I am nothing if not a slow learner, which is why it has taken me so long to realise that my breathing is all over the shop. In an ideal world, I would breathe every three strokes, alternating between my left and right sides. But this is far from an ideal world

Dominique McMullan: ‘I am falling in love with swimming’. Conor Pope: ‘It has taken me a long time to realise that my breathing is(...)

‘Consumers need to put more pressure on the banks by threatening to switch their business’

One Bank of Ireland customer saved €700 in mortgage interest payments last year after pushing his case; and the weird world of bon(...)

The mobile maze – by design or by accident – is always working against consumers, but they can fight back. Illustration: Getty Images

Getting the best value out of your mobile is confusing, and who do you think the big winner is from all that confusion? Hint: it’s(...)

Will queues for property rentals become a common sight  in Dublin once again?  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Rents across Dublin went up last year by just under 10 per cent, according to the Private Residential Tenancies Board

Almost 30,000 retired teachers, special need assistants and clerical officers have been left without their pensions  after an error by  Department of Education officials. Photograph: Alan Betson

Failure to lodge money into accounts affected almost 30,000

Suzanne Costello chief executive of Alcohol Action Ireland: ‘Like most systems of self-regulation in Ireland, the alcohol industry’s codes have proven to be wholly ineffective and has done nothing to protect the young and vulnerable members of our society from alcohol harm.’ Photograph: Bryan O’Brien / The Irish Times

Advertising affects children’s behaviour, says Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Suzanne Costello

Over the final three months of 2014, rents rose slightly in Dublin, notably in the apartment sector. Photograph: The Irish Times

Rent for houses outside capital up 4.4% from €639 to €667, apartments up from €595 to €612

Irish Water criticised the leaking of plans to allow it have water bills deducted from salaries.

Spokeswoman for utility says it has ‘no view’ on what Government decides on payments

People on a guided tour at Glasnevin Cemetery stop by Éamon de Valeras grave. The Glasnevin Trust has been accused of anti-competitive practices in its funeral services. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Trust accused of anti-competitive practices over selling burial plots, headstones

February CSO figures show residential prices down 0.4% nationally, 0.7% in Dublin

The Central Bank’s stock of one cent coins is running low, prompting it to call on consumers to re-circulate coins they have behind sofa cushions or piling up in change jars.

Noonan considering dropping one and two cent coins following trial where everything was rounded to nearest five

The study found the cost of comprehensive cover can differ between providers by up to €1,249. For third party fire and theft, the difference  was up to €975

Difference between highest and lowest premium across the board, survey finds

Supervalu said prices may vary due to individual stores running a local promotion or extending a promotion

Prices in rural towns and cable provider’s €20 charge for a remote control questioned

Catherine Kennedy at her stall in Moore Street. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Facing change from the council and German discounters, the market still wins on price

The required reserve was not reached on 17 of the 65 homes for sale in the online auction organised by Allsop Space.

High-stake eBay style process involved ‘bid extensions’ to prevent last second sniping

 Don Gallagher, chief executive of the Health Insurance Authority, with MInister for Health Leo Varadkar. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times.

Cover by spouse’s policy will count under lifetime community rating plan

Dominique McMullan: ‘I’m slowly developing an addiction’. Conor Pope: ‘Things appear to be much better’

Convivial drinking in a pub is grand, despite what the new puritans might have you believe (see also: red fizz, stage left). Photograph: Getty Images

We take pride in ‘Irish’ goods made overseas but take much local produce for granted. We complain to the wrong people. And it’s br(...)

Rick Elice, co-writer of Jersey Boys: ‘I have never been able to hold down a job. I have had no plan to my life, wherever the stream has taken me, I’ve gone.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Rick Elice co-wrote the record-breaking musical about the Four Seasons. He reveals how Valli and co’s tales of past criminal endea(...)

"Swimming, it turns out, is all about the Zen. Breathing, remaining calm and moving slowly are cornerstones of the sport. I really, really like this concept."

Dominique McMullan: ‘Sometimes I am like a torpedo' Conor Pope: ‘I am still struggling'

Dairy farmers say they make less than 2 cent profit on each litre of milk they produce

The Habitat shop that used to operate on Dublin’s  College Green.

Irish shops closed as recession took hold in 2008

A passion for fashion: Conor Pope working in the Oxfam Ireland shop in Rathfarnham. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Our Consumer Affairs Correspondent volunteers in an Oxfam shop. Beyond the feel-good factor, it’s a fascinating retail experience:(...)

‘We have spoken to our customer, apologised and explained the situation, which is now sorted,’ says a UPC spokeswoman

Also, a problem with a Leap Card; and Lotto iPhone app ‘as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike’

Sovereign Hand Shears: This is a very good product; it is easy to use and makes light work of all but the heaviest branches

What’s the sharpest buy? Pricewatch’s value-for-money verdict cuts to the chase

When it comes to travel within Muslim regions, Malaysia is the most preferred global destination. Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Indonesia followed Malaysia in choice holiday destinations. Photograph: Getty Images

UK finished in sixth place in one of lists, with Ireland 24th out of 25

Solicitor Brian O’Donnell with his wife Mary Patricia O’Donnell. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Couple set up investment vehicle Vico Capital and became major name in UK commercial property

Conor Pope:‘I can swim four lengths non-stop’

Limerick remains the best value destination in Ireland at an average of €76 a room. Killarney is the most expensive at €111

Rate of increase cited by hotels.com Hotel Price Index refuted by Irish Hotel Federation

Bank of Ireland: ‘We never ask for personal banking details such as account numbers and pins’

Plus, Meteor finally agrees to replace a faulty Samsung mobile phone

Love/Hate: Shopping online is fast and easy (although sometimes, perhaps, too fast and too easy). Illustrations:  Getty, Thinkstock

Online shopping turns 21 this year, but Irish consumers have been slower than others to do their buying on the web. They’re quite (...)

“Overall, retail sales have turned a corner and are back on a growth path, although off a very low base”

Survey shows consumer spending contributed to economic growth for first time since crash of 2008

New research from the Central Bank shows half of all mortgages taken out in 2007 were still in negative equity in the middle of 2014. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Prices fell by 1.4 per cent nationally in January. Is that good or bad news?

Thousands of Samsung smart TV users in Ireland were unable to access online services such as Netflix and Youtube. Photograph: Reuters

Irish users were unable to access online services such as Netflix and Youtube

Motorbike fanatics are now able to get the ultimate send-off thanks to Massey Bros funeral directors, who have   purchased Ireland’s first Harley-Davidson hearse in response to growing demand.  Picture  shows John Gibson of Massey Bros on a customised Harley-Davidson Electra Glide hearse, with Massey Bros business manager Peter Maguire in front. The  hearse will make its debut at the Irish Motorbike & Scooter Show  this weekend at the RDS. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Massey Bros funeral directors unveiling Harley-Davidson Electra Glide hearse

Figures from the CSO show prices in Dublin fell 1.9% in January and by 1.4% nationally

Elizabeth Arnett: “Landlord and tenants can confirm details at any time.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Numbers registering in rental sector significantly less than among owner-occupiers

Fair play: The label means the product offers a better deal. Photograph: Jean-Christophe Magnenet/AFP/Getty Images

Fairtrade Fortnight starts today. But what does the Fairtrade label really mean? Do goods bearing it cost more? And does the conce(...)

Irish Rail says it will ensure it is clear that customers can leave a voicemail to change a booking in future

Plus: say a novena for Passport Express

75-78 St Stephen’s Green: bought by Charles Stuart Parnell in 1867. Photograph: Eric Luke

Karl Deeter and Frank Quinn’s research has thrown up some interesting facts. We dropped in to some of the houses to see what they’(...)

The research  by financial analyst Karl Deeter, Frank Quinn of the Blackrock Further Education Institute and David Duffy of the Economic and Social Research Institute looked at streets across Dublin city

Research shows there were worse crashes and recovery took centuries

The service has slowed significantly as a result of an increased demand following a glut of passport applications. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Department of Foreign Affairs apologises for delays – now standing at 15 days waiting

From left, D is for detox, M is for mouthwatering, P is for pulled pork, S is for superfood

Retailers, restaurateurs and food producers will stop at nothing to sell us stuff we don’t really need at prices we can’t really(...)

Will Electric Ireland shed some light on this situation?

Plus: complaints about Yourtel lead to ComReg action

Valrhona Guanaja

Will the most expensive product win? Or will there be a dark horse?

At the launch of Swim Ireland’s  ‘Swim for a Mile 2015’  are, from left to right, Sam McGuinness, Simon Community, Erica Roseingrave, public affairs and communications manager, Coca-Cola, Sarah Keane, chief executive, Swim Ireland, Dominique McMullan, Conor Pope and Killian Byrne. Photograph:  Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

Water can kill you especially if you cannot swim: that's just one of the many reasons to learn how to swim a mile as soon as possi(...)

The European Parliament has approved plans that would force food producers to identify the country of origin of meat used as an ingredient in processed foods.  File photograph: Patrick Seeger/EPA

Parliament votes to force producers to identify origin of meat used in processed food

“The (European) Commission went to the industry lobby groups and asked if more transparent labelling would cost more, so of course it said it would,” said Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Irish MEPs to vote on country of origin labelling for processed meat products

A picture taken in Tuam on the day its sugar beet factory was demolished in 1987 became a talking point. Not why it happened. Or how. But who was the woman on the bike.  The jury’s in...it’s Catherine McGough.  Photograph: Eddie Kelly.

Facebook post helps find Catherine McGough who lives in only thatched house left in Tuam

Photograph: Thinkstock

Can you be romantic on the cheap this February 14th? If you plan carefully, act thoughtfully and are prepared to queue for roses, (...)

Smart move? An iPhone user was charged for Vodafone Live updates she didn’t want. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty

Plus: LoCall numbers that don’t add up for consumers

Matcha

Which of these four tested teas will leave the others green(er) with envy?

An Post’s latest “love stamp” is the ninth of its kind and comes in pink, red and yellow at €6.80 per book.

GPO unveils ninth love and marriage-themed stamp in time for Valentine’s Day

Méribel  at twilight

The skiing in Méribel is undeniably great – and off peak is as attractive as high season – but the slopes are not the be all and e(...)

A 500ml can of lager has 20 grams of alcohol, so, based on a minimum price of 90 cent per 10 grams, which Leo Varadkar and his department are considering, the cheapest retail price under minimum pricing would be €1.80

Minimum price, expected to be between 90c and €1.10 per 10 grams of alcohol, will be imposed

Wow Air, which uses A320 and A321 craft, is a relative newcomer to the international jet set, having been set up in 2011 by Icelandic entrepreneur Skúli Mogensen.

Low-fare Icelandic airline promising to fly from Dublin to US for less than €300 return

People take part in the anti-water charges rally crossing the Talbot Memorial Bridge in Dublin at the weekend. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Some 900,000 homes provided details out of about 1.5m set to receive first bills in April

The Healthwave move is likely to cause disquiet among many in the pharmacy sector, who have expressed concern about the practice of delivering drugs to people in their homes.

The move is under a new scheme launched by a Dundrum, Co Dublin pharmacy, Healthwave

When is a deadline not a deadline and other Irish Water questions answered

Deadline day is upon us and we have your questions answered

Workers install water meters outside houses in Fortlawn Estate near Blanchardstown, west Dublin, earlier this year. Picture Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin. Workers install water meters outside houses in Fortlawn Estate near Blanchardstown, west Dublin, earlier this year. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Deadline of midnight to register with Irish Water to receive accurate bills

Publicans and brewers blame a higher cost base in the Republic for price discrepancies between Dublin and Belfast of more than 40 per cent, but JD Wetherspoon isn’t buying it. Above, Wetherspoon’s Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, Co Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

An English pub chain in Ireland? Cheaper than local pubs? JD Wetherspoon has 30 new pubs planned for Ireland, and it already has o(...)

Airtricity spokeswoman said the company was ‘really sorry’. Photograph: David Sleator

This week’s problems: energy provider ignoring calls; issues with checking lottery numbers; and desperately seeking an alternative(...)

Cadbury

Who is the chocolate chip king? Find out below

Spoiled for choice: Temple Bar’s best pubs are heaving with people. Photograph: Frank Whitney/Photographer’s Choice/Getty

Ireland is one of the priciest places in Europe for nightlife, at €112 for a couple, according to a survey published this week. F(...)

The Central Bank has admitted the figures it used to set a price limit of €220,000 on 90 per cent mortgages for first-time buyers do not reflect current property prices in Dublin

Only 395 houses for sale in Dublin at less than €220,000 ceiling

More than €120,000 worth of Garth Brooks tickets for the concerts that never were have yet to be refunded a full year after they went on sale. Photograph: Getty

Around 2,000 of the 400,000 tickets sold for Dublin concerts not yet returned

Willbrook House, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, also  has a price tag of €220,000 and is a one-bed apartment extending to 37.52sq m (404sq ft) ²

Q&A: From what’s the status quo with lending to when the new rules kick in

Alan McQuaid, chief economist with Merrion Capital, described the underlying housing market as stronger than the official data suggests. Photograph: Frank Miller

CSO finds national prices rise 16.3% in the same period

In news which will come as a shock to absolutely no one, it has emerged that Ireland is quite an expensive place to have a night out.

Cost of dinner, drinks, babysitting and transport add up to a costly luxury

SSE Airtricity announced plans to reduce its household energy prices in a move which will save its gas/electricity customers an average of €58 a year

Move will save dual fuel customers an average of €58 a year

A Nissan Qashqai: new model had ‘problems’

This week’s problems: issues with a Nissan; a long wait for fibre broadband; and an Eircom fee imposed in error

A new report by Irish gas and electricity supplier Vayu Energy shows that consistently strong supplies and reduced demand across Europe have caused the Republic’s wholesale gas prices to fall 30 per cent year on year. Photograph: Sean Yong/Reuters

Drop in global gas and oil prices benefits business but not domestic customers

‘We make ourselves like alcohol even though it is a toxin.’ A wine-tasting in Tuscany. Photograph: Getty Images

Why do old people love salt? How does a plate’s colour make food taste different? And which is more sensitive, your tongue or your(...)

New York Bakery Co

Roll up for the battle of the holey bread

The average price of a home in Dublin is currently about €263,000. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Who will be affected by the Central Bank's proposals and what impact will they have?

The dogs Cara places in foster homes until permanent homes can be found tend to be vulnerable animals rescued from pounds or vets’ clinics, or dogs which have simply been abandoned.  File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Foster homes needed for abandoned animals or those rescued from pounds or vets’ clinics

Taylor Swift does not allow her music to be streamed on Spotify as she feels the financial arrangements are too miserly

New music service launches in Ireland on Thursday

A spokeswoman for Revenue said the compliance rate for 2015 was “well over 80 per cent”. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Revenue has urged those yet to pay the Local Property Tax to do so before the collection process comes to an end in the coming wee(...)

A scene from ‘The Irish Times’ offices earlier today as employees enthusiastically celebrate how motivated and passionate they are

On the day that the most people look to tart up their CVs, here are some traps to avoid...

RTÉ broadcaster Marian Finucane has married her long-term partner John Clarke.

The couple have been together for over 30 years

Tesco continues to hold the preeminent position in the Irish retail space although its lead over second-placed Supervalu is now less than half of one per cent.  Photo: Aidan Crawley

Irish supermarkets had their best Christmas since 2010 as shoppers upped spending

Refund may be due for unused blow-dries and gift voucher. Photograph: Thinkstock

This week’s issues: vouchers for a business that has gone into liquidation; cut-price berries; and flight ticket bingo

The vaguely good news is that, as the price increases from UPC and Sky amount to a significant change in the terms of their contracts, customers can discontinue services and find alternatives at any point between now and the beginning of February without a financial penalty. Photograph: Thinkstock

Prices for UPC and Sky are heading north, fast: many people will shell out more than €1,000 this year for TV, broadband and landli(...)

A low-cost divorce is possible if the couple can reach amicable agreement. But that’s the one thing many separating couples can’t (...)

The monthly eircom subscription fee for customers including those who have double, triple or quad-play bundles (voice, broadband, mobile and TV) will increase by between €2 and €8 depending on the customer’s specific bundle.

Average increase will be just under €60 a year

There were almost 1,000 cases dealt with by the ISI last year, new figures show

Total cost of applying for bankruptcy is now approximately €270

Dunnes Stores

Welcome to the battle of the fruit bags

Almost three quarters of a century after being sent to the gallows for a murder he had nothing to do with, Tipperary man Harry Gleeson (above) is to become the first recipient of a posthumous pardon from the State

Harry Gleeson is the first person to receive a posthumous pardon from the State

Almost three quarters of a century after being sent to the gallows for a murder he had nothing to do with, Tipperary man Harry Gleeson (above) is to become the first recipient of a posthumous pardon from the State

Petition for reprieve signed by 7,000 fell on deaf ears

The price for mobile data outside Three’s promotion plan proved a shock to one reader. Photograph: Thinkstock

A Three Mobile customer clocks up €140 in charges overnight; and a reader wins a battle against her car insurance company

Saving for a rainy day: don’t delay setting aside for your retirement.  Photograph: Thinkstock

The State pension will only get you so far: if you hope to have a comfortable retirement, it is important to start planning and sa(...)

Signs with the contact details of the Samaritans are to be installed on every railway station platform across the State

Campaign being run jointly by the Samaritans and Iarnród Éireann

Revenue hve been dealing with the extremely heavy filing rate of almost 8,000 payment notifications per hour. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Extension due to high call volume to LPT helpline and heavy filing rate of notifications

More than one million people paid the local property tax last year in one lump sum – by a single debit authority, debit card, credit card, cash, cheque or postal order or through regular cash payments.

Those who used direct debit or wage deductions shouldn’t hear from Revenue

  Last year was the best year for house price growth in seven years, according to the latest house price survey from MyHome.ie.  Photo: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Average asking price in the capital is now €269,000, following annual increase of 11.4%

Tesco

Which of these four brands of porridge is just right?

Photograph: Thinkstock

Eat porridge, jump on the wagon, leave your cards at home, and cash in those coppers

The ESB says CER has agreed a standard connection charge for premises reconnected after two years. Photograph: Eric Luke

It’s the new year, so we have some optimistic stories for you. Don’t get too used to it

Sky customers  can now access both UTV Ireland, which launched on  January 1st,  and UTV – which screens different programmes –  but UPC customers can only access the former channel.

Latest price rises follow hike of up to 14 % announced at the end of January last year

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