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Exploiting ‘Irish oil’ at what cost?


Exporting oil has made Norway one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

But in the Germanic way, they have retained ownership of the natural resource and invested their wealth in building a sustainable economy and society.

Arguably, wind is Ireland’s oil. Our geographic location means we have highly lucrative consistent wind that will keep turbines turning and generating a consistent energy supply.

But what price will we have to pay to exploit this resource and what guarantees are there that we can make the most of the resource like the Norwegians.

The early signs are ominous and recent history tells us that Governments here tend to sell the family silver below cost and at a heavy price to communities.

Offaly and the other midland counties have, the experts tell us, the capacity to generate power. But at what cost?

While the county could benefit from wind power, littering Laois with hundreds of giant turbines is already angering communities. Farmers, we are told, will benefit, but are they being bought off cheaply.

Cash-strapped County Councils must act in the best interest of the community but also help to develop a resource. It is a difficult balancing act. It must also avoid the attraction of backing turbines to raise finance.

Exporting the energy generated to Britain is likely to irk some but it is the economics of this plan that we should be concerned about. Are we selling off our power on the cheap so that another country grows economically?

Should we not be harnessing wind energy to develop our own economy? Surely Irish business would flourish if it could avail of cheaper home-grown electricity.

The story of the Corrib Gas fields off Mayo does not reflect well on Government policy. There was no policy then so the gas was sold off quickly and cheaply. Hopefully wind energy is not a repeat performance.

via Exploiting ‘Irish oil’ at what cost? | Shell to Sea.

via Exploiting ‘Irish oil’ at what cost? | Shell to Sea.

Your Household Tax Is Going To Good Use.


Ah right, so that explains the urgency around the household tax.

And just in case you forgot what Big Phil said about its introduction back in July:

“It is internationally accepted that local services are administered by local authorities and financed by local service charges. Ireland is now moving along a path to a local and sustainable funding base for local government. Effective local governance requires strong local decision making. This new funding system for local government will continue to allow local authorities to prioritise expenditure to meet locally identified needs as part of the local authority’s budgetary process, making for a more efficient, accountable and effective funding system. This is local democracy in action.”

A wee google around tells me that Thomas Kinsella who tops this poll of self serving, is best known for using his casting vote to nominate Dana for the presidency. Paton who comes in at number 2 on the list, is a cheer leader for that most hopeless of events The Gathering.

The Irish Independent carried an interesting story back in September about how our Councillors are making pigs of themselves at the public trough.

An Irish Independent investigation reveals that our part-time politicians were paid an average of €31,600 each in salary, allowances, expenses and fees for sitting on a range of public bodies. Many of these councillors earned this cash on top of their day jobs.

However, others have made a full-time living out of what is supposed to be a part-time role. A major trawl of financial records held by almost 200 public bodies revealed very high – but legitimate – pay and expense packages claimed by some councillors.

The highest-earning councillor in the country received seven payments totalling €83,000 from five different bodies – his county council and four outside bodies, to which he was nominated by virtue of being a county councillor.

Read more here if you can stomach to.

Great stuff lads, mine is a tripple carvery, a pint and a half one. Make sure you keep the receipt.

via Your Household Tax Is Going To Good Use. : rabble.

via Your Household Tax Is Going To Good Use. : rabble.

Massive gas find to be exploited in Clare despite local opposition


A British energy firm is to press ahead with plans to exploit a massive gas field discovered in West Clare – despite local opposition to fracking.

The Irish Sun reports that a new natural gas field of up to 3.86 trillion cubic feet of shale gas has been found in Clare.

The UK-based energy firm Enegi has confirmed to the paper that it intends to apply to the Irish authorities for an exploration licence before next February.

But locals have already objected as extraction of the shale gas will involve ‘fracking’.

Roisin Ni Ghairbhith of Clare Fracking Concerned told the paper: “What Enegi Oil need to realise is that the people of Clare value their health, water, environment and most of all their children a lot more than any short-term jobs.

“The public, the entire County Council and the IFA in Clare have all said no to fracking ever happening in this county.”

The report states that a study carried out on behalf of Enegi by Fugro Robertson Ltd calculates the recoverable resource estimates for the area to be between 1.49 trillion cubic feet and 3.86 trillion cubic feet of shale gas.

Enegi chief Alan Minty said: “Clare Basin is a highly prospective project and we are delighted to be involved at this early stage.

“Our findings and the report from Fugro have further endorsed management’s belief that the Clare Basin has a strong best case investment profile.

“The whole acreage appears to be very prospective and we are particularly excited by the area at the centre of the existing seismic grid which we have defined as high grade.”

The find is located between Doonbeg and Kilrush in the west of the county.

A statement from Enegi said: “We have undertaken some preliminary economic analysis which has confirmed the viability of the proposed project.”

via Massive gas find to be exploited in Clare despite local opposition | Irish News | IrishCentral.

via Massive gas find to be exploited in Clare despite local opposition | Irish News | IrishCentral.

Councils to set property tax rates in future, says Minister –


LOCAL AUTHORITIES will in time be given powers to set their own property tax rates in order to generate funds to support provision of services in their areas, Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has said.

The development, announced by the Minister at the publication of a programme of local government reform, would give county councillors power to set the tax at a level that meets financial needs. This was the case under the domestic rates system that was abolished in 1977.

Property tax will become more and more the source of income for local authority services to be funded,” said Mr Hogan. “If they are raising the money locally for service provision, they will have a say in how they spend it. Each local authority can have a different level of property tax in due course. The timing of that is a matter for Government.”

The tax, expected to be levied at an initial rate of 0.25 per cent of the property value, is to be announced in the December 6th budget and is likely to come into force in the middle of next year. The details of the levy, which is to be collected by the Revenue Commissioners, are yet to be approved by Cabinet.

Mr Hogan was speaking at the publication of Putting People First, a programme of local government reform which he said represented the most radical changes to local political structures since the 19th century.

The abolition of 80 town councils, a reduction in the number of local authorities to 31, and a proposal to reduce the number of elected councillors by 42 per cent to a maximum of 950, are among the measures set out in the plan.

It indicates that the role of elected councils should be extended to cover matters such as local economic development and the support of businesses. But it also states that the power of councillors to overturn the decisions of planning officials should be removed. Many of the changes outlined in the plan are to be in place for the 2014 local elections.

via Councils to set property tax rates in future, says Minister – The Irish Times – Wed, Oct 17, 2012.

via Councils to set property tax rates in future, says Minister – The Irish Times – Wed, Oct 17, 2012.

Cabinet to consider radical changes to local government


The Cabinet will this morning consider a plan to radically reform local government, including the abolition of town councils.

Phil Hogan‘s proposals would reduce the number of councillors from over 1,600 to 950

Other measures proposed by Environment Minister Phil Hogan are amalgamations of other local authorities and a voluntary redundancy scheme for 500 staff.

All 80 town councils around the country are to be abolished, and county councillors will instead have a role at district level.

In both Limerick and Waterford, the city and county councils will be merged into a single authority, as will the two county councils in Tipperary.

Cork and Galway will retain city as well as county councils, while Dublin will keep its current four councils.

All of this will reduce the number of councillors from over 1,600 to 950.

The targeted voluntary redundancy scheme should see an estimated saving of €45m per year.

A directly elected Mayor for Dublin is still a possibility, but only after voters in the capital are consulted in a plebiscite to be held alongside the local elections in 2014.

via Cabinet to consider radical changes to local government – RTÉ News.

via Cabinet to consider radical changes to local government – RTÉ News.

Real News Nibbles from Around the Country


North Tipp

A significant surge in payment of the €100 Household Charge in North Tipperary in recent weeks has resulted in the lifting of a Government threat to further slash funding for local government services in the county.

During the summer Environment Minister Phil Hogan, noting that just over half of North Tipperary householders had paid the charge, threatened to cut the County Council’s Local Government Fund of €14.5 million by €1.5 million. Such a cut would have resulted in major cuts in local government services across the county.

But over the past six weeks or so a surge in payments saw a further 8 per cent of householders pay the charge, thereby removing the threat of the swinging cuts being imposed.

Two out of three householders in North Tipperary have now paid the new €100 charge

Via Nenagh Guardian

By God how they all tremble when the hear Hogan’s bark

Offaly

We learn from the Offaly express that 7,041 non-Irish nationals were living in Offaly at the time of the Census, accounting for 9.2% of the population of the county.

According to figures released by the Central Statistics Office, of the non-Irish nationals resident in the county, 1,865 were UK nationals – the largest non-Irish nationality in the county, followed by Polish nationals with 1,566 persons.

To be consigned to living in the bogs of Offaly these people must have suffered desperate deprivation elsewhere

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Waterford

From the Munster express we observe

The Munster Express has learned from reliable sources that the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr Phil Hogan, TD, is likely to announce this week that Waterford City Council and Waterford County Council will definitely be merged and that the headquarters of the new body will be in the county, not the city.

While such a move has been opposed by many politicians from both local authorities, it will be a particularly bitter pill for Waterford city to swallow.

It looks like cheerio to Waterford city Council oh well maybe a few less people claiming expenses

Wexford

From the Gorey Guardian we lean

WE’RE sitting on a goldmine. Literally. Prospectors have struck gold in North Wexford, and say the samples taken to date have the potential to yield hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold and other precious metals.

‘It was very exciting,’ said Liam McGrattan, who works in Investor Relations with the IMC Exploration Group plc.

‘ This is a pretty big strike. I’d compare it to the oil strike off the coast of Cork recently,’ said Liam.

‘If we got two big strikes we could get rid of the IMF and the ECB out of the country,’ he joked. He said the operation would require an underground mine, meaning a huge jobs boost for the local community.

Well now Liam good news indeed but I see you work in investor relations. A profession well known for kite flying

Knife cuts into council but to lesser extent » Waterford


CUTBACKS to the Local Government fund for County Waterford are not as severe as previously feared, however Minister Phil Hogan is still refusing to release the third quarterly allowance of €507,000 and will reduce the amount available in the final quarter if more home owners don’t stump up payment for the household charge.

The news was greeted by some relief at last week’s meeting of Waterford County Council, which came two weeks after councillors abandoned their meeting at the start of the month such was their fury at the possibility of the council losing €2m in funding.

After seeking clarification from Minister Phil Hogan, management at the County Council learned that the adjustment made to the General Purpose Grant payment in Quarter 3 is confirmed and will not be reviewed further. No reason has been provided for why this amount of money is being withheld.

Waterford County Manager Denis McCarthy said that this meant that the €507,000 due to them for the third quarter would not be handed over. In respect of the final quarter payment, Waterford County Council is still at risk of losing another €90,000.

The monies, which are to be paid in November, will not be affected if over 65% of people comply with the household charge. For county and city councils with compliance rates of between 60% and 65% a deduction of 0.5% of the initial General Purpose Allocation will be made, which will locally amount to €90,000. So far, 61 % have paid the charge in the County.

Mr McCarthy added that spending will be prioritised for areas deemed most in need, with county roads earmarked for works.

Cllr James Tobin said that no matter how many people pay the charge, Waterford would still be left short vital funding.

“We are not getting €507,000 back no matter what. That tells people out there that you were right. Even if they pay the county will be left short. Where is that money gone to? I can hazard a guess that it’s gone to O’Reilly’s big hole in the health service. It’s a disgrace. They can glamourise it anyway they like, we are still down €600,000.”

Cllr Michael J. O’Ryan said that even if there was 100% compliance at this stage the County would still be fined, while Cllr Brendan Mansfield labelled the whole thing a “farce” and said it was bullyboy tactics by the Minister when he encouraged councils to follow the lead of the council in Clare when it came to delaying student grants for those who had not paid the charge.

He said there was a lot of anger amongst people who had paid the charge out of fear only to find out that cuts are still to be made in the area.

“The knife has still gone in, not as deep as we thought, but to the value of €600,000. It’s gone in to bail out the bondholders,” he added.

via Knife cuts into council but to lesser extent » Waterford News and Star.

via Knife cuts into council but to lesser extent » Waterford News and Star.

Household Charges in North Tipperary


A significant surge in payment of the €100 Household Charge in North Tipperary in recent weeks has resulted in the lifting of a Government threat to further slash funding for local government services in the county.

During the summer Environment Minister Phil Hogan, noting that just over half of North Tipperary householders had paid the charge, threatened to cut the County Council’s Local Government Fund of €14.5 million by €1.5 million. Such a cut would have resulted in major cuts in local government services across the county.

But over the past six weeks or so a surge in payments saw a further 8 per cent of householders pay the charge, thereby removing the threat of the swinging cuts being imposed.

Two out of three householders in North Tipperary have now paid the new €100 charge, County Manager Joe MacGrath disclosed this week.

The manager said the council had thrown additional resources at the collection of the charge in a bid to get as much funding in as possible. The current figure of compliance is 66 percent.

Good news for the local council came on Friday last when the minister announced that local authorities where the compliance rate was at or above 65 percent would not be penalised with any further reductions in funding.

Welcoming the announcement, the Mayor of North Tipperary Michael O’Meara said the €1.5 million cut threatened by the Minister would have had major implications for local authority services.

Mayor O’Meara said he had spoken to the County Manager Joe MacGrath and was assured that a €377,000 cut in funding imposed to date was “manageable”.

He said the manager Mr MacGrath had been successful in making savings through a number of other measures that would significantly reduce the impact of cuts already imposed in the Local Government Fund.

“That level of cut of €377,000 is a blow to us but we are able to carry it without any major effects on the people of North Tipperary,” said the Mayor.

He added: “The minister will not be coming back to us to make further cuts because he has given a commitment not to review funding allocations to council that have a compliance rate of 65 per cent or over.”

The minister has warned that councils who have failed to achieve that compliance threshold will have their funding reviewed in November.

via The Nenagh Guardian.

via The Nenagh Guardian.

Councillors paid average of €32,818 – News – Braypeople.ie


THE AVERAGE payment received by members of Wicklow County Council in 2011 was €32,818 while a total of €820,467 was paid out to 25 local representatives over the 12 month period.

While amounts received by County Councillors across the county varied, Fine Gael‘s Cllr. George Jones of Greystones recorded a total of €83,091 while party colleague Cllr. Irene Winters from Wicklow received the lowest figure of €24,747.

A smaller sum of €22,153 was also paid to Cllr. Gráinne McLoughlin of Greystones who was co-opted onto the Council in place of elected TD Simon Harris who received the sum of €4,050 in 2011 before he took up office in Dáil Éireann.

via Councillors paid average of €32,818 – News – Braypeople.ie.

via Councillors paid average of €32,818 – News – Braypeople.ie.

Kinsella defends his €50,000 in expenses – News – Goreyguardian.ie


NORTH Wexford Councillor Michael Kinsella has defended his expenses claims record during 2011, after figures revealed he claimed the highest amount of expenses in Wexford at €50,891 for the year.

He also claimed the second highest amount for travelling expenses in the country, claiming €5,041 for several trips, including London, New York and Wales. The Councillor also had to defend attending a conference in Donegal, when a similarlythemed conference was held in Bunclody on the same weekend.

Cllr. Kinsella pointed out that he was Chairman of the County Council in 2011, which explained why his expenses were over €19,000 higher than the average €31,641 claimed by his fellow councillors.

via Kinsella defends his €50,000 in expenses – News – Goreyguardian.ie.

via Kinsella defends his €50,000 in expenses – News – Goreyguardian.ie.

Kinsella defends his €50,000 in expenses – News – Goreyguardian.ie


NORTH Wexford Councillor Michael Kinsella has defended his expenses claims record during 2011, after figures revealed he claimed the highest amount of expenses in Wexford at €50,891 for the year.

He also claimed the second highest amount for travelling expenses in the country, claiming €5,041 for several trips, including London, New York and Wales. The Councillor also had to defend attending a conference in Donegal, when a similarlythemed conference was held in Bunclody on the same weekend.

Cllr. Kinsella pointed out that he was Chairman of the County Council in 2011, which explained why his expenses were over €19,000 higher than the average €31,641 claimed by his fellow councillors.

via Kinsella defends his €50,000 in expenses – News – Goreyguardian.ie.

via Kinsella defends his €50,000 in expenses – News – Goreyguardian.ie.

Lowry Paid €45,349 in Expenses By North Tipperary county councill


North Tipperary county councillor Michéal Lowry said the €45,349 paid to him last year in allowances and expenses – making him the top paid councillor in North Tipperary – reflected the fact that he spent a 12 month term as Mayor of the county.

The Fine Gael Councillor Pauline Coonan, at €37,705, received the largest payment of the five county councillors in the Templemore Electoral Area over the twelve months.

Virginia O’Dowd of the Labour Party, who received €32,598, got the largest amount in the Nenagh Electoral area and her party colleague Jonathan Meaney (€31,502) topped the list in the Newport area.

Councillor Lowry, who was Mayor of North Tipperary in the twelve months to July of this year, explained that his payment reflected the fact that he received an allowance on top of the ordinary councillor’s allowance for acting in the role as the county’s first citizen.

via The Nenagh Guardian.

via The Nenagh Guardian.

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