Ireland has been chosen as the base for Microsoft's new 'mega' European Data Centre. The news was not a total surprise, as the company had applied for planning permission and got it for the €0.5 billion development at the Grange Castle Business Park located between Lucan and Clondalkin some months ago.

Joe Macri, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland, says the centre represents a very strategic investment for both Microsoft and Ireland. He says the next revolution in technology is the combination of great software on devices such as the mobile phone and the PC with information and services delivered over the internet. The data centre is the engine room for the provision of those services.

Mr Macri says the fact that Microsoft Ireland got this data centre is very important for the company here. Microsoft has about 20 data centres around the world, but only three are classified as 'mega' - with the other two mega centres in the US. The data centres are highly automated so the new Dublin centre will only generate about 10-15 new jobs. But the Microsoft boss says the news story is not about the number of jobs, but the fact that the company is securing the future of technology as it evolves.

HEALTH AND SAFETY AUTHORITY WARNS ON WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS - Company directors and senior managers could face prosecution for workplace health and safety offences. That is according to the Health and Safety Authority which will publish some new guidance for company bosses today. The Authority's CEO, Martin O'Halloran, says that a provision in the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act which can allow directors and managers be personally liable for failures on corporate safety matters.

Mr O'Halloran says today's publication will assist managers and directors in knowing and having a good understanding of what measures they need to take to ensure best performance in safety and health. These measures include having risk assessments in place, carrying out training, proper supervision and proper equipment.   He says that research carried out by the Authority showed that the root causes of 63% of workplace accidents could be attributed to management failures.

MORNING BRIEFS - These are tough times for investors in Irish stocks, especially those of you who have your few bob in banks. The ISEQ fell more than 2% yesterday, to 7,458, its lowest close for 15 months. Over €2 billion was wiped off its value. And the banks were hit hard once more.

*** The OECD says Ireland's broadband performance has improved marginally in the last year. The organisation's annual broadband statistics look at the trends in more than 30 countries. The figures show Ireland recorded the largest number of new broadband subscribers, per head of population, in the year to the end of last June. The so-called penetration rate grew by 6.6 percentage points in that time. Almost 15.5% of the population now has broadband access.

*** On the currency markets, the euro is trading at $1.45.18, very close to record levels, and at 69.5 pence sterling.