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Hello from Ireland where the witching season is upon us. It is a magical time when the damned wander our streets, knocking on our doors, informing us that we must do what they say or else evil will befall us.
No, I am not talking about Halloween but rather the spectre of a General Election. Of course the actual vote is not until 2016 (likely much sooner) but it is clear that the main political parties have already started their canvassing.
Never mind, maybe some Halloween kids can pelt my house with eggs this week instead. It would honestly be preferable than having to listen to some of our so-called politicians. Maybe its the same in your country too?
Until next time, Happy Halloween!
IRELAND ENDORSED BY LONELY PLANET AS TOP TOURIST DESTINATION
The announcement that Ireland is one of the top countries named in the Lonely Planet 'Best in Travel for 2015' report is a great boost for the Irish tourist industry and the economy in general.
Ireland was named fifth among an unlikely grouping of countries that include Singapore, Namibia, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Republic of Congo, Serbia, The Philippines, St. Lucia and Morocco.
Gushing about the welcoming nature of Ireland the report stated:
There's a whole lot of love for the old country, which carries a burden of expectation skewed towards the sheep-on-the-road, thatched-roof image – slightly at odds with the modern Ireland of motorways and macchiatos. Ireland is stunningly scenic, its traditions – music, dance, whiskey and beer – firmly intact. And this year is the year of the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2500km scenic drive that snakes its way round every nook and crook of the western seaboard from Donegal to Cork
Great stuff! Except it seems that the Irish image as a nation of drinkers and alcoholics is going to take generations to shake.
The icons used on the Lonely Planet website to advertise their research were symbolic of each country. Namibia had an outline of a giraffe feeding from a palm tree, illustrating the attraction of wildlife in that African country. The Philippines had a drawing of an umbrella on a beach beneath some trees showcasing the possibility of a relaxing visit to that sprawling Oceanic country. Singapore had a drawing of the incredible Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Skypark.
The Irish drawing was of a pint of beer with a shamrock for a handle.
The tagline on the Lonely Planet Website for their report on Ireland was 'Separating Blarney from Bunkum'.
IRISH GOVERNMENT BOWS TO US CRITICISM OF TAX LAWS
There has been much focus recently on the fact that some rather large US multinationals (Google, Apple) pay their taxes in Ireland rather than in their native country. Unsurprisingly this situation has greatly upset some American politicians with US Senator Carl Levin describing Ireland as a 'tax haven' in 2013.
Rather than amend their own tax code the US officials have continued their assault on the Irish (and other European countries) for their apparent willingness to allow the US companies avoid paying tax.
The recent Budget (annual estimates of Government expenditure) announced by Finance Minister Michael Noonan has scrapped the so-called 'Double-Irish' tax arrangement which allowed US companies like Google and Apple to filter their profits through Ireland in order to pay reduced tax.
It seems that the pressure on the Irish finally told!
IRELAND TO GET POSTAL CODES IN 2015
An official 7-digit Eircode is to be designated to every Irish address in 2015. In an effort to make sense of the fact that some 35% of Irish addresses are non-unique (many addresses consist of a format like 'Jim O'Brien, Some-Townland, County Monaghan') the Government is paying an estimated 16 Million Euro to have the codes introduced.
Citing the needs of Government record keepers, emergency services, electoral registry keepers and a myriad of other useful services there is still deep skepticism that the new codes are good for only one group: marketers.
INCREDIBLE PRICE RISES IN IRISH PROPERTY
The average price of a second-hand home in Ireland has risen from 170,000 Euro to 193,000 Euro during 2013. That figure is now already well out of date with huge increases occurring in certain parts of the country, with Dublin prices in particular rising at 'Celtic Tiger' levels.
Data from the Central Statistics (CSO) backs this up. Prices rose by 2% in July of 2014 alone. Thats 2% in 1 month! Yearly growth to July was 13.4%, up 17.5% since March of 2013 (up 23% in Dublin). The Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland has suggested that a minimum deposit of 20% should be required in order to get a mortgage. His wisdom is unlikely to be heeded especially with a General Election looming in 2016.
Borrow, Build, Lend, Build, Buy, Build. Sound familiar? It could be 2004 all over again.
HIGH-DRAMA AS IRISH FOOTBALL TEAM DENY WORLD CHAMPIONS GERMANY
Miracles do happen!
And if you dont believe that you should check out the video of the Irish soccer team who have pulled off one such miracle at the home of World Cup Winners Germany.
In their own back-yard no less! The sight of the Irish players wildly celebrating with even wilder fans was matched only by the stunned expressions evident on the faces of the German players.
For ninety minutes the Germans had outperformed the Irish team, not battered them, but had certainly done enough to win the game. They got their goal and then prepared for any Irish efforts that might follow. Finally the Irish team started to play some football. Gone were the inhibitions of playing for a scoreless draw. The Irish players started passing the ball, started showing some urgency, desperately searched for an unlikely equalizer.
This was the German team that had just conquered the world in Brazil. They had thrashed the fancied Brazilians 7-1 to inflict a psychological blow on the host nation that will likely take them years to recover from. This was the German team that had hammered the Irish team 6-1 in the Aviva Stadium some 23 months earlier. A humiliation by any standard. This was the German team who are World Champions.
Deep into injury time Wes Hoolahan's deep cross was bounced back across the German 6-yard box for John O'Shea to poke home the goal he will never forget. The script was pre-ordained. In his hundredth international appearance the defender who plies his trade with Sunderland got ahead of Mats Hummels, who is among the world's most coveted defenders, and sent Irish fans everywhere into ecstasy. The referee did not even allow the Germans to kick-off again. Time had run out. The last kick of the game.
If Ireland do qualify for the European Championships in France in 2016 then this famous result will be remembered as being crucial. Germany had days earlier lost to Poland and had been expected to give the Irish lads a caning in front of their own fans. The sight of the German players rooted to the ground in the centre circle after the final whistle had blown, simply aghast and unable to comprehend how this impossible fate had befallen them will live long in the memory.
The Irish fighting spirit was never more in evidence than on this famous night in Gelsenkirchen when the country with a population of less than 5 Million defied, simply defied, the elegant all-powerful German footballing machine that was hewn from its population of over 80 million.
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I hope that you have enjoyed this issue.
by Michael Green,
The Information about Ireland Site.
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