Bureau Chief, UK and Ireland
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Mar 2, 2011

Irish Life ups impairment charges, sees losses easing

LONDON, March 2 (Reuters) – Bancassurer Irish Life and
Permanent (IPM.I: Quote, Profile, Research) reported an operating loss of 197 million
euros ($272 million) for 2010, in line with 2009, after hikes in
provisions for mortgage losses offset a rise in profits in its
life business.

The results were broadly in line with expectations.

Irish Life, the only Irish lender to avoid a state bailout
after a slump in the country’s construction and property market,
said it believed it could continue to operate successfully
without recourse to government funding.

Mar 1, 2011

Irish c.bank governor says bailout rate high

DUBLIN, March 1 (Reuters) – The interest rate Ireland is
paying on an 85-billion-euro EU/IMF bailout package is high but
there is scope for it to be lowered, Ireland’s central bank
governor, Patrick Honohan, said on Tuesday.

The governor hinted other parts of the package could also
be renegotiated but said default by Ireland on its loans was
not an option that was “attractive to any part of Irish

Feb 24, 2011

Britain starts measuring national happiness

LONDON (Reuters) – Britons will have an official happiness measure from next year.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) will soon begin asking new questions in its regular household survey to establish how satisfied people are with their lives — the latest step in an international move towards assessing national well-being using data outside traditional economic measures.

Feb 24, 2011
via UK News

Changing the board? Start with the reviewers


The boards of British big business are a closed shop. Though women make up 46 percent of the UK’s economically active population — and do as well as, if not better than, their male counterparts throughout school, higher education, and into middle management, just 12.5 percent of FTSE 100 boards are made up of women.

Today, a government-commissioned review panel (led by a man, former trade minister Mervyn Davies) published its recommendations for tackling the problem. Central to the proposals is the recommendation that FTSE 100 companies aim to have women make up 25 percent of their boards by 2015. It eschewed recommending company quotas enforced by government legislation, as has happened in countries like Norway, saying that the majority of women it surveyed did not favour them. Business groups also object to quotas, arguing they risk a situation where the best person for the job might not get it. This is despite the fact, as the authors of Davies report argued, that there are plenty of well-qualified women for these positions who are simply overlooked because of an opaque, old-boys’ network attitude to recruitment.

Feb 24, 2011

FTSE 100 should aim for 25 percent female boards – report

LONDON (Reuters) – FTSE 100 companies should aim to have a minimum of 25 percent of women on their boards by 2015, a government-commissioned review recommended on Thursday, but it did not advocate enforceable quotas.

“We do need radical change in the boardrooms of Britain,” former trade minister Mervyn Davies told a press conference.

Feb 24, 2011

More Britons back new voting system than oppose – poll

LONDON (Reuters) – More voters support the introduction of a new voting system than oppose it, the first Reuters/Ipsos MORI poll on the alternative vote shows.

The poll, published on Thursday, shows a third of Britons feel they have been affected by public spending cuts and three-quarters believe they will be in the year to come as the government rolls back the state to save money.

Feb 15, 2011
via UK News

Getting women on board

The previous UK government loved reviews and inquiries – and the new one is little different. From corporate governance, to pensions, to the structure of banks, those in Westminster relish a report, preferably one packed full of important-sounding recommendations but which compel no one to do anything. That’s because, very often, the problem being tackled is not one that can be easily or neatly solved with legislation or a slap on the wrist.

The government’s review into female representation on the boards of big business is a case in point. The panel, led by former trade minister Mervyn Davies, met on Monday to discuss final recommendations for increasing the number of female board directors, with quotas mooted as one option. Its report is due out soon. But quotas are highly unlikely – for the simple reason that business does not like them.

Nov 24, 2010
via UK News

No-one comes out well in Ireland’s political posturing

Poker, chess, chicken. Pick whichever analogy you like: there’s a high stakes game being played in Irish politics and it’s not a game their international partners much like. Since Ireland said on Sunday it would be asking for help from the EU and IMF —¬† little more than¬† two days ago, though it seems like a lifetime — the pieces of the political game have moved almost without cease. Ironically, though, the net result may be little different to what was forecast before the tumultuous events of the past 48 hours: a four-year austerity plan outlining 15 billion euros in savings, a by-election Fianna Fail are set to lose, the harshest budget on record on December 7, and an election in early 2011.

It started with the government’s bailout appeal. What should have led to a few weeks of EU/IMF negotiations was immediately overshadowed by the surprise move of the junior coalition party, the Greens, who stunned voters – and, it appears, their partners Fianna Fail themself, itself, when it announced it would not continue to be part of the government once 2011 budget measures were implemented.

Nov 23, 2010

Irish angry, stunned over political turmoil

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Victims of an economic train wreck, the Irish people are now suffering political whiplash too.

The humiliating weekend news that the former Celtic tiger economy was seeking a rescue package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund was followed on Monday by the unraveling of the government coalition as the junior partner, the Greens, called for a January election.

Nov 23, 2010

Irish opposn party pressures Cowen with motion

DUBLIN, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Irish opposition party Sinn Fein
submitted a motion of no confidence in damaged Prime Minister
Brian Cowen on Tuesday, a day after he ruled out a snap election
and refused to quit.

Pressure has grown on Cowen’s government over its handling
of the economic crisis and came to a head on Monday after junior
coalition partners said they would only support the government
until the 2011 budget was put into law early next year.

    • About Jodie

      "Based in London, I manage our team of Reuters' text journalists and photographers here and in Dublin - covering everything from company news and economics to sport and culture. I have been with Reuters for 10 years, including three years spent covering equities in Johannesburg."
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