Ryanair profits fall, and David McCourt’s interest in Anglo assets

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

Ryanair's first-half profit fell by 7 per cent to € 1.2 billion, as average fares declined due to excess capacity in Europe and repeated air traffic controller strikes, as well as action by the carrier's own staff, caused a spike in flight cancellations.

The US businessman David McCourt whose meetings with Denis Naughten led to his resignation as Minister for Communications held a series of meetings with the former Anglo Irish Bank about buying assets, reports Simon Carswell. At the time the Department of Finance was pushing the bank to sell off assets in a run-down of the business.

Mr McCourt is central to the controversy surrounding the Government's National Broadband Plan. Independent auditor Peter Smyth is currently assessing whether Mr Naughten's contacts with Mr McCourt, chairman and founder of US investment firm Granahan McCourt, have compromised the tender. According to Fianna Fáil communications spokesman Timmy Dooley the Government should mandate the ESB to deliver the plan as a means of breaking the current impasse.

Staying with broadband access, Pure Telecom and BT have signed a multimillion euro deal that enable the company to bring high-speed broadband to rural areas using BT's infrastructure. It is understood some of these customers would fall under the remit of the proposed National Broadband Plan.


New criminal offences including "reckless trading" and "causing a financial institution to fail" sho uld be introduced as part of an overhaul of white collar and corporate crime legislation, according to the Garda. In a submission to the Law Reform Commission (LRC), the Garda said an offence of "reckless trading" should be introduced based on the findings of the Nyberg and Honohan reports into the financial crisis.

A senior judge has warned of the need forurgent action to revise a 2011 law that allows State agencies to access people's phone and internet records, more than a year after a former chief justice found it amounted to mass surveillance of the entire population.

Ireland's reliance on its "comparatively generous" state pension is storing up problems for the future, a new pensions review argues, as it calls for broader private pension coverage and the introduction of a minimum level of mandatory pension savings. In the Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index for 2018, which ranks 34 countries in terms of the sustainability of their pension systems, Ireland has held onto its ranking of 12th.

A unit of German stock market operator Deutsche Boerse is in talks with Irish authorities about facilitating the continued settlement of shares traded on the Dublin exchange following Brexit, according to sources. For the past two decades, the settlement of trades has been carried out by a UK operation called Crest, but it will lose the right to passport services into the Republic after Brexit.

One notable reason for the Brexit debacle is a lack of awareness of history. So argues Chris Johns, who contrasts the current situation in the UK with the fall of the Roman empire. "Nero's violin playing amidst chaos and destruction that he caused has contemporary resonance in Boris Johnson's newspaper columns." Johns predicts: "Just wait a few years and they will be clamouring to join the euro. Reality does have a habit of intruding but it can take its time."

While employers' are eagerly embracing unconscious bias training in an effort to tackle issues with gender and diversity in the workplace, Pilita Clark says the reality is that evidence shows such programmes just don't deliver the required changes in behaviour.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times