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Irish report Irish report
by Euro Reporter
2012-09-18 08:25:26
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Price right for Ireland to step up market return

Ireland's debt chief said last week that its return to markets ahead of schedule means it can be choosy about future issuance but the price looks right for Dublin to step up its efforts and move swiftly towards exiting an EU/IMF bailout. Ireland has taken full advantage of a dive in bond yields since July by restarting its Treasury bill program, launching a bond swap, issuing its first sovereign annuity bonds and raising 4.2 billion Euros ($5.52 billion) in new long-term debt. The flurry of activity, spurred on by the decision by euro zone leaders in June to look at easing Ireland's bank debt, has allowed Dublin to slice almost 10 billion from a 12 billion Euros bond redemption which falls due just as its bailout cash runs out.

While further momentum would be generated if a more lenient bank debt deal was fleshed out by the end of the year, Ireland's debt agency is unlikely to wait that long to re-enter long-term bond markets with borrowing costs now on a par with Italy and comfortably lower than Spain's. "The NTMA (National Treasury Management Agency) are doing a very good job at the moment of managing the momentum in Irish bond prices as they gradually re-engage with the bond markets," said Ryan McGrath, a bond dealer at Dolmen Securities. "Because they are so cash rich and have more or less taken care of the 2014 funding cliff, they are not under any pressure but they also need to maintain their positive momentum." The NTMA has said it plans to do so by introducing its first inflation-linked bond, looking at tempting more pension funds with its new annuity product and issuing T-bills on a monthly basis after seeing the cost of selling three-month paper more than halve last week.

This alone would likely fully take care of what's left of the January 2014 bond, the sole redemption due that year, as well as beginning to pre-fund well in advance the 10 billion Euros that will be required to fund the 2014 budget deficit. Yet with recent moves by the European Central Bank and German constitutional court pushing yields on Ireland's 2020 benchmark bond to a more than two-year low of 5.33 percent, most analysts think the NTMA will be far busier than that. "I think it is definitely more likely than not that you will see a (long-term) issue from the NTMA in the next six weeks," said Donal O'Mahony, global strategist at Davy Stockbrokers, a primary dealer in Irish bonds. "Private capital is invested in core, core, core but the authorities in Europe have effectively incentivized it to go back to what it should be doing, availing of some still extraordinarily wide spreads in a system that is now safe."


Choice Ireland urges government to act on abortion

Choice Ireland says the government must now understand that legislation for the X-case is the will of the Irish people. The pro-choice organisation is calling on the government to take on board the strong support for change in the law to allow abortion where the life of a woman is at risk. An opinion poll in yesterday's Sunday Times revealed that four out of five adults would back such legislation.

Spokesperson for Choice Ireland Sinead Ahern says the figures didn't come as a surprise: "The Irish people were given two opportunities to reverse the X-case judgement in 1992 and 2002 and rejected it in both cases.”I think it's clear that at the time there was overwhelming support for the young girl at the centre of the case. The Irish people were quite horrified at the way she was treated. We're now hopeful that the government will listen to the Irish people and act."


One racist incident reported each week

One serious racist incident is reported every week, new figures show. The racist incidents include physical violence, verbal attacks, and harassment through the internet and the post. The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) received 27 serious incidents of racism over the first seven months of this year, but believes many more go unreported. A sinister development since the start of the year has been the emergence of the use of symbols and language associated with right-wing extremism. The ICI said it had become aware of the posting of an Irish flag with a swastika, the defacing of a playground with graffiti related to the Ku Klux Klan, and a letter posted on an individual’s car with references to white supremacists.

ICI chief executive Denise Charlton said it was clear racism was a real problem across Ireland. "Much of the incidents reported to us take place in public, with those on the street and public transport accounting for almost a third of cases," she said. "In more serious incidents people have not only been verbally abused but also have been victims of violence with random unprovoked attacks, incidents with neighbours, and assaults at work all reported." Ms Charlton said the ICI’s outreach work and use of focus groups had shown that many incidents of racism went unreported. "A variety of reasons are given including lack of information on where to get help, people not wanting to be seen to rock the boat as well as feeling that nothing would be done.

"We must overcome these obstacles and end the official complacency which is allowing the extremists to spread their message of hate. There can be no acceptable level of racism," she said. The ICI is working with public transport providers, Dublin City Council, and local communities to combat racism.  Later this month it will hold a conference with Dublin City Council focusing on getting young people involved in combating racism. The ICI’s Racial Incident and Referral Service offers people an opportunity to report incidents of racism or discrimination. Incidents can be reported confidentially, anonymously, and by the person experiencing it or someone who has witnessed it. The ICI says outreach and close co-operation with groups and organisations is more effective in building trust with people as they are more willing to discuss the incidents they have experienced or witnessed.

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Emanuel Paparella2012-09-18 10:28:58
Racism and xenophobia in Ireland is a disturbing phenomenon indeed, given that the indigenous Irish were for so long (at least 8 centuries), the victims of ethnic racism and in their own home on the part of the Normans and the English culminating with the great famine of the 19th century that killed one million people and the emigration of 2 million Irish. But then ought we be so surprised, considering that not one EU member state is currently exempt from racism and xenophobia?

I remember a conversation I had with my wife not so long ago. She happens to be Irish-American, the daughter of two Irish immigrants from Ireland to New York. She lamented the rise of racism in Ireland but at the same time she insisted that it should be placed in the above mentioned European historical context. I suppose what she was saying was that the example from the colonizers and the imperialists, who are now having difficulties practicing their liberal multiculturalism in their own countries, just as they had difficulties practicing it in their colonies abroad, has never been a sterling one throughout many centuries of European history; that is to say there has been a “misremembering” at work, to use Tony Judt’s expression. Misremembering leads to repetition of the errors of the past. I acknowledged her point as a valid one, but pointed out that to fight fire with fire and imitate in any way the racism and the xenophobia taught by one’s former oppressors is to ultimately have the oppressor win out. We agreed to disagree on this complex sensitive matter of xenophobia and oppressions in former colonies and to further ponder it before returning to discussing it.

Emanuel Paparella2012-09-18 15:30:55
Footnote and correction: my wife read the above comment and told me that I “misremembered” a few things and should set the record straight. Let’s see: she agrees that whenever we talk about the Irish we should always keep in mind the historical record of 8 centuries of English domination, racism and xenophobia. However, she feels that there is an implication in the above comment which can be misconstrued as her saying that she condones fighting fire with fire and discriminating against new arrivals in Ireland. That is not the case. She feels that the newcomers from the EU or outside the EU should never be discriminated or persecuted. She is in fact saddened by the news that these incidents have been popping up in Ireland due to economic difficulties.

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