VHI faces illegal state aid investigation in Brussels

Seen & Heard: FBD paying publicans, Brexit supply gaps and Facebook lobbies Varadkar

The European Commission is investigating a complaint that Ireland gives illegal state aid to health insurer, VHI, writes the Sunday Times. The VHI is the main beneficiary of the €760 million subsidy risk equalisation scheme that compensates insurers with a disproportionately large share of older and sicker customers.

Insurer FBD has started making redress payments to publicans it acknowledges were misled by representations the company made to them at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Business Post reports. A ruling in a test case on the lengthy battle between the insurer and publicans over the terms of business interruption cover is due this week but might be delayed.

Yoghurt and other short-shelf-life products that pass through the UK on the way to the Irish market have been subject to supply interruptions, according to Simon Marriott, chief operations officer at BWG Foods, the company behind Spar in Ireland, the Sunday Independent writes. Exporting firms, retailers and industry representatives fear Brexit-related supply shortages may worsen as trading volumes return to normal, potentially leading to higher prices.

Facebook executive Nick Clegg lobbied Tánaiste Leo Varadkar about the social media giant's concerns over a landmark European court ruling on data privacy, according to the Business Post. The call with the former British deputy prime minister took place days after Facebook launched a High Court case against Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner on a related issue.


Housebuilders opted not to start new housebuilding last year in a move that will impact on the number of new homes coming to market this year, the Sunday Times reports. Construction Industry Federation spokesman Shane Dempsey said many builders decided to "harvest cash" in case they might have to "hibernate" later in the year due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

The owner of Killashee Hotel. a popular wedding venue in Kildare, are engaged in "positive discussions" with Bank of Ireland about an extension of forbearance in its debt as sales slumped 84 per cent during the peak season in 2020 due to Covid-19, according to the Sunday Times. Craigfort Taverns faces a test on loan covenants in March which it is unlikely to meet, it said.

Ireland will be watched closely by the European Commission and several large EU states as it implements new rules on policing video content on social media, the head of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has told the Sunday Independent.