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Living Wage Increases By 20 Cent Per Hour

The 2017 ‘Living Wage’ has been set at €11.70 per hour, up €0.20 on the €11.50 set last year.

The living wage is defined as the average hourly gross salary that a full-time worker would need to earn to ensure sufficient food, clothing, basic personal care, and health costs, while being able to meet a friend for coffee occasionally, maybe download a song from iTunes, or take a trip to the cinema a couple of times a year.

This years 20 cents increase is brought about by cost of living increases and changes in the taxation system over the past year, with the current housing crisis, and increases in rent levels, being the main reason given for the increase.

With the exception of heating oil, the cost of food, electricity, natural gas, clothing, and health insurance all saw reductions in 2017, while changes to the Universal Social Charge (USC) increased net pay for all persons earning the living wage.

Initially set up in 2014, the ‘Living Wage Rate’ is refreshed in July of each year, and employers can choose to pay their staff the higher rate, which is set each year by a group comprising of researchers and academics, who calculate what people need to earn to have a basic standard of living.


Back To School Grants Increased In Tipperary

The ‘Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance’ (BSCFA), has been increased. This allowance is designed to help parents/guardians to meet the cost of uniforms and footwear for primary and secondary school children, returning to school during the coming year, 2017/18.

The allowance has seen a rise from €100 to €125 for children aged 4-11 years, and up by €50 to €250 for children over 12 years. Nationally some 108,000 Irish families look set to benefit from this small increase.

Those who frequent supermarket chains like Dunnes, Marks and Spencers etc; will all be aware that back to school clothing is already on display in anticipation of the coming school year.

To avail, of the BSCFA, parents or guardians must be getting certain social welfare payments or taking part in training, employment or adult education schemes.  Their siblings must be aged between 4 and 17 years of age, on or before September 30th, of the year for which you apply. If still in second-level education, siblings must be aged between 18 and 22 years of age on or before the same date.

The BSCFA scheme for 2017 opening date was on June 1st last 2017, and the closing date for such applications remains strictly September 30th 2017.

As is usual, the Dept. of Social Protection pay BSCFA automatically to many parents / guardians,  meaning simply that same do not have to apply for this payment. Should you qualify automatically, you should be notified of your entitlements on or before June 23rd 2017 and receive correspondence stating when and how the allowance will be delivered.  Payments are expected to be made available during this month, ending July 14th 2017.

Note: Parents / Guardians not automatically notified, may still be eligible for such allowances, subject to completing a means assessment, and you can find out more information on the rules and income limits affecting BSCFA by simply clicking HERE.


Thurles Local Municipal District Embarrassed

Well-known local Thurles artist and teacher Mr P.J. O’Connell was approached by a rare enough spectacle in Thurles this week; that of a couple of English tourists who had lost their way, but both asking where they could find a sign indicating that Thurles was truly twinned with the town of Bollington, in Cheshire, England.

From personal vague recollection, I seem to remember that, some years ago, signs did exist on the three major roads leading into Thurles, but all have now vanished; removed it is believed locally, by wicked fairies wearing reflective yellow jackets, seen operating in the area.


Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

On behalf of local elected town councillors I wish to state, using the most passionate of discourse; that the idea of twinning Thurles was not an idea dreamed up by a local elected representative, to gain access to junkets abroad; to be paid for by unsuspecting local ratepayers.

Thurles, Co. Tipperary is twinned with Bollington, (locally nicknamed “Happy Valley”), Cheshire East, in England, once a major centre for cotton spinning. The twinning of Bollington and Thurles made history in its own right, being the first such act between an English town and an Irish counterpart here in the Republic of Ireland.

It was Mr Claude Charles Harlington, (MBE); the first Town Clerk of the newly created Bollington Town Council, back in 1979, and the former Thurles Town Clerk, Mr Michael Ryan, who both correctly and energetically supported the decision to twin both towns.
Thurles of course is also twinned with Salt Lake City, in the State of Utah, United States of America.

Artist Mr O’Connell naturally contacted Thurles.Info to further confirm that no such signs currently existed, and “to be sure, to be sure”, like the Dublin man, we here at Thurles.Info did our living best to locate same, including having a ‘tête-à-tête’ with the head buck cat of the fairies; but alas to no avail.

Of course, we were however delighted to see two other important signs vividly displayed and greatly encouraging tourism; positioned on the entrance roads into Thurles; e.g. (A) “Failte go Durlas Eile, Welcome to Thurles, Home of Erin Foods” and (B) “Thurles.ie.”

Hold on here a feckin second; did I not read somewhere that Erin Foods, which had been in operation in Thurles, Co Tipperary, for some 46 years, had closed nine years ago this month, (June 2008), with the loss of 95 jobs, the latter which were never replaced.

As for the sign for the website ‘Thurles.ie’; (I beg of you readers please, do try not to laugh out loud) for it is with sadness I report that someone in our Municipal District forgot to pay the annual €9 charge for the host name ‘Thurles.ie’.  On the 21st March 2017 it was snapped up by Mardukas Technologies Limited, latter who are currently cybersquatting on the name.

Go on, I dare you; try typing ‘Thurles.ie’ into your top Google address panel and experience the thrill that shows that it points to a Swedish casino site, who in turn are informing possible Ireland Ancient East tourists in Swedish that, “Vi guidar dig till de bästa casinobonusarna”, which translated means, “We will guide you to the best casino bonuses.”  (Sure maybe tourists will think that the Two-Mile-Borris Casino is up and running.)

It was the Greek philosopher Plato, the founder of the first institution of higher learning in the Western world, in Athens, who stated “If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools.”


Help-To-Buy Incentive Scheme Is To Be Examined

The current Irish Minister for Housing, Mr Eoghan Murphy, has acknowledged that he will be reviewing the Rebuilding Ireland housing strategy, which could see “The help-to-buy incentive”, geared to encourage first time home buyers, scrapped.

The scheme was first introduced by Fine Gael in last October’s budget, to encourage and enabled first time buyers of new build properties.  Basically, if you were a first-time buyer who either bought or self-built a new residential property between the 19th July 2016 and 31st December 2019, you were entitled to claim a refund of income tax and DIRT paid over the previous 4 tax years.

This new scheme’s introduction now appears to indicate that rather than helping to encourage building, the scheme has in fact pushed existing house prices to reach dizzier heights.

Fears justifiably now exist that if this new scheme were to be cancelled, the effects could cause an even further price amplification; suggesting that the Housing Minister will most likely focus his attentions on how to increase the supply of building stock; latter a strategy which has failed dismally, despite incentives.

It should be remembered that according to the 2016 census, held on the 24th April last year (2016), some 183,000 vacant homes exists around the country, while some 8,000 people continue to reside in emergency accommodation.

Surely it would have been cheaper to pay incentives to 8,000 people to move out of our over-crowded cities, and take up residence in the pure air of our Irish villages and smaller towns, while also partially replenishing our rural population, latter forced to take the boat to find work.

By giving €10,000 and a social house to each family currently residing in emergency accommodation; Mr Murphy can indeed be assured that the promise by former Minister Mr Simon Coveney, (“All homeless families in Dublin will be moved out of hotel accommodation by 1st July 2017.”), will in truth be met by at least the date of August 31st.

Remember Fianna Fáil’s attempts at the movement of departments and power away from a single administrative centre; to other locations. It was called ‘Decentralization’, so why not apply this idea to those forced to reside in over priced emergency accommodation? Remember we are talking about people without homes, not unsackable Civil Servants and their Unions seeking outrageous relocation payments.

But of course it is so important that we do not upset Ireland’s bankers and property developers, after all they have been so considerate of the Irish people!


Show Jumper Greg Broderick Acquires Fortwilliam, Borrisoleigh

Thurles, Co. Tipperary native and Irish Olympic show jumper Mr Greg Broderick is the new owner of Fortwilliam House, Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary, together with the attached 217 acre estate.

Mr Broderick is understood to have paid €2.2m for the house, together with a number of dated stone farm buildings and the 217 acres of prime Tipperary land.

Mr Broderick came to International prominence on his mount ‘MHS Going Global’, having previously competed on the National and International show jumping scene, and being crowned ‘Showjumping Ireland Nation­al Champion’ in 2014. He was also instrumental in Ireland capturing the coveted Aga Khan Trophy at the Dublin Horse Show in 2015, due to his clear round as then part of the Irish Aga Khan team, while last year chosen to represent Ireland in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

His gelding mount ‘MHS Going Global’ of which Mr Broderick owned a small share, was recently purchased by Greek heiress Athi­na Onassis Roussel, latter the granddaughter of Greek-Argentine shipping magnate, Aristotle (Ari) Onassis, who amassed the world’s largest privately owned shipping fleet and was one of the world’s richest and most famous men.

The Cooke property at Borrisoleigh, which was sold by local auc­tioneer Mr Vincent Ryan, is now expected to form part of a future major expansion plan by Mr Broderick, including the erection of a new stable block, gallops, paddocks, offices and a viewing area.

The newly purchased classic Georgian property, on the banks of the Cremogue River and boasting 800m of road frontage, is located within 1km of Bor­risoleigh village and is centred around a substantial dwelling in need of refurbishment. Same property was the ancestral home of the Cooke family, of which the last surviving mem­ber passed away on November 12th 2016 last, thus making the holding the subject of an Exec­utor Sale.