Tuesday, 29 April 2008

'NO' to Lisbon urged by aviation millionaire

Aviation multi-millionaire, and FINE GAEL friend, ULICK McEVADDY (remember the MARY HARNEY holiday in FRANCE controversy?) has spoken of his "Very difficult" decision to call for a "No" vote in the LISBON TREATY REFERENDUM at a Press Conference in DUBLIN's MERRION HOTEL on SUN 20th APRIL.

He said: "...having read this [Lisbon] Treaty four times ..I am certainly unable to say that it is going to be in any way beneficial to the interests of the Irish people, or the Irish business community.

I have a deep and abiding appreciation of what membership of the EUROPEAN UNION has done for this country ..I understand the desire of many people to "repay" Europe for that support by supporting this latest offering at the ballot box.

On the other hand, I believe that affection and respect for Europe must be repaid with due diligence and thoughtful consideration of what is in Europe's best interests. This document is set to determine the future of Europe for the next 1,000 years. Reading it, I come to the conclusion that it is unwieldy, unclear, incredibly poorly drafted, and will require years of interpretation by lawyers and the EUROPEAN COURTS.

Further, I am troubled by the lack of any meaningful attempt to make Europe more democratic.

These troubles are not assuaged by the fact that across Europe, in many cases in direct contravention of promises by Government, the people of Europe are being denied the chance to voice their opinions on this generation-defining document at the ballot box.

In the case of IRELAND, I am troubled by the very clear risk to our ability to determine our own taxation levels. The risk, identified by LIBERTAS and DECLAN GANLEY, and then confirmed by JOSE BAROSSO this morning, of destination taxes being imposed on Irish business is not one that I think we should take, in the national interest.

There is only one thing clear about this treaty, and that is that it is completely unclear.

Europe needs a constitution and a rulebook that is clear, and gives the people as much input as possible. Ireland and the UNITED STATES both have documents of this nature.

When the leaders of Europe draft something that the ordinary person can understand, and that will not need decades of legal wrangling to determine its effect, I will gladly support it.

On this occasion, however, I am giving my support to Libertas' call for a rejection of this treaty on JUNE 12th".

Monday, 28 April 2008

false property-sales figures from agents

The IRISH TIMES property editor has written to Irish Estate Agents warning them to cease providing false figures for property sales. The Irish Times publishes sales results in it's weekly property supplement every Thursday.

ORNA MULCAHY, Property Editor says that in many cases sales figures have been inflated by as much as 20% to hide the fact that values have dropped much more than the public actually realise.

It is clearly in the interest of estate agents to hype-up values in an attempt to re-ignite sales in a stagnant market.

Property has slowed to a stand-still over the last year and anecdotal evidence tells us that those selling are often knocked-down by as much as 20% below advertised guide prices - bringing values closer to the 30% figure which experts believe is the amount of over-valuation.

I personally know of two very similar properties in a sought-after city centre location. The vendor of one had hoped to achieve around EU1.4 million for her property ..an over-eager neighbour pushed that to EU1.75 million which was clearly over-valued even as the boom reached it's peak in Feb 2007.

An identical, if not more attractive, property 4 doors away came to the market around Feb - 12 months later - and didn't sell at EU1.3 million so was reduced further to EU1 million. I wouldn't want to be that lady who has seen the value of her property drop 40% (EU750,000) in 12 months!

RTE commented that Estate Agents are known for their 'hyperbole' and we shouldn't be surprised they are hiding the truth. Remember that the next time you hear the property market is recovering slowly.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Law gives access to Gardai of your internet usage

THE RANGE of criminal investigations for which the Garda will be able to request e-mail and internet data retained by internet service providers has been broadened by the Government.

In the latest draft implementing European directives on data retention "serious offences" would be defined as "any offence for which a person . . . could receive a maximum custodial sentence of six months".

This is a broader definition than that in Section 1 of the Bail Act 1997, which defines a "serious offence" as an arrestable offence with a minimum prison sentence of five years.

Offences that could now be deemed "serious" under the statutory instrument would include public order offences, such as refusing to move on when asked to do so by a garda, or minor assault.

The former minister for justice Michael McDowell had vowed that retained data would only be used in the prosecution of serious criminal and terrorism cases.

The draft statutory instrument would also apply the proposed new definition of serious offences to the current data retention regime on call data introduced in the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005.

In an apparent attempt to seek a compromise on retention more acceptable to the internet service providers - who would carry the cost of implementing it - the proposed legislation now seeks a 12-month retention period rather than the two years allowable under the EU directive.

Under the draft statutory instrument, retained data would include names of those who sent and received e-mails, computer addresses, the location of computer users, the times a user logged on and off a computer, and the size of files and e-mails sent and received, but not the content of e-mails.

Currently, the Garda can obtain telephone and mobile call data with no restrictions at all, a situation that has been repeatedly criticised by Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes and national and international privacy advocacy groups.

"This SI is clearly undermining all the normal legal understanding of what constitutes a serious offence," said Ivana Bacik, senator and Reid professor of criminal law at Trinity College Dublin.

"If they are making a change like that, it should be brought in through primary legislation," the Independent senator said.