McDonalds Ireland is in the middle of a €20m expansion drive having just opened a €2m drive-thru restaurant at Dublin Airport. 

Adrian Crean, managing director of McDonald's Ireland, says the country is seeing improving consumer sentiment as more people become more positive about their future. This is slowly translating into increased day to day spending in shops and businesses. Mr Crean said that any of this week's Budget moves which have a positive impact on people's incomes are very positive and are a clear signal that austerity is coming to an end, which gives people confidence for the future. Mr Crean also said the retention of the 9% VAT rate on the restaurant and tourism sector is good news for McDonalds and its franchisees around the country. Since 2008, the company and its network of SME franchise owners have invested over €60m and created over 1,000 jobs and opened 16 new outlets, he points out.

Mr Crean states that none of the company's employees are on the minimum wage, adding that staff at its new restaurant at Dublin airport have a starting wage of nearly €9 an hour. He also denies that any of the staff are on zero contract hours, adding that no McDonalds workers in Ireland are on call. From a legislative perspective, he says that the company is obliged to guarantee its employees a minimum of 15 hours a week. On the issue of wage pressure, Mr Crean says there is a natural cycle - as the economy improves and as businesses expand there will be a demand for further employment, which will lead to wage growth. He also cites the different training and learning and development pathways within different employment opportunities. McDonalds are "passionate" about that training and development, he adds.


MORNING BRIEFS - Global stock markets stopped the rot, at least for now, as an intervention by a senior central banker in the US helped calm investor fears. The Stoxx Europe 600 index, a benchmark of 600 of the largest companies in Europe, finished down 0.4%. It had been off as much as 2.9% but pared back those losses late in the day after James Bullard, the president of the St Louis Fed said the Federal Reserve - the US central bank of which the St Louis Fed is a constituent part - should consider delaying the end of its stimulus programme. That eased investor concerns. It helped Europe claw back most of the losses on the day, while the S&P 500 on Wall Street finished flat. 

*** Tuesday's budget was a "missed opportunity" further to bring down the national debt according to the ratings agency Moody's. In a short note on Budget 2015, Moody's said that Ireland's "elevated debt levels" remain a key source of vulnerability. It noted the abolition of the "Double Irish" tax loophole. It said in general that the potential exit of multinational companies poses a significant risk to growth here but, it said, it does not expect the ending of the Double Irish to be the catalyst for such an exodus.

*** One of those multinationals, Google, is spending heavily on research and development to uncover new growth opportunities but those big investments are hitting the company's bottom line. Quarterly results published overnight by the internet company showed R&D spending up 46% compared to the same period a year ago. While it searches for the next big thing Google's existing business is still growing at a rapid clip with internet search advertising - its biggest money maker - driving revenue 20% higher in the quarter. That was still short of what investment analysts were expecting, however, Google's revenue of $16.5 billion came in slightly below their consensus targets. Its net profit also dropped 5% to $2.8 billion.