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Transition from darkness to light “a powerful symbol for Ukrainians”

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By Natalya Krasnenkova

We have a proverb in Ukraine - "the darkest time comes before dawn" which means that even at the most difficult moments in the life of a person or a country, dawn comes.

DARKNESS INTO LIGHT: Natalya Krasnenkova and Tatiana McGough pictured at the Killarney Darkness into Light walk.

EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE: Pictured at the Killarney Darkness into Light walk were: Stepan Krasnenkov Kryna Melnichuk and Natalya Krasnenkova. Photo: Tatiana McGough

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And so there is hope that all pain and tragedy will surely pass, that pain and suffering are temporary and will surely come to an end. There is deep optimism in this phrase. It is this proverb that warms Ukrainians during wars, revolutions and personal tragedies.

Last week, my children and I got up at dawn to join 'Darkness into Light' which took place in Killarney. I already knew that the campaign started in 2009 in Dublin and has since spread throughout Ireland and other countries. I imagined thousands of people around the world waking up, putting on their clothes to embark on this important journey that gives many people hope for life and healing from mental health problems.

But when we arrived I could not have imagined that there would be so many people. Thousands of locals gathered together to start the night and completely dissolve into the darkness.

My children and I were the last to go. Occasionally we heard voices or saw the light from flashlights. We were left alone near Ross Castle completely in the dark. They heard only the birdsong, saw the silhouette of the castle and the silent lake. This was the culmination of our journey.

At that moment I thought of all those who went into darkness and did not return. For me, these were not only people who shortened their lives, but also those whose lives were forcibly taken as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine. My children and I watched the new day being born - and so the hope for life is born.

As we returned, the lights grew brighter and the voices of the people around us grew louder. The trip ended at dawn. And it was there that I felt joy and elation. There were living people around, hugging, drinking tea, greeting each other and taking pictures. Life went on.

In Ukraine, I have been working on the subject of death for the last two years. We promoted Anastasia Leukhina's book 'Non-scary book about life, death and everything in-between' https://non-scary.org/en/, which collected stories of many people who experienced the loss of loved ones, children, terrible diagnoses and the fight against older illnesses, as well as advice from doctors, psychologists and patients on how to cope with the most difficult life circumstances. This book, as well as 'Darkness into Light' gave people hope that there is always a choice and it belongs only to you, choosing how to live your life, even in the face of illness or loss of a loved one.

It was very difficult to promote the book in Ukraine, because it touched on the subject of death. I came up with and invited stars and thought leaders to read excerpts from the book on video. Many people voted, but many refused, because the topic of death in our society is taboo, people prefer not to talk about it.

As far as I was surprised, the Irish are so actively involved in actions in which they interact with the theme of death. For me, this is an inspiring example that I will take with me to Ukraine. Therefore, I hope that next May 7 such an action will take place in Kyiv.
 

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The Irish investment market is pathetic

By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com    I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations. But over the last few weeks I […]

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By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com   

I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations.

But over the last few weeks I have been putting together several investment strategies for Irish-domiciled clients. It has been eye-opening, to say the least.

In short, most of the Irish market appears to be dominated by a handful of life insurance companies that offer ‘wrapped’ Multi Asset Funds. This means they offer a basket of stocks, bonds, property etc., all within one investment.

Irish Life’s MAPs 4 multi-asset fund states a standard annual management charge of 1.15%. A bit on the higher side for my liking, but this is still manageable.

But when you dig a little deeper, the KID documents (where all fees have to be fully disclosed as part of UCITS regulations) show the fee as 2.2%.

Double the quoted price

As an added bonus, they lock your money up for seven years, where an early encashment charge is waiting for those who wish to withdraw their money early. That’s right, they charge YOU for making your money inaccessible.

This lock-up period is a shrewd business tactic. An exit charge is an excellent way to ensure customers don’t leave when they realise how poor the performance is.

Too late, you’re trapped.

Performance

Fees become more digestible provided the performance is strong, but unfortunately, the misery continues.

The Irish Life MAPS 4 Portfolio has an annual return of 1.63% a year over the last five years. Granted, this was a challenging market climate to navigate, but falling below even the lowest expectations of inflation means that this fund has returned negative real returns after inflation over the last five years.

A similar 60/40 portfolio made up of passive index funds (S&P 500 and US T bonds) would have returned roughly 6.5% a year over the same period for a fee of roughly 0.1%.

We can go round and round in circles regarding the ‘risk adjusted’ approach and the added ‘diversification’ of the multi-asset fund versus the 60/40 portfolio I have shown. But the reality is much of this so-called diversification is over-engineering for an extra cost for many long term investors.

So, how can such pathetic offerings still exist in a system where low-cost operators such as De Giro are providing endless ETF options and commission-free trades that provide access to market returns at a fraction of the price?

Two reasons spring to mind

Firstly, the Irish retail investment scene is built on a financial broker commission system where unsuspecting customers are shoved into these products by ‘financial planners’ who receive kickbacks and commissions from these investment companies. You think you’re getting free investment advice; believe me, you’re not.

Second, the tax treatment of ETF structures is comical in Ireland, and US ETFs aren’t even an investment option. A 41% exit tax and an eight-year deemed disposal rule leaves investors stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Choose an overpriced, underperforming product that locks your money away for multiple years or choose the cheaper, better-performing product and suffer the tax consequences.

Bizarrely, investors are forced to make decisions based on preferential tax treatment rather than on the underlying investment’s merits.

I have gone into much more detail on the tax treatment and investment options in Ireland on my website. Just scan the QR code.

If you would like me to independently review your investment portfolio, just send me an email at mike@theislandinvestor.com.

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Rebel lights delight for Killarney star

By Con Dennehy The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball […]

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By Con Dennehy

The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball championships.

Attracting all the leading players in Ireland, it was Sarah Dineen, the Spa/Killarney player who shot out the Rebel lights in Conna with a phenomenal display of handball.

Competing in the highly competitive Ladies Challenger championship, the Killarney player, who took up the sport just 18 months ago, had the perfect start in the competition defeating the home town favourite Agnes Hurley from Conna on a 21-20 scoreline following an energy sapping and close encounter that hung in the balance to the final ace.

In her second game she took on the challenge of Nolwenn Even from St Brigids where her skill, superior fitness and movement on the court resulted in the 21-12 victory and a place in the prestigious final.

“The final was always going to be a difficult game not least playing local girl Kate O’Riordan from Conna. I concentrated on my serve and kill shots which ensured we shared the aces early in the game. It was a difficult game with the home supporters out in force to cheer on their local hero. However, I played well and secured a 21-11 victory. This was the second time this title came to Spa Killarney following the 2022 win by Aoife Walsh in Northern Ireland,” said Sarah, who is currently chairperson of the Killarney Camogie Club.

A native of Westmeath, Sarah (46) runs a jewellery business in Killarney and lives in Rathmore. No stranger to competitive sport she played camogie for Westmeath and Leinster and also won an Intermediate championship Gaelic football medal in Westmeath.

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