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It’s pastures new for Les as he joins the Aghadoe Hotel

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By Sean Moriarty

Les Brzozka is the definition that determination and work can take you to the very top.

When he arrived in Ireland from Poland in 2006 he started as a salesman in a local furniture store.

This week he was appointed the assistant manager at the Aghadoe Heights Hotel.

Mr Les, as he affectionately known locally, always wanted to work in the hospitality industry and started out as a Trainee Manager at the Fairview Hotel in 2012 before being promoted to Duty Manager there less than a year later.

Always with his eye on the bigger picture, he took one step back to take two steps forward when he joined the team at the International Hotel in November 2015.

With support from the Coyne family, owners of the International Hotel, Les set out on a journey from the bottom to the top.

Starting out as a barman and restaurant specialist, by 2017 he was promoted to restaurant supervisor. In 2019 he joined the International Hotel’s Trainee Manager Programme, and doubled his work load by taking on courses at what was then called IT Tralee.

By March 2020, just as the pandemic set in, he was promoted to Duty Manager, and despite the disruption, he continued his studies while gathering vital on-the-job experience.

His journey reached its latest milestone in June when he passed his Hotel Management course from MTU Tralee with First Class Honours.

During the three years on the National Trainee Manager Development Programme for employees of the hotel industry he worked and gained experience in every department of the very busy 99-bedroom four-star International Hotel.

Les was the face of the International Hotel for many years, and he will be “forever grateful” to the Coyne family who run the town centre hotel.

But his new found qualification meant he was a prime target for every hotel in town and after several offers he finally got one he could not refuse from the Aghadoe Heights.

“All my life, I am not a jumper, I am committed, I became known as Mr International, and am forever grateful to Tracy and the Coyne,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “But the college course was like a rocket.”

Les had become such a popular figure in Killarney that it often took 40 minutes to walk from the Lewis Road car park to his place of work.

“I have not left the people of Killarney or my customers,” he said. “Now I am looking over them all from the top of the hill.”

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Budget 2023 is just plastering over the cracks

By Michael O’Connor The Irish Budget has never been something I have paid too much attention to. My day-to-day focus is predominantly on stock market moves, so it never bears […]

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By Michael O’Connor

The Irish Budget has never been something I have paid too much attention to.

My day-to-day focus is predominantly on stock market moves, so it never bears too much relevance, but Budget 2023 certainly caught my attention.

It was set against a backdrop of surging energy prices, inflationary pressures, and a red-hot housing crisis. As one of the few European countries with a budget surplus to dip into, expectations were high.

On the surface, the Budget didn’t disappoint. The €11 billion package had a little something for everyone. The massive package of once-off measures will go a long way toward supporting households and businesses this year.

But when you dig a little deeper, many of the measures are simply providing a short-term sugar rush, with little substance once the initial high wears off.

I get it; financial relief is crucial but adding more money into the economy so people can afford to function in a broken system is not a long-term solution.

Tax cuts have been proclaimed as ‘counter inflation’ measures but are more likely to fan the flames of inflation than eliminate the problem.

Inflation is created when too much money is chasing too few goods. With this in mind, inflation is tackled by reducing the amount of money in the economy or increasing the supply of goods within that economy. Tax cuts do the opposite.

By increasing the amount of money in the system through tax cuts, the government has seemed to double down on the viewpoint that money is both the cause and solution to all of life’s problems.

Fuel to the fire

Sure, these tax cuts will help to curry favour from a political perspective, but from an economic standpoint, you are simply adding fuel to the fire.

Instead of addressing the systemic problems causing the Cost of Living Crisis, they have simply freed up more money so you can tolerate the intolerable price hikes a little longer.

Take housing, for example.

Paschal Donohoe described housing as the “central issue facing the country”.

Undoubtedly there are some positives from a housing perspective in the Budget, but as the “central issue facing the country”, it falls short.

A band-aid solution

The ‘Rent Tax Credit’, in particular, highlights the band-aid solution being applied here.

Renters will be entitled to a rental credit of €500 per year from 2022 onwards. On the surface, this is much-needed relief for renters, but in reality, it simply exacerbates the problem.

Without getting too into the weeds, in economics, you have something called the paradox of aggregation. If everyone gets the benefit, then nobody gets to feel the effects of that benefit because nobody is better off from a relative standpoint.

If you won the lotto in the morning, you would be unquestionably better off. However, if we all won the lotto in the morning, we would all be richer on an absolute level, but you would no longer be better off relative to your peers. Prices would simply increase to account for the higher levels of wealth in the system.

The same logic applies to the ‘Rent Tax Credit’. Everyone gets it, so nobody benefits. It simply just provides another gear for landlords. You can now ‘afford’ to pay higher rents, allowing landlords to raise rents even further. This is not relief but a mechanism to support higher rental prices in the future masked as support for those caught in the rental crisis.

Rent control, short-term letting restrictions, widespread public housing initiatives, subsidies to incentive construction development, and removal of the endless planning regulations. These are solutions that alleviate the supply side of the problem over the long term.

Instead, the government continues to throw more money at the problem so we can ‘justify’ higher and higher prices.

Housing supply

In fact, in a bizarre move, they have now placed a 10% levy on concrete blocks. Environmental concerns aside, at a point where every possible step needs to be taken to incentivise construction development to increase the housing supply in the system, levies are being applied to increase the cost of building even further.

Maybe I’m being overly cynical here. Compared to the UK budget, the Irish offering is a heroic feat of financial prowess, but another short-term response to the newest crisis at our doorstep is not enough.

Long-term allocation of capital and resources to solve the complete supply/demand mismatch in the housing market, nationalisation of energy, and extensive healthcare reform are areas where the bulk of the budgetary surplus needs to be allocated.

Short-sighted

Constantly repeating or extending ‘temporary measures’ is far too short-sighted. We have already seen an economic contraction in Q1 2022. These contractions may continue as we stare down the barrel of a recession in Europe. The budget surplus won’t always be there.

When it is, we must prioritise long-term investments focused on solving systemic issues. Plastering over the cracks and hoping that the foundations stay intact until the next political party takes the wheel just isn’t enough.

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Chamber hosts post-budget briefing

Local accountancy firm OCKT Ltd hosted a post-budget briefing on Wednesday. Organised by the Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, the lunchtime briefing kept local business people up to date […]

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Local accountancy firm OCKT Ltd hosted a post-budget briefing on Wednesday.

Organised by the Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, the lunchtime briefing kept local business people up to date following Tuesday’s Budget.

The briefing explained the main points from Budget 2023, and suggested some tax planning initiatives.

The event took place at the Peregrine Suite at the Killarney Park Hotel.

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