The cost of Minister for Finance Michael Noonan’s attendance at the annual conference of the secretive Bilderberg group in the US this month was more than €4,300, he has told TDs.
He was invited to attend the meeting “given my position as Minister for Finance” and used the opportunity to tell fellow attendees of the opportunities that exist in Ireland for investors and multinational companies.
Mr Noonan, along with former attorneys general Paul Gallagher and Peter Sutherland, was one of 145 invited leaders and opinion formers who took part in the three-day conference of the western world’s movers and shakers in Chantilly, Virginia.
His attendance was queried by a number of TDs from Labour, Sinn Féin and the technical group, all of whom sought information in parliamentary questions on his discussions at the meeting and the cost.
Mr Noonan told the Deputies that he outlined the significant progress Ireland was making in restoring stability and growth to the economy.
Pat Nulty, who lost the Labour whip last year over opposition to budget cuts, said Mr Noonan’s response lacked detail.
“The Irish people have a right to know what their senior Ministers are saying at a meeting like this, and what stance they are taking on global issues.” See Article
The Telegraph - Man tries to arrest Tony Blair in Hong Kong
Daily Mail - Greece facing days of chaos as election stalemate leaves rescue deal for the euro in doubt
Europe’s economic problems deepened last night as Greece’s elections ended in stalemate and France’s anti-austerity socialists achieved a clear poll victory.
Early indications suggested the centre-right New Democracy party, which wants to keep Greece in the euro, had a narrow lead over the far-left, anti-austerity Syriza.
But neither side can form a government alone – holding out the prospect of days of chaos as politicians try to cobble together a coalition. See Article
Daily Mail - Five reasons to fear another meltdown Cameron tells G20 as he urges leaders to get a grip on eurozone crisis
David Camerron will warn today that the world economy faces ‘five big threats’ that could lead to a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.
The Prime Minister will urge world leaders to ‘get a grip’ on the eurozone crisis; debts; the challenges of growth and low competitiveness; protectionism; and the failure to regulate the banking system.
Both governments and business leaders will have to come together to make difficult decisions on each, or the ‘fight for the future of our global economy won’t be won’, Mr Cameron will say.
His speech is a clear swipe at France’s new socialist President Francois Hollande and others threatening to backslide on austerity measures.
Mr Cameron is attending the G20 summit of leading nations with the Chancellor in Mexico.
It is taking place amid growing concern about the state of the world economy and the impact of the eurozone crisis on the financial markets.
A second Greek election yesterday came only a week after Spain said it needed a 100billion-euro rescue deal for its banks, prompting concern that Italy would be next in line. See Article
Daily Mail - Now MPs say Leveson is stifling free speech: They back Gove after inquiry judge's protest to No 10
Lord Justice Leveson was accused yesterday of trying to stifle the right to free speech.
He complained to Downing Street when Michael Gove warned his £6million inquiry into Press standards was creating a ‘chilling atmosphere toward freedom of expression’.
It was even suggested that the judge had threatened to quit unless the Education Secretary and other politicians kept quiet. See Article
The Telegraph - UK plc turns against Europe
British businesses are turning against greater integration in Europe and would like to see a “renegotiated” free trade area.
In a stark warning to the Government that any economic union as a result of the eurozone crisis could have negative effects on the UK, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, John Longworth, said that the balance of advantages of the single market were being damaged by the weight of regulation.
In a survey of 7,500 businesses to be released tomorrow, the BCC found that 35pc of all exporters believe that Europe should be a free trade area without the Brussels-led social legislation that many feel hamper their business.
Just over 20pc supported an economic union and just 6pc supported being members of the single currency.
“There is a concern about the balance of advantages in the single market,” Mr Longworth said. “Europe is a very important trading area for British business but the eurozone is creating a confidence issue.
“On balance [British businesses] would like a renegotiated free trade area.” See Article
The Guardian - Google reports 'alarming' rise in censorship by governments
Search engine company has said there has been a troubling increase in requests to remove political content from the internet. There has been an alarming rise in the number of times governments attempted to censor the internet in last six months, according to a report from Google.
Since the search engine last published its bi-annual transparency report, it said it had seen a troubling increase in requests to remove political content. Many of these requests came from western democracies not typically associated with censorship.
It said Spanish regulators asked Google to remove 270 links to blogs and newspaper articles critical of public figures. It did not comply. In Poland, it was asked to remove an article critical of the Polish agency for enterprise development and eight other results that linked to the article. Again, the company did not comply.
Google was asked by Canadian officials to remove a YouTube video of a citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet. It refused.
Thai authorities asked Google to remove 149 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy, a violation of Thailand's lèse-majesté law. The company complied with 70% of the requests.
Pakistan asked Google to remove six YouTube videos that satirised its army and senior politicians. Google refused.
UK police asked the company to remove five YouTube accounts for allegedly promoting terrorism. Google agreed. In the US most requests related to alleged harassment of people on YouTube. The authorities asked for 187 pieces to be removed. Google complied with 42% of them. See Article
The Daily Express - NEW PENSION PAIN FOR MILLIONS
MILLIONS of Britons could be plunged into poverty for the rest of their lives by a pensions shake-up.
Meddling by Brussels is set to hit Britain’s pensioners after a report found new rules could slash annuities by up to 20 per cent.
The value of the policies that workers buy with their pension pots – setting the size of their retirement income for life – has already slumped to historic lows.
But these could be dragged thousands of pounds lower by European regulations when they come into force in the next two years.
Dr Ros Altmann, director-general of the over-50s campaign group Saga, said: “There is a real danger that EU rules will further undermine the pensions of hard-working, decent UK citizens. It’s a real crisis. Rates have never been so bad and people are stuck with their annuity for life.
“Half a million people a year will be permanently poorer for the rest of their lives.” See Article