational software company, has bought an American developer of reading and writing content for $24 million. Chief executive Barry O’Callaghan said the acquisition of ED-Vantage Software would fill in a gap in Riverdeep’s product offering.

The company already offers mathematics and science learning products. The California-based company will be paid for through $17.75 million in Riverdeep’s Nasdaq shares and $6.5 million in cash.

Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical and drug delivery company Elan, the largest company on the Irish stock exchange, has completed a $678.4 million purchase of Nasdaq-quoted Liposome.

Liposome makes products to encase anti-cancer drugs in tiny fat droplets to minimize toxic side effects.

Last week, the German drugs company Bayer said it was seeking damages from Elan and two other companies, claiming they infringed its patent for hypertension drug Adalat.

Bayer recently lost a three-year case to block Elan producing a generic version of its Adalat drug. Now its has filed papers in Delaware District Court appealing that decision and claiming unspecified damages.

Elan manufacturers a generic version of Adalat called nifedipine in Athlone, with distribution and marketing carried out by Biovail and Teva.

Solving tax problems

The Internal Revenue Service has designated this Saturday, May 20, as another National Problem Solving Day. The day provides taxpayers with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with IRS officials from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to resolve longstanding tax issues at the IRS midtown Manhattan office at 110 W. 44th Street and Sixth Avenue, according to a statement from the IRS.

Taxpayers may walk in for assistance but are encouraged to make an appointment by calling (212) 436-1013.

The problem solving day program started in 1997. Since then, more than 63,000 taxpayers have been helped. According to the IRS, problem solving day has been instrumental in helping taxpayers set up installment agreements, resolve issues involving tax returns and negotiate "offers in compromise."

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