Irish Distillers is spending €17m on an expansion of its bottling plant in Dublin, which will result in the creation of 30 new jobs. The investment follows strong growth in export sales of Jameson whiskey. All bottles of Jameson sold worldwide are bottled in Dublin. Irish whiskey exports have more than trebled to €365m since 2003 and Jameson accounts for three out of every five bottles sold.

Irish Distillers' chief executive Anna Malmakhe says that the company has been seeing a lot of growth in Irish whiskey over the last 20 years and the company invested about €200m a few years ago in increasing its distillery capacity. Ms Malmakhe says that Jameson is one of the fastest growing international spirits brands in the world and has recorded double digit growth in exports in recent years. She says that there is a lot of interest in Irish whiskey, adding that as new investment in the industry takes years to actually see a return, the new funds being invested is a sign of the long term confidence in the industry. Irish whiskey still only makes up about 5-6% of the world whiskey market, and Ms Malmakhe points out that in the 1800s, Irish whiskey was 50 times bigger that Scotch whisky. "The potential for growth is amazing," she states. 

Irish Distillers also recently invested in its Midleton plant and the company's CEO said there is also great potential for growing the tourism aspect of the industry, which will lead to more jobs in rural areas. About 125,000 people visit Midleton every year, which is an enormous boost to the surrounding hotels and businesses, Ms Malmakhe says.

MORNING BRIEFS - It is still far from a building boom but construction activity expanded at the fastest pace in six months during May. The latest Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers' Index, a monthly measure of sentiment and activity in the sector, shows a 21st consecutive month of growth. Housing and commercial activity showed marked acceleration in activity according to Ulster Bank chief economist Simon Barry. Overall confidence in the construction sector was also at "very elevated levels," he said with most firms reporting strong confidence about their prospects for the 12 months ahead.

*** Last month was the busiest May on record at Dublin Airport. New figures show a 13% rise in passenger numbers to 2.2 million during the month. 1.2 million people travelled to and from Continental Europe, up 12% on May 2014. Passenger traffic between Ireland and the UK was up 13% to just over three quarters of a million and 234,000 people flew to and from North America, also up 13%.

*** The bill for the 16 largest global banks for regulatory fines, settlements and litigation since 2010 has now passed €280 billion.
UK-based foundation CCP Research, which keeps a running total based on legal notices, annual reports and filings by both banks and regulators puts the figure at £205.6 billion or €282 billion. The 16 banks include Bank of America, Barclays, RBS (the owner of Ulster Bank), Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. They also include Deutsche Bank which has just replaced several of its top executives partly due to investor disenchantment with the billions it has paid out in fines over issues such as the Libor interest rate rigging scandal.