Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod
Clare's economy badly needs whatever seasonal boost it will get in the next seven weeks, but with the country spooked by a severe recession and with a tough budget looming, there are fears that festive spending will be down.
Several local business people said that while they are expecting a quieter Christmas than other years, they are hopeful it will still offer an important boost to trade.
Traditionally, the festive period is the busiest time of the year for pubs and Gerry Collins, chairman of the Clare branch of the VFI, said he is hopeful this Christmas will be better than 2009, if for no other reason that weather conditions will almost certainly be more favorable.
“Last year there was such bad frost that it killed things. We’re hoping that people will come out this year though,” he said.
However, he doesn’t expect that there will be jobs for more people in Clare pubs.
“I wouldn’t say that many will be taken on. People are struggling to keep what they have employed. They’re just battening down the hatches,” he said.
The county town’s narrow streets are generally crammed with bodies in the week’s leading up to Christmas. Rita McInerney, chief executive of Ennis Chamber, she said it is likely that some seasonal jobs will be created.
“Whatever the climate, things always pick up for Christmas and businesses are looking forward to it. It can make up a big portion of takings for the year, particularly in retail and hospitality, and people who have reduced their workforce during the year will hopefully bring in additional staff,” she said.
Michael Vaughan of the Shannon branch of the Irish Hotels Federation said there hadn’t been a huge demand for Christmas parties in Clare’s hotels.
“It’s a big worry in business because a lot of people seem to have a wait and see approach, due to the severity of the budget. A lot of people are not seeing the volume of inquiries that would have been expected, but people are doing a lot of different things, like offering less expensive packages,” he said.
However, Vaughan said he is hopeful of a late surge. “I would think it will happen in the end but there is more pessimism about it than previously,” he said.
- Clare Champion
One out of every four homes for sale in Kildare is, on average, in a "ghost" estate.
Over 500 homes are lying vacant in 88 ghost estates in Kildare inspected by the National Housing Development Survey commissioned by the Department of Environment (DOE), according to a recent report.
The recent DOE report on ghost estates inspected a total of 88 estates in Kildare, with 8,390 properties that include detached, semi-detached, terrace, duplex and apartments, all falling into this category.
Of those properties, 4,190 are complete and occupied, 563 are completed but lying empty, 241 are near complete with no building activity, 278 are near complete with building activity, and finally construction on a whopping 2,814 has not yet started.
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