TH€ PUNT: Osborne calling the shots on Ulster Bank job losses
ULSTER Bank boss Jim Brown caught everyone on the hop when he announced a huge new jobs lay-off plan and another cull of branches.
No one was more shocked at the announcement than IBOA banking union head Larry Broderick.
The banking union boss usually gets advance notice of any big redundancy plan. There is a requirement under EU legislation to inform staff in advance of lay-offs.
Mr Broderick was in Belfast at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference when news trickled through.
Up to 1,800 of the union's members face losing their jobs. The bank was quick to put out a spin that most of the job losses would come from natural attrition.
Ulster Bank is already in the process of laying off 950 staff and shutting 22 branches across the island.
Now it plans to close another 40 branches.
Its seems that Mr Brown has had to get macho because of the threats to the future of the bank from British chancellor George Osborne. Ulster's parent, RBS, is majority owned by the British taxpayer.
Hence the job cuts of between 1,400 and 1,800.
The UK Treasury is calling the shots as far as Ulster Bank and Ireland is concerned.
Wild way to stop confusion at crossroads
LIKE The Gathering itself, it's a simple idea, but long overdue.
The latest incarnation of the tourism initiative – the Wild Atlantic Way – is expected to be completed by March next year and will be marketed as a driving route along the country's west coast.
The aim is to boost the profile of beauty spots, many of which would be off the beaten track, as well as improving the signage.
With respect to those behind the scheme, it's not rocket science.
The main jobs involved will be plotting the route, putting up sign posts and, most importantly, marketing the product.
On that score, the idea is to market the Irish route in a similar fashion to the Pacific Coast in the US or the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
This should have been done many years ago, instead of letting confused tourists wander through areas with poor signage, or in some cases, none whatsoever.
The Punt hopes it is a success, but we have one word of caution for the organisers. Nowhere in Ireland will object to their village or local beauty spot being included on the new route but the map makers can expect ructions from the outraged citizens of every turn on road from Bantry Bay to the Bloody Foreland that fails to make the cut.
Flybe boss departs with thoughts of what if...
Had Ryanair been given the go-ahead to mount a bid for Aer Lingus by Brussels this year, things could have been so much different for Flybe boss Jim French.
The amiable Scot couldn't believe his luck earlier this year when Flybe was offered a large chunk of Aer Lingus short-haul routes and €100m in cash by Ryanair as the low-cost giant sought to appease EU mandarins amid its latest takeover effort. French, the CEO and executive chairman of Flybe, had already indicated that he would be retiring from an executive role in struggling Flybe, but leaving the cockpit having tied up a deal with Ryanair would have been icing on the cake.
Flybe has just announced that former Easyjet chief commercial officer Saad Hammad will be its new CEO from August 1.
All aboard train that takes you anywhere but home
IS it too much to ask that when you board a train under an electronic sign that states it stops at all stations, it will do just that? We think not. Then again, this is Ireland, and we're talking about Iarnrod Eireann.
The Punt boarded a northbound Dart from Connolly station in Dublin that purported to call at all stations, with the intention of getting off at Killester. The doors slid shut and the train sped past all stations amid puzzlement from some passengers, before stopping at Howth Junction. Those of us who were now left inconvenienced had to wait 18 minutes for a Dart to take us back to where we wanted to go.
On another recent occasion, passengers boarding a supposed Malahide-bound Dart at Connolly had to suddenly get out and switch to the train on the opposite platform because the destinations were inexplicably changed.
Some passengers (including The Punt) didn't make it, and the train left without them.
Oh to live in a country with a smooth and efficient public transport system.