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American Chamber warns on CRU plan; Medtronic’s new stent; and bailing out struggling businesses

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Regulators’ plan to curb electricity demand by hitting big businesses with €70 million in extra charges will damage the Republic’s ability to lure job-creating foreign direct investment (FDI), multinationals have warned. Barry O’Halloran has the story, which sees the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland warning that penalising its members for energy use could be bad for the State’s reputation for FDI.

The chamber’s strong signal to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities comes as consumers are hit with another energy supplier announcing major increases in the price of power. Electric Ireland blamed the company’s latest price hikes “on ongoing volatility in the wholesale energy market, writes Eoin Burke-Kennedy. The business claimed the cost of supplying electricity and gas to customers in the Republic has risen by 700 per cent in past 12 months and by 200 per cent since June.

Eoin also has details of a new Department of Finance report that shows just ten companies and 500,000 taxpayers accounted for a third of all tax generated last year. This concentration creates a “potential vulnerability” at the heart of the Irish tax system, according to the analysis.

In happier news, Dominic Coyle reports that Medtronic’s Galway research team has developed a new-generation stent that will allow surgeons to tackle heart blockages that were inaccessible until now through non-invasive methods. The Onyx Frontier was used for the first time in Ireland on Thursday by Prof Briain MacNeill in a procedure at University Hospital Galway.


In his Caveat column, Mark Paul looks at the distance we’ve travelled down the road towards a cashless society and asks who benefits from this journey. Clue: he doesn’t think it’s the consumer.

Separately, fresh figures from Banking & Payments Federation Ireland show online and mobile banking payments reached fresh record highs in the second quarter, outnumbering direct debit payments for the first time, while contactless payments also continued to surge. Laura Slattery reports.

Mark Paul also takes an in-depth look at what the Government might be able to do in the face of calls from businesses to provide cash to stave off their failure. He details specific instances of alarming input cost hikes faced by companies and reports on Ibec suggestions that the Government should consider “lump-sum transfers” to struggling businesses and households. Another commentator asks, however, if it might not be better for some of the weaker businesses in trouble to go into liquidation.

In his Economics column, John FitzGerald considers changes in the labour market over the last couple of years alongside asking if the economy has been growing at an unsustainable rate, especially when shortfalls in the supply of housing are considered.

Entrepreneurship is one way people with disabilities can create their own employment, writes Olive Keogh in our Work section. She speaks to successful disabled entrepreneurs, at the same time acknowledging that conventional programmes aimed at supporting the establishment of a business often don’t meet the needs of those with disabilities. Also in our Work pages, we look at companies’ efforts to make “virtual onboarding” more effective by offering enhanced welcome kits and gift boxes to new employees.

And finally, this week’s Wild Goose is Los Angeles-based Wendy Mather, who tells Barbara McCarthy about life running an international promotional and consumer products company. The Co Cork native studied marketing at the Cork College of Commerce but says she got her work ethic from her father and grandmother.

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