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No Shareholder Value - If Banks Put People On Dole

Archbishop Alan Harper

“Banks in the retail sector, who continue to refuse to perform in a socially responsible manner, should have their licences revoked,”  stated the Church of Ireland’s Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland Alan E. T. Harper, OBE, at the Church of Ireland’s three day Synod, which began on Thursday last and was attended by many C of I clergy from Co.Tipperary.

In his Presidential address,  Archbishop Harper stated:

“The consequences of recession are devastating for those forced into unemployment or faced with the collapse of their Companies. I recently received a letter from a GP. He described what he encounters in his consulting rooms as a result of families stressed to the limit by pressure from their banks: decent folk, pillars of the local community, reduced to tears. That GP’s observations are more than supported by the statistics of suicide in both jurisdictions.

I have no special knowledge of banking practice except the experience of being a member of a single income family throughout my working life of 45 years. I know what it is to bump along the bottom and to have to depend on an understanding bank manager in a crisis situation. I know what it means to enjoy the generosity of family and the understanding of friends. What concerns me now is the extent to which things have changed.

The effects of the restriction in bank lending have been disastrous for small and medium sized businesses, especially in the construction sector, and, consequently, for those made unemployed as businesses contract. Many employers have been forced to the wall; one long established firm I know has laid off 60% of its workforce, others have ceased trading altogether; punitive rates of interest, in some cases more than 5% above LIBOR, are being demanded; banks are reducing overdraft facilities; asset rich but cash poor businesses, often described by the banks themselves as their core customers, are being starved of the cash required to enable them to trade, yet these same small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of the local economy.

Time was when banks were either investment partnerships or retail banks. Then, starting with Salomon Brothers in the United States in 1981, partnerships were floated as corporations, transferring the risks to shareholders rather than the partners and employees, and blurring the distinctions between two very different types of activity. At this point the strength of the capitalist system in collectivizing the sharing of risk became, it could be argued, a weakness. As the financial sector sought to create more high risk credit and to invent products to spread the risk of investment among an ever widening pool of shareholders and clients, many people became involved in this area of the economy without being fully aware of the risk that they carried.”

To read the full text of Archbishop Harpers very fine address entitled “The Priority of Mission in the Church of God” click here, as it makes for some very interesting Sunday reading by all so called Christians.

Glimmer of Hope For Former Tipperary Miners

Speaking in the Dáil last Wednesday night, North Tipperary Deputy Noel Coonan helped push a step further, the National Coalminers Group’s plight for redress.  Many former miners suffer from various health problems acquired during coal-mining activity and the Fine Gael TD stated that the Minister for Social Protection has provided a “glimmer of hope” at last to those affected.

During the debate, Deputy Coonan strongly urged the Minister for Social Protection to outline his Department’s response to the National Coalminers Group’s ongoing campaign.

Deputy Coonan stated he was pleased with the outcome, saying Minister Eamon O’Cuiv will undertake an investigation in his department to see that many of the miners’ health problems such as tinnitus and asthma and other respiratory ailments will be addressed under the Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme (OIBS).

Minister O’Cúiv said he will work with the miners to reduce the hardship they are suffering. Currently the OIBS is too restrictive a scheme for the miners;  it does not address their needs because the list of prescribed illnesses is too tight. For example, pneumoconiosis is acceptable but COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – tinnitus and asthma are not.
Deputy Coonan pointed out that these are the main conditions suffered by the miners and the scheme needs to change. “The Minister seemed to accept that that scheme wasn’t sufficient to meet needs of miners and their health problems acquired from working in the mines. This is more than any of the Ministers’ predecessors has done to date. I hope this isn’t just an initial reaction that fades away, as has been the case in the past. The Minister has indicated that he will discuss the issue in-depth with his officials in the Department of Social Protection. I am cautiously optimistic that the miners may at last get some compensation,” concluded Deputy Coonan.

Continue reading Glimmer of Hope For Former Tipperary Miners

Increase In North Tipperary Farmers Seeking State Support

New figures show that the number of farmers availing of the Farm Assist Social Welfare payment in North Tipperary has soared in the last year. There have been 190 claims awarded up to May of this year, in comparison to 152 for the whole of last year.
This substantial leap in payments highlight the ongoing financial hardship experienced by farmers throughout the County.

Up until May 5th of this year, there were 190 farm assist claims awarded in the Thurles Social Welfare Local Office, with a further 12 claims still awaiting decision. These figures also cover the Nenagh and Roscrea Branches.

The farm assist scheme was introduced into the Social Welfare Act, in 1999. It fairly addresses the situation of low-income farmers and helps provide them with a safety net.  It benefits farm families with children and also provides increased payments to farming couples without children and to single farmers on low income.

While this means-tested payment is broadly similar to the Job Seekers Allowance Scheme, it has a more generous means test, which takes account of the specific nature of farming and unlike Job Seekers Allowance; farmers claiming this payment do not need to be available for work outside of the farm in order to qualify.

North Tipperary Fine Gael TD, Deputy Noel Coonan who recently raised this worrying  issue through a parliamentary question he put to the Minister for Agriculture and Food and speaking to , stated:

Continue reading Increase In North Tipperary Farmers Seeking State Support

Councillors Helped To Fuel Property Boom

Those of our readers who are eager to understand, at one glance, the current state of Europe’s five shakiest economies, all of which have larger debts than Britain, France and Germany, should spend a little time viewing the diagram below, which comes courtesy of Bill Marsh/The New York Times.  See related article

Arrow widths are shown proportional to debt amounts. Perhaps Union Leaders and their membership, plotting the imminent suicide of this State, can more fully understand what lies ahead.

The state of Europe

Meanwhile back home in Co. Tipperary and the touchy topic of Land Rezoning.

The latter came at a time when the construction boom was expected to last forever and a day, and when this country was nose deep in cash, most of it shoveled out in badly advised and secured bank loans.

Our County Councillors have really, very few real powers, but unfortunately for tax payers, one of these is the rezoning of land. These Councillors, with visionary plans of their future elevation to Dail Eireann, did all in their power to mollify supporters, who were landowners and developers, pushed through land rezoning despite the best advice of regional planners.  Warnings regarding flood plains and required infrastructure, such as water treatment, sewage, roads, railways, were not heeded and now it’s too late.

The North Tipperary Authority, thankfully, under zoned land, leaving us now best placed to actually build proper sustainable community networked housing as we require it in the coming years. South Tipperary on the other hand were amongst the countries worst offenders for over zoning land for property and profit and now face the prospect of having to dezone much of this unwanted product, which is estimated to be approx.17 times above their future requirement.

Continue reading Councillors Helped To Fuel Property Boom

St. Patrick’s College Launches New Scholarships for 2010

This week St. Patrick’s College, Thurles, Co.Tipperary launched details of two new entrance scholarships aimed at recognising academic excellence.

These awards are based on academic achievement in the leaving certificate and will be awarded to incoming first year undergraduate students in both the BA in Education, Business Studies and Religious Studies and the BA in Education, Irish and Religious Studies.

The student with the highest entrance points in each programme will receive an entrance scholarship valued at €500.

Fr. Tom Fogarty, President of St. Patrick’s College stated:

St Patrick's College, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

“Our entrance scholarship program recognises the hard work and exceptional achievement of secondary school students, and by making these awards available, we aim to assist students in financing their continued education.”

These new entrance scholarships, compliment the St. Patrick’s College GAA scholarship announced earlier this year.

Dr. Rebecca Purcell, Head of Business in St. Patrick’s College stated :

“As our numbers continue to grow, it is important that we recognize high levels of achievement, in both the academic and sporting arenas, and reward those who have excelled in different facets of their life, prior to studying at St. Patricks”.

In 2009 St. Patrick’s College, welcomed over 80 first year students, a record number since the college’s official opening by President Mary McAleese in 2007. The St. Patrick’s College, Thurles entrance scholarships are supported by Archbishop Clifford and the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly.

Archbishop Clifford will present both scholarships at a special awards evening in September 2010 at St. Patrick’s College.