Had the great pleasure of playing the links at Doonbeg on Sunday, as a guest of Niall O’Carroll. We enjoyed near perfect conditions: bright sunshine, light wind and no more than 10 minutes of rain. Not a very long track off the white tees: approx. 6,300 yds. Wonderful driving course – with a number of elevated tee boxes. Architect (Greg Norman & Co) maximised views of the Atlantic and the beach. Course is well bunkered and the greens present many challenges.
Would recommend Doonbeg to those visiting Ireland to experience Links Golf. Well positioned on the trip between the Kerry Links and Lahinch in North Clare.
Clubhouse, catering and facilities in general are top class.
Great piece about Links Golf in Ireland in today’s Irish Times by Philip Reid. Great to see role being played by John O’Connor – my fellow member of St. Anne’s Golf Club - a links on the Bull Island, 4 miles north of the city centre. Would also like to congratulate John on all the work done on the Portmarnock Links – always a great thrill to play there.
Links golf is a treasure we have in Ireland – to be enjoyed by the lucky members, all the very welcome visitors and future generations. Great to see people taking the long term view and investing in the future of links golf.
Interesting piece by Emmet Oliver in today’s Sunday Tribune – comparing the situation faced by Ireland and the UK. Times are tough (grim) on both sides of the Irish Sea. For us the massive devaluation of Sterling has been a killer – hitting our exports and producing this cross border shopping frenzy (further exacerbated by the VAT situation).
The UK has the 60m population to work with – and a currency of which it has control. We have the young population, the low CT rate, the Irish diaspora, a small population and no control of the Euro currency.
Our very real crisis has forced the government to confront the population with a nasty budget. The UK approach for now seems to include putting off the evil day. This would also appear to be the case in the US – although Bernanke is beginning to remind people that having put all this extra money into the economy he will have to take it out again when growth appears again.
The concept is great. Join an organisation. Give the best years of your life to the organisation. Expect that when you receive the retirement watch in your 65th year that you should be able to ‘retire’ – meaning live a confortable life, without being required to work. You should expect to retire without any financial worries – with a month income of 50 -66% of your salary on retirement. In Ireland, if your are working in the public service, then this should adjust in line with salary increases awarded after your retirment date.
Companies operating such schemes have been ploughing money onto the schemes – and the fund managers have been investing these moneys in shares, bonds, property, cash, whatever. Unfortunately these funds have nose dived. In addition the companies with the commitments to make regular payments to the funds (to include payments to make up for the shortfall in the fund performance) are not making much (if any) money themselves.
The debate re defined benefit and define contribution seems to focus on twoitems: (1) who should take the risk re the performance of the funds in which the moneys are invested – the employer or the employee? (2) are companies using the move to defined contribution to reduced their total costs of employement?
Today’s Economist, private accounts, poses many of these questions. The statistics around pension funding shortfalls are pretty intimidating. For a number of the entities it might be argued they would be better off going to the wall than trying to run themselves into the ground to meet pension funding shortfalls. Or it might be argued the employees in such companies might be better off walking out – on the basis that they realise the companies will be inable to meet their pension obligations without effectively going to the wall. Or it might make a lot of sense on both sides to sit down and come to a workable, mutually acceptable, compromise – whereby these pension benefits (and associated commitments) are reduced and agreed.
Good article in the online Wall Street Journal ‘Wealth less effect, earning well, feeling otherwise’. Looks at a number of people who may appear to be earning well but are now experiencing the impact of the recesssion and large scale reduction in their apparent wealth.
Article makes the point that the perspective of a couple making $250K may be very different from a person on $50K - which is pretty obvious, but intended to show some social awareness on the hehalf of the journalist.
Felt the same article could be written to describe many situations in Ireland at present. Investment properties, pension funds, etc. taking a hammering. Reuced earnings in business. Increased taxes. Second homes which are proving a significant burden. And the promise of more taxes to come.
Bu then this is globalisation – same problems in Florida, California, Dublin and Connemara.
Jsut attended the KPMG client breakfast seminar re yesterday’s budget. The KPMG update is available on their site: http://www.kpmg.ie/budget/overview/index.htm. Plenty of debate. Matt Cooper of Sunday Times pretty forthright as usual. Whatever about the merits of tax increases v. public expenditure cuts I would expect that the budget should attract reasonably positive interntional coverage – the government is dishing out the pain and people are being signed up to it!
Would be concerned however on two fronts. Firstly, will the projected tax revenues actually materialise i.e.will there be sufficient activity to generate the targered revenues? Secondly, the aggressive steps on tax at the top end – will this not drive talent out of the country (we’ve seen this before)?
On a day of doom and gloom – the emergency budget in Ireland – was lucky enough to spend a couple of uplifting hours in the Institute of European Affairs, Ireland (www.iiea.com).
I was listening to and interacting with Liam Moran, business development manager, Digitial Enterprise Reseach Institute (Galway, Ireland). DERI (www.deri.com) is the type of thing this country needs (‘The vision of the Digital Enterprise Research Institute is to be recognised as the leading international web science research institute interlinking technologies, information and people to advance business and benefit society’). Set up with some real foresight, backed by the Irish government and Europe, real leadership (including Tim Berners Lee) and lots of brilliant minds.
Very exciting applications emerging from the research – the latest being SIOC to be adotped by the US government. Visit the site (www.deri.com) for a better insight.
Liam gave a comprehensive review of Web o, 1, 2 & 3 and painted some great images of what could happen.
One particular observation caught my attention – how do we avoid getting bogged down in simply copying (even plagiarising) others to the exclusion of original, creative, thought? Not being a music composer I often wonder where song writers continue to come up with new ideas? Reminds me in some wasy of being back in school – when you were studying Shakepeare did you try to understand Hamlet for yourself and provide your own analysis/ commentary or did you simply buy ‘Coles Notes’ and regurgitate the standard bumph?
The Quiet Coup – by MIT’s Professor Simon Johnson (Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, was the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund during 2007 and 2008) – does not make for comfortable reading. Johnson looks back to the last 18 months and questions the motivation for much of the bailout activity re banking/financial services in the US. His theme is that Wall Street is in charge – through the ‘quiet coup’.
All of this has many echoes in Ireland – too big to fail, too close to government, etc. And all of it leads to the uncertainty being experienced. Johnson’s comments in light of his IMF experience also ring a few bells.
Interesting view from Johnson that the way forward is via nationalisation, selling off of toxic assets and breakup of any/all institutions which are ‘too big to fail’.
What a drama – playing out the final game in the caulron that is the Arms Park. Ireland triumphed – just- over a brave, gallant Welsh team. As in all of the Irish games the two leaders – Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell led from the front. No other team they’ve met has had this calibre of leadership.
We can rejoice. The monkey is off the back. The Irish team have gone to the citadel and won. Yes they made mistakes under pressure – but they aslo played some wonderful rugby under pressure. On balance there is some justice in the match being won by the team that scored two tries. but the reality is that it came down to a kick here and a kick there.
There will be a temptation to read too much into what a team of rugby players – wearing the Irish jersey – has achieved. What they have done is win five international Championship rugby matches on the trot – and been the first Irish team to go unbeaten in the Championship for 61 years. A fantastic achievement for this group of players and all of those in the backroom who have backed them up. It’s also a great day for all Irish supporters – who have followed Irish teams through highs and lows. And for all the schools, clubs, players, former players, coaches and administrators. And for all of those who have sustained injuries over the years. To say nothing of the sponsors who should not be overlooked in touch challenging times.
A great season and a great finale to the international season. And now we can look forward to following Munster and Leinster in the Heineken Cup. And the Lions tour later this summer – surely today’s match will provide almost the full line up – Scotland and England players may struggle to find many slots in the Test team lineup.