Business Irish

Monday 16 December 2019

The Punt - the mind Vogel(s) with our Enda

Amazon's chief technology officer, Dr Werner Vogels
Amazon's chief technology officer, Dr Werner Vogels

The Punt was in attendance last week when Amazon announced that it's to create 300 new jobs in Dublin.

Also there was the dear leader Enda Kenny, and Amazon's chief technology officer, Dr Werner Vogels.

When Enda rose to speak, he was generous in his praise of Dr Vogels, calling him "an extraordinary man with an enormous grasp of the detail of cyber security and where all this is headed for the foreseeable future".

He'd heard Dr Vogels speak before, you see.

But the effect was spoiled by the fact that Enda kept calling the Amazon bigshot the wrong name - Dr Vogel instead of Dr Vogels.

Four times he said it, by the Punt's tally, but no-one batted an eyelid.

The announcement attracted quite an illustrious crowd.

One attendee, American Chamber of Commerce Ireland chief executive Mark Redmond, was like the cat who got the cream.

"Great day," he repeated to everyone who cared to listen.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton was there too, though he didn't speak.

Sitting beside Minister Bruton was IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan, fresh from his infamous encounter with Joe Kernen on CNBC's 'Squawk Box'.

No one asked him about Ireland's currency.

Flower power v gym bunnies

Love isn't blossoming between Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county council and Isle of Man-based businessman Albert Gubay. His Mardown firm controls sites that were once home to the Irish arm of Total Fitness gyms.

The chain here collapsed in 2011 with debts of nearly €20m. Mr Gubay had sold the Total Fitness business a decade ago to an English firm, making a fortune, but held on to the sites.

Mardown has applied to the council for change of use at a former Total Fitness site in south Dublin. It plans to use the 11-hectare site as a garden centre.

Existing buildings on the site include a swimming pool, running track, cafe and restaurant and creche. The planning application noted that while the creche is in use, the overall site is subject to vandalism.

But the council refused permission for the garden centre, saying it would result in "piecemeal development" of the site. That prompted Mardown to take its case to An Bord Pleanala.

Water off menu in Kilkenny

By all accounts WiFi services held up better in the bars and hotels of Kilkenny this weekend than at last week's Dublin Web Summit.

It's the kind of irony guaranteed to appeal to the policy wonks who head to Kilkenomics - the marble city's festival of economics and comedy.

Speakers over the weekend included Indo regulars David McWilliams, Sinead Ryan and Stephen Kinsella.

The Punt noted that the mood was a bit more cheerful this year, at an event that in the past risked wallowing a bit in the old doom and gloom.

The Ballyhae Says No protest in favour of burning bondholders took to the streets.

But a more international guest list and the improving economy meant the dismal scientists were, on the whole, a bit less dismal.

The crisis over Irish Water did get plenty of laughs from the travelling comedians, who this year including Des Bishop, though the economists by and large shied away from the issue of water infrastructure, and what if anything can be done to sort out the mess.

Irish Independent

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