Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Donie's Ireland daily news BLOG

Noonan says repossession threats are mainly to get owners to engage


‘I think what the figures show is the banks using the courts to get people to engage with them’

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan at the start of the Eurogroup meeting of finance ministers at the EU council headquarters, in Brussels, Belgium.
Banks are using the threat of repossession to get home owners to engage with them, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said.
Mr Noonan is in Brussels at a meeting of finance ministers where he was asked for his reaction to figures published in The Irish Times showing banks are attempting to repossess more than 7,000 homes across the State.
“I don’t think the figures show a lot of houses being repossessed by banks. I think what the figures show is the banks using the courts to get people to engage with them who haven’t engaged,” Mr Noonan told reporters.
“The Government position is we don’t see repossession as a solution and we don’t want repossession to be a solution, but there is a whole menu of solutions.
“Over 90,000 mortgages have been restructured over the last three years. In December alone, 2,500 mortgages have been restructured.
“What we want people to do is to engage with their lenders and see if they can work out a restructuring that will be suitable for their particular case, but we don’t see repossession as part of the solution.”
The Data released to The Irish Times by the courts service indicates that, as of January 1st, some 7,101 civil bills for repossession had been lodged by the banks across the State’s 26 circuit courts.
The largest volume, 1,420, are lodged in Dublin Circuit Court, followed by 564 in Meath, 543 in Cork Circuit Court and 412 in Galway. The next-highest number, 405, are active in Co Kildare, underlining increasing distress among mortgage holders in the commuter counties around Dublin. In Wicklow there are 255 active bills for repossession lodged by banks.
The legal rights organisation Flac (Free Legal Advice Centres) proposed that early financial and legal advice be provided for people trying to negotiate a restructure of their mortgage debt. The group has proposed a three-point solution to the problems of those in arrears on a family home.
The group said that if the Government was serious about tackling mortgage arrears on family homes in a way that would keep people in their family homes, it would have to provide adequate financial and legal advice in a timely way to people who are trying to negotiate restructure of their mortgage debt.
An independent service which could objectively assess whether a sustainable mortgage restructure was possible and what that it might be would also be required.
Thirdly, radical reform of the mortgage-to-rent scheme in order to allow those with recognisably unsustainable mortgages to ensure reasonable housing was required.
Flac director Noeline Blackwell said the organisation had long predicted that a rise in repossessions “was bound to result when lenders have an absolute discretion to decide whether a loan is sustainable or not”.
“The Central Bank’s Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears has proved to be ineffective as a counterbalance and even when it is working perfectly, it is only a tick-box exercise.
A real effort to keep people in their family homes will need a much stronger commitment from government to solve this poisonous problem in our society,” Ms Blackwell said.
It was “entirely wrong that poor, over-indebted people have been expected to go in to negotiate the roof over their own heads with lenders on their own unless they can get assistance from MABS, organisations such as Flac, or from private professionals working pro bono.
Flac’s senior policy analyst Paul Joyce said the State’s own figures showed that the number of re-possession applications on family homes was “rising inexorably” and would continue to do so as lenders dealt with those cases where arrears and difficulty had become more entrenched.
The advocacy body said it was known that about 38,000 households had been in arrears for more than two years and said this was the only category of mortgage arrears that is increasing in the last number of reports from the Central Bank.
“This means that the extent of the problem can be quantified, ” Flac said.
It said it did not accept that all of these cases were unsustainable mortgages.
Separately, the People Before Profit group said the escalation of home repossessions showed the “utter failure” of government insolvency and banking policies.
People Before Profit said the escalation in the number of repossessions also showed the need to “take the bailed out banks into full public ownership and entirely change their mandate”.
TD Richard Boyd Barrett said “the looming avalanche” of repossessions showed the need for the banks to be put under public ownership and put a stop to ‘for profit’ banking”.
“It simply beggars belief that banks which are only still standing because of a massive bailout by the citizens of this country are being allowed to turf many of those same citizens out of their homes.”
Independent TD for Roscommon South-Leitrim Michael Fitzmaurice said he would urge support for the Bill being proposed by Labour TD Willie Penrose on the insolvency problem.
He said it would “put pressure on the banks to sort out mortgage and other debt problems in a more sympathetic way”.
Figures released to The Irish Times by the courts service indicate that, as of January 1st, some 7,101 civil bills for repossession had been lodged by the banks across the State’s 26 circuit courts.
The largest volume, 1,420, are lodged in Dublin Circuit Court, followed by 564 in Meath, 543 in Cork Circuit Court and 412 in Galway. The next-highest number, 405, are active in Co Kildare, underlining increasing distress among mortgage holders in the commuter counties around Dublin. In Wicklow there are 255 active bills for repossession lodged by banks.

The Titanic Belfast beats the Eiffel Tower to the ‘best tourist attraction’ spot


The Titanic Belfast has fended off one of the most iconic buildings in Europe to be named the continent’s best visitor attraction.

The 300m Eiffel Tower may have breathtaking views of Paris, bit it was Northern Ireland’s top tourist spot which won over judges at a major travel awards event in Berlin.
It also beat off stiff competition from artist Claude Monet’s Grand Gardens in France and the London Eye.
Inside an impressive exterior – designed to resemble the ship’s prow – Titanic Belfast contains a number of exhibitions on early 20th Centrury Belfast, the ship-building industry, the ship’s sinking and its legacy.
It was the only attraction from across Ireland to be recognised at the European Group Travel Awards.
CEO of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons said: “Congratulations to Titanic Belfast on this very well deserved award. Since its opening in 2012, Titanic Belfast has become a truly iconic and ‘must visit’ attraction for overseas visitors to Belfast.”
The inaugural European Group Travel Awards (EGTA) were organised to recognise and celebrate the best suppliers in the group travel sector, with group travel buyers around Europe asked to submit their nominees in 21 different categories

MH370 missing airline report offers no answers or clues as search goes on


Report reveals nothing unusual about crew, flight, except that locator beacon battery expired

As families of victims on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 marked the first anniversary of the plane’s disappearance yesterday, they remained hopeful for answers in the world’s biggest aviation mystery, as leaders of Malaysia, China and Australia indicated they would not give up the search for the jet and the 239 people on board.
But any hopes that the release yesterday of the most comprehensive report to date on the disappearance of the Boeing 777 would shed some light on its fate did not materialise.
The 584-page report by a 19-member independent investigation group led by Malaysia went into minute details about the crew’s lives, including their medical and financial records and training. It also detailed the aircraft’s service record, as well as the weather, communications systems and other aspects of the flight. Nothing unusual was revealed, except for the previously undisclosed fact that the battery of the underwater locator beacon for the plane’s data recorder had expired more than a year before the plane vanished on March 8, 2014.
The lack of a beacon would have only added to the extraordinary challenges faced by search teams in the aftermath of the plane’s disappearance, as they listened in vain for signals from the devices in the deep waters far off the Australian coast.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday (SUN) that Malaysia remained committed to the search for the missing jetliner.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, where most of the passengers came from, said his government will provide “all needed service to every next of kin” and help uphold their “legitimate and lawful rights and interests.”
“A year has passed, the plane has not been located, but the search effort will continue,” he told a news conference in Beijing. “Today must be a difficult day for the next of kin … Our hearts are with you.”
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott added that the hunt for the plane will not end even if the scouring of the current search area comes up empty.
Vowing never to give up on the search for their loved ones, family members of those aboard the plane wore symbolic T-shirts and released white balloons yesterday to mark the anniversary of the jet’s disappearance.
In Kuala Lumpur, Voice 370, a support group for the kin of those on board, hosted a “Day of Remembrance” at Publika Mall.

How you can save as much as €275 on your electricity bills this year


Energy companies have benefited hugely from a plunge in wholesale gas prices over the last year

Families will soon get the chance to save up to €275 a year on their electricity bills as the first of the price cuts announced by energy companies earlier this year starts to kick in.
In just over a week’s time, Bord Gais Energy will cut its electricity prices by 2.5% and its gas prices by 3.5%. Although the gas price cut is well below the 5% reduction introduced by its sister company, British Gas, earlier this year, these cuts are a step in the right direction.
Energy companies have benefited hugely from a plunge in wholesale gas prices over the last year so it’s about time consumers started to see gas and electricity prices fall.
Once its price reductions kick in on March 16, an average household will pay €996 a year for their electricity – as long as they sign up to Bord Gais’s cheapest energy deal.
That deal includes its €100 cashback offer and its 10pc electricity discount. Under this cashback offer, you get €100 off your electricity bill if you sign up to Bord Gais, pay your bills by level pay direct debit (where you pay the same amount every month for your electricity), and receive your bills online. To secure its 10pc electricity discount, you must sign up to Bord Gais for a year.
At €996 a year, the cost of electricity for a typical household under that Bord Gais deal is €65 less a year than one of the best deals on the market for new electricity customers – Electric Ireland’s Value Saver (direct debit and online billing) offer. Under that Value Saver deal, an average household would pay €1,061 a year for their electricity.
A typical household could, however, be paying between €1,193 and €1,271 a year for their electricity if they’re on standard, rather than discounted electricity rates – depending on the supplier. A family paying standard electricity rates could therefore save as much as €275 by signing up to Bord Gais’s cheapest electricity deal this year.
Remember Bord Gais’s cashback deal is a once-off offer so it is unlikely to be available after a year. The 10pc discount will also expire after the first year – and revert to a 5pc discount instead. This means you will probably get your electricity cheaper with another supplier after your first year with Bord Gais.
This applies to any discounted energy deal you sign up to.
“Most discounts run out after a year – so once you’ve been with the same provider for a year, check what rate you’re paying for your electricity or gas,” said Simon Moynihan, communications director with the personal finance website, For this reason, be prepared to switch your energy company if you want to grab some of the best electricity and gas deals out there. The best offers are usually only available to new or returning customers – rather than existing ones.
Switching energy provider is free and straightforward. First choose the supplier you wish to move to. Then, get a copy of your latest electricity or gas bill and have it to hand when you contact the supplier you want to switch to. You will be asked for your Meter Point Registration Number (MPRN) if switching your electricity, or your Gas Point Registration Number (GPRN) if switching gas. You will find these numbers on your energy meters – and latest bills.
Your new supplier will ask for a meter reading – as well as your address. It will then make the necessary arrangements with your old supplier to have your account switched. You will need to give your new supplier your bank details if you are going to pay by direct debit.
Understand and be comfortable with the terms and conditions of your contract before you sign up to a new supplier. You often need to stay with the same company for at least a year to qualify for a discount. There are usually break fees if you end your contract before the year (or whatever the minimum term is) is up.
Your key priority when switching should be to save money. Be wary of using prepaid meters to do so as electricity usually works out more expensive when you pay for it in this way.
“Generally, electricity is up to €300 more expensive a year with pre-pay meters than you would pay if you went with the cheapest deal,” said Mr Moynihan.
Bord Gais won’t be the only energy company cutting its prices this year. Electric Ireland, which reduced its electricity prices by 2pc last November, will cut its gas prices by 2.5pc from April 1. On the same date, SSE Airtricity will chop its gas and electricity prices while Flogas will cut its gas prices. There will be plenty of opportunities to save money on your electricity and gas bills in the coming months – so get moving.

Irish customers more likely to switch insurers, A global survey finds



“Irish customers often research prices online when policies are taken out and this is also a trigger for switching,” James Maher of EY Ireland said.

Some 45% of Irish customers are likely to switch insurance provider in the next 12 months, according to the findings of EY’s Global Consumer Insurance Survey.
This figure, which excludes life insurance, can be compared with 26% globally.
This is largely attributed to the fact that Irish consumer decisions are often motivated by the costs and terms of their policy.
The survey of about 24,000 people in 30 countries examined what matters most in the relationship customers have with their insurers, how they interact and how satisfied they are with the range of policy offerings.
Half of Irish respondents claimed to have moderate trust in their insurance providers. Only 3%  had complete trust – the lowest figure globally.
James Maher, insurance sector lead for financial services at EY Ireland said: “The low levels of trust and high degrees of switching intent among Irish customers may reflect the limited personal interaction they have with their insurers.
“Irish customers often research prices online when policies are taken out and this is also a trigger for switching.”




That was the conclusion of a research team, led by John Londesborough of the Technical Research Center of Finland, when they uncorked two bottles recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of Finland in 2010. Dating back to the 1840s, scientists hoped to discovering what a 19th century beer might have tasted of and provide an insight into how the beverage was made.
The 2.8 to 3.2% beers were perhaps surprisingly a “bright golden yellow, with little haze,” diluted by seawater by up to 30% percent, which also meant their original alcohol content could have been much higher at the point of bottling. The beer itself was said to have developed some unpleasant aromas including yeast extract, cabbage, plastic, burnt rubber, overripe cheese, goat and sulfur, likely to have been caused by bacteria growing inside the bottles for decades.
However despite bacterial degradation and seawater dilution, scientists were able to analyse the beer to ascertain its original flavour compounds, revealing specific flavours of “green leaf”, sweet apple and rose which would made then similar to modern larger than ales and stouts.
The team’s findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry last month, which said the two bottles contained different beers with bitterness lower in the first bottle indicating a modern light lager, and higher in the second bottle.
“Compared to modern beers, the shipwreck beers contained similar levels of potassium but 15- to 60-fold more sodium, presumably derived from sea water. This may have diluted the beers up to 30%,” the scientists wrote. “Ethanol contents were low (2.8-3.2%) compared to typical modern lagers and ales. The mass ratios of glycerol and ethanol were 4.5% for both shipwreck beers, which is typical for a yeast fermentation product.”
“In summary, these two, about 170-year-old bottles contained two different beers, one more strongly hopped than the other with the low α-acid yielding hop varieties common in the 19th century.”
Since the beers were discovered, a brewery in Finland has recreated what they believe to be as close to the real thing as possible. Called Stallhagen Historic Beer 1843, the beer is a ‘spontaneously fermented beer’ using malt and wheat.
The bottles were discovered on a shipwrecked schooner in the Baltic Sea 165ft (50 metres) deep off the coast of the Åland Islands in Finland, along with several bottles of Champagne from Piper-Heidsieck and Veuve Clicquot, 11 of which were auctioned in Paris in 2012.                 

No comments:

Post a Comment