Money: A breath of fresh Eire

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The Independent Online
Ireland's reputation as a home for money and people has been growing steadily in the last few years in spite of the ups and downs of the peace process in Northern Ireland. The Irish stock market has risen by over 80 per cent over the past 15 months at a time when even the London market has gained only 40 per cent, and investment targeted at the Irish stock market such as Gartmore's Irish Smaller Companies Investment Trust launched in June 1995 has increased in value by almost 150 per cent with net asset value climbing from 96.8p to 240p. Call 0800 289336.

The economy itself has been growing rapidly and GDP is forecast to rise 8 per cent this year after almost 10 per cent in 1997. Experts credit the flow of grants, subsidies from Europe and inflows of foreign capital, skilled labour and the strategic devaluation of the punt five years ago. House prices are expected to rise by 12 per cent this year according to the Bank of Ireland but a property worth pounds 100,000 will cost only pounds 85,000 in sterling.

Bank of Ireland has just launched a sterling mortgage complete with legal and financial advice. Purchasers can choose a fixed rate of 8.6 per cent for five years or a variable rate of 9.8 per cent, both on up to 75 per cent loans to value. Call 0800 971971

The Mortgage Operation has introduced two new two-year fixed rate mortgages up to 95 per cent loan to value in the UK, one at 4.75 per cent and another at 5.29 per cent that includes a free valuation and legal services, and pays off existing lenders' charges. Call 0171-571 2400.

Broker John Charcol is offering a fixed rate residential investment mortgages at 6.99 per cent for two, three, five or ten years. The loans cover up to 80 per cent of loan to value, redemption penalties last only for the fixed period chosen but the minimum loan is pounds 100,000. Call 0800 718191.