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The Irish SME community is one of fickle faith, judging by a June survey conducted for Close Brothers Invoice Finance. It found that belief in the existence of steady economic recovery has plummeted, with 79% of those quizzed expressing no confidence that it is happening at all.

A new online account management system for SMEs has been launched in Ireland by Bibby Financial Services. The system, in which Bibby invested €13m, allows customers to manage their fund and accounts online.

Bank of Ireland (BOI) says that credit approvals to SMEs for the first six months of the year totalled €2.1bn at the bank. Around 32,000 SME credit applications were approved from January to the end of June, up 7% year on year.

Office accommodation firm Regus has opened a sixth centre in Ireland, the latest one in 'The Chase' building in Sandyford, Dublin. The firm has four other centres across Dublin and one in Cork.

The advertising sector is starting to reflect signs of economic stabilisation and recovery, but the pace of improvements in expenditure is lagging the wider economic uptick. That's according to the third - and latest - AAI/Nielsen Barometer, which looked at trends in the first quarter of 2014.

Ryanair is continuing its IT revival with the launch of a new app, which follows on from the firm's recent website redesign. The free app, available for iOS and Android, will allow customers to browse and book flights, choose allocated seating, book hotels and car hire, download mobile boarding passes and view live information.

The consequences of skills shortages in software development could cost Ireland thousands of jobs, according to a new study published on the sector. The 'Irish Software Landscape Study', was conducted by Lero - the Irish software engineering research centre; the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick, and the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy at the University of Cambridge.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) client companies saw their export growth and job creation reach their highest levels in over a decade, according to EI's annual report for 2013. Exports of €17bn were recorded by EI companies through 2013, who also created more than 18,000 jobs.

The office vacancy rate in the capital has dropped to its lowest level since 2008, according to the second-quarter office market report by JLL.

Irish businesses are expressing less satisfaction in the government every quarter, judging by the results of ISME's latest survey of its members. It shows that government satisfaction ratings have fallen across several categories that ISME investigated.

This Weeks Irish Business News

FDI continues to stream into Ireland, according to the IDA, which says that new greenfield investments, expansions and transformations by existing companies in the first half of 2014 are up on the same period in 2013.

Plans for a new broadband network that promises speeds of between 200Mbps and 1,000Mbps have been announced by ESB and Vodafone. The two firms are partnering up for the proposed €450m investment, which involves providing end-to-end fibre optic connections for faster download speeds.

Consumer confidence is see-sawing but Irish HR directors are expressing significant confidence in the economy and their own businesses, according to a survey published by PwC.

New car sales for the first half of 2014 topped 66,000, making this year the best one for the motor industry since 2008. Figures from Motorcheck.ie calculate that new car sales are up 24% this year on the same period in 2013.

Lean education and consultancy group Leading Edge has partnered with University College Cork's school of economics to establish a new research internship team that will evaluate the impact of the group's programmes.

A new Central Bank report on the Irish SME credit market shows that lending to the sector has remained broadly static since 2011, but the rate of loan default among SMEs stood at 26% by the end of 2013.

Pembroke Communications and Slattery Communications have announced plans to merge their PR agencies to form a new communications group.

Ulster Bank has announced a new three-year fixed-rate mortgage deal for new and existing customers. The rate of 4.25% (4.5% APR fixed) is being made available until September 30.

Irish-owned cloud computing support company Auxilion has won a gong in the 2014 Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards. The firm was one of 3,200 entrants from 112 countries in the running for the awards and its CTO, Graham Quinn, emerged as the category winner for 'pre-sales technical specialist of the year'.

Nominations for the 2014 eircom Spider Awards are now being invited. The long-running digital awards competition, which has taken place annually for 19 years, will accept applications for its 2014 iteration until October 1.

Online recruitment site ChinaHR, which is owned by Denis O'Brien and Leslie Buckley, is to undergo a €30m investment programme to ramp up its multi-platform recruitment services in China.

A new website aimed at road haulage and passenger transport operators has been launched by the government. The website, www.rtol.ie, eschews design fripperies in favour of stark functionalism, and allows hauliers/operators to apply for and manage their licenses online.

Around 32,000 entrepreneurs set up new businesses in Ireland last year, according to the findings of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2013. One in eleven of the adult population in Ireland now have some form of engagement in early-stage businesses.

Newmarket Partnership has joined Crowe Horwath's network of independent accountancy and advisory firms. The firm was founded 25 years ago by Gerry O'Reilly and the late David Manley.

The implications of new EU consumer legislation for online traders are detailed in a selling guide just launched by Dublin Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the European Consumer Centre Ireland.

A new fund aimed at startups has been established in Tipperary, primarily geared towards firms that are participating in one of the various support programmes being run for startups on Limerick Institute of Technology's (LIT) Enterprise Ladder.

Companies from across the island of Ireland are being invited to compete in the 2014/15 Best Managed Companies Awards Programme, which is run by Deloitte in association with Barclays Bank. Award winners will be selected in four different categories and the closing date for entries is August 8.

The world's biggest sporting event is almost upon us, but how can Irish businesses get in on the action? Marketing expert Geoff Wilson has some suggestions.

There are only five days left to go for owners of small firms to enter the mentoring competition Business Plus is running with Sage Ireland.

Demand for credit among SMEs remains low, while the approval rate continues to grow, according to the finance department's latest credit demand survey.

Bank of Ireland has launched a national accelerator programme for startups and entrepreneurs, inviting applications to compete for the ten available places in the three-month initiative.

A new funding stream targeting graduate startups has been launched by Enterprise Ireland (EI). The 'Competitive Start Fund for Graduates' will divvy up €500,000 between ten successful applicants and is inviting applications from July 9.

Irish telco firm AirSpeed Telecom claimed the European Business Awards title of 'RSM Entrepreneur of the Year', which was announced at a ceremony in Athens last night.

Economic analyses continue to identify a disparity between Dublin's recovery and that of the rest of the country, with Friends First's economic outlook offering the latest refrain. The report, launched today, argues that a policy shift is needed at national level to redress the imbalance.

Cash flow uncertainty poses the biggest risk for the survival prospects of two fifths of Irish SMEs, according to research carried out by Close Brothers.

Entries are now being accepted for InterTradeIreland's all-island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition, in which new and early stage businesses compete for a total cash prize fund of €280,000. Applications will be accepted until Friday, May 30.

Alltech founder Dr Pearse Lyons has set up an investment fund that will award up to €365,000 annually to entrepreneurial projects.

US venture capital fund Lightstone Ventures is to partner with Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) to establish a €126m VC fund to invest in Irish firms in the life sciences sector.

Workplaces can expect a great migration of employees from job to job this year, according to the findings of recruitment firm Berkley Group's tenth annual Global Sentiment Survey, which analyses employment and market perceptions.

The government has launched an online search tool for SME business supports.

Digital startup accelerator LaunchPad is gearing up for its tenth instalment and is currently inviting applications from eligible firms for its three-month programme.

Aspiring entrepreneurs aged under 30 are being encouraged to enter a national competition that promises investment of up to €25,000 for county winners and up to €50,000 for national winners. The competition is being run by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in tandem with the new Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), which have replaced County Enterprise Boards.

Ireland's trade surplus has fallen to its lowest level since July 2008, according to data furnished by the CSO. Its preliminary figures for March show that exports decreased by €256m (4%) to just under €7bn from the previous month. A 12% increase in imports to around €4.5bn means that the trade surplus fell by 23% to €2.4bn.

Carlow Property Management is the latest firm to win eircom's Digital Boost award. The firm provides landlords and tenants with a service that matches them up and takes care of all of the particulars, thereby eliminating the need for interviews, etc.

Small grants to help eligible businesses upgrade their digital presence and trade online will be offered by local enterprise offices (LEOs) nationwide, following the scheme's announcement at the opening of Fingal LEO today.

Optimism continues to accrete around Irish SMEs, the majority of whom are growing their businesses and expressing confidence about their future prospects, according to a survey commissioned by the Bank of Ireland (BOI).

Over half of Irish employees access social media sites while at work, spending an average of 39 minutes per working day on the sites, according to a survey published by law firm William Fry.

New car sales continued their strong run into April, with sales for the month up 28% compared with April 2013. A total of 57,793 new cars have been sold since the start of 2014.

Dublin will soon have a 'commissioner for startups', who will be employed to maximise the potential of the capital's tech cluster.

CityJet has been bought by German firm Intro Aviation. Previously owned by Air France KLM, CityJet will now operate as an independent regional airline and will start debt-free.

A medical software firm based in NUI Galway's incubation centre claimed top prize in a startup competition run at one of Europe's top tech gatherings. Pocket Anatomy was selected ahead of nine other startups after an on-stage business pitch at The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam.

UNIT4's Agresso ERP suite of finance and business software has secured a contract worth around €1m with Noonan, Ireland's market leading facility management company.

The government launched its new nationwide system of 31 local enterprise offices (LEO) today, replacing the county enterprise board (CEB) system.

Retail sales dropped by 1.5% through March, according to the CSO's latest figures. Annually, a decrease of 0.1% was recorded.

Workplace stress is on the rise in Ireland, while HR departments are having less say in business strategy, according to a recent survey of over 700 HR professionals and their organisations. The survey was carried out by HRM Recruit.

A new training programme to help Irish food firms develop their online presence has been launched by Bord Bia and Google. The 'Digital Food Hub' will kick off with 21 food companies enrolled.

Over one quarter of Irish companies (26%) have suffered 'economic crime' - or the loss of money and/or property through deceitful means - in the last two years, according to detailed research furnished by PwC. The firm's Irish economic crime survey forms part of a global study that surveyed 5,000 participants in 95 countries worldwide.

An OECD review of Ireland's action plan for jobs (APJ) programmes has broadly praised government efforts at job creation and economic recovery, but has highlighted several areas still in need of increased attention.

Clare-based food diagnostics firm AltraTech has secured significant financial backing after developing a single-use test kit that can identify the DNA content of a food sample in a matter of minutes.

An increasing number of employers in Ireland are trying to do more to nurture entrepreneurial attitudes among their staff, according to research by Regus, as a means of driving creativity in their businesses.

Software company AMT-Sybex has been bought by Capita for an initial €100m, rising to €127m if the firm reaches agreed profit targets over the coming 12 months.

Over half of the SME community in Ireland is worried about a potential exodus of staff now that the economy has begun to improve, according to survey results by Close Brothers.

Year-end business optimism in Q4 2013 has been replaced by more circumspection and flutters of trepidation through the first quarter of 2014, according to research carried out by ISME.

Boots pharmacy is opening three new stores in Ireland, building on a strong performance here last year that saw the group's pre-tax profits jump by 14% to over €20m.

A new Enterprise Ireland (EI) fund targeted at startups in the aviation and manufacturing sectors is now open for applications. The EI Competitive Start Fund will accept submissions until April 30.

Businesses are all for maximising their internet presence these days, but only about 10% of firms are able to manage website content for themselves, according to a survey of Irish companies.

Corporate insolvencies in the first quarter of 2014 were down 13% on the same period last year, but insolvency actions are expected to be sustained as the year progresses.

Ireland's labour market is more polarised than the European average, but that could help get women into work, according to research published by the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI).

Overall consumer confidence in Ireland is continuing its gradual improvement despite dipping in March, according to the latest KBC/ESRI consumer sentiment index. It recorded a fall to 83.1 in March from February's 83.3. However, the three-month moving average recorded the eleventh consecutive increase in consumer confidence.

First Ireland Spirits has been bought by European drinks group Quintessential Brands for an undisclosed sum. Established in 1993, First Ireland is the country's largest independent producer of Irish cream liqueurs and country creams, and employs around 50 people.

Eircom's Digital Boost competition is currently accepting entries from SMEs looking to win €10,000 in digital marketing. The current competition is the last Digital Boost planned for the year and the deadline for entries is April 24.

Plans are underway in Killybegs to develop the world's largest bio-marine ingredients facility in the harbour town, with the potential to create up to 120 jobs.

Jobs minister Richard Bruton has announced that 50 new high end technology based positions will be created over the next three years by US software company KEMP Technologies at its EMEA HQ in Limerick.

Commercial property consultants CBRE today released statistics for commercial property investment spend in the first three months of 2014, reporting that more than half of the volume of investment activity in the Irish market in 2013 has been signed in the first quarter of 2014.

New car sales year to date are running at their highest level since 2008, according to Motorcheck.ie. At the end of the first quarter 2014, almost 50,000 new cars have been registered, an increase of 25% on the same period last year.

Average alcohol consumption by 3.6 million Irish adults in 2013 amounted to 10.73 litres of pure alcohol per person. That's equivalent to an average of 128 bottles of wine per person per annum.

A Sage survey of SMEs in Ireland has found that the majority of them are unaware of government initiatives to promote electronic payments at the expense of cheques, which will change some payment procedures from this September.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) has launched its tenth annual competition for the best ideas to tackle social and environmental problems.

UK van retailer Van Monster, owned by Northgate plc, has landed in Dublin with a branch on the Old Airport Road near Dublin Airport. The company says the outlet is the first dedicated used van dealer in Ireland.

Over 30 venture capital firms with more than €6 billion in funds under management are meeting in Dublin on April 8 for three days to explore opportunities to invest in the burgeoning Irish medical technology sector.

The value of hotels sales through the first quarter of 2014 is 150% higher than the same period last year, according to a report by property consultants Savills. It says that 13 hotels, worth almost €85m, were sold in the first three months of the year. Q1 2013 saw just six hotels sold, the total value of which was €34m.

The value of retail sales excluding cars through February was up 0.4% year-on-year, which is just marginally above the rate of inflation. Volumes were up 2.3% y-o-y which shows that retailers having to cut prices to shift goods.

UPC, Ireland's leading TV, broadband and communications innovator, is supporting the launch of the new free employability networking site, www.yourock.jobs.

The level of money laundering activity in Ireland is estimated to be at least €3bn according to a new report published today by business advisory firm Grant Thornton.

Confidence among Irish technology companies is continuing to increase, although the majority of them (six out of ten) are now looking beyond Ireland's shores for their main market, according to an AIB survey of the sector.

One of the strongest outcomes from succession that business owners wish to achieve is family harmony following the completion of the process, according to a new survey from accountancy firm Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) has made a new fund available to help Cork entrepreneurs develop startup ideas and boost job creation in the region. The €200,000 fund can provide up to €25,000 towards the cost of a feasibility study to help new entrepreneurs validate their startup ideas.

Newly appointed Insolvency Judges are twiddling their thumbs with little to do, according to Senator Ronan Mullen, who has called for an urgent review of their role and the cost to the taxpayer.

DCU has relocated its Propeller startup accelerator to Silicon Docks and is accepting applications for the programme until March 28. The accelerator is inviting applications from early-stage, hi-tech startups with domain expertise and B2B experience.

Ulster Bank has released some new additions to its supports for new businesses in Ireland, which now include a free app and an online list of local enterprise startup support options.

Knightsbridge Student Housing Ltd has announced a €23m development of housing for 470 students around parts of the old Guinness brewery in the Liberties.

Most households can't afford to be throwing away money, but they are unknowingly doing it anyway, according to Taxback.com. It says that Irish people are lackadaisical about claiming back lesser-known tax reliefs.

Enterprise Ireland's (EI) 'New Frontiers' programme for early-stage companies is inviting applications for its third instantiation. The initiative's phase one programme will continue to accept applications until May 28, while its phase two programme will do so until March 28.

The majority of senior business leaders in Ireland are swapping their scalpels for bar graphs, as they move away from cost-cutting in favour of promoting future growth, according to a new survey of Irish firms.

A new guide for retailers has been launched that aims to help them reduce their waste and environmental footprint. Entitled 'Resource Efficiency for the Retail Sector', the guide was launched by Green Business, in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Getting stuck in traffic is the most common excuse offered by Irish staff to their bosses when they are running late, according to a new survey by Elephant Smart Business.

The first comprehensive study of YouTube users in Ireland has found that entertainment and education top the reasons for logging onto the site here.

The Subway sandwich store franchise continues to spread like butter across the country and has hit the 200 outlet mark with the opening of a store in Naas.

Revenue issued an e-brief this week, asking child-minders to familiarise themselves with their filing requirements. Tax relief is available for eligible child-minders whose income from the service does not exceed €15,000 in a tax year.

Grant Thornton released the results of its survey on Irish attitudes to gender quotas today, on the eve of International Women's Day, and they amount to one step forwards or two steps back, depending on how you look at them.

A €75m government investment fund for Irish SMEs looking to develop their export business was launched today. The fund will be delivered under the Development Capital Scheme and will target established Irish companies planning to tap into export markets.

If you choose a business SIM only plan, you can use it with the handset of your choice. This could either be a handset you own already or it could be a new handset that you buy SIM-free. Three Ireland's Ian Blake picks some of the best smartphones for small business.

Retail sales figures showed an 8.9% year-on-year increase in January last, mostly on the back of buoyant motor trade, according to the latest CSO figures.

The majority of Irish SMEs think that relations with their business bank have either stagnated or gotten worse over the past year, according to the results of a Small Firm Association's (SFA) Q1 2014 banking survey.

Employment continued to rise in 2013, according to the CSO, with labour market figures showing an increase of 3.3% (61,000) in employment for Q4 2013. Seasonally adjusted, employment rose by 1.5% for the period.

Turkish Airlines has completed a 40% expansion to its lounge in Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, which now covers almost 6,000 square feet.

Meaty chocolate yoghurt; frozen chicken wings with a chicken head thrown in for free; glass-infused ready meals and a Chinese takeaway sporting a human tooth were some of the more inventive - and stomach-churning - specialities served up to Irish consumers last year, according to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

Investors backed Irish SMEs to the tune of €285m in 2013, up 6% on 2012, according to the Irish Venture Capital Association's (IVCA) annual VenturePulse survey.

SMEs and startups eager for some digital marketing support are being courted by Brave Media at the moment through an online competition launched by the firm. The winner will receive a three-month digital marketing campaign from Brave, valued at over €2,500.

The personal touch in business is so last millennium, judging by the preferred practices of the modern Irish executive. Less than one quarter of Irish workers prefer face-to-face meetings with colleagues and co-workers, while over half choose to keep in touch via email.

Some heavy thinking is going on in the garden county of late, as local business people try to figure out how to best promote commerce and industry in Wicklow.

Media monitoring company News Access has acquired the news cuttings arm of peer company Media World.

The marketing sector can arguably be looked at as the pulse of the business community at large, embedded as it is in the latter's fortunes, so it's encouraging to see that the majority of Irish marketers are sanguine in their outlook for 2014.

The 35% increase in excise on spirits in a period of 10 months (20% in Dec 2012 and 15% in Oct 2013) has had a severe impact on the Irish spirits market, according to Pernod Ricard, owner of the Jameson whiskey brand.

Ad agency Javelin Group has bought fellow Dublin-based digital agency Brand Social, following several months of discussions between the two companies. Brand Social will slot into the digital marketing side of Javelin's business.

Business coach and writer, Shane Cradock, has written a new comedy play 'The Waiting Room' which will debut at The Civic Theatre in Tallaght, Dublin on Thursday February 13.

Members of the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union have voted by 94 per cent in favour of industrial action to protect pay rates and working conditions in the electrical contracting industry.

Permanent Tsb Bank has announced that it will take special steps to facilitate customers of Danske Bank whose current accounts will be frozen from this weekend.

Dublin PR agency Drury Communications is to rebrand as Drury|Porter Novelli. Porter Novelli is a global PR brand of the Omnicom Group, which owns Drury.

Communicorp Group, Ireland's largest commercial radio station company, has acquired eight regional radio stations from Global Radio in the UK. The stations, with 2.8 million listeners combined, are Smooth East Midlands, Smooth North West, Smooth North East, Capital Scotland, Capital South Wales, Real Radio North Wales, Real Radio Yorkshire and Real XS.

Aspiring graduates looking to take on a Master's programme are being invited to apply to UCD under the Smurfit School Aspire Scholarship Programme, which was launched today.

Domain registrar and hosting company Blacknight cut the ribbon on its new, €1m data centre at company headquarters in Carlow.

The latest Investec Services PMI Ireland report shows a bright start to 2014 for the services sector. The headline PMI came in at 61.5, a little below the 82 month high of 61.8 recorded in December and consistent with a strong rise in activity.

Just over half of Irish businesses suffered some form of security breach in 2013, according to a survey of IT professionals carried out in December last.

Business optimism remains aloft among Irish firms, though some risk aversion is still in evidence, based on Deloitte's Q4 2013 CFO survey.

There's clearly an appetite among Irish food startups for some hands-on guidance: Bord Bia's recent small business open day in Santry attracted a full house of entrepreneurs, who lapped up the advice and insights given to them on the day.

Employers looking to avoid costly staff turnover should put flexible working at the top of their HR agenda for 2014, according to global workspace provider Regus

The majority of SME owners in Ireland are jaded with green taxes and suspect that energy companies are pulling a fast one on them, according to recent survey findings.

Bibby Financial Services has launched a €60m lending fund for Irish SMEs that need cash flow or growth support. The invoice finance firm has also promised that it will make decisions on eligible firms applying for funding in five days or less.

Working from home is becoming de rigueur for Irish employees these days; 44% of them do so at least one day a month.

Fledgling Dublin companies will be given the opportunity to take to the wing under the tutelage of established and successful business owners, as part of a new business development programme by Plato Dublin (PD).

Bankruptcy will no longer be a dirty word in 2014, according to Neo Financial's Paul Carroll, who predicts that those filing for it this year will be at least double the forecasted figure.

AIB is to make €100 million available for lending to enable Irish SMEs to radically lower their energy bills - and the bank will take into account the projected savings from energy efficiency projects when calculating the borrower's repayment capacity.

Twitter's self-serve advertising platform is now open to small and medium sized businesses in Ireland.

Ryanair has announced it will open new new routes from Dublin from April 2014 as well as increased frequencies on eight existing routes.

Professional network LinkedIn ended 2013 wth over one million Irish members.

Following the announcement in Budget 2014 of the new Home Renovation Tax Incentive Scheme, Bank of Ireland has launched a new €75 million fund to support homeowners seeking to make improvements to their home.

Cluey, the Irish developer of cross-platform, cloud-based Point of Sale (POS) and CRM software for bars, cafes and restaurants is launching its innovative new system at the Web Summit on October 30.

A new study conducted by online HR software provider BreatheHR has lifted the lid on sick day absenteeism in the workplace, by examining exactly when, why and how often employees in SMEs call in sick.

Ireland is lower than the EU and OECD averages in setting up new business. To encourage individuals to start their own businesses, Budget 2014 has provided for a new CGT incentive.

A new centre at Dublin City University will work directly with Irish family firms to address the challenges they face.

A new business has been set up to help SMEs win a greater share of public sector contracts.

Castleknock Hotel & Country Club in Dublin, part of FBD Hotels & Resorts, has been named AA Hotel of the Year. AA inspectors said they were impressed by the consistent standards of excellence, innovation, attention to detail and service to guests.

Mairead O'Grady, taxation partner at accountancy firm Russell Brennan Keane, has put together a list of numerous ways in which individuals can legitimately and sensibly reduce their taxes.

Ireland is jigging with kick-starts for business of late and the newest one taking to the floor is the Dell Centre for Entrepreneurs. Due for launch today at the Digital Hub, the programme will provide mentoring, Dell insights and access to funding for Irish startups.

A new online networking platform has been launched for enterprising women, allowing entrepreneurs to network and communication amongst themselves. The peer-to-peer platform is part of an Enterprise Ireland drive to boost the number of female-led startups.

Small firms are being strangled by late payments and need better legal options to tackle it, according to the Small Firms Association (SFA).

Vodafone's Smart StartUp Network is set to return with an opener in Dublin later this month, offering guidance and advice to established small businesses and startups about how to better leverage technology.

Online travel insurance broker Blue Insurances has bought out Rowan Devereux, one of the firm's founding directors, and a shareholder, for just under €10m.

Irish consumers are warming to the housing market again, with many expecting a rise in house values over the next 12 months, according to a survey carried out between July and December 2013.

Email inboxes are becoming bottomless wells of data superfluity, into which an average of one hour per person every working day is lost due to ineffective usage and misuse. Such is the message heralding this year's Clean Out Your Inbox Week, urging emailers worldwide dredge their inbox between January 19 to 24.

Some of Silicon Valley's top execs will be gathering in Limerick for a forum later this month, where open-necked shirts and pearls of wisdom will be in no short supply. Taking place in venues throughout the city on January 27 and 28, the forum is being held by the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG).

Public apprehension about Ireland's economic prospects continues to abate, according to the latest figures, which show that consumer sentiment climbed to a six-year high in December 2013.

Emirates airlines will be ramping up its Dublin-Dubai service later this year with the introduction of a second daily non-stop flight to the UAE city from September 1. The new daily service will complement Emirates' Boeing 777 operation that commenced in January 2012, adding capacity of more than 5,000 seats a week in both directions.

Some of it might have been down to festive cheer, but business sentiment continued turning from a frown to a smile in Q4 2013, according to the latest Small Firms Association (SFA) Business Sentiment Survey.

The European Commission has adopted a proposal to give an extra transition period of six months during which payments which differ from the SEPA format can still be accepted. The proposal does not change the formal deadline for migration of 1 February 2014.

Snap Ireland has announced the acquisition of The DG Group, one of the country's leading digital marketing services companies.

DDFH&B has announced the creation of a new public relations and communications company - The Reputations Agency, effective February 3, 2014. The new agency will bring together Corporate Reputations and Bespoke with Direction.

Smart businesses in 2014 will pay close attention to government initiatives rolled out under the Action Plan for Jobs unveiled in 2013. Companies that seek to participate in various programmes, which are mostly centred around the state-funded third level institutions, can expect to curry favour with Enterprise Ireland.

Ministers Pat Rabbitte and Brendan Howlin have approved the selection of a preferred bidder for the proposed acquisition of Bord Gáis Energy.

Eircom has stolen a march on the other operators by announcing that its 4G service is now available for iPhone users via its eMobile and Meteor brands.

According to the latest statistics published by insolvencyjournal.ie, corporate insolvencies from January to November 2013 amounted to 1,236, a 20% drop on the same period in 2012.

Sandwich chain Subway has confirmed plans to open 40 new stores in Ireland in 2014.

Dublin-based Vermillion Design Consultants scooped the top two national awards for digital app design at the annual Institute of Designers of Ireland awards ceremony.

Golf marketing company, Golfgraffix, has signed a multi-year deal with Nicklaus Design, the design firm owned by golfer Jack Nicklaus. The deal will see the Dublin firm take its suite of interactive digital marketing products to the US and China.

The new Personal Insolvency legislation may not achieve its objectives of relieving debt for the great majority of distressed borrowers. For the legislation to work there may be a requirement for a state funded or creditor/bank funded insolvency service.

No you don't. Office supplier Viking has announced a new partnership with delivery specialists Parcel Motel to offer a convenient new delivery service for customers ordering from their website.

Irish charity Camara Ireland has issued an appeal for donations of laptops for use in Irish schools.

PayPal has been named as Multinational Employer of the Year at the 2013 Fingal Excellence in Business and Corporate Responsibility awards.

Vodafone Ireland and Spotify have announced an exclusive partnership in the Irish market.

Dublin-based TCAS Online, a leading provider of student accommodation management software, has raised €650,000.

Business confidence in Ireland has risen substantially over the past six months, according to the latest Business Confidence Index published by workspace provider Regus.

Adare-based Samco Agricultural Manufacturing was hailed Overall Business of the Year at the 2013 Limerick Chamber Regional Business Awards last night.

Deutsche Bank has confirmed plans to create 700 jobs in Dublin over the coming years.

There was a 5% drop in the value of exports to €7.31bn in September, according to preliminary figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Waterford-based Dawn Meats has picked up a prestigious Green Apple Environment Award in Britain in recognition of the firm's environmental credentials.

Ezetop, the company which enables people living or working abroad to instantly top up mobile phones of friends and family back home, has achieved top spot in this year's Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards for the second year running.

Apple has announced that the iPad Mini with Retina display is now available.

The shortlist for the eircom Spider Awards 2013 has been announced. The number of entries increased by 40% this year marking the highest number of entries since the awards began in 1996.

Danske Bank has been appointed to provide payments services infrastructure to Credit Unions.

Saongroup, the online recruitment company owned by Denis O'Brien and Leslie Buckley, has been acquired by international jobs board business StepStone for an undisclosed sum.

Patrick Joy, the founder and chairman of Suretank Group, has been named as EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013. Last July Norwegian company Hitecvision bought a two-thirds stake in Suretank for €35 million.

Host Ireland Business Broadband has announced plans to move into a new multi-million euro office complex in Dublin.

Budget 2013 introduced a new film tax relief scheme which was due to apply from tax years 2016 to 2020. The introduction of the scheme has now been brought forward to apply from 2015.

The Research and Development ('R&D') Tax Credit regime has been reviewed by the Department of Finance. Based on this report, finance minister Michael Noonan has made a number of changes to the scheme.

A bottle of vodka would cost €3 if there was no tax on it, according to the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI).

Over half (58%) of business leaders said that Budget 2014 struck the right balance between achieving our fiscal targets and boosting confidence in the economy.

George Maloney of accountancy firm Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon has welcomed the announcement that legislation to introduce Examinership in the Circuit Court is to be fast tracked by the government.

In Budget 2014, finance minister Michael Noonan has introduced a Start Your Own Business (SYOB) measure aimed at encouraging individuals who are long-term unemployed to start their own unincorporated business.

Fast 4G mobile broadband has arrived in Ireland, but so far not for owners of Apple iPhones. It seems that Apple is stalling on 'switching on' 4G for current generation 5 series iPhones until the new 5s and 5c models are launched here on October 25.

Algebalance, a new educational video game app for iPad, which teaches the basics of algebra before children learn it in school, has been launched by Irish technology startup, Rongella.

Vodafone Ireland will switch on 4G mobile broadband services on Monday October 14 in six cities and 23 towns across the country.

Cork Chamber, in partnership with Vodafone, is seeking entrants from Cork-based firms for its company of the year awards.

Four companies are establishing new operations in Cork and Dublin with the creation of a total of 83 new jobs.

A lack of career progression is the primary reason for leaving a job, according to a survey by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.

Despite good underlying letting and sales activity during the first half of 2013, there has been little change in retail high street vacancy rates over the last six month period, according to commercial property consultants CBRE.

The government has announced the establishment of a new €20m Irish venture capital fund.

Government departments, local authorities and state agencies will stop accepting and sending cheques in their dealings with businesses on 19 September 2014.

Two Kilkenny restaurants - Campagne in Kilkenny City and the Lady Helen at the Mount Juliet Hotel in Thomastown - have been awarded Michelin stars in the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2014

Failte Ireland has published a comprehensive examination of the adventure tourism market, examining key activities and illustrating where the future potential lies in this fast-growing tourism demographic for Ireland as a destination.

National Pen, which specialises in the marketing and manufacture of promotional products, has announced that it is to create 200 permanent jobs at its international HQ in Dundalk over the next five years.

The Irish Brewer's Association (IBA) has called on the government to reverse last year's excise increase on beer and cider which it said is creating significant challenges for publicans in Ireland.

O2 has launched a cloud services platform and suite of digital solutions for businesses called O2 Digital Solutions.

Revenue have issued comprehensive guidance on LPT issues that employers need to to be aware of in operating this new payroll deduction for employees who have opted to pay the tax through a monthly deduction from their net pay.

Eircom, operators of Ireland's largest WiFi network, now has over 2,300 eircom WiFiHub hotspots around the country. Dillon Dental, in New Ross in Wexford was recently WiFiHub enabled making it the 2,300th eircom WiFiHub hotspot. Eircom also revealed some key statistics around usage and locations for its WiFiHub service.

Despite being Ireland's most popular website, with 1.6 billion page impressions in 2012, RTE still can't turn a profit from its digital activities, writes Nick Mulcahy.

Revenue issued an e-brief this week, asking child-minders to familiarise themselves with their filing requirements. Tax relief is available for eligible child-minders whose income from the service does not exceed €15,000 in a tax year.


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