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Ryan Tubridy set for first public appearance next month at event for women farmers

Lobbying register fines, Applegreen unplugs ESB EV chargers, Michael O’Leary and the Irish stock exchange, aviation high flyers, new data commissioners and art returns

In what is set to be his first full public appearance since the RTÉ payments row last summer, Ryan Tubridy will be the keynote speaker at the Women and Agriculture conference at the Lyrath hotel in Kilkenny on October 25th.

Tubridy will be having a “fireside chat” with Ciara Leahy of Irish Country Living, the organisers. She’ll be asking him about “hosting an iconic chatshow, presenting radio programmes and writing best-selling books”. The Oireachtas Media Committee, this isn’t. Janine Kennedy, acting editor of Irish Country Living, agrees the conference aims to have a positive and encouraging tone.

Launched in 2008, it was originally designed to give women connected to agriculture a day off from farming. It’s always a sell-out, Kennedy says, and 500 of the 600 tickets for next month’s event have already been shifted.

Tubridy’s appearance, which will last about half an hour, was booked through his agent Noel Kelly but organisers will not disclose the fee. When we asked, tongue in cheek, if it’s anything like the €25,000 a pop Renault paid the broadcaster in 2020, Kennedy said: “This is not a moneymaking event and we don’t have that kind of money.”


The theme is Finding the Balance, and Tubridy might like to hang around for the discussion on conflict resolution, or the one about “finding the balance in your wardrobe following illnesses and change”.

The former RTÉ presenter has done two other events since last summer’s pay row, but of a semipublic kind. He launched Dr Tony Holohan’s book, We Need To Talk, but it was an invite-only event for family and friends. He also popped up at Pension Awareness Week on Thursday, doing a panel discussion on preparing for retirement, and a 25-minute chat with Brian Mooney. Both were pre-recorded. So it’s a bit of a coup for Irish Country Living, and by October 25th, Tubs may even be ready to reveal what he’s planning to do next.

Applegreen unplugs from ESB deal on fast chargers

A partnership between ESB and Applegreen to provide fast chargers for electrical vehicles on the garage’s forecourts has come to an end. ESB said that 50kw chargers in Castlebellingham, Co Louth, Enfield, Co Kildare, Lusk in Co Dublin, and Cullenmore in Wicklow have been removed, but alternatives are available elsewhere in those counties.

In a somewhat more charged statement, the petrol-station operator told us it recently replaced seven ESB chargers along the M1, M4 and M11 with “new, more modern Applegreen electric high-powered chargers in order to improve the customer experience for EV drivers”.

Applegreen said its units can charge two vehicles at a time, “thereby doubling the available DC charging infrastructure at each location”, and boasts that its machines operate at speeds more than three times faster than the old kit – providing up to 180 kilowatts per hour charging speeds to vehicles that can handle that. The chargers are also more accessible, said Applegreen, as drivers can pay directly via debit card “and are not required to download an app to use the charging facilities”.

The company currently has 34 fast-charging bays, and this is expected to increase to 52 by the end of the year. The ESB, meanwhile, said it is rolling out over 50 high-power hubs throughout Ireland, part of a €20 million investment. Can we call it a power struggle?

O’Leary’s pop on share trading levy helpful to Irish stock exchange

How gratifying for Dublin Euronext, as the Irish stock exchange is now known, to see Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary doing free PR on its behalf. In a pre-budget submission sent to Minister for Finance Michael McGrath last July, Euronext argued that the imposition of stamp duty on Irish share trades was having a negative impact on the ability of companies to raise funds through the exchange.

The two largest Irish listed companies, representing 45 per cent of the market capitalisation, were going to seek US listings, where trading is exempt from stamp duty, Euronext added, in a reference to CRH and Flutter. Meanwhile, there are few new listings in Dublin, and “it is our strong opinion that the levying of stamp duty on trades in Irish shares... has been a contributory factor”.

That argument was made more punchily by O’Leary in an interview with the Sunday Times. The levying of 1 per cent stamp duty here, when other exchanges charge half that, “pisses investors off”, he declared. Only for EU ownership rules stopping its listing moving to the US, Ryanair would be “gone like a shot”, he added.

The stamp duty is a money-spinner for the exchequer, however, raising €506 million in 2020. Euronext estimates up to €250 million of that arose from trading in CRH and Flutter. Since that revenue is disappearing, the finance minister may decide not to jettison the rest, even if it risks irking O’Leary even further.

Ireland’s aviation high flyers

We know Ireland is a high flyer in aviation and our dominance of the skies is graphically illustrated in a new survey by Airline Economics, a leading publication for the sector. Every year it puts together a list of the top 40 executives under 40, based on nominations from senior people in the aviation community, and clients. This year, 15 of the 40 are Irish.

Naturally there are several from aviation companies, such as David Breen, head of corporate development and investor relations at Avolon, Cian Coakley of Orix Aviation, and Kate Holohan, head of trading at Carlyle Aviation. But there are also several from the financial side of the sector, such as Claire Waters, a tax director at KPMG Ireland, and Joe Conboy, partner at PwC Ireland. And there are legal experts, including Claire McDermott, a partner at Flynn O’Driscoll. The top 40 under 40 will meet up at a gala dinner at the Guildhall in London on Monday. We presume they’ll all fly in.

Government advertises for new data commissioners

Well over a year after the Government approved the commencement of a process to appoint two additional commissioners to the Data Protection Commission, the job ads have finally been posted. It was in August 2022 that Helen McEntee, the justice minister, announced that Helen Dixon, the current commissioner, would become the chairwoman of the DPC, and that it would have three commissioners overall. The Cabinet decision followed criticism of the DPC’s ability to regulate the EU operations of the Big Tech operators based in Ireland.

Since then, the DPC has shown its teeth, slapping a €345 million fine on TikTok and a €1.2 billion penalty on Meta Ireland. But while staff numbers at the regulator increased from 110 in 2018 to 196 at the end of last year, there has been no sign of the commissioner cavalry coming over the hill to help Dixon.

Now the Department of Justice says a selection competition has been advertised by the Public Appointments Service in line with public service recruitment principles. “The terms and conditions of the appointments have been agreed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform,” a spokesman said.

The Wicklow artist who is huge in Asia

Who is Ireland’s most commercially successful artist? It could be Kevin Sharkey, who told The Times that “in the last 12 months I’ve earned about €4.5 million, up from €3 million the year before, and the trajectory is continuing to rise”.

The title might also go to Genieve Figgis, a Wicklow-based artist. In 2012, she was earning €10 an hour working in a shop. Now she is the 508th best selling artist at auction in the world, according to Her painting Debutants Ball was sold by Christie’s for four million Chinese yuan (€520,000) in March 2022.

Figgis, whose application for art college in Dún Laoghaire was rejected when she was 19, is much less appreciated in Ireland than in Asia. In April 2013, her first solo exhibition was at the Talbot Gallery, above Grainger’s pub on Talbot Street in Dublin, where works went for as little as €300. Lemon Queen, from that show, is being sold by the original purchaser at Whyte’s Auctioneers on Monday, with a guide price of €25,000-€35,000. Peter Whyte says the exact figure the purchaser paid for Lemon Queen isn’t known “but it was under €1,000″. An artful return on their investment.