Ireland

Fare war delivers amazing flight deals to Ireland

Airlines are offering amazing flight deals to Ireland with return fares as low as $1039 on offer.

A fare war has broken out between carriers flying one-stop into Dublin from Australia’s major cities resulting in record low fares.

While an economy trip to Ireland at peak periods like Christmas can often cost close to $3,000, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Cathay Pacific are all promoting return fares under $1500 if people are prepared to fly between September and November or between January and May.

Flights to Dublin airport from Australia have never been cheaper.

Flights to Dublin airport from Australia have never been cheaper.

Until July 22, booking return flights from Perth to Dublin will set travellers back as little as $1,029* when flying with two or more people on Qatar Airways.

The Doha-based carrier is offering similar deals from Sydney ($1059), Melbourne ($1039), Adelaide ($1029) and Canberra ($1079).

To take advantage of the See the World Together offer, travellers need to book on select dates between September 21, 2019 and March 31, 2020, excluding the busy November to December Christmas period.

ALSO READ: Echo lists the Top 100 Irish Australians of all time

Cathay Pacific, the most recent carrier to offer a one-stop option into Dublin, also has a Global Sale on until the end of July.

Travellers can fly to Dublin return for as little as $1210** from Perth. The Hong Kong-based carrier is also offering great return economy fares from Sydney ($1326), Melbourne ($1310) and Brisbane ($1332). Some exclusion dates apply and travel must be completed by the end of May, 2020.

Etihad, meanwhile, is offering great return deals into Dublin from Melbourne ($1294***), Sydney ($1322) and Brisbane ($1477). Bookings must be made by July 26 and travel must be completed by May 31, 2020. Once again, exclusion dates and some terms and conditions apply.

*Qatar Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 22 July 2019, unless sold out prior. Fares (AUD) quoted above are the lowest adult return prices per person including taxes, fees, and airport charges departing from the mentioned cities to Dublin when booked with one or more companions. Other sale dates may be available. ‘Companion’ refers to a minimum of two (2) and maximum of nine (9) people travelling together on the same booking for the entire journey. Economy Class companion fares shown above are for departures from 21 September - 22 November 2019, 23 December - 31 December 2019, and 12 January - 31 March 2020. Business Class companion fares shown above are for departures from 1 October - 30 November 2019, 23 December - 31 December 2019, and 1 February - 31 March 2020. Inbound blackout dates apply: in Economy Class between 25 September - 15 October 2019, 12 December - 22 December 2019, and 1 January - 26 January 2020; in Business Class between 15 September - 31 October 2019 and 10 December 2019 - 31 January 2020. All travel must be completed by 31 March 2020. Fares may vary due to currency fluctuations. Seasonal surcharges, weekend surcharges, and blackout periods may apply. For all other terms and conditions please review at time of booking.

** Cathay Pacific Terms and Conditions: Offer ends: 31 JUL 2019 23:59 (AEST) Departures: UK & Europe: 11 JUL 2019 – 26 JUN 2019; 8 JUL 2019 – 12 Dec 2019; 28 Dec 2019 – 31 MAY 2020. Prices displayed are based on the lowest fare available for travel in low season. Prices are inclusive of all taxes and surcharges, current as at 12 Jul 19. Seats are limited and availability may vary based on flight number, departure date and airport.

***Etihad Terms and Conditions: Discounts only valid for bookings until 26 Jul 2019, for travel until 31 May 2020. Fares are inclusive of applicable taxes, the break down will be shown during the online booking process. Weekend surcharges apply. Flight/day restriction and blackout periods may apply. The airport taxes are subject to change without prior notice and will be confirmed at the time of booking. For full list of destinations and detailed terms & conditions, visit etihad.com .

Would-be Irish citizens cannot leave the country, court rules

Legal experts have described as ‘absurd’ a High Court ruling which says that a person applying for Irish citizenship must not leave the country for an entire year before lodging their application.

The ruling came during a case in which an Australian man, Roderick Jones, challenged the Justice Minister’s refusal to grant his application to become a naturalised Irish citizen.

During the one year period before the date of the application, Mr Jones, who works in the university sector in Dublin, was out of Ireland for 100 days, 97 of them for holidays, RTE reported.

In order to apply for Irish citizenship, a judge has ruled that applicants must not leave the country for twelve months beforehand.

In order to apply for Irish citizenship, a judge has ruled that applicants must not leave the country for twelve months beforehand.

In previous cases, the Minister for Justice had allowed applicants to spend time out of the country for holidays and other reasons but Mr Justice Max Barrett ruled that this discretionary practice was not permitted by law.

The judge said that "might seem unfair" in a world where many people travel abroad for work and take foreign breaks more than once a year, but he said, that is what the relevant law requires.

He said the cure "for any such unfairness" lay in the gift of the legislature.

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, those wishing to ‘naturalise’ as Irish citizens have to be legally resident in the State for at least five years out of the last nine (or three out of the last five if married to an Irish citizen).

This includes one year of “continuous residence” in the 12 months up to the date of application.

The judge said the word "continuous" bore its ordinary meaning and was defined as "unbroken, uninterrupted, connected throughout in space or time".

Justice Max Barrett has conceded that his judgement ‘may seem unfair’.

Justice Max Barrett has conceded that his judgement ‘may seem unfair’.

The judge said the law did not allow the Minister any discretion in relation to this requirement. 

He said the minister had manifested "very real humanity" in trying to nuance the very clear wording of the legislation by applying a discretionary absence period to allow for the realities of modern life, but he had gone beyond what was legally permissible.

The judge said there was no evidence before him as to why the Oireachtas had imposed this condition in the 1956 Act.

He said it may have been to ensure potential citizens enjoyed a concrete connection with the State or were attuned to the way of life in Ireland or some other reason. 

The cure for any resulting unfairness was not to be found in the courts he said, but lay in the gift of the legislature.

Over 8,000 people were granted Irish citizenship in 2017 alone, according to European Union data.

According to The Journal.ie, Ireland’s Department of Justice said they were examining the ruling and “will take any necessary action in consultation with the Attorney General”.

The plantiff Roderick Jones has been contacted for comment.

CurrencyFair offers €30,000 prize for returning emigrant

Thinking of moving home to Ireland?

Money transfer platform CurrencyFair is offering one lucky emigrant a relocation package valued at €30,000.

The prize includes a year of rental accommodation, flights and car insurance.

To enter, Irish emigrants are invited to visitwww.currencyfair.com/comehome to tell CurrencyFair what home means to them and why the time is right to return to Ireland by sharing stories, photos and videos.

Entries for the contest close on August 31, 2019, and one deserving winner will be chosen by a panel of three independent judges.

“There are about three-and-a-half million Irish citizens currently living outside of Ireland. When you think about why they might like to come back, it boils down to a single common reason: Ireland is home,” said Jarlath Regan, creator and host of An Irishman Abroad podcast and CurrencyFair brand ambassador.

CurrencyFair’s Come Home prize will allow one returning emigrant to make a fresh start in Ireland.

CurrencyFair’s Come Home prize will allow one returning emigrant to make a fresh start in Ireland.

“The chance to win a contest like this could be life changing for someone simply wanting to come back to Ireland.”

“We know that moving to a new country — including returning to your home country — can be complicated, which is why we work so hard to ensure that moving money with us is simple, fast and safe,” said CurrencyFair CEO, Paul Byrne.

“Ireland is thriving again and it’s an exciting place to live right now, but it’s not without its challenges for returning emigrants. Our contest will help someone hit the ground running and make a fresh start at home.”

CurrencyFair has always prioritized making money transfers simple and fair, by combining the latest foreign exchange technology with 5-star, ‘excellent’ Trustpilot-rated customer service and processes that are easy to understand and use.

For each contest entry, CurrencyFair will make a €10 donation to Focus Ireland, the country’s leading not-for-profit working to prevent people becoming, remaining or returning to homelessness.

Over the past decade, CurrencyFair has helped Irish nationals move abroad by providing low-cost money transfers without compromise through its money transfer platform.

The company is focused on providing the best available exchange rates and experience for customers who need to send money and make payments overseas.

CurrencyFair’s 150,000-strong user-community have traded more than €8 billion and saved more than $366 million using the service.

Its unique peer-to-peer model and secure, state-of-the-art technology, raises the industry standard in foreign currency services for web, IOS and Android use.

The company has offices in Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, and announced plans to expand further across Asia in 2019.

First king of Irish comedy Brendan Grace, dead at 68

The president of Ireland and the Taoiseach have paid tribute to Father Ted star Brendan Grace, who has died at the age of 68 after a short illness.

The veteran entertainer, who was also a stand-up comedian, played Father Fintan Stack in the popular comedy series about three priests.

He died on Thursday, surrounded by his family, after being diagnosed with lung cancer 10 days ago, his manager confirmed.

He is survived by his wife, Eileen, and their four children, Bradley, Melanie, Brendan and Amanda.

Brendan Grace in character as Bottler, one of his most famous characters.

Brendan Grace in character as Bottler, one of his most famous characters.

The actor, who also starred in 2013 TV film Brendan Grace's Bottler, had lived in the US for many years, but returned to his native Dublin in early June, where he was first diagnosed with pneumonia, before his terminal cancer diagnosis.

Irish President Michael D Higgins said he learned of Grace's death with great sadness.

"As a comedian, Brendan's spontaneous wit and his sense of timing, his obvious delighting in interaction with his audiences, meant that Brendan's sense of humour was drawing from, and itself a profound contribution to, the deep wellspring of Irish wit," he said.

"It was a privilege to know him, and a pleasure to meet Brendan as recently as the 5th of June last, when he accompanied The Forget-Me-Nots choir to a garden party at Áras an Uachtaráin.

"As President of Ireland, I express my deepest condolences to his wife and children, and to his wider family and his friends, and all who valued his acuity and sharp sense of humour."

Tom Kelly, Grace's manager for 27 years, speaking on Virgin Media One's Ireland:AM programme on Thursday morning, said the entertainer's death is a great loss to Ireland.

"Although he was aware of the outcome himself in the last few days when the cancer was diagnosed, it's a great shock to everybody," he said.

"He was very weak, he didn't wish to have chemo or anything like that, and the inevitable happened.

"He was one of the greats in modern entertaining, it's a huge loss."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid tribute on Twitter, writing: "RIP Brendan Grace, an Irish comedy legend. You made us laugh so many times, from Bottler to Father Ted and so many others. One of the greats. Our thoughts are with Brendan's friends and family."

Grace was a regular visitor to Australia, most recently in 2015.

In an interview with the Irish Echo ahead of that tour, he was asked to explain the secret of his success.

“Hard neck,” he said. “The reason things went well was I always kept my humour simple, and I sang a few songs as well. My attitude was ‘give the people what they want’. And I always managed to keep the act clean, so older people and younger people were still able to come along without being offended.”

And comedian Brendan O'Carroll, writer and star of Mrs Brown's Boys, said: "So sad at the passing of a great comedy legend, husband and father Brendan Grace.

"He opened doors for so many of us and leaves a legacy of love and laughter that will echo through this land and we will all mourn his passing. Rest peacefully Bottler, you've earned it."

Brendan Grace with another Irish comedy legend Hal Roach, in 2002.

Brendan Grace with another Irish comedy legend Hal Roach, in 2002.

Thousands of messages have been posted by fans across social media recalling fond memories of watching Grace with their families, calling him a "legend of Irish comedy".

Dee Forbes, director-general of Ireland's state broadcaster RTE, said: "We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Brendan Grace. Brendan was one of Ireland's original funnymen, and one of Irish comedy's true pioneers.

"While there are now many Irish comedians who are household names, Brendan emerged as a talent during an era when there were very few established Irish comedians.

"Through his live shows, his live recordings, The Brendan Grace Show and many memorable guest appearances on RTE's The Late Late Show, Brendan established himself in the hearts of generations of fans, not just in Ireland but all over the world.

"Importantly, he also paved the way for many of the wonderful comedians this country has produced over the last 20 years or so and leaves behind a legacy he and his family can be proud of.

"He will be deeply missed. My thoughts and those of his many friends and fans across RTE are with his family and friends at this sad time."

Funny Man, a documentary directed by Brian Reddin which looked back over the career of Grace, will be repeated at 10.15pm on Friday on RTE One.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Paul McAuliffe, opened a Book of Condolence for the people of the city to pay their respects.

Former Australian envoy's dig at Ireland over US visas

Former Australian Ambassador to the United States Michael Thawley. Picture: ANU

Former Australian Ambassador to the United States Michael Thawley. Picture: ANU

A former Australian ambassador to the US Michael Thawley has had a non-too-subtle dig at Ireland as the battle for coveted US E3 visas rumbles on.

Currently, Australians have exclusive access to 10,500 of the two-year, renewable work visas each year. But under a bill before congress, which has the support of both President Trump and Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi, Irish citizens will get access to those visas not used by Australians.

Australia’s outgoing Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey lobbied for the scheme to remain exclusive to this country’s citizens.

Mr Thawley told The Australian that he also believed Australia had a better claim to the visas than any other country. But he also appeared to reference Ireland’s neutrality and problem of undocumented immigrants in justifying his position.

“Australia is a close ally of the US, having fought with it in every major war — not stood on the sidelines,” he was quoted as saying.

“We are a very large investor and employer in the US. And we are a strong and trusted economic partner on financial, tax and other regulatory issues. We don’t pose over-stayer or illegal immigrant issues.”

From 2000 to 2005 the English-born Michael Thawley served as Australia's Ambassador to the United States. Before that, he was international adviser to the former Prime Minister, John Howard, and served in a variety of positions in the Australian Government in Canberra and overseas.

He played a key role, along with Prime Minister Howard, in securing the E3 visa deal for Australia as part of a US-Australia trade agreement.

His comments have not won universal support amoing his former colleagues with one unnamed senior government source telling The Australian: “Immigration policy is the right of the congress of the US. We can’t get too hubristic, otherwise we will guarantee it goes through.”

During his recent visit to Ireland, President Trump was asked about the E3 visa bill.

“I think we’re going to be in good shape [on the bill]”, he said.

“I want to do that for the people of Ireland, but I want to do it for the people that are in the United States that want this vote to happen, that happen to be of Irish descent,” he added.

The Irish government has been approached for comment on Mr Thawley’s remarks.

Voting rights for Irish abroad referendum to go ahead

The same-sex marriage referendum in 2015 brought many Irish citizens abroad ‘home to vote’.

The same-sex marriage referendum in 2015 brought many Irish citizens abroad ‘home to vote’.

The Irish government has approved a plan to hold a referendum which, if passed, will allow Irish citizens living abroad to vote in presidential elections.

The poll is expected to take place in late October and the Varadkar government will be campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote.

Under the proposed change, all Irish passport holders of voting age would be eligible to vote for the President. The next presidential election is due in 2025.

The government estimates that there are 3.6 million Irish citizens outside of the Republic. This figure includes the total population of Northern Ireland (approximately 1.8 million) as well as those who have not reached voting age.

Online registration and postal voting would be used to extend the franchise, according to reports in Ireland. The campaign period would also be extended to accommodate a global electorate.

ALSO READ: Two 14-year-old boys found guilty of Dublin schoolgirl’s murder

If the proposed referendum passes, the 2025 presidential election would be the first in which Irish citizens not resident in Ireland could vote.

The referendum had been due to take place in May, alongside the divorce referendum and the local and European elections.

However, the Cabinet in February opted to delay the presidential vote.

The Taoiseach said the possibility of the vote being contentious and the uncertainty of Brexit were factors in the decision.

Speaking at the time, Leo Varadkar told the Dáil: "It will involve a good deal of planning, it needs a good campaign and we want to win it."

Ireland is almost unique among western democracies in denying its citizens abroad a vote.

Turnout in the 2018 Irish Presidential Election was as low as 30 per cent in come constituencies.

Turnout in the 2018 Irish Presidential Election was as low as 30 per cent in come constituencies.

Countries like France have global constituencies for its citizens abroad and elected representatives sit in the French parliament. Australia allows its citizens abroad to vote for up to six years after leaving the country. However, you must be first registered to vote while resident in Australia.

In 2016, a Convention on the Constitution voted in favour of extending the vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad. The possibility of citizens abroad being allowed to vote in Dáil and Seanad elections or referenda was not considered by the convention.

The wording of the referendum and the surrounding legislation is expected to be available by the end of July.

In a statement, the Irish Government said: “The presidency serves a very different function to the Dáil and Seanad. This referendum will be about reimagining a presidency for the 21st century, a presidency that represents the Irish nation not just the State, and that is elected by all citizens.”

The referendum has been welcomed by the Votes For Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA) group.

“Wonderful news that this referendum has been confirmed,” the group tweeted. “Extending the Presidential vote to Irish citizens abroad acknowledges their Irishness and puts us in line with over 30 other European countries on voting rights.”

But there has been an almost immediate backlash against the extension of voting rights with radio presenter and journalist Ciara Kelly who wrote: “It's my view that many of the diaspora look back at the old sod with green tinted glasses and see us largely stowed in moth balls at the point at which they or their parents or grandparents left. But that is not who we are. We are a young, vibrant, outward looking, progressive, liberal country. I'm not sure that is truly recognised by our ex-pats.“

She went on: “I would stick to the old rule - no representation without taxation. No vote unless you have to live with the consequences of that vote.”

Boys, 14, found guilty of Dublin schoolgirl's murder

Ana Kriegel was just 14 when she was murdered by two boys her own age in Lucan, Co Dublin last year, a Dublin court has found.

Ana Kriegel was just 14 when she was murdered by two boys her own age in Lucan, Co Dublin last year, a Dublin court has found.

Two 14-year-old boys have been found guilty of the murder of 14-year-old Ana Kriegel in Co Dublin last year.

Both boys have been granted anonymity due to their age, and were referred to as Boy A and Boy B throughout the trial.

Boy A has also been found guilty of aggravated sexual assault. The boys are the youngest people in the history of the state to ever be convicted of murder.

The jury of eight men and four women deliberated for 14 hours and 25 minutes, after a six-week trial in Dublin's Central Criminal Court.

Ana Kriegel's naked body was found with a ligature around the neck in a derelict house in Lucan, Co Dublin, days after the 14 year-old went missing on May 14, 2018.

Former state pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy identified around 50 areas of injury on the schoolgirl's head and body, and concluded the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and neck.

Ms Cassidy also said that there was evidence of penetration or attempted penetration of the vagina.

Geraldine Kriegel described her daughter Ana (above) as “a dream come true for us”.

Geraldine Kriegel described her daughter Ana (above) as “a dream come true for us”.

The jury foreman's hand shook as she handed over papers to the court clerk, before stating they had found both boys guilty on all the charges facing them respectively.

Justice Paul McDermott thanked the jury who he said "were brought off the street to consider these matters, which is all the more reason to express deep appreciation to you, I can't offer you anything but most the most sincere gratitude and excuse you all".

After the verdict, Ana's parents, Patric and Geraldine Kriegel hugged each other and their friends and wept in the court room.

Outside court, Mr Kriegel told media that their daughter Ana was "our strength".

Her mother said: "Ana was a dream come true for us, and she always will be. She'll stay in our hearts forever loved and forever cherished. We love you, Ana."

Boy B's father left the room immediately after the verdict, slamming the door, before returning shortly after, clapping and loudly stating: "An innocent child is going to prison."

Both Boy A and B's mothers wept and held their sons before they were taken by Gardai to detention.

Both boys have been remanded in detention until July 15.

Dublin emigration museum wins European tourism award

EPIC, a Dublin museum dedicated to the Irish diaspora, has won a major tourism award.

EPIC, a Dublin museum dedicated to the Irish diaspora, has won a major tourism award.

The Irish emigration museum has been voted Europe's leading tourist attraction, beating locations like Greece's Acropolis and Barcelona's Sagrada Familia.

The Dublin museum was given the prestigious award at the 26th annual World Travel Awards in Portugal.

The museum was given the distinguished award just three years after opening its doors to the public at The CHQ Building in Dublin's docklands.

Some of the competition included the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Rome's Colosseum.

Founder of Epic Neville Isdell said: "It is truly an honour to receive an award of this magnitude.

"We have thoroughly enjoyed welcoming the tens of thousands of people who have visited us both from Ireland and overseas each year and look forward to welcoming many more.

"I have always believed that the story of Irish people around the world was worth telling, and so, I founded Epic.

"When we opened in 2016, we had a vision to create a local museum that could connect globally.

"It's very important that we honour the Irish diaspora abroad and recognise the vital contributions and monumental impact Irish people have made worldwide.

"It's wonderful to be recognised for this award, thank you to those that made this possible through hard work and dedication, and to those who voted for us."

The museum, which will welcome more than 300,000 visitors this year, shows the far-reaching influence of Irish people and covers 1,500 years of Irish history.

It tells the powerful story of 10 million Irish people who travelled abroad to start a new life, including the contributions they have made, and the enormous influence they had and continue to have on the world.

The museum takes visitors on a journey of emigration from Ireland, to the far corners of the globe including America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Galleries in the interactive museum illustrate the global impact Irish emigrants have had on areas such as sport, music, dance, creativity, charity, politics, science and technology.

Visitors get hands-on with Irish culture and its past - swiping through video galleries, dancing through motion sensor quizzes, listening to remastered audio from 100 years ago and watching videos that bring Irish history to life.

Other highlights include a gallery of infamous Irish rogues, a whispering library featuring some of Ireland's most prominent Irish writers, a celebration of Irish music and dance, which includes Riverdance, and an Irish family history centre where visitors can consult with a genealogy expert to learn more about their own family history.

Theresa May set to step aside as British PM

Theresa May is expected to resign as Conservative Party leader on June 10.

Theresa May is expected to resign as Conservative Party leader on June 10.

Theresa May is under pressure to set out when she will quit Number 10 after a Cabinet revolt over her Brexit plan.

The Prime Minister will meet the leader of backbench Conservatives, Graham Brady, today (Friday) to discuss her future after her authority was left in tatters following the backlash against her "new Brexit deal".

Senior ministers set out their concerns in "frank" talks with the beleaguered premier as Downing Street delayed publication of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) which sets out her Brexit plan in law.

The Prime Minister's private meeting with Mr Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, could be the moment that Mrs May sets the date for her exit from Downing Street.

A 1922 Committee source told Press Association they expected June 10 to be the day Mrs May chooses.

"Hopefully what will happen is she will stand down as Tory leader I think on or before June 10, and she will hopefully remain as caretaker Prime Minister until such time as a new Tory leader is elected," they said.

"My feeling is that she will stay until June 10."

The source said a new leader would ideally be in place by the end of the European summer to get a Brexit deal through parliament before October 31, the date currently set for the UK's exit from the EU.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney pictured with Boris Johnson in 2017. Mr Johnson, a committed Brexiteer, is among the favourites to succeed Theresa May as British PM.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney pictured with Boris Johnson in 2017. Mr Johnson, a committed Brexiteer, is among the favourites to succeed Theresa May as British PM.

In Ireland, there are increasing fears that Mrs May’s departure will increase the chances of a hard Brexit, especially if she is replaced by a committed Brexiteer like Boris Johnson.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has ruled-out any renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement, which maps-out Britain's exit from the European Union, if Theresa May is replaced as British Prime Minister.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week, Mr Coveney said: "It's not up for renegotiation, even if there is a new British prime minister...the personality might change here, but the facts don't."

He described Mrs May as "a decent person" but strongly criticised Conservative MPs at Westminster - branding them as "impossible" on the issue of Brexit.

Ireland among most expensive places for expat workers

Dublin is becoming a more expensive place to send expat workers.

Dublin is becoming a more expensive place to send expat workers.

Ireland is now one of the top 20 most expensive locations to send expatriate workers, according to a new global survey.

ECA’s annual MyExpatriate Market Pay report surveys the cost of benefits, salaries and tax treatments in countries around the world in order to assist companies with benchmarking their expatriate packages when relocating staff. Benefits include the allowance to cover essential costs such as accommodation, international school fees, utilities or cars.

The UK has overtaken Japan as the most expensive location to send expatriates, with the average expat pay package rising by £44,688 to £311,240, according to the survey.

Oliver Browne, Remuneration Manager at ECA International, said the tight Dublin rental market had contributed significantly to the costs.

“Similar to the trend we saw in the UK, benefits costs have increased notably due to the rise in accommodation and rental fees,” he said.

“Expats in Ireland are more expensive for companies despite average net salaries for expatriates actually dropping by two per cent (€965) since last year. This was more than offset by an average rise of 14 per cent (€8820) in the cost of benefit provisions that companies had to provide their overseas staff,” Browne explained.

ECA’s recent rental accommodation report revealed that rent in Dublin entered the top five most expensive in Europe for the first time, averaging €3406 per month for a mid-range, three-bedroom apartment.

As expensive as it is, Ireland (18th) is less costly than Australia (9th).

Middle Eastern nations Saudi Arabia and UAE continue to offer the best salaries for expats, with the nations now offering an average of £71125 and £69280 to mid-level expats respectively.

Browne explained: “The Middle East has always offered extremely high salaries to overseas workers, and 2018 was no different. However, the benefits offered in these nations are not among the most costly for an employer, and the average value of benefits offered actually dropped in both locations last year, while the lack of any personal tax means that the overall package works out to be a lot lower when benefits and tax are both taken into account.”

Trump confirms Irish visit in June

US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Washington DC in March.

US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Washington DC in March.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will visit Ireland while on a visit to Europe in June, a White House spokesman has said.

Mr Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will hold a "bilateral meeting" on June 5 in Shannon.

The trip has already been subject to reported controversy over the venue of the talks.

The president's visit to Ireland is set to be largely private, with Mr Trump expected to base himself at the golf resort he owns in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

Rumours of a disagreement have been reported that focus on whether the meeting with Mr Varadkar would take place on Mr Trump's property at Doonbeg - the president's apparent preference - or on more neutral ground.

Irish authorities reportedly preferred nearby Dromoland Castle.

But Simon Coveney, Ireland's deputy premier, said reports of a stand-off over locations were exaggerated and not true.

On Monday, it was reported that Mr and Mrs Trump would join the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for afternoon tea while on a three-day visit to the UK, which begins on June 3.

The couple will also be guests of the Queen.

The president's formal visit follows a working trip to the UK last summer that sparked demonstrations across the country.

Campaigners are again hoping to fly a blimp, depicting the US president as a nappy-wearing baby, over London, after it was hoisted in Parliament Square during protests against the US leader's last trip.

The protesters have been accused by former Tory chief whip Lord Jopling of "mindless idiocy".

The visit to Ireland and the UK are part of Mr Trump's wider trip to Europe, which will include events in France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

'New IRA' admits to Derry killing of journalist

Journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed by Republican dissidents in Derry.

Journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed by Republican dissidents in Derry.

The so-called New IRA has admitted responsibility for the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry.

Miss McKee, 29, died as a result of injuries sustained when she was shot on the Creggan estate on April 18.

In a statement given to The Irish News using a recognised code word, the group offered "full and sincere apologies" to her family and friends.

The New IRA is an amalgam of dissident paramilitary groups opposed to the peace process and it recently claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to London and Glasgow in March.

The statement said: "On Thursday night following an incursion on the Creggan by heavily armed British crown forces which provoked rioting, the IRA deployed our volunteers to engage.

"We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this.

"In the course of attacking the enemy Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces.

"The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death."

One of Northern Ireland's most promising journalists had her dreams snuffed out in a barbaric killing, her partner has said.

"Our hopes and dreams and all of her amazing potential was snuffed out by this single barbaric act," Sarah Canning said.

"Victims and LGBTQI community are left without a tireless advocate and activist and it has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with," she added.

"This cannot stand, Lyra's death must not be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else's life and her legacy will live on and the life that she has left behind."

A young woman signs a book of condolence for Lyra McKee in Belfast. Picture: Liam McBurney

A young woman signs a book of condolence for Lyra McKee in Belfast. Picture: Liam McBurney

Ms McKee was an editor for California-based news site Mediagazer, a trade publication covering the media industry.

In 2016, Forbes Magazine named her one of their 30 under 30 in media.

She had been working on a new book which had been due to be published in 2020.

Michelle Stanistreet, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary, said Ms McKee was one of the most promising journalists in Northern Ireland.

She said: "A young, vibrant life has been destroyed in a senseless act of violence.

"A bright light has been quenched and that plunges all of us into darkness."

Causes close to her heart included helping homeless people, preventing suicide and supporting LGBT rights in the most restrictive regime in Europe.

High salaries 'attracting emigrants home' claims Minister

Pictured at a green-lit Sydney Town Hall are (from left): Owen Feeney, Consul General of Ireland; Linda Scott, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney; Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation; Breandán Ó Caollaí, Irish Ambassador in Australia, and Sofia Hansson, director of, Tourism Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Pictured at a green-lit Sydney Town Hall are (from left): Owen Feeney, Consul General of Ireland; Linda Scott, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney; Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation; Breandán Ó Caollaí, Irish Ambassador in Australia, and Sofia Hansson, director of, Tourism Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys says the salary levels on offer in Ireland are attracting emigrants home.

“Our economy is good,” she told the Irish Echo during her recent visit to Australia. “The wages back home are attracting people back to Ireland. For that reason, there are more people coming back to Ireland than leaving right now.”

A large number of expat nurses sent a strong message of solidarity with their striking colleagues in Ireland during the recent industrial action. Protests in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth featured banners with a clear message for the Irish government: “Give us a reason to come home”.

Did the minister have a message for those nurses?

“The HSE always welcomes nurses back and has established a ‘Bring Them Home’ campaign to support nurses to make the move back,” she said.

“There are a range of incentives to encourage Irish nurses who currently live abroad to consider returning home and joining the Irish health service. Those incentives include up to €1500 in vouched removal relocation expenses including the cost of flights, nursing registration costs and a funded postgraduate education.”

The Government could not say how many nurses had taken advantage of the Bring Them Home incentives, but according to figures published under a Freedom of Information request, fewer than 150 nurses returned under the scheme in 2017.

Ministeer Humphreys with diplomatic, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland staff in Sydney.

Ministeer Humphreys with diplomatic, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland staff in Sydney.

The minister spoke at a number of events about the important role the diaspora has to play in Ireland’s future. She also opened the new Irish Support Agency offices at The Gaelic Club in Surry Hills. One way to engage Irish citizens abroad is to allow them to vote in elections. Does she personally support extending the voting franchise to Irish citizens abroad?

“This is something that the Government has looked at and we’re going to bring forward a referendum [on whether Irish citizens abroad can vote in presidential elections] and leave that decision to the people.”

Ireland is one of the few western democracies which does not allow its citizens abroad to vote.

Meanwhile, Australia is very much part of the Irish government’s plans to explore new markets to diffuse the impact of Brexit, according to Minister Humphreys.

“Diversifying our markets is part of our Brexit strategy,” she told the Irish Echo. “We consider Australia to be a very good opportunity. I know its a long distance but the world is a small place now. There are many opportunities for Irish companies here.”

She also said that Ireland provides excellent opportunities for Australian companies.

Asia’s largest fintech innovation hub, Stone & Chalk (S&C), has partnered with Enterprise Ireland, as a landing pad in both Sydney and Melbourne for Irish fintech companies seeking to enter Australian and Asia Pacific markets. From L-R: Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Global Business Development, Enterprise Ireland; Hannah Fraser, Senior Market Advisor, Australia/New Zealand, Enterprise Ireland; Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D.; Alex Scandurra CEO Stone & Chalk; Ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí, David Eccles, Director, Australia/New Zeland Enterprise Ireland.

Asia’s largest fintech innovation hub, Stone & Chalk (S&C), has partnered with Enterprise Ireland, as a landing pad in both Sydney and Melbourne for Irish fintech companies seeking to enter Australian and Asia Pacific markets. From L-R: Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Global Business Development, Enterprise Ireland; Hannah Fraser, Senior Market Advisor, Australia/New Zealand, Enterprise Ireland; Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D.; Alex Scandurra CEO Stone & Chalk; Ambassador Breandán Ó Caollaí, David Eccles, Director, Australia/New Zeland Enterprise Ireland.

“They see Ireland as a gateway into the European Union. Ireland will be the only English language country left in the European Union when the UK leaves.”

The Minister said the fintech sector is particularly active. A number of Australian enterprises, including Macquarie Bank, are seeking licences to operate in Ireland.

“We welcome that,” she said. “Their corporate governance structures are very similar to ours. They’re happy that our government regulation is strong and we have a stable country. So they know, when they business with us, we do what it says on the tin.”

Ms Humphreys led an eight-day trade and investment mission, covering Melbourne, Sydney and Perth and Singapore. Seventy-one Enterprise Ireland client companies participated in 24 business events and pre-arranged meetings with potential business partners including Telstra, Optus, ANZ Bank, CBA, Cochlear, BT Financial, NAB Bank, Deloitte, Macquarie Bank, Stone and Chalk, and Amazon Web Services.

The minister confirmed plans to open new Enterprise Ireland offices in Melbourne as part of the Government’s Global Ireland 2025 strategy. She would not be drawn on whether the absence of diplomatic representation in Melbourne and Brisbane would be addressed. Perth has an honorary consul.

“We will continue to expand our representation through Global Ireland so whether its our agencies opening new offices or the diplomatic service, we’re always looking to increase our presence all over the world,” the Minister added.

Taoiseach's fanmail to Kylie revealed

Kylie Minogue got fanmail from the Taoiseach.

Kylie Minogue got fanmail from the Taoiseach.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar asked Australian pop star Kylie Minogue if he could welcome her to Ireland personally when she came to Dublin for a concert last year.

Mr Varadkar wrote a note on official headed notepaper from the Office of the Taoiseach, which was released following a freedom of information request by the Mail on Sunday.

The letter, which was signed “Leo V Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister)” was sent before Ms Minogue’s planned concert at Dublin’s 3Arena on October 7, which she had to reschedule due to a throat infection.

“Dear Kylie,” the Taoiseach wrote. “Just wanted to drop you a short note in advance of the concert in Dublin. I am really looking forward to it. Am a huge fan! I understand you are staying in the Merrion Hotel which is just across the street from my office in Government Buildings. If you like, I’d love to welcome you to Ireland personally.”

Toiseach Leo Varadkar and friends with Kylie Minogue in Dublin. Picture: Twitter/Tiernan Brady

Toiseach Leo Varadkar and friends with Kylie Minogue in Dublin. Picture: Twitter/Tiernan Brady

The Mail on Sunday, which obtained the letter, reported that the Department of the Taoiseach twice refused a request for the letter to be released under Freedom of Information legislation, arguing that it was written in a personal capacity by the Taoiseach and “does not relate to matters arising in the course of, or for, the purpose of the Taoiseach’s functions as the head of Government”.

Ultimately the Taoiseach consented to the release of the letter after an appeal against the decision was refused.

Mr Varadkar received a phone call from the singer apologising for the cancelled gig, the paper reported. He eventually went to the rescheduled concert, which took place in December and met the singer after the gig.

Former Sydney Rose harassed in Kilkenny pubs

Brianna Parkins, the 2016 Sydney Rose Of Tralee, says she had to fight off drunken pests on a night out in Kilkenny.

Brianna Parkins, the 2016 Sydney Rose Of Tralee, says she had to fight off drunken pests on a night out in Kilkenny.

The 2016 Sydney Rose of Tralee, Brianna Parkins, says she had to fight off a man who put her in a headlock at a bar in Kilkenny last week.

The 28-year-old, who now lives in Dublin, claimed the man went on to try to kiss her against her will, forcing her to push him away from her and her friend.

Speaking on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTE Radio One, the Sydneysider said "in a perfect world", the incident would have been seen at the time as an assault.

"The plan was to head down to Kilkenny, great to drive through the town, the craic was moderate to high, we were all excited, tanning each other's backs in the Airbnb before heading out," she told Tubridy.

"We get to the first bar and within 10 minutes - I hadn't even ordered a drink yet - I get put in this headlock by this massive sort of rugby-built dude.

"He grabbed me in a headlock in one arm and my friend around with the other arm and just goes in for the shift. It was like being cuddled by an Alsatian, slobbering all over you.

"This was maybe 9.30 or 10pm - not too late for being that sloppy."

She said that this wasn't the first time something like this had happened to her on a night out in Ireland, but what shocked her further was that no one stepped in to help when they saw her forcibly release herself from his grip.

Brianna Parkins on stage with Daithi O’Sé at the Rose Of Tralee.

Brianna Parkins on stage with Daithi O’Sé at the Rose Of Tralee.

"In a perfect world, it would be assault but I'm 28, I've been going out for years, it's kind of sad that I am almost desensitised to that - you expect that now on a night out," she said. "But what I didn't expect was, I reacted like a normal person, grabbed him by the back of the head, reefed him off me and my friend, gave a few solid good shoves for good measure and he kept coming back at us.

"I just had to keep responding more and more aggressively and everyone in the bar turned to look at me as if I am the person causing the problem, but this bloke had a good 30kg on me - physically, we weren't evenly matched.

"No one helped, his mates didn't help, they thought it was funny and the bouncer looked at us like they were going to almost consider kicking me out."

It was like being cuddled by an Alsatian, slobbering all over you.

She moved on with her group of friends to another bar after they finished their drinks, and while they were approached by men, nothing happened when they refused their company. However, she added that there was a further incident in another bar later in the night when a man "screamed into her face" when she turned down his advances.

"We don't even stay half an hour, a big group of guys are dancing around us, dancing on us quite aggressively," she said.

"They're trying to cuddle us and put their arms around us and you're like 'no thanks' - as a girl you try give the polite 'no', because you're told not to be bitter or aggressive.

"He got up into my face and screamed, 'You're on a night out, love' and I'm like, 'I know, I'm dancing with my friends and having a good time and I don't want to be bothered by you guys'.

She said the sort of behaviour she witnessed would not be seen in outback pubs in Australia.

"I've been in rough, outback pubs in Australia but I've never had that level of carry-on happen."

She said it made her consider that these kinds of incidents should be reported to gardai.