Department officials gave warning shared equity scheme would inflate house prices

Seen & Heard: Indoor dining push-back, Perrigo’s tax bill and Heineken’s new stout

Under pressure: Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Under pressure: Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Internal documents have revealed that Department of Housing officials warned that a shared equity housing scheme would lead to “inflated house prices” and would ultimately amount to an “incentive” for developers and “not the purchasers”, according to a report in the Business Post.

A litany of previously unpublished concerns expressed by his own department are likely to add to pressure on Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, who is bringing forward the shared equity scheme in the new Affordable Housing Bill.

The issues raised in the documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Féin’s housing spokesman, are the latest in a series of severe critiques of plans for the scheme.

The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), the Central Bank and the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers have cautioned the State against putting the initiative in place, claiming it will inflate property prices.

A separate report in the Irish edition of the Sunday Times highlights comments by Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty, who says the Government must take the opportunity to increase borrowing on international markets or it will fail to meet the human and social cost of the housing crisis.

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Government may push back indoor dining by two weeks

The Government is considering a two-week delay to the reopening of indoor dining in pubs and restaurants to stave off the threat of the Delta variant, the Business Post reports.

The planned reopening on July 5th could be pushed back until July 19th, when international travel is due to resume on a widespread basis.

Pub and restaurant owners have reacted with exasperation at the prospect of a further delay on allowing indoor gatherings, which will leave Ireland as an outlier in Europe.

However, it is understood the Government believes the two-week pause on indoor dining will provide more time for people in the crucial 60-69-year-old age group to get their second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, thereby reducing their risk of serious illness from the variant.

Heineken sets sight on Guinness market with launch of new stout

Drinks giant Heineken is to launch a new stout with ambitions to take a substantial chunk of market share in a category dominated by Guinness, the Sunday Independent reports. Heineken Ireland has spent two years developing Island’s Edge and will start selling the stout in 300 Dublin pubs in the coming weeks, before going nationwide in September. Paula Conlon, the brand’s marketing manager, said Heineken expected the stout to be a mainstream product. It will be backed by a significant marketing investment in the coming months.

Perrigo chief executive says pharma group’s €1.6bn tax penalty ‘not real’

The chief executive of Perrigo, a US pharmaceutical company with its headquarters in Ireland, has said the €1.64 billion tax penalty figure the company faces “is not even real any more”, as the firm continues to have dialogue with Revenue, according to the Sunday Independent.

Murray Kessler, the chief executive of Perrigo, was speaking at the Oppenheimer Consumer Growth and E-Commerce Conference last week.

During the virtual conference, Kessler said Perrigo had a very strong case against the €1.64 billion tax assessment from Revenue, adding he felt the assessment “should be zero”. He also said the assessment “weighed heavily in the stock” and that Perrigo is “continuing to have dialogue” ahead of a hearing by the Tax Appeals Commission in November.

Irish red list travellers flee hotel quarantine

The Department of Health has been notified of 75 cases where people have absconded from quarantine hotels after travelling from red list countries with high rates of Covid-19 or variants of concern, according to a report in the Sunday Times. Only 24 of those people returned to the mandatory hotel quarantine system “voluntarily” after gardaí intervened.Sources in the quarantine system said that although there had been a small number of escapes from hotels each week since it started on March 26th, in the past week more than a dozen people had left hotels without authorisation.