McCrory defeats league vice-president Ronayne by 273 votes to 267 in Kerry

Michael Noonan, Minister for Finance: the spring economic statement, to be unveiled in the Dáil, will set a five-year plan for  public finances and assumes the economy will expand by 4 per cent this year. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Economic plan for last budget before election set to depart from ‘austerity’ precedents

News of the Central Bank examination of Siteserv’s sale by the former Anglo Irish Bank comes as Government prepares to publish terms of reference today for an inquiry into the transaction by IBRC’s special liquidators. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

No regulatory action taken afterwards and now there are calls for scrutiny of share sales

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, centre, with other participants at a finance ministers’ meeting in Riga, Latvia, yesterday. Photograph: Dmitris Sulzics/F64 Photo Agency via AP

With Greece no closer to a deal, doubt is spreading to other countries

Dublin Airport arrivals are returning to peak levels. Similarly, Dublin Port traffic is back at the peak. A big rise in public transport trips since the crash also reflects a higher level of activity. Photograph: Artur Widak/PA Wire

New data shows activity in some sectors in capital already back to peak levels

Prof Peter Clinch: ‘Already there are warning signs and domestically determined cost competitiveness is no longer improving.’

As economy picks up, costs have also advanced and pay pressures have risen

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton. Photograph: Eric Luke

Recent price reductions at risk of being reversed, cautions competitiveness council

Ireland was a reliable Tesco sweet spot for years, with sales advancing rapidly and a profit margin well ahead of the group average.

Aggressive discounters continue to eat into supermarket’s margins

Tesco had 10 successive quarterly falls in like-for-like sales in Irish market. Photograph: Getty Images

Annual sales in Irish business down to €2.56bn from €2.69bn in previous year

The new transatlantic cable will have the capacity for 200,000 simultaneous online movie downloads. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

The Aqua Comms project will provide an infrastructural backbone for the west coast

The cable will be the first fibre connection between Ireland’s western seaboard and the US. Photograph: Thinkstock

Aqua Comms’ funding for multi-million euro cable, landing in Killala, will help economy

The Central Bank in Dublin.  Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Central Bank moves to dispose of sovereign bonds held after collapse of Anglo Irish Bank

The Government is expected to announce its final mortgage arrears package at the end of the month, following the spring economic statement

Government planning further measures to tackle worrying mortgage arrears crisis

The office block being built by Denis O’Brien at the junction of St Stephen’s Green and Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Spectacular growth in commercial property is sparking bubble fears and posing a threat to FDI

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis speaking at the Brookings Institute in Washington on Thursday. Photograph: Paul J Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Angela Merkel is unlikely to cut Greece out of the euro given years of EU integration

A female activist is carried away by  security personnel after an incident at the press conference of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, yesterday. Photograph: Boris Roessler/EPA

Female activist jumps on ECB chief’s press podium and throws confetti

The Central Bank in Dublin. The IMF’s revised Irish forecast figure is directly in line with the Government’s forecast in the October budget but way behind that of business lobby Ibec, which has said gross domestic product will grow this year by 5.4 per cent

Irish economy forecast to expand 3.9% this year, up from 3.5% three weeks ago

A tour bus in Athens drives past graffiti depicting ancient lawmaker Solon: Greeks may need his wisdom now as debt talks resume. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

Warning comes as difficult talks resume between Greece and international lenders

Paddy Power shares jumped almost 3 per cent to a new all-time high of €84.34.

Smurfit Kappa centre of attention in Dublin, closing 2% stronger at €29.50

Minister for Jobs and Enterprise  Richard Bruton  at a jobs announcement: he aims to provide guidance to policymakers and inform political debate sooner than official data picks up changes in conditions.   Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Sensitive data used to track employment with results published each month

No 1 Harbourmaster Place, Dublin: “As the recovery has gained strength, office yields have continued to harden, which has enabled private equity buyers to cash in and move into higher yielding sectors,” says John McCartney, Savills Ireland director of research. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Private equity groups are moving into higher-yielding sectors such as retail

 Michael Noonan: message from the Minister is that there will be no wavering from the path of prudence. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Tax take across several categories surges in latest public finances data

VAT collections reached €3.8bn in the quarter, an increase of €431m, or 12.8%, on the same period last year. Photograph: Getty Images

Revenue exceeds target for first quarter by €545m, sparking further calls for tax cuts

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton:  notes that every person who leaves the live register to take up employment saves the exchequer about €20,000 a year. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Positive trend is such Taoiseach Enda Kenny is talking of ‘full-employment’ by 2018

Tax payments in the first three months of the year came in 5.5 per cent ahead of target   Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Three-month figures flattered by once-off transfer from National Pension Reserve Fund

Michael Noonan: acknowledged  the Central Bank did not have the power to force banks to reduce their rates but said the Central Bank could seek to persuade them to do so.

Noonan to ask Honohan to seek action from lenders on variable rate mortgages

The Central Bank on Dame Street, Dublin. “We have an economy which last year grew by nearly 5 per cent. We have an economy which is expected to grow by nearly 4 per cent this year and next”

Fiscal fuelling of cyclical forces must be avoided to maintain upturn, says bank

Gabriel Fagan, chief economist, at the Central Bank Quarterly Bulletin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Gabriel Fagan says high cost of Irish home-loans due to lack of competition

While the Central Bank said Ireland is making progress to overcome the legacy of the crash, the challenge now was to ensure the emerging recovery delivered a sustainable return to steady growth and increasing employment.

Economic recovery continuing, bank says, but cautions against fanning of cyclical pressures

The Fiscal Advisory Council cautioned that scope for discretionary tax cuts in the October budget will remain “limited”. Photograph: The Irish Times

Fiscal council backs ‘limited departure’ from expenditure curbs in last budget before election

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has argued  the granting of an extension to France to curb its deficit should be followed by the application of similar  flexibility for smaller countries. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Intervention will help Government’s bid for budget flexibility

The Japan Tobacco group has initiated action against the Government in the High Court to block the introduction of plain cigarette packs. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire.

Japan Tobacco group serves legal papers with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office

 Patricia King:  worried that courts would not be subject to judicial review

Ictu chief worried about ‘secret courts’ for investors and corporations

Some claim that ‘austerity’  has driven these health and education to the point of breakdown

The economy may be on the mend but health and education are still suffering

 Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton: “As a small open economy, Ireland’s ability to grow and create jobs is directly linked to our ability to sell our goods and services overseas”. Photograph: Eric Luke

Government-commissioned research predicts TTIP would hugely boost economy

‘Zayn Malik’s exit from hurly-burly world of 1D . . . might just preserve his composure.’ Photograph: Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

‘The proper place for a 21-year-old is in a nightclub; or a night-train to Mongolia with nothing much to do in the morning’

The IMF has issued a warning on public sector pay, saying the Government should contain the wage bill as the advancing recovery starts to “fire on all cylinders”.

Global fiscal organisation backs means testing medical cards and child benefit payments

The ESRI believes the new Central Bank mortgage caps to prevent another property bubble were mistimed. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Alert comes in wake of Coalition pledge on pay restoration and public sector union talks

David Duffy (left) QEC author and co-author Kieran Quinn, speaking at the publicatioin of the ESRI Quarterly Economic Commentary 2015. Photograph: Eric Luke/ The Irish Times

Ahead of a blitz of political promises, the think-tank offers some perspective

President Barack Obama: officials took note he had criticised tax stratagems deployed in Ireland by big global companies

Government moved to scrap loophole in budget after body highlighted criticism

A queue on  Poolbeg Street waiting for the Garda National Immigration Bureau to open on Burgh Quay. “A policy of large planned increases in the amount of immigration into the EU, while also politically challenging, may turn out to be the only way to keep the European economy expanding in the future”

EU population ageing to have enormous impact on growth potential, study says

The government will be obliged for years to maintain a very tight rein on spending and do more to eliminate what is known as the structural deficit

Statement will be dressed-up variant of a formal document the Government is obliged to produce under European budget rules

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan: the UK budget speech has many  parallels with the Irish situation. In fact they  are so striking that the same report could well be pre-written in respect of Mr Noonan’s next budget in October, the last before the election here.  Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Osborne budget: many economic methods ring a bell in Ireland

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has expressed concern about the effect of ultra-low interest rates in the global economy.

OECD urges states to take ‘more balanced approach’ to structural policy

Shipments of the bubbly stuff to Ireland remain flat despite with consumption down again in 2014

Dermot Desmond: Was aiming to develop a premier destination pitched at the top of the global market. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Financier’s private equity firm engages top legal advisers for multimillion dollar action

Anglo Irish Bank’s former headquarters: PwC did not believe interest roll-up data from the bank, which should, in the circumstances, have raised questions over the credibility of its other data. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Accountants uncovered fact that some big-time borrowers had ‘severe cash difficulties’

Former taoiseach Brian Cowen: told the Dáil in November 2008 that a PwC report ‘demonstrates, under a number of stress scenarios, that capital levels in the covered institutions will remain above regulatory levels in the period to 2011’. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Taoiseach was told banks might lose €10.6bn in worst-case scenario

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan: Government will publish “updated forecasts for 2015” in the spring statement. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Revenue from asset sales, ECB stimulus and buoyant exports at heart of fiscal agenda

Questions regarding goods made abroad have surfaced in reports from the Central Bank of Ireland. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Items do not pass through the State en route to purchasers but are still reflected in GDP

Bernard McNally, the owner of Supervalu in Clones, has seen an increase in buisness. Photograph: Ciara Wilkinson

Border town has seen uplift but hotels and firms such as Glanbia are also poised to benefit

The CSO’s Michael Connolly said the ‘traditional’ sector had posted strong growth Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

CSO finds that both domestic and multinational companies are posting expansion

On a seasonally adjusted basis, constant price Gross Domestic Product (GNP) rose by 0.2 per cent for the final three months of the year

GDP up 0.2% in fourth quarter with GNP up 2.3%

Chief executive of the Irish Exporters’ Association Simon McKeever said there was evidence to suggest small and mid-sized firms were also seeking to tap new opportunities in the British market. Photograph: The Irish Times

Currency weakness against sterling and dollar helping national recovery efforts

Sterling is down 10 per cent since the start of the year and the dollar is already down 12 per cent. Photograph: Getty Images

Euro’s decline towards dollar parity the big currency story of ECB quantitative easing

Arthur Cox in 1964. From the book ‘Arthur Cox’ written by Eugene McCague.

From corporate titan to missionary

A financial trader reacts as he monitors data on computer screens at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. With the European Central Bank buying its first government bonds this week to shore up the region’s economy, options traders are showing little concern that the DAX Index might decline. Photograph: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg

Bank buys up Irish sovereign bonds as part of European Council scheme

The failure to make more headway to settle the mortgage issue is seen within Government as a “chink” in its political narrative of deepening recovery.

Coalition planning campaign to solve mortgage crisis before election

‘Brexit’ would raise questions over the sustainability of the European system itself

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), left, speaks while Chrystalla Georghadji, governor of Cyprus’ central bank, listens during a news conference following an ECB meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus. Photograph: Yorgos Karahalis/Bloomberg

ECB will start buying €60 billion a month of euro-zone sovereign bonds next week

The ECB is expected to soak up between €500 million and €700 million of Irish bonds a month under the QE scheme, which is cast to avert threatened deflation and jump-start the stagnant European economy. Photograph: Martin Leissl/Bloomberg

Decision put floor under expectations on inflation, says ECB president

Jean-Claude Trichet, former president of the European Central Bank: the banking inquiry has sought legal advice on whether it could admit his observations as formal evidence which could be used when questioning witnesses and in its ultimate report. Photograph: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

Audience would have an opportunity to ask questions on ECB’s role in Ireland’s crash

Tánaiste Joan Burton interviewed by Digital Development Editor Hugh Linehan in The Irish Times office. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill/The Irish Times

Burton: Revenue growth to enable long-term investment in education and road network

The Nasdaq dipped below 5,000 the day after scaling the milestone level for the first time in 15 years. Photograph: Reuters.

British and US stocks ease some recent gains as Iseq gives up 1.08 per cent

Income tax receipts in January-February were €183 million stronger than in 2014 and spending in the Department of Social Protection declined by €238 million

Clamour to relax its stringent fiscal stance will increase

The department of Finance said the State collected €6.74 billion in taxes in January and February, an increase of €925 million or 15.9 per cent on the same period in 2014 . The overall return was €345 million or 5.4 per cent ahead of the target set out in the October budget .

Exchequer returns for February also show lower social welfare expenditure as job creation improves

James Reilly: the Minister for Children expressed disquiet that solicitors Arthur Cox are simultaneously working as corporate legal adviser to Tusla Corporate (in a contract worth €800,000) while acting for Japan Tobacco. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Arthur Cox threatened action against State over plain cigarette packaging

Michael O’Leary: The group’s reputation for the shadowy exercise of power is at odds with his brash public image. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Ryanair chief asked to join select conference reputed to truly govern international affairs

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, who will speak on political stability at the Institute of Directors today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

The mantra of ‘political stability’ will be at the centre of the coming election campaign

 Chief executive of the IDA Martin Shanahan said the current pipeline of job projects looks “looks reasonably strong for the foreseeable future”.   Photograph: Alan Betson

Agency will seek to win up to 900 extra investment projects in next five years

Martin Shanahan, Chief Executive IDA, said that companies themselves ultimately decide where they want to locate. Photograph: Alan Betson

Latest data shows unemployment rate is within a whisker of Government’s 10% target

Central Bank economist Yvonne McCarthy: ‘People in fragile employment have a 5 per cent higher probability of being in distress with their mortgage relative to people in secure employment.’

About 20% of people in arrears previously unemployed, says economist

Inquiry chairman Ciarán Lynch welcomed the ECB’s offer of assistance but said it still wants to hear directly from Jean-Claude Trichet. Photograph: The Irish Times

Move follows intervention by Taoiseach over bank’s refusal to participate in investigation

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has warned smokers of the number of serious diseases linked to smoking and insisted the Government will introduce plain cigarette packaging. File photograph:Jonathan Brady/PA

Health Minister warns of numerous diseases linked to smoking

The Irish Cancer Society said it had received €20,000 in both 2013 and 2014 from Arthur Cox, one of Ireland’s most powerful business law firms and a legal adviser to the Health Service Executive.

Charity says donations from legal firm acting for Japan Tobacco will be declined

The relative lack of contagion to other stricken countries over turmoil in Greece demonstrates that once-potent vectors of crisis have been blunted. Photograph: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

Focus on fiscal probity, political stability and banking recovery against backdrop of Greek drama

Leo Varadkar said there was no conflict of interest as the legislation was being prepared by the Departments of Health and Children and not the HSE. Photograph: The Irish Times

James Reilly seeks appraisal as firm comes under pressure to sever ties with big Tobacco

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams: the matter of the party’s progress was being raised in the wake of Syriza’s election victory last month in Greece. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Concern at likely impact restructuring of loans but overall perception of Ireland positive

Minister for Children James Reilly with an example of how plain packaging would look. As health minister, he refused to meet a delegation of tobacco industry leaders in Government Buildings. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Suggestion of a threat to intellectual property is nonsense; this is about saving lives

Legal practice involved in threatened action by firm over branding legislation

Chris Macey of the Irish Heart Foundation, a client of Arthur Cox, who said the organisation  recently decided not to “use the services of companies that further the aims of the tobacco industry in relation to the influence of public health policy.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Firm involved in threatened action over plan to ban branded packaging

 Japan Tobacco’s unambiguous missives   on plain packaging on cigarette packets, to Ministers James Reilly and Leo Varadkar, all but confirms the inevitability of action in the High Court. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

‘Big Tobacco’ watches closely as plain packaging precedent may affect larger EU markets

James Reilly: Introduced the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Bill last year when minister for Health but he retained command of the file when he became Minister for Children. Photograph: The Irish Times

Benson and Hedges owner warns of legal action unless Ministers halt legislation

Protesters gather in front of parliament during an anti-austerity and pro-government demonstration in Athens on Sunday. Photograph: Reuters

New coalition government to get final opportunity to seek extension to bailout programme

Jean-Claude Juncker: The European Commission chief presented EU leaders with an “analytical note” on the implications of the wider crisis in the euro zone. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

High-level EU analysis indicates ‘imbalances’ legacy since launch of single currency

‘As the talks ended in stalemate, participants noted privately that the direction issued from Athens severely undermined Varoufakis’s authority’. Above, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis  talks to Minister for Finance Michael Noonan  during  the euro zone finance ministers’  meeting  on Wednesday.  Photograph: REUTERS/Yves Herman

‘The dimensions of the challenge facing Tsipras became clear last Wednesday night when his close lieutenants attended an emergenc(...)

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis: stance set out was rejected by all of his counterparts. Photograph: Orestis Panagiotou/EPA

Analysis: ECB president’s intervention ratchets up the pressure on Alexis Tsipras

The statistical change in question centres on a big increase in the recorded value of “contract manufacturing” conducted outside Ireland for certain groups registered here. Illustration: Thinkstock

At issue is what would happen if impact of four or five big firms were suddenly withdrawn

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with  Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi (left) and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras  during a European Union leaders summit in Brussels. Photograph: Reuters

Greek move, seen as political climbdown, follows standoff with EU finance ministers

(left to right) Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras and Taoiseach Enda Kenny pose for a “family photo” during an European Union leaders summit in Brussels. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/Reuters

Taoiseach declines to comment on whether Tsipras over-promised during election

Michael Noonan: in Brussels attending the meeting of euro zone finance ministers. Photograph: The Irish Times

Greek finance minister Varoufakis pulls plug after joint statement agreed in Brussels

Michael Noonan: Sympathetic to the Greek people’s humanitarian difficulties, but he said sovereign governments were responsible for their own affairs. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Coalition undecided on seeking similar measures if Athens secures concessions

A number of credit unions ran into severe financial trouble in the financial crash, the most notable being Newbridge Credit Union. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Sector would face steep regulatory hurdles over home loans, say officials

In New York, Twitter jumped 15.8 per cent to $47.77. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Dublin market ‘a bit weaker overall’ in line with European sentiment

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde in Dublin earlier this year.The Government has paid off a further €3.5 billion of its IMF debt as part of an early repayment plan. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Early repayment plan means further €5.5 billion to be paid in ‘coming months’

Irish household debt ratio reduction second only to United States, reveals McKinsey report

A Central Bank study says mortgage indebtedness proves to be a “particularly heavy burden” for the younger age cohort.

Central Bank research adds to picture of a generation under strain

Central Bank chief economist Gabriel Fagan said EU rules compelled Ireland to continue cutting the structural deficit. Photograph: The Irish Times

Central Bank: ‘Essential to build on and consolidate achievements so far’

The Central Bank has urged pay restraint in order, it says, to safeguard competitiveness. Photograph: The Irish Times

Warning comes only days after Siptu’s call for 5% pay increase across the economy

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