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26 June 2008 Edition

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Nice for Norway

GOOD NEWS for our small but growing Norwegian readership. An Phoblacht readers, though not many readers of anything else, will recall that Norway’s oil and gas exploration company, Statoil, owns a substantial share of the Corrib gas field off the coast of Mayo. For a number of years, Shell to Sea activists have fought both for the gas to be processed off-shore but also for a fairer share of the profits from the find.
Under the extremely profitable deal negotiated by... umm... Fianna Fáil Minister Burke – against informed civil servant advice – the citizens of Norway will benefit more from the Corrib gas field than we will when all the tax breaks are taken into account. And what a payday it will be for them, according to the business section of the Sunday Tribune.
“The value of the controversial Corrib gas field off the Mayo coast has jumped by almost 40 per cent over the past two years and now stands at just under €13 billion, according to industry estimates.
“The field has seen its value rise five-fold since the Government issued a production licence for it in November 2001.”
But wait! Our Green Energy Minister, Eamon Ryan, who was a strong supporter of the campaign before being handed the keys to his ministerial Mercedes, changed the tax regime to allow Irish citizens to benefit from the exploitation of Irish natural resources.
Sadly, my friends at the Trib point out:
“Any gas found by Statoil will not be taxed under the new tax regime introduced this year, designed to give the state a bigger share of the profits from gas finds as its licences were issued before this year.”
So, our best wishes to our Norwegian owners.

THE news from the ESRI over the week sent most of the Southern media into sackcloth and ashes mode and for once there was some justification in this.
The prediction from the Economic and Social Research Institute that we could be facing our first recession since 1983 dominated the print and broadcast media from Tuesday morning on. It came hard on the heels of the announcement from Hibernian that 580 jobs were to be ‘lost’. (They’re not lost by the way. We know where they are. They’re in India.)
“The main culprit,” said the Independent, “is still the collapse in house construction, which has plunged from 75,000 units last year to just 30,000 next year. This fall is so serious it wipes out all the growth in the rest of the economy.
“Senior ESRI researcher... Dr Barrett said a €10 billion swing in the public finances was a failure of Government policy.
“Everyone knows the downturn in the public finances is because Government blew the finances from the boom which everybody knew would be temporary.”
Blew it, Dr Barrett? Blew it? Surely you jest. This government has carefully husbanded the people’s money, blowing mere billions on LUAS overruns, PPARs, Farmleigh, electronic voting machines that don’t work, wasteful and failed PPPs and pay increases for our TDs and senators.

RYAN TUBRIDY (RTÉ Radio 1, Wednesday) did a piece on the power of oratory and political soundbites, covering the usual run including John F Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” and despairing of Dáil deputies rising to their feet, and mumbling into pages of closely-typed text.  Dull, colourless, passionless.
That’s why Avril Doyle’s angry outburst at the UKIP Oirish show makes the headlines. It was full of fire and emotion. But, as Ryan Tubridy himself said, where has she been all these years? Indeed. Where has Avril Doyle’s passionate patriotism and antagonism towards British arrogance been since she was first elected for Fine Gael (“The United Ireland Party”) 26 years ago?
The irony has been lost on much of the media – and Fine Gael.

FINALLY, in what I swear on a stack of bibles is my last Lisbon reference for some time, being as heartily sick of it as you are, interesting news in Wednesday’s papers concerning the latest Eurobarometer poll, which is carried out in all 27 member states every couple of months.
According to RTÉ:
“The survey showed Ireland topped the list of countries which believed they had benefited from EU membership; 82 per cent of Irish voters believed Ireland had benefited, compared to an EU average of 54 per cent.
“Ireland was second, at 73 per cent, when it came to belief that Irish membership of the EU was a good thing, compared to 75 per cent in the Netherlands and an EU average of 52 per cent.”
Shows that those people arguing that a ‘No’ vote was essentially a pro-European vote were not too far wide of the mark.

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