Sunday 17 December 2017

TH€ PUNT: Hard-pressed Osborne too busy to share a Coke

POLITICIANS are keen to show off when they're hard at work, and at times they can often fall victim to the stage-managed photo op. But The Punt thinks UK Chancellor George Osborne (pictured) is trying a bit too hard.

To be fair, the Conservative minister had a busy day yesterday, delivering his latest review of spending.

And he was doing his best trying to win over a public weary of austerity and cuts by posting a picture of himself enduring an obviously hard day at the office prior to delivering his speech.

The photo, posted on his Twitter page, showed the chancellor sitting down at a meeting room desk, with papers and Coke cans strewn beside him, his tie either loosened or discarded altogether.

And just in case we think cabinet ministers indulge in hearty feasts every night, Mr Osborne was seen tucking into a less-than-appetising-looking takeaway burger and chips.

We get the point Mr Osborne – it's tough at the top.

At least it was Diet Coke.

Welsh outstrip rivals in bid to boost jobs

THEY do things differently in Wales. An investigation has been launched there after it emerged that a scheme backed by the Welsh government was doling out career advice on stripping.

Its Business Wales website included information about how to become a stripper, as well as tips on running lap dancing clubs and escort agencies – listed as "start-up business ideas".

Its description painted the stripping and escort industry as a pleasant and profitable career. Strippers and lap dancers, it said, could "expect to earn an average £232 (€274) per evening", with annual incomes that "can range from £24,000 to £48,000".

"Escort agencies usually have several escorts on their books. Agencies charge escorts an 'introduction fee' of between 25pc and 55pc of what the client pays to the escort," the fact sheet explained.

We're hopeful that the Irish Department of Jobs has limits on how far it will go in its drive for job-creation – but we will be keeping a close eye on the Enterprise Ireland website.

Dr Reilly's actions make life hard for VHI chief

VHI BOSS John O'Dwyer has an impossible task at the state-owned insurer, as the actions of Health Minister James Reilly make his job more difficult.

The move by Dr Reilly to charge everyone who has insurance for using a public hospital will complicate matters for the firm.

VHI will launch new health plans that restrict the number of private and public hospitals that insured people can be treated in if Dr Reilly goes ahead with plans to charge everyone with cover for a public bed, whether they get a private bed or not.

What's more, VHI now has reserves of €326m, but will need to have at least €500m-plus if it is to be regulated by the Central Bank by year end. Failure to meet this deadline will result in EU fines.

So Mr O'Dwyer needs Dr Reilly's support to get VHI regulated by the end of 2013.

Minister hitches a ride to view Dunquin drilling site

ONE of The Punt's favourite films is 'There Will Be Blood'. We aren't a huge fan of Daniel Day-Lewis but his performance as the oil-obsessed Daniel Plainview is one for the ages.

Unlike early 20th century California, there isn't oil pouring out of the ground in Ireland, but there could be some out in the Atlantic. Providence Resources claims more than a billion barrels at its Barryroe discovery off Cork, but the big daddy, as it were, could be Dunquin off the west coast. Dunquin is 160km out in the Atlantic, is part-owned by Providence and is being drilled by Exxon.

Naturally enough the Government is taking a sizeable interest in Dunquin.

Last week junior energy minister Fergus O'Dowd took a trip out to Dunquin to see how the operation is progressing.

Speaking after he got back Mr O'Dowd said: "My Department are following operations and I wish ExxonMobil and its partners every success."

And just before the naysayers kick up over ministers taking jaunts on the taxpayers' tab, the minister hitched a ride on a scheduled flight to deliver crew to the site. The middle of the Atlantic is, alas, beyond the scope of the state car fleet.

Irish Independent

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