International Corruption Probe into Halliburton (KBR) activities in Nigeria includes Shell Oil

May 27, 2008

“Criminal investigations of former Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), for alleged bribery in the construction of Nigeria’s $10 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant on Bonny Island, have been widened to cover the past 20 years of Halliburton’s operations in Nigeria. Investigators will also probe accusations of embezzlement by senior executives, and Halliburton’s relations with other multinationals, including Royal Dutch Shell.”

To view the rest of the World Socialist Website Article:

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/may2008/chen-m26.shtml

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New Housing Developments Proposed for Meath when at least 220,000 Houses and Apartments lie vacant across Ireland

May 24, 2008

 

Central Statistics Office (CSO) statistics reveal that at least 220,000 houses and apartments are lying vacant across Ireland. The figures were published in 2007 and were available last year but only recently mentioned in the national press. With an increase in rent of up to 20% in the last 12 months, 41,600 apartments and 174,900 houses remain unoccupied. These figures do not include the 50,000 vacant holiday homes around Ireland, or the 30,000 other temporarily vacant properties around the country. The 2006 CSO Report states that: Approximately 266,000 residences were vacant at the time of the census while in a further 30,000 cases the household was either enumerated elsewhere or temporarily absent from the State.”

15% of Ireland’s available housing is now vacant. Developers in Ireland are currently building houses and apartments at a rate of 20 units per 1,000/population. This is almost ten times the average European rate, at between two and four housing units per 1,000 people.

The 2006 figures indicate that 11,000 housing units are vacant in the Fingal Co. Council region of Dublin, 10,000 in the Dublin City Council region, 3,000 in South Dublin and nearly 2,400 in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown. In Cork City, 4,000 properties are vacant. Limerick has over 3,000 empty houses and apartments, Galway around 1,300 and Waterford over 1,200 vacant properties.

In total, 174,900 houses, 41,600 apartments and flats, and 50,000 holiday homes: 266,500 properties.

The 2002 census found 104,000 properties vacant, already a substantial number. Comparing the rise in vacancy rates between 2002 and 2006, a spokesman for the CSO told the Sunday Tribune, “In the case of these vacant homes, the (census) enumerator would have gone back to the houses repeatedly to ensure they were actually vacant. . . The vacancy rate has doubled in a four year period. There is evidence that there are a lot of houses out there vacant.”

In a related development, house prices in Dublin have now fallen by 10 per cent on average in 2007 compared with 2006, according to a report by the Irish Auctioneers and Valuers’ Institute (IAVI).

There seems to be evidence that vacancies are steadily climbing since 2006, since second-hand apartments are more difficult to sell than second-hand houses, with falls of up to 17 per cent, and that up to 40,000 apartments are vacant in the capital.

 

Sources:

(Irish Auction Info):

http://www.irishauction.info/2008/01/21/40000-apartments-vacant-in-dublin-iavi/

(Vacant Housing Doubled in Ireland, Una Mullally, Sunday Tribune, 24th May 2008):  http://www.tribune.ie/article.tvt?_scope=TribuneFTF&id=109701&SUBCAT=&SUBCATNAME=&DT=13/01/2008%2000:00:00&keywords=galway&FC=

(Irish Census 2006):

http://www.cso.ie/census/Census2006_Volume6.htm

(Irish Housing: Watching a Fat Man Dance, August 18th 2007, Conor McCabe). Dublin Opinion Blog http://dublinopinion.com/2007/08/18/irish-housing-watching-a-fat-man-dance/


Tara Landowners will reap the benefits of the M3 Highway

May 19, 2008

Developers who are also financial supporters of the Fianna Fáil party are likely to reap a fortune from the completion of the controversial M3 highway through the Tara / Skrene Valley near the Hill of Tara.

A company controlled by multi-millionaire builder Joseph Murphy Jr – whose main business, JMSE, was exposed as corrupt the by Flood tribunal – owns valuable lands along the route.

Multi-millionaire Fianna Fáil contributor Cathal McCarthy, formerly a business partner of Frank Dunlop, the former government press secretary, and of Des Richardson, a former fundraiser for the Fianna Fail party also owns land along the proposed highway.

Both Mr Murphy and Mr McCarthy will make millions from the sale of land needed for the highway.

But Mr Murphy, in particular, stands to make even more substantial profits from the hundreds of acres of land which he owns within a few miles of the highway route and which may well be opened up for development once construction is completed.

Mr. Murphy was under investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau after playing a central role in the Flood / Mahon Tribunal into planning corruption. Mr Murphy and Frank Reynolds, the former managing director of JMSE, are beneficial directors of Newland Properties Ltd with an address at Ashley House, Batterstown, Co Meath. Both individuals were named in the Third Interim Report of the Flood Tribunal as having hindered and obstructed the tribunal; in Joseph Murphy’s case for not revealing the circumstances in which he paid Dublin Corporation planning official George Redmond on two occasions, and in Frank Reynold’s case for failing to acknowledge that he was present at a meeting where a cash payment was made to George Redmond in the presence of Michael Bailey. Read the rest of this entry »


Bord Gais to Increase Prices from October 2008

May 14, 2008
 
Bord Gáis is expected to apply to the energy regulator to increase prices to consumers by over 15%.
Ireland imports most of the natural gas it uses.

Bord Gáis said its gas sales increased by 8% to €763m, while electricity sales rose by 18% to  €239m. It currently holds about 8% of the electricity market in Ireland.In 2007, Bord Gáis said that gas demand rose with sales volumes up 14% and gas customer numbers exceeding 607,000 by the end of the year, up 5% on 2006.Bord Gáis has reported pre-tax profits of €166m for 2007, up 29% on the figure of €129m the previous year. Turnover rose by 10% to €1.215 billion.

On the back of ever-increasing energy prices, the company said that a price increase is ‘unfortunately’ likely in October 2008 and it has applied to the Energy Regulator for an increase, likely to be in the region of 17-19%.
The company also announced that it plans to enter the residential electricity supply market before 2010 as it aims to increase its customer base to over one million by 2014. It said it is investing €1 billion in existing and €1 billion in new business assets.

Indigenous gas supplies, specifically from Kinsale Gas Field, accounted for 13% of total Irish gas demand during 2005. Bord Gais states that this proportion could be significantly increased if additional indigenous gas supplies from the Corrib Field come onshore, supplying up to 60% of Ireland’s annual demand at peak production.On the issue of gas supply, Gerry Walsh said; We are very comfortable on the issue of security of supply of natural gas. Bord Gáis currently sources the majority of its gas supplies from wholesalers of UK North Sea gas fields. Going forward, we want to secure part of the new indigenous supplies from the Corrib gas field for our portfolio, as well as continuing to source gas from suppliers to the UK market”.

 

 

Development of gas infrastructure plays an important role in Bord Gáis’ expansion strategy. In the context of its €1.5 billion capital expenditure programme (from 2005 – 2009), of which €250 million is earmarked for Northern Ireland, Bord Gáis continues to invest heavily in the construction of gas infrastructure. At the end of 2005 the company had completed 71km of the 149 km Mayo-Galway pipeline; construction of 339km of distribution pipeline and renewal of 199km of pipeline as part of the ongoing mains renewal programme. In addition, 2005 saw the granting of planning permissions and consents for the South North pipeline to be built in 2006, which will link Gormanston in Co. Meath to Ballyclare in Co. Antrim.

Sources:

http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10005783.shtml

http://www.rte.ie/business/2008/0514/bordgais.html?rss

http://www.rte.ie/news/2008/0514/gas.html

 


Professor George Eogan condemns Rath Lugh Intervention

May 14, 2008

The National Roads Authority has stated work is advancing on the M3 motorway in the area close to the Rath Lugh National Monument. Protesters and conservationists have stated that the esker, a glacial ridge, is an integral part of the 2,000-year-old fortification. Construction work on the Rath Lugh section of the M3 has continued regardless, with the north and southbound sections being excavated to foundation level. Crushed stone has been poured into this foundation to allow haulage trucks past Rath Lugh.

    Rath Lugh was already the scene of clashes in March 2008. Three people were arrested when protesters tried to stop construction workers from erecting a permanent steel fence between the fort and the proposed route that the motorway will follow. A metal palisade fence was erected between the construction site of the M3, close to the Rath Lugh national monument in Co. Meath, and a camp in which protesters and conservationists were based.

    The fence was completed by road-building contractor Eurolink on Saturday, 22nd March.

    The NRA says it is putting in place what is known as a ‘box cut’, which outlines the road’s route. It is also building a quib wall and security fencing. It says the steps are being taken for health and safety reasons, and with the advice and consent of the Gardaí.

On Friday 21 March 2008, the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, of the Green Party, was reported as stating that he could “give a cast-iron assurance” that the national monument at Rath Lugh would not be damaged by building the motorway along the current alignment.” Professor George Eogan * travelled to Rath Lugh with the TaraWatch group, and witnessed the building works there. Read the rest of this entry »