Ulster bank job losses, ex-Eircom CEO to sue, Irish-Ghana tax deal and banning new hotels

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

Ulster Bank's chief executive said there will be a fresh round of job cuts at the group as it seeks to rein in costs as ultra-low central bank interest rates squeeze lending margins. In this week's interview, she tells Joe Brennan how recovery from boomtime excess has taught Jane Howard always to ask: "What if we're wrong?"

Cathal Magee, the former interim chief executive of Eircom (now called Eir), plans to sue the company in a row over payment of a €150,000-a-year consultancy package he agreed with the company upon his exit in 2010. Mark Paul has the details.

Staying with Eir and the telco sector, Virgin Media is understood to be considering a strategic alliance with broadband provider Siro that would see it sell TV and broadband bundles to customers in regional towns. The move would represent a serious threat to market incumbent Eir, which dominates the regional and rural market here.

Irish officials overrode concerns from the Department of Foreign Affairs in striking a trade deal with Ghana that pushes down the levels of tax that the African country can impose on Irish investors. Dominic Coyle reports.


A potential deal that could have saved over a 1,000 jobs at the Ballymena bus firm, Wrights Group, was scuppered because of the factory's "leasing arrangements", senior industry sources have indicated, writes Francess McDonnell. Meanwhile, Peter Hamilton looks at the impact of donations made by the company to fund "Christian, evangelical and other causes" between 2010 and 2017, in the run-up to its financial difficulties.

The announcement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the UN this week that the State will join Belize, Costa Rica, France and New Zealand in banning future oil exploration permits for the Atlantic area, that forms 80 per cent of Irish territorial waters, caught many by surprise. In this week's Agenda, Barry O'Halloran reports on the implications for the nation's energy security, at a time when we are currently depending on a gas supply line that runs from Siberia.

Don't listen to claims that new hotels are damaging culture – it's hyperbolic nonsense, writes Mark Paul in his Caveat column. "Voting to curb their development won't help artists to create work. This week's move by councillors was simply economic vandalism, wrought for cheap praise on Twitter."

Finally, in his column this week John FitzGerald, credited by the Taoiseach with influencing his decision to ban future oil exploration permits, credits the value of the Government's in-house economists, such as those who examined what happened to the 200,000 construction workers who lost their jobs in the 2008-2010 period. The findings tell their own tale about our employment landscape and the potential for future policy solutions.

Stay up to date with all our business news: sign up to our business news alerts and our Business Today daily email news digest.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

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