Man dies and several injured after assaults in west of Ireland tourism hubs – dpa international

After a series of assaults on visitors in capital Dublin, Ireland’s image as a traveller-friendly destination could be further tarnished by a weekend of street violence in two tourist-draw towns on the Atlantic coast. A local man died on September 10 after being assaulted in Westport, which has long been popular with visitors from Europe and North America for its ocean and mountain backdrop and range of pubs. The same weekend saw a car driven into a crowd of people outside a shopping centre in Galway, a nearby city known for its traditional music scene leaving several people injured,. A brawl in the square where the car attack was carried out left several others hurt. Footage of the fighting has been doing the rounds on social media since the weekend, along with recordings of another dust-up elsewhere in the city.

Irish cops list spending plans after spate of Dublin street attacks – dpa international

The Irish government is to spend €10 million on policing in Dublin after being accused of sitting on its hands in the wake of several muggings, beatings and stabbings, some of them targetting visitors. “While policing alone cannot solve many of the factors which contribute to criminality or people feeling unsafe, high visibility policing is crucial to providing reassurance for all who live in, work in or visit our capital city,” said under-fire Justice Minister Helen McEntee on August 22. The spending will cover deployments of armed police, police dogs, checkpoints and will see police working overtime. McEntee’s statement and the police’s outlining of how the funding is to be spent came ahead of a court appearance by two teenagers arrested after a recent attack on British tourists in the tourist-trap Temple Bar district of the capital. 

US embassy warns Dublin visitors to ‘keep a low profile’ – dpa international

US citizens in Ireland should be “vigilant” while out and about in capital Dublin, according to the country’s embassy. The July 25 warning came after an American tourist was left fighting for his life after being attacked by a gang of teenagers close to O’Connell Street, Europe’s widest thoroughfare, and next door to one of Ireland’s main police stations.  The brutal beating of 57-year-old Stephen Termini, which was captured on CCTV, came in the wake of a June street assault that hospitalised Oleksandr Hrekov, a visiting Ukrainian actor. In 2019, 1.7 million Americans visited Ireland, a country where tens of millions of US citizens claim ancestry. The US is Ireland’s biggest source of foreign investment – with Meta, Twitter and Amazon all among the companies which have their European or regional headquarters in Dublin – and is also Ireland’s number one trade partner.

Irish pub-goers told to settle for even pricier Guinness – dpa international

Pints of Guinness served on June 29 2020 as Ireland allows some pubs to reopen after almost 4 months closure due to coronavirus (Simon Roughneen)

Travelling to Ireland for a summer holiday? Looking forward to an evening in a pub and a few pints of Guinness? If the answer is yes, you better be prepared to pay. Guinness owner Diageo has told the country’s pubs and bars that from August, it would be adding 4 cents ($0.045) to the price of a pint. With value-added-tax (VAT) thrown on, the increase – the second this year – will leave the thirsty punter shelling out 5 cents while waiting at the bar for a pint to settle. The move comes after the EU’s statistics agency Eurostat in June published data showing Ireland’s consumer prices as among Europe’s highest, at 46% above the European Union average, with beer and tobacco an eye-watering 116%. Ireland’s pub owners are aghast, with the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) labelling the timing of the hike, which affects beers including Kilkenny and Smithwick’s, as “awful.”

Irish consumers hit hardest by Europe’s power price surge – dpa international

Pedestrians seen on Grafton St., one of Dublin's main shopping avenues, in late May 2021. Ireland's economy was one of the few to grow last year (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — For around 22,000 electricity and gas customers in Ireland, a year of unprecedented expense could be about to get even worse. Suppliers Bord Gais and Electric Ireland, the latter a state-owned utility, confessed in late April to ‘billing errors’ that either saw customers charged twice or go months without being sent a bill. The admissions came the same week the European Commission published data showing 2022 as the priciest year on record for gas and electricity prices. “Average household electricity prices in the EU continued to show a sharp increase compared with the same period in 2021, from €23.5 per 100 kWh to €28.4 per 100 kWh. Average gas prices also increased compared with the same period in 2021 from €7.8 per 100 kWh to €11.4 per 100 kWh in the second half of 2022,” the Commission’s number crunchers at Eurostat said.

Dogs can forecast epileptic seizures, according to Belfast-based scientists – dpa international

DUBLIN – Man’s best friend can not only warn off burglars, herd farm animals or sniff out bombs and drugs, but can be predict epileptic seizures, according to Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). The seizures “are associated with a specific smell which is detectable by pet dogs,” a university-led research team said. Anecdotes about behaviourial changes in dogs suggested they were aware of impending seizures, but no scientific study had until now “investigated the veracity of these claims,” QUB said. Published in the journal MDPI Animals, the findings could help develop a “reliable” and potentially life-saving early warning system” for the world’s 65 million people who live with epilepsy, of which around 30 per cent “cannot control their seizures by medication.”

Ireland’s bishops challenge government’s restrictions on some ceremonies – dpa international

St. Saviour's Catholic church in Dublin in mid-July 2021 (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Ireland’s government and several Catholic bishops have clashed over whether already-postponed first communion and confirmation ceremonies should be put off until later in the year. Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said plans by three of Ireland’s 26 dioceses to proceed with the ceremonies, which usually take place during the school year but have been postponed as part of pandemic curbs, amounted to “putting lives at risk.” Donnelly’s warning followed similar comments by Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Michéal Martin late last week. However the health minister acknowledged as correct an interpretation advanced last week by Kevin Doran, bishop of the western Elphin diocese, that the apparent bans are guidelines rather than laws. Alphonsus Cullinan, bishop in the southern town of Waterford, said on Saturday he could “see no valid reason for the further postponement of the sacraments,” after crowds returned to sports events.

Multinationals in Ireland outdid rest of economy combined last year – dpa international

US multinatonal's Baxter Healthcare operations in the west of Ireland (Simon Roughneen

DUBLIN —  For the first time on record, multinational corporations in Ireland last year produced more gross-value-added (GVA) than all other parts of the economy put together. According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), “sectors where foreign-owned multinational enterprises are dominant grew by 23.1 per cent,” pushing their share of GVA from around 45 per cent in 2019 to almost 53 per cent in 2020. But, with Ireland’s government imposing some of Europe’s longest-lasting pandemic restrictions, domestic-focused sectors, including construction, farming and retail, shrank by almost 9 per cent. The CSO said in June that around three-quarters of Ireland’s smaller enterprises reported falling turnover last year.

Irish government’s pub reopening plan criticised as “discriminatory” – dpa international

Outdoor drinking on a June Sunday afternoon in Galway (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Pubs in Ireland’s capital Dublin have slammed government plans to make them screen customers for proof of coronavirus vaccination as “discriminatory” and likely to spark conflict. The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said the measures, which would apply nationwide as part of a plan to reopen indoor service in restaurants and pubs, “will lead to flashpoints between hospitality staff and potential customers.” “Our members are already reporting there is real anger about this,” according to LVA chief Donall O’Keefe, who on Tuesday said there are “major question marks” about enforcement of the proposed rules, which would also cover customers with proof of previous coronavirus infection. However the LVA believes it has “no option” but “to go along” with plan due to the government’s threat to otherwise retain Europe’s sole remaining ban on indoor drinking and dining until at least September.

Tourism collapse could cut 4 trillion dollars from global economy – dpa international

Galway in the west of Ireland is a popular with visitors to the island (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — The global economy is facing losses of up to 4 trillion dollars due to the collapse of international travel, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The coronavirus pandemic and ensuing containment measures have caused a “crisis with devastating effects on developing countries, especially those dependent on tourism,” UNCTAD said on Wednesday.” The worst affected region is likely to be Central America, where gross domestic product (GDP) could shrink by almost 12 per cent by the end of the year in a worst-case scenario.