BoI to close branches in North, property prices to rise 4%, and tricky vaccine issues for employers

Business Today: the best news, analysis and comment from The Irish Times business desk

Bank of Ireland is preparing to scale back its operations in Northern Ireland significantly, though the business is set to escape being shuttered as a result of a strategic review that is nearing completion, Joe Brennan reports this morning. The bank currently serves 200,000 customers across 28 branches in the North, with 600 employees.

Ahead of a meeting of euro zone ministers today, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that EU governments can expect to borrow heavily for at least another 12 months. In an interview with our Political Editor Pat Leahy, Donohoe said the response to the current crisis is "profoundly different" to the aftermath of the financial crisis; this time the Government will seek to maintain high levels of public investment for the coming years, he said, avoiding the pitfall of the last crisis, when capital investment was slashed along with everything else.

The property market surprised experts last year by remaining buoyant despite the Covid-19 crisis. The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland is forecasting that residential property prices will rise by an average of 4 per cent in 2021, with the overnight shift to people working from home last year leading to "a reordering of priorities" and a rise in demand for larger properties in regional locations with good broadband. Joe Brennan reports.

In another report published this morning, the International Air Transport Association is warning that more airlines will go out of business this year as the industry faces the loss of a further $38 billion. The report, published by PWC Ireland, predicts airlines will have to cut their fleets as there are too many aircraft in the world, while the 4.5 billion passengers they carried before Covid will not return overnight, writes Barry O'Halloran.


Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of Irish chief executives say the coronavirus crisis will lead to a permanent change of their business models.The survey of 381 chief executives by business lobby group Ibec found that the ability to collaborate and innovate, absenteeism, and bringing employees back into the office following the pandemic were key concerns for many in the year ahead.

In her column this week, Pilita Clark is taking a look at what employers are doing around the world to entice their staff to get the Covid-19 vaccine, while Michael Doyle, partner in A&L Goodbody's Employment Law Group, examines the tricky legal issues employers may face around the vaccine roll-out.

Ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration as US president on Wednesday, Chris Johns is writing about how Donald Trump wasn't wrong about everything.

Irish PR start-up CW8 Communications is planning to double its headcount in the next 18 months; Laura Slattery talks to founder Seán Pattwell who is predicting a "bananas" year for the company.

And finally, Dominic Coyle advises a reader on tax inheritance for adopted people inheriting from either of their birth parents.

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Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny, founding editor of Irish Times Abroad, a section for Irish-connected people around the world, is Editor of the Irish Times Magazine