Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vicious rumours mock murder of teenager

Connla Young:

A senior PSNI officer in Co Antrim has described rumours about the murder of the Catholic schoolboy Michael McIlveen as “repugnant”.

Chief Inspector Wendy Middleton, the PSNI operations manager for Ballymena, made the statement a day after the force refused to respond to safety concerns raised by a Ballymena man whose son witnessed the attack on 15-year-old Michael McIlveen.

The PSNI has told Danny Graham’s 16-year-old son Christopher that he is at risk of attack. The father has said he believes his son’s life is at risk.

Several rumours have circulated around Ballymena in recent weeks about the death of Michael McIlveen as well as about people connected to the PSNI murder probe.

Chief Inspector Middleton said: “We are concerned about the malicious rumours that have been circulated about the murder of Michael McIlveen.

“People need to realise the damage that these repugnant rumours are causing to the image of Ballymena and need to realise that they have no basis in fact.

“I would also call upon public representatives and community leaders, indeed I would urge everyone to publicly condemn those who seek to tarnish the name of a 15-year-old boy and those who would use his murder to perpetuate hatred and sectarianism in Ballymena.”

Danny Graham said some of the rumours were directed at his family.

“Some of these rumours are vicious, dangerous and damaging, and people should think twice before spreading them or believing them,” he said.

Earlier this month, Daily Ireland revealed that loyalists in Ballymena were circulating a video mocking the death of Michael McIlveen. The video came to light days after loyalists in Ahoghill, erected a Tricolour on a bonfire with the words “Fuck Mickey Bo”, a reference to the murdered teenager.

Crime bluff is over

Criminality excuse finally laid to rest

Security gate demanded to end loyalist attacks

Murder witness threats

Sectarian hate still running rampant

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The two safest OECD countries for females are Greece and Ireland

Yoon Ja-young:

Korea has the 5th highest number of murdered females among 28 member states of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

According to a recent report by Joint OECD/Korea Regional Center on Health Social Policy, 1.5 out of every 100,000 Korean females were murdered in 2005.

Korea follows the United States, Hungary, Finland and Luxemburg.

U.S. topped the list with the highest rate of 3.2 per 100,000 females, followed by 1.8 in Hungary, 1.7 in Finland and 1.6 in Luxemburg.

The average female murder rate of OECD member countries stood at 1 for every 100,000 women.

The two safest countries for females on the other end of the list were Greece and Ireland, where only 0.3 out of 100,000 females were murdered.

The comparison shows that Korean women are five times more likely to be murdered than females in Greece or Ireland.

Japan, Italy and Spain were also among the safe places, with 0.4 females murdered out of 100,000 women, and the United Kingdom followed with 0.5.

"There have been around 1,000 murder cases every year in Korea on average, with the figure not changing much. Recently, however, there have been a notable number of serial killings of women among murder cases," said Kwak Dae-gyung, criminology professor at Dongguk University.

Korea’s average murder victimization rate for men was 1.7 per 100,000 males, which is lower than the OECD average at 2. The United States topped the list with 11 per 100,000 men murdered.

Unlike other countries where women were far less likely to be murdered than men, Korean women were as much exposed to danger as Korean men.

Kwak said oftentimes both perpetrators and victims are likely to be men in capital crimes, pointing out that Korea is an unusual case since men and women are almost equal in terms of the victimization ratio.

I am surprised that the Irish media is apparently ignoring this story.

Blind and deaf to the real violence in the north of Ireland

Eoin Ó Murchú:

We all know, in this part of Ireland, that the North is awash with sectarian hatred and bigotry. However, we prefer to close our eyes and our ears, pretending either that both sides are just the same, or that republicans have in some mysterious way "provoked" the sectarianism that is endorsed by unionist politicians, especially in the DUP but not exclusively so.

Both sides are not the same. In council areas where there are non-Unionist majorities, real efforts are made to be inclusive, with rotating chairmanships, access to committees for all councillors and so on. Very rarely does this happen where the unionists have a majority.

In the Irish Times, Susan McKay has movingly described the situation in Ballymena in the aftermath of the sectarian murder of Michael McIlveen, when one DUP councillor went as far as to suggest that the murdered teenager "would be going to hell because he was not a saved Christian".

Yet all of this is ignored by the major media commentators in the south, and no effort is ever spared to dredge up issues that can be used to attack Sinn Féin and blame them for everything.

It is ironic that this means that a real critique of Sinn Féin is made impossible. The strengths and weaknesses of its economic and social policy cannot be teased out and examined because there is only one agenda – to condemn.

I was reminded of this with the recent dredging up of the terrible story of Jean McConville. Of course, her family wants to deny the idea that she was actually an informer but, irrespective of that, the killing of a widowed mother of 10 young children must tug at the heart strings whatever the justification or lack of it.

The North's police ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, after talking with the RUC Special Branch and British military intelligence (organisations renowned for their commitment to truth and integrity?), boldly declared that Jean McConville had not been an informer.

But why did the IRA kill her? Whether to do so was right or wrong, they clearly believed she was an informer, based on their knowledge of the area and its people at the time, and they quietly issued a statement confirming that they still held that view, while acknowledging that her family couldn't accept it.

Immediately, the dogs of propaganda war were let loose. Sam Smyth, on Today FM's Sunday Supplement, ranted that Gerry Adams must be held to account; sundry politicians, who ignore the ongoing sectarian realities of the North, jumped in to condemn the IRA and all associated with it.

There was no acknowledgement at all of the most important point: that is, the concerted efforts that have been made, particularly by Gerry Adams, to move us all away from a situation of violence and counter-violence. Let's not forget that Jean McConville was killed at a time when the British Army was launching violent attacks against the nationalist community in Belfast.

Instead, Adams was once again demonised by those who seem to believe that the proper place for a Croppy is lying down so that the unionists can walk on them.

If Adams is defeated, make no mistake about it, this would not advance the cause of peace or democracy, but its opposite. Adams is still engaged in a knife-edged argument that justice, including an end to sectarian discrimination and official bigotry, can be won through political means.

With the possibility of establishing powersharing and mutual respect between political factions receding in the face of unionist obscurantism, do those who are rushing in to use the tragedy of Jean McConville to attack Adams even bother to think what their sordid hypocrisy could lead to?

The worst thing is that the present hysteria has very little to do with the atrocities of war – and all war is an atrocity. It is about the challenge that Sinn Féin might pose to the nature of the Free State. I say "might", because there are obvious contradictions and ambiguities in their policies, such as their attitude to the European Union and the compromises they might be willing to make for coalition.

And when the commentators and political opponents screech out that Sinn Féin has a distance still to travel before it enters "democratic politics", we should remember that what they mean by that is that Sinn Féin must surrender to the system of privilege and class discrimination to which all other parties, including Labour, have succumbed.

Sinn Féin has not yet succumbed and under the leadership of Adams probably never will – and that's what spurs the hatred and ugly chorus of denunciation.

As to the armed struggle, I was one of those who opposed it, who believed that it would make things worse rather than better. But I was also one of those who recognised that the armed struggle was a response to injustice and state-organised violent repression. The British started shooting people long before the Provisionals hit back.

We now – almost miraculously – have the chance to put violence behind us, though sectarian loyalist murder gangs are still in action. But none of the established political parties in the south care a damn about that. Shame on them.

Anti-sectarianism plan is scuppered by DUP mayor

A not-so-holy bible is a blast from the past

Ireland needs a leader to stand up to Britain

Thursday, July 20, 2006

An apartheid society existed in early Anglo-Saxon Britain

BBC News:

Scientists believe a small population of migrants from Germany, Holland and Denmark established a segregated society when they arrived in England.

The researchers think the incomers changed the local gene pool by using their economic advantage to out-breed the native population.

The team tells a Royal Society journal that this may explain the abundance of Germanic genes in England today.

There are a very high number of Germanic male-line ancestors in England's current population. Genetic research has revealed the country's gene pool contains between 50 and 100% Germanic Y-chromosomes.

But this Anglo-Saxon genetic dominance has puzzled experts because some archaeological and historical evidence points to only a relatively small number of Anglo-Saxon migrants.

Estimates range between 10,000 and 200,000 Anglo-Saxons migrating into England between 5th and 7th Century AD, compared with a native population of about two million.

To understand what might have happened all of those years ago, UK scientists used computer simulations to model the gene pool changes that would have occurred with the arrival of such small numbers of migrants.

The team used historical evidence that suggested native Britons were at a substantial economic and social disadvantage compared to the Anglo-Saxon settlers.

The researchers believe this may have led to a reproductive imbalance giving rise to an ethnic divide.

Ancient texts, such as the laws of Ine, reveal that the life of an Anglo-Saxon was valued more than that of a native.

Dr Mark Thomas, an author on the research and an evolutionary biologist from University College London (UCL), said: "By testing a number of different combinations of ethnic intermarriage rates and the reproductive advantage of being Anglo-Saxon, we found that under a very wide range of different combinations of these factors we would get the genetic and linguistic patterns we see today.

"The native Britons were genetically and culturally absorbed by the Anglo-Saxons over a period of as little as a few hundred years," Dr Thomas added.

"An initially small invading Anglo-Saxon elite could have quickly established themselves by having more children who survived to adulthood, thanks to their military power and economic advantage.

"We believe that they also prevented the native British genes getting into the Anglo-Saxon population by restricting intermarriage in a system of apartheid that left the country culturally and genetically Germanised.

"This is exactly what we see today - a population of largely Germanic genetic origin, speaking a principally German language."

'Anglo Saxons Were Apartheid Racists'

'Apartheid' slashed Celtic genes in early England

England's apartheid roots

German gene discovery

Why we’re all descended from Germans

Irish gross national product is predicted to expand by 6% in 2006 and 5% in 2007


A report from Davy Stockbrokers has forecast strong economic growth over the next two years, but says it is highly likely that growth will slow in the later years of this decade.

The report predicts that gross national product will expand by 6% this year and 5% in 2007, helped by a number of factors including SSIAs, another generous Budget, population growth and continued buoyancy in housing.

Economists Robbie Kelleher and Rossa White said the housing market remained the most obvious risk, but population trends had significantly increased the underlying demand for housing.

The report said a price adjustment still seemed likely, but the timing was hard to predict and any fall-out would be reduced by the increase in personal incomes over the last few years. Davy forecast that house completions would fall to 75,000 in 2010 from 90,000 this year and next year.

On this basis, the report predicted growth of 3% in 2008 and 2.5% in the following two years. Davy said the withdrawal of the SSIA stimulus would also slow growth.

Davy Stockbrokers on the Irish Economy: Difficult to see what sectors will replace loss of momentum after end of SSIA stimulus and peak in housing market

Economic growth shows little sign of letting up

Paisley still trading on fears of gullible people

Brian Feeney:

It's 40 years since the self-styled UVF murdered Peter Ward in the Malvern Arms off the Shankill Road – June 26 1966. The next day the victim of one of the gang's earlier attacks, Matilda Gould, a 77-year-old Protestant widow, died of injuries she received when a petrol bomb meant for a Catholic-owned pub adjacent to her house exploded in her hallway. On June 11 the same gang had shot John Scullion dead.

It was only when his body was exhumed on June 22 that an autopsy revealed he had been shot.

In May the Shankill Road gang who described themselves as 'heavily-armed Protestants' had issued a statement declaring war against 'the IRA and its splinter groups'.

No-one paid any attention. It had to be a hoax, hadn't it?

After all, there was no IRA.

The republican movement had formally abandoned its border campaign in 1962 and was moving towards political action through tenants' associations, housing committees, demonstrations and protest marches.

That's what you did in the 1960s.

The police quickly rounded up Gusty Spence's infamous murder gang and the ring leaders got life. They were universally condemned by the unionist media and politicians. No-one believed a word of the drivel about 'Ulster in danger', 'republicans on the march', 'the end is nigh' and so on.

No-one that is, except the thousands of dupes who believed 40-year-old Ian Paisley who was clearly convinced that 'Ulster' was on its way to hell in a handcart.

Not only were there republicans lurking in every crevice only slavering to enslave Protestants but even the Presbyterian Church could not be trusted because of its 'Romeward trend'. The whole world, including the new British Labour government, was agin the poor wee 'sick counties'.

It was all a mirage, a myth, an invention of his fevered imagination. The Unionist Party dismissed Paisley as a noisy embarrassment. The media treated him as a buffoon. Students, including Catholic students, turned up to his Ulster Hall rallies for a good laugh. It was great entertainment, free too.

Tragically however, scores of young loyalists at those same rallies took him at his word, though he has always denied his words inflamed anyone. It has all changed now of course. Gusty Spence was openly advocating a ceasefire from 1977 on. The UVF and UDA both repudiate Paisley and openly laugh at his demagoguery.

The last time any of them took him seriously was 20 years ago in 1986 when he threatened dire things to defeat the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Anybody remember his 'day of action' in March that year?

To the paramilitaries he is the grand old Duke of York who marched them up to the top of the hill – and marched them down again. The loyalist paramilitaries have changed.

They are looking for their pensions if they weren't in the UDR or RUC. The IRA has formally stood down from active service.

The nationalist electorate in the north has endorsed Sinn Féin's move into politics over the last decade or so.

Sadly one thing has not changed – Paisley. His speech to the Independent Orange Order on July 12 could have been written 40 years ago. He is still out there smiting imaginary enemies, calling for blood sacrifice – "Liberty can only be obtained at a stupendous price. That price is the irreplaceable coin of human bodies and blood". Seriously? And where does the dire threat come from? Needless to say, an IRA almost exactly similar to the one he was railing against 40 odd years ago, one which is no threat to anyone. Doesn't matter. For Paisley "there is no discharge in this war". What war? The same one in his mind as was in his mind all those years ago. His wild rhetoric caused consternation among those amusingly described by some commentators as the 'modernisers' in his party. They are the ones slightly to the right of David Trimble. People speculate whether Paisley's message on July 12 was to the Irish government, republicans or the modernisers. That's to give him credit for having a political strategy. The truth is that Paisley at 80 is the same man as Paisley at 40, a politician devoid of political thought who trades on the fears of gullible people.

Hain must tackle DUP obfuscation

British ministers accused of offering sweeteners to UDA

Brutal loyalist attacks

Here’s the genuine, undoctored article again for you, Mrs Dodds

Loyalists: a law unto themselves

‘Torture’ conviction quashed

Monday, July 17, 2006

Founded on and fuelled by bigotry

Jude Collins:

There are at least three ways of looking at yesterday’s Twelfth celebrations.

The first is that espoused by DUP MLA Norah Beare. Norah says: “It’s great to see families coming together and spending time with each other in this cause.” She figures that with all the antisocial behaviour about these days, nothing could be better than the sight of young and old washing their faces and combing their hair and marching in a disciplined manner to enjoyable music.

Nora is a persuasive woman and her perspective on the Twelfth is one widely promoted. In this Mr Magoo version of the big day, decent Orangemen swell with pride as young William or Norman is inducted into the Order and another link in the father-to-son tradition is forged. Silver-haired gents reverently lift the bowler hat and white gloves that’ve been wrapped in tissue paper for 12 months and go out to meet old colleagues. Next day newspapers carry snaps of honest faces licking ice creams and red-faced men snoozing on warm hillsides. Could anything be more harmless? Aren’t those opposed to such a community festival hopelessly bigoted?

A second view, held by people like those living in Dunloy or along the Garvaghy Road, is that there’s no problem with Orangemen celebrating the Twelfth, but they shouldn’t attempt to do so by marching into areas where they are obviously not welcome. The thousands of non-contentious marches are a valid expression of Protestant and unionist culture and have every right to occur. The problem lies with a small number of disputed marches, and these could be resolved if marchers would sit down and negotiate with residents’ groups.

The third view is that the Orange Order is anti-Catholic to the bone and all Orange marches and demonstrations are a blot on the landscape, regardless of where they occur. Given the organisation’s nature, history and record up to contemporary times, the wonder is that anyone committed to tolerance and reconciliation would attempt to defend Orange marches, regardless of where they occur.

Such a view appears unthinkable for Orangemen, be they backwoodsmen or enlightened liberal. In his book The Orange Order – A Tradition Betrayed, the Rev Brian Kennaway argues that the honourable name of the Order has in recent times been dragged in the gutter by ruffians and no-goods, and true Orangemen should rally to restore its moral integrity. Like Norah Beare, Brian Kennaway is a persuasive advocate. When you remember the viciousness of disturbances in Belfast last year or recall the Drumcree dispute at its height, normal Twelfth celebrations can look good-natured and cheerful.

But an organisation that is truly good-natured doesn’t have anti-Catholic rules and a record which is consistently shameful.

Here’s a Protestant historian describing the actions of Orange militia in the weeks leading up to the 1798 rebellion.

“Houses were plundered and burnt, women outraged, and children brutally ill-treated and murdered. They were flogged, picketed and half-hung, to extort confessions as to concealed arms. They were hunted down and sabred. Villages and whole districts were devasted, and the inhabitants turned out of their homes into the ditch.”

Thirty-two years later, in 1836, the Edinburgh Review carried a report of its study of evidence regarding the Orange Order laid before the Parliamentary Select Committees the previous year. Not noted for its pro-Catholic sympathies, the magazine concluded. “There can be no doubt that Orangeism has been and continues to be hurtful to the very cause and principles it professes to support. By it annual processions and commemorations of epochs of party triumph, it has exasperated and transmitted ancient feuds, which has led to riots, with loss of property and life.”

And writing around the same time, here’s an Orangeman, Sir Jonah Barrington.

“Could his Majesty King William of Orange learn in the other world that he has been the cause of more broken heads and drunken men since his departure than all his predecessors, he must be the proudest ghost and most conceited skelton that ever entered the gardens of Elysium”.

What was that about a proud tradition?

And in 1858 Lord Palmerston (yes, that one) had this to say of the Orange Order.

“Is it an organisation which belongs to the age in which we live? Is it not rather one that is suited to the Middle Ages – to those periods of society when anarchy has prevailed. I can but repeat that nothing could be more desirable for the real interests of Ireland than the complete abandonment of the association. There is nothing they could do which would more materially contribute to the peace of Ireland and to the obliteration of ancient prejudices.”

You get the picture. Since its inception and up to today, the Orange Order has helped sour neighbour against neighbour. The good relations that exist between Catholics and Protestants in many areas suffer real damage each time the Twelfth rolls around.

In the face of the historical facts and present-day realities, the attempts of such as Brian Kennaway to present the Orange Order as an institution embodying traditional Protestant virtues, or of Norah Beare to project it as a kind of rosary for Protestant families, holding them together, are unconvincing to the point of absurdity.

Those who can, get as far away as possible from the Twelfth and the thousands of mini-Twelfths that precede and follow it.

I’m hoping to visit Boston in the coming weeks, so I’ve been reading a political history called The Boston Irish. Interesting stuff. Among other things it charts the rise of the American Protective Association (APA), an organisation established in Iowa in 1887. The association spread rapidly. Its members pledging never to vote for a Catholic, never to hire one and to oppose Catholic parochial schools at every point.

In 1895, the APA sought permission to march in East Boston’s Fourth of July parade. They were turned down when the authorities heard they planned to carry anti-Catholic symbols in the parade. The APA appealed to the governor and the decision was overturned. The march went off peacefully. Afterwards, when taunted by protestors, APA members drew guns and fired into the crowd, killing a Catholic man. They then held an “indignation meeting”, claiming the APA marchers had been attacked by “a murderous gang of thugs”. Two APA marchers were arrested on suspicion of murder but were both discharged.

Sound familiar? Sure why wouldn’t it. In Massachusetts at the time, the APA was made up in large measure of Orangemen from the north of Ireland.

In the early twentieth century, the APA had the good sense to die out.

Here we are in the twenty-first century and the Orange Order, founded on and fuelled by bigotry, marches on.

Is this culture?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ireland's GDP up 5.8% in first quarter of 2006


Ireland's economy continued to grow at a strong pace in the first quarter of the year, with the value of all goods and services produced here, jumping at an annual rate of 5.8pc.

Figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) also show that gross national product (GNP), which excludes the income earned by foreign multinationals based here, grew by 7pc in the first three months.

The CSO said that the growth was driven by consumer spending increases of 6pc, greater capital investment and a booming construction industry.

Capital investment rose by 11pc on the same period last year, but industrial output moved up just 0.6pc, the figures show.

The CSO also said that final figures for 2005 show that GDP grew by 5.5pc last year, while GNP was up 5.4pc.

Irish economic outlook good

Ireland's GDP increased by 5.5% in 2005

Irish GDP increased by 5.8% in Quarter 1 2006 compared with same period in 2005

The Irish join the world's wealthiest

Sinn Féin is on target to oust Labour as the left-wing alternative in Ireland

Brian Feeney:

Two strangers arrived at Stormont as the shutters went up for the summer on the empty shelves of our proconsul's talking shop.

Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte at last deigned to notice the north, now that the Dail is in recess for a mere three months – only until September 27.

The visitors didn't bring anything except themselves but that was the whole point of the exercise. It was all to do with the coming election in the Republic.

The Dail may be in recess but its politicians aren't. It's a nervous time.

The election looms in May or June next year. The parties will spend this summer planning and conspiring, paying out a fortune in market research and opinion polls but denying that they pay attention to any poll except the one on election day.

Kenny and Rabbitte have roped themselves together in a fateful knot like mountaineers on the north face of the Eiger. If one slips he'll drag the other with him into the void.

Travelling together, holding joint press conferences and photo opportunities, they're trying to accustom voters to the notion that they are a coalition government in waiting – 'the alternative', they claim, to the present Fianna Fail/PD coalition.

That's all the visit to the north was about – themselves and their electoral strategy. They had nothing to say about the north.

Worse, they are caught in a time warp rehashing old cliches, or maybe that's simply a description of their attitudes to the north.

Instead of repeating the stern message the Irish and British governments gave the DUP at the end of June – share power or else – Kenny and Rabbitte attacked Sinn Féin, told them to support the PSNI and end criminality. They sounded just like some class of unionist.

Mind you, that's not surprising given that ex-stickie Rabbitte – who has done more U-turns than our current proconsul – 20 years ago belonged to a party which advocated supporting the RUC and a revived majority-rule Stormont and had links with criminality.

It's simpler with Kenny. His Blueshirt mindset produces a reflex action when he thinks of Sinn Féin and the north. He hasn't a good word for either.

Nowadays this attitude of mild courtship of the DUP while scolding SF betrays how little thought either of the two has devoted to the north.

It might have been all right 15 years ago when it was customary, nay obligatory, for everyone to ignore and condemn republicans, just as it was obligatory to be photographed beside John Hume and support everything he said because he represented northern nationalists.

Not any more. Southern politicians, and especially senior Fine Gael and Labour people, have yet to come to terms with the sea change in northern nationalist politics where SF is the party that represents most nationalists.

That means when they attack SF, they attack most nationalists. Hard to get your head round if you're locked in the past with Kenny or Rabbitte, maybe, but it's the fact.

Secondly, being complete 26-county politicians, Kenny and Rabbitte see SF only as a rival for votes in the south, which they are. That's another sea change in Irish politics.

For decades a cardinal rule of John Hume was never attack a southern party, because you never know when they'll be the government and you'll need them.

Not any more. SF is part and parcel of the cut and thrust of the Republic's politics which means that now so are northern nationalists, who seethe at the nonsense some southern politicians spout about the north, especially when they're appeasing Paisley.

All the more galling when the truth is that more British MPs than TDs visit the north regularly and know more about here.

So what are the prospects of Messrs Kenny and Rabbitte? Not as good as they claim.

Yes, Fianna Fail is down to about 35% in the polls but together Fine Gael and Labour don't make the cut. They'd need the Greens to form a government.

The really weak link is Rabbitte. Many people think Fianna Fail has most to fear from SF inroads. The real danger is for Rabbitte, because Sinn Féin is on target to oust Labour as the left-wing alternative in Ireland.

Disgusting: Sick 11th night bonfire mocks murdered Ballymena teenager

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ireland ranked second wealthiest, according to Bank of Ireland’s Wealth of the Nation report

Finfacts Team:

An extensive research report published today by Bank of Ireland Private Banking shows that, in a survey of the top 8 leading OECD nations, Ireland is ranked the second wealthiest, behind Japan and ahead of the UK, US, Italy, France, Germany and Canada, showing an average wealth per head of nearly €150,000.

The report spells out precisely how rich Ireland has become over the past decade and the direction that this wealth is likely to take in the next decade. The report, covering household savings and investment patterns in an international context, paints an upbeat picture about the sustainability of recently created wealth and suggests that fears about the rising levels of debt are overstated.

According to Mark Cunningham, Managing Director, Bank of Ireland Private Banking: “A key defining characteristic of our wealth is that it is first generational by nature, with the vast bulk of our wealth having been created in the past ten years. The report highlights that much of this wealth has been created through gains in property investment and through a willingness to borrow to invest further. It has been entrepreneurial and more risk orientated than many other developed countries where inheritance features more prominently. The current allocation of Irish wealth to equities and cash, by contrast, is less than any of the other countries in the report.

“However, we predict that this will change as property price increases move back to more realistic levels and an ageing population may act as catalysts to create growing interest in diversification into other assets, primarily investment and pension funds. As wealth grows and matures, the benefits of diversification become compelling and an increasing amount of this wealth will be allocated to other assets. This is a natural evolution as Ireland’s wealth matures and individuals seek to protect their gains and transfer wealth to the next generation,” added Mark Cunningham.

The Report states that while property will continue to be dominant, it will no longer be the pre-eminent asset of choice – other assets, more particularly equity markets, bonds and cash will come to the fore. In 2005, Irish asset allocation stood at cash 10%, bonds 3%, equities 16% and property at 71%. By 2015, Bank of Ireland predicts that asset allocation will change to cash 12%, bonds 5%, equities at 22% and property at 61%.

Commenting at the launch of the report, the first of its kind in the Irish market, Pat O’Sullivan, Senior Economist and author of the report said: “The growth in wealth in the Irish economy has been astounding, with net wealth growing by 350% in 10 years. This is after taking into account the level of household debt in the economy and this highlights the rude health of Irish household’s finances. We expect that net assets will grow to over €1.2 trillion by 2015, an increase of 80% in the coming decade.”

The report outlines that personal disposal income in Ireland has doubled over the past ten years, and it is forecast to double again over the next ten years.

The annual level of personal savings stood at €10 billion at the end of 2005 and this is forecast to increase to €13.5 billion by 2010 and to €24 billion by 2015. The latter figure equates to 14% of disposable income, which contrasts sharply with the recent averages of 1% in the US and 5% in the UK. We have to look to Germany to find a similar attitude to savings, where it approaches 10%.

“Much has been made of the level of indebtedness in the Irish economy, with the pace of growth in debt much higher than in many other countries. However, liabilities as a percentage of total assets have only now reached international averages. While debt as a % of disposable income has increased from 89% to 140% in the last five years, the level of wealth provides an enormous cushion to borrowers. Neither the absolute level of borrowing nor the level of borrowing relative to overall wealth are ahead of international norms – indeed, we have come from significantly behind other developed countries. What is really interesting is that Irish investors have used much of this borrowing to leverage their positions in property, which, in turn, has been the engine for growth.”, added Pat O’Sullivan.

The report estimates that the number of millionaires in Ireland is somewhere in the region of 30,000. Bank of Ireland Private Banking’s definition of how millionaire is defined is total assets excluding principal private residence. Of those, it estimates that there are over 300 individuals with a net worth in excess of €30 million, a further 2,700 with a net worth of between €5 million and €30 million, with the remaining having a net worth of between €1 million - €5 million. Interestingly, if the definition included principal private residence, the number of millionaires in the Irish economy could be as high as 100,000.

Irish construction economy expanded at strong pace in June

Ireland number two in wealthy nations league

A poll has revealed a surge in popular support for a separate English Parliament

Ned Temko:

The Ipsos MORI survey, released to The Observer last night, will add fuel to the controversy surrounding a Tory plan to strip Scottish and Welsh MPs in Westminster of their vote on purely 'English issues' now that the government has devolved large areas of policy to the Scottish and Welsh assemblies. The Conservative plan was denounced by Labour last week as an attempt to undermine Gordon Brown's prime ministerial aspirations.

Conducted late last month, the poll found a major shift away from past national surveys, in which just 16 per cent voiced support for an England-only legislature. Asked an identically worded question, 26 per cent were now in favour.

In response to a more detailed question, explaining that Scottish and Welsh MPs were voting on purely English issues in Westminster, 41 per cent said they favoured an English Parliament 'with similar law-making powers to the Scottish Parliament'.

Only 32 per cent said they were happy with an unchanged House of Commons - down from 57 per cent in the earlier surveys. Even in answer to the identically worded question, only 45 per cent now said they were in favour of leaving the Commons unchanged.

'This is the first time since devolution that less than half the public support the present system of governing England through the UK Parliament,' Ipsos MORI's head of political research, Mark Gill, said. The poll was particularly significant, he said, because 'when the public are told that under the current arrangements Scottish and Welsh MPs can vote on England-only matters, support for an English Parliament rises considerably'.

The new poll was commissioned by a two-year-old pressure group called English Constitutional Convention, which favours an English Parliament and has been lobbying for a referendum on the issue. A spokesman, Robin Tillbrook, said: 'The issue isn't just about nationalism. It is about democracy and fairness for all the people of England. The poll shows there has been a dramatic shift towards support for this idea.'

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