All island rail proposal for Ireland

On April 7, 2021, Ireland’s Transport Minister Eamon Ryan came forward with Northern Ireland’s Minister of Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon, to announce an upcoming review of a proposed “all-island rail network.” This review will entail looking into various ways can improve connectivity between major cities and support regional development; additionally, the feasibility of the use of high-speed rail will be considered. The aim of these improvements is to boost sustainability and bolster economic growth across the entire island. Rail freight is also hoped to see better results.

Successful implementation of this proposal could have other benefits as well, such as reducing emissions from automobiles and mitigating regional economic imbalances on the island. Further, the project could lead to the creation of new jobs, both during and after its duration.

The next step for ministers is to find experts to conduct the review.

Though this proposal came jointly from Ministers of both the Republic and Northern Ireland, of particular focus is the northwestern region of the island. It is thought that this area has generally fallen behind in railway connections compared to …

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Ireland’s exit from lockdown

The National Public Health Emergency Team is expected to come forward later this week with their recommendations to the government of Ireland on developing a reopening strategy. Though a speedy return to normalcy seems unlikely, this might be an important first step in getting the country back on track.

The pandemic and lockdowns combined have had devastating effects on the Irish economy, resulting in substantial job losses and a spike in unemployment. Pauses to required monthly repayments on loans and mortgages were instated by banks to help borrowers. The country was sent into a recession, which was officially announced in September. Recovery would be long and arduous no matter what, but the inefficiencies of the government’s policies aimed at preventing the spread are likely exacerbating the issue.

For one, Ireland’s lockdowns have been described as some of the strictest in the world, perhaps even a bit excessive. Until 12 April, a Level-5 lockdown had been in effect for more than a hundred days. This entailed restricting citizens’ movements to just five kilometers from their homes, in-person schooling, and more. For …

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The long term impact of the pandemic

The pandemic and the associated lockdowns have obviously had immediate repercussions on Ireland’s economy and daily life for its citizens. Staggering job loss, business closures, and lagging debt payments are just a few of hardships being faced. However, there is another, perhaps less immediately apparent economic consequence of the pandemic: that is, what the disruptions to students’ educations will mean for Ireland and the world in the near future.

Schools in Ireland have been closed multiple times and the country has been repeatedly forced into lockdowns to fight the spread of the virus. On March 12th of last year, schools were forced to shut down until the 29th, which was later extended to the start of the next academic year in September. During that stretch of time, students were not allowed to attend in-person classes. Even when schools did eventually reopen, periodic outbreaks in certain schools and the additional restrictions put on students ensured that the school year would not go smoothly. The total losses in education are difficult to gauge; some countries have reported that time spent on school-related …

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Are capital requirements for Irish banks too high?

In the aftermath of the financial crash of 2008, the European debt crisis, and the Irish banking crisis, in 2014 regulations were passed aimed at promoting higher banking standards to prevent similar crises in the future.

The first of these rules states that all Irish banks have initial starting capital of at least €5 million; they must always be in excess of this amount. Further, lenders have claimed that they must hold up to three times the capital for mortgages relative to average requirements throughout the rest of the EU.

These regulations largely seem to have accomplished the job they were instated, with the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) stating that there has been an increase in high quality loans and a corresponding decrease in problem loans.

However, there has been criticism as of late for the continued implementation of these rules, and for the harsh conditions they impose on lenders. It is possible that borrowers are also adversely affected by extension. For instance, it is claimed by major Irish banks that the high capital requirements are …

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Could Ireland be a leader in fintech development?

The financial technology (fintech) industry has seen rapid growth worldwide, in time with the rapid progress of technology itself. Examples of new products that have come with this trend are loan management software, crypto-currencies, and more. These products can be targeted for use by businesses as well as the average consumer, and together they led fintech to become a $200 billion industry worldwide in 2019; it is expected to be worth around $305 billion by 2025. The leader countries in fintech development as of 2020 include the U.S., the UK, and Singapore, with developing countries like China also expected to become major players in the near future.

However, Ireland may also have the potential to become a global fintech hub in the near future. Ireland’s pro-business governance makes it an appealing place for businesses looking to enter the industry. One aspect of this appeal is its low corporate tax rate of 12.5%. Additionally, its research & development tax credit of 25% makes it very friendly to tech companies and encourages continued innovation. Its double taxation agreements with many other EU …

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How the Biden administration’s new proposition might affect Ireland

A key part of Ireland’s appeal to international investment has been its pro business infrastructure and low corporate tax rate of 12.5%, and for decades major U.S. corporations have made use of that infrastructure and tax rate. Some prominent examples include Google, Facebook, and Apple, which famously made use of the notorious “double Irish” tax loophole in the 1990s. International firms have become an integral part of the Irish economy of today, to say the least.

However, U.S. President Joe Biden has introduced a new tax proposition that might change that dynamic. It has suggested that U.S. corporations be subject to a global minimum corporate tax rate, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recommending a rate of 21%. This would work in the following way: if a U.S. firm has operations in Ireland and pays the lower Irish tax rate for those operations, the U.S. government would be able to apply additional taxes on that revenue until it reaches a rate of 21%. The rationale behind this proposal is to make ensure a more fair and level playing field, while …

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How Brexit might impact Ireland going forward

As of 31 December, 2020, the transition period of the UK’s exit from the EU has ended, and Europe is now left to deal with its economic fallout. General consensus seems to be that the move will ultimately prove harmful to the UK and the EU, including Ireland. In fact, Ireland will likely be more affected, as it is more exposed to its effects than others due to the intensity of trade between the two. Costs associated with that trade will undoubtedly increase, as the UK is Ireland’s second-largest training partner, accounting for 14% of Irish exports and 26% of imports, second only to the U.S. Brexit will necessitate additional steps in conducting said trade. Trade between the two is already said to have fallen substantially. To get around this, some businesses have been going through Northern Ireland.

Trade with the rest of Europe will also be made more complicated post-Brexit. Shipments from Ireland to the mainland have often gone through the UK historically. Now, Irish businesses have had to find and arrange for new routes. At present, these new …

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The legacy of the “Double Irish” loophole

The “Double Irish” was one of the most notorious tax loopholes, used by large firms for decades since the 1990s. It was base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) method used by many notable entities, including but not limited to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and more. Though closed in 2014, the loophole remained open to firms already using it until 2020. Even since its closure, there are concerns that firms that had used it previously will just shift to using different methods. Overall, this and similar methods used have had a substantial impact on Ireland’s financial system and records, something that is still being addressed today.

The Double Irish was conducted via the following steps. First, a U.S. corporate entity would develop a product or software for a price, and then sell it to a wholly owned subsidiary in Bermuda. Next, the company in Bermuda would revalue it as an intangible asset of a far greater price, as Bermuda is tax free. The Bermuda subsidiary would then license it to another subsidiary in Ireland for the same price. Important to note is …

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The Gender Gap is still Prevalent

The Bank Of Ireland has recently reported that there has been a slight decrease in the gap between the pay received by their male and female employees. However, the bank is still working to reach a 50:50 balance for its workers.  Currently, the bank of Ireland is reporting a gender pay gap of 23.8% across all their departs, which is a 0.4% improvement from the last year. The bank has stated that a large proportion of this comes from the under-payment of their female employees at senior levels and junior grades.

The system that the Bank of Ireland uses to calculate the pay-gap difference is by working out the average pay of all women in the company and comparing then to the average pay of all the men in the company. The Bank of Ireland is currently introducing more flexible ways of working with all employees, as well as pulling career development and leadership programs for their female employees.

It was reported last year that nearly 41% of all senior appointments in 2020 were female, which is an improvement from …

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