Economy surges on exports; powering up the French connection; and unscrupulous tenants

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

Personal consumption expenditure, a measure of consumer spending on goods and services, fell by 10.4% in 2020. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Personal consumption expenditure, a measure of consumer spending on goods and services, fell by 10.4% in 2020. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill


Figures for the Irish economy last year have been revised up, making it one of the best performing worldwide despite Covid restrictions – at least in GDP terms, writes Eoin Burke-Kennedy. Numbers for the domestic economy were much less bullish.

Eirgrid has applied for permission for a ¤1 billion electricity interconnector with France that will come ashore at Youghal and join the grid close to Midleton. Barry O’Halloran has the details.

Unscrupulous tenants who took advantage of Covid emergency measures to stop paying rent or pay utility bills has caused the collapse of a property group that specialised in renting luxury homes around Dublin, a court was told on Thursday.

Swedish airline Amapola Flyg has agreed to begin flying the Dublin Airport-Donegal State-subsidised service from the end of the month, writes Barry O’Halloran.

Meanwhile, Barry reports, Kerry Airport’s board appears less than enthused with the news that the Ireland will begin operating flights on that route on a commercial basis.

And Dublin Airport has been accused of a deliberate attempt to reduce the level of scrutiny on airport charges after calling for a new “more flexible” regulatory regime. Seán McCárthaigh reports.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe was upbeat about the economic recovery before an Oireachtas committee yesterday but he warned that it was an “unfortunate reality” that some companies would not survive in the post-pandemic world.

RTÉ seems to be one of the few winners in Covid, with the broadcaster recording a rare net surplus – of €7.9 million – last year after the pandemic led to the cancellation of major sporting events and a consequent reduction of its costs. Government advertising meanwhile boosted revenues, writes Laura Slattery.

Laura also reports a seeming “fairy-tale recovery” for the Irish film and television production industry as Covid restrictions ease. Screen Ireland says it is now expecting “potentially record levels” of activity in 2021.

Looking to the future, as politicians, businesses and consumers digest the Green Deal unveiled by the European Commission on Wednesday, Eoin Burke-Kennedy highlights five areas that are likely to be flashpoints for Ireland.

In Caveat, Simon Kuper argues that the approach to the Covid pandemic – where rich countries use their resources to fast-track a solution without regard to their poorer neighbours – is probably a preview of how climate change will work out.

Finally, John FitzGerald draws on the post-second World War experience of Ireland and Britain to warn that a botched reopening can be exceptionally damaging and wildly unpopular. If today’s British government is forced by pressures on the health service to reverse its headlong decision to end all restrictions, he says, the population may be very unforgiving.

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