Cork Business of the Year awards open for Entry

Cork Business of the Year Awards launch during extraordinary times

New Covid resilience and innovation award


President of the Cork Business Association Eoin O’Sullivan commented on the unique environment facing Cork businesses and the importance of recognition and uplift during these difficult times as he launched the 64th annual CBA Cork Business of the Year Awards.







The CBA Awards, which are run in partnership with sponsor JCD and Centra, event partner Peninsula, and media partner The Irish Examiner, recognise the outstanding contribution of businesses and individuals working diligently across varied sectors of business in Cork City.

There are 12 individual categories to choose from, including a new award this year for resilience and innovation during Covid19, in addition to the overall Cork Business of the Year Award winners for a medium and large business.  Each year a Champion of Cork is also recognised.



The awards are free to enter and nominations are now open online at The deadline for submission is midnight January 15th 2021.

Eoin O’Sullivan, President of the Cork Business Association and a Director of M&P O’Sullivan, said “The 64th iteration of the Cork Business of Year Awards comes at an extraordinary time in the history of our city, and of the world.  The Covid pandemic is probably the greatest challenge our business community has had to endure.  But it is a challenge that we, as a collectively community, can rise from.  The business community of Cork has shown true solidarity and resilience over the last number of months which instils confidence for the future of our city post Covid19.


With that in mind, I am delighted to launch the 2020 Cork Business of the Year Awards, which will hopefully recognise and uplift business owners who go above and beyond to ensure that Cork city is the best place to work and live.  It has never been more important to highlight businesses who are leading the way and setting precedents for others to aspire to.


This year, in recognition of the times that we are in, we have also launched a new COVID Resilience and Innovation Award, sponsored by Fáilte Ireland, to showcase businesses who have pivoted and shown true resilience and adaptability.”


The 12 individual award categories for 2020 include:

  • Covid Resilience and Innovation, sponsored by Faílte Ireland
    • Open to all businesses in Cork City who have pivoted their business or shown resilience and innovation since the onset of the Covid19 pandemic in March 2020.  Entrants will need to demonstrate what they have done to ensure business continuity or to set themselves apart.

  • Best New Business in Cork, sponsored by LEO Cork City
    • Open to all businesses that have been founded or are new to Cork since 1st January 2016. Entrants will be asked to explain their business and to demonstrate how they have translated a great idea into a viable and successful business venture. They will also be asked to outline their plans for the future.

  • Best Cork Family Business
    • Open to all family owned and run businesses in the greater Cork city area. Your business must be managed by family members and you must be able to demonstrate the involvement of at least two generations of family members who are working in the business.


  • Best Cork Hotel
    • The Best Hotel award acknowledges excellence in service and accommodation. Entrants will demonstrate high class, flawless service in a comfortable, quality establishment, while both meeting and exceeding guest expectations, and how they have helped to promote Cork as a destination nationally and internationally.


  • Best Cork Restaurant, sponsored by The English Market
    • The best Restaurant award acknowledges excellence in quality, service, price and ambiance. Entrants will demonstrate high standards in food quality, cost, efficiency, customer service, imagination, attention to detail, marketing and how well the establishment functions as a business.
  • Best Cork Café, sponsored by The English Market
  • The best Café award will recognise excellence in customer service, business innovation, premises ambiance and atmosphere. Entrants will demonstrate high standards in food quality, cost, efficiency, imagination, attention to detail, marketing and how they have raised the profile of their business in this ever increasingly competitive sector.
  • Best Cork VFI Pub, sponsored by Vintners Federation Cork
    • The award for Best Cork Pub will be awarded to the pub that, in the opinion of the judges, demonstrates ‘best in class’ in the areas of innovation, creativity, ambiance, operational excellence and customer service.  Open to VFI Members only.
  • Best Cork Retail Business, sponsored by Cork City Council
    • The best Cork Retail Business will be awarded to the business that routinely strives for the highest standards across a number of key metrics such as customer service, value, visual merchandising, premises maintenance, marketing, and adaptability. High standards are particularly important given the very severe challenges currently facing Ireland’s retail industry. It is critical that the retail industry plays its part in consistently improving its offering to attract more customers, keep retail workers in jobs and simultaneously keep Cork city centre vibrant which in turn will re-engage citizens and customers alike.
  • Best Tourism Art Event, sponsored by IHF Cork
    • This award is designed to recognise and reward an organisation, attraction, business or event that has excelled in tourism, contributing to growing tourist numbers and /or the visitor experience in Cork.
  • Best Professional Services Business
    • This category is open to all businesses that provide a professional business service in the greater Cork city area. They include banking, legal, accounting, HR, recruitment, PR, marketing, architects, financial advisers, engineers, consultants, training providers, strategic advice etc. They can be any organisation or profession that offers customised, knowledge-based services to clients.  Entrants must be able to explain what their professional business service is and demonstrate their commitment to customer service excellence within their particular service provided.


  • Best Cork Digital Business, sponsored by ETC PR & Marketing
  • This award will be presented to a company or organisation that can practically demonstrate how they have embraced the digital age and built their company around, or adapted their business strategy to adopt, a more future focused, digitally powered approach.

This category is open to all businesses, regardless of their stage in the business life cycle.


  • Champion of Cork Award, sponsored by MUT (former CIT)
    • This award recognises a Corkonian whom the judges believe has made a real difference to Cork and its people, be it through driving business, their contribution to the arts, their charitable work, their efforts in developing our city or their passion and drive for promoting all things Cork.


The Cork Business of the Year Awards and Annual Gala Dinner is always a highlight for local businesses.  In light of expected restrictions on social gatherings, the event will be presented virtually on Saturday 20th February.  This year there will be a fabulous dine at home gourmet twist where guests can collect a ‘President’s Taste of the City Hamper’, which will be filled with the best of local produce from some of Cork’s top chefs.  Further details on the event will be updated on the CBA website.


Last year the Cork Business Association recognised some highly notable achievements, with Casey’s Furniture and Cork English College being named the overall winner in the large category and medium category respectively.  Moss and Will Finn from Finn’s Corner picked up the much-coveted Champions of Cork award to great applause.


Eoin O Sullivan continued, “We very much look forward to receiving this year’s submissions and would like to encourage all businesses located within the greater Cork city area to consider entering these prestigious awards.

“The benefits of being part of the awards process
are many, including association with the awards, public recognition for your hard work, plus marketing and networking opportunities. We would also like to sincerely thank all of our sponsors, in particular our awards sponsor JCD, event partner AIB, and media partner The Irish Examiner.”


To enter the Cork Business of the Year Awards 2020, your business must be based in the greater Cork city area or be a current member of the Cork Business Association.


An experienced panel of leading business and civic leaders will provide independent judging and the shortlist will be announced for public vote on the last week of January. The judging panel includes the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Joe Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney Head of Visit Cork, John Cleary from JCD, Paul McGuirk LEO Cork City and Eoin O Sullivan M&P O’Sullivan and President of the Cork Business Association.  Three businesses will be shortlisted in each category and the public will have the opportunity to vote for the winners.


For further information see



Tyndall’s IERC outlines recommendations to achieve Ireland’s ambitious target of 600,000 domestic heat pumps by 2030

Financial Incentives and Employment Training are key

Renewable energy is now even more urgent as houses have become both home and office

Heatpumps Ireland

The International Energy Research Centre (IERC) at Tyndall National Institute is calling on Government to introduce a combination of capital grants, tax breaks. zero interest loans and employment training to help meet its target to install 600,000 environmentally efficient domestic heat pumps to homes across Ireland by 2030.


The targets were initially set out under the 2019 Climate Action Plan as part of Ireland’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact. Although the current Programme for Government includes a plan to commence a targeted programme to install heat pumps in homes that are already suitable for this technology, it is not yet clear how targets will be achieved.


This renewable heating option extracts heat from the air around a home and will mean lower heating costs for consumers, as well as significant improvements in local air quality and health outcomes.


Tyndall’s IERC (International Energy Research Centre) today published a report ‘Best Practices and Policy Solutions for Ireland’s 2030 Heat Pump Target’ that identifies the barriers and pathways for Ireland to meet this ambitious target, including best practices in international policy and extract insights from existing scientific research.


The IERC Heat Pump report highlights that, in countries leading in heat pump installations, capital grants covering a proportion of installation costs and tax breaks on labour costs have been two of the most common financial supports to encourage adoption. The report recommends a combination of innovative financial incentives such as low or zero interest loans, investment subsidies to cover a proportion of installation cost, and tax breaks on labour costs.


Ireland is already in the process of developing heat pump technical standard for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of heat pump systems for new and existing dwellings. However, according to the SEAI, there are approximately 5,000 plumbers in Ireland but only 3% meet the SEAI criterion to install heat pumps.  Therefore, along with attractive financial incentives, they say the availability of skilled and certified installers will also be a critical factor.

Professor Brian Norton, Head of Energy Research at Tyndall National Institute, explained

The findings of this report lay out the strategies of countries leading the heat pump market and will enable policy makers and Ministers focus on areas that need to be prioritised for Ireland to achieve 600,000 heat pumps installed by the end of 2030.


Report author and IERC Senior Energy Policy Analyst Dr. Piyush Verma said

The current pandemic has made renewable energy even more urgent as houses have become both home and office. People need warm, healthy environments without a surge in home heating costs.

Comparing Ireland to Norway, Verma pointed out that Ireland has around 10 heat pumps per thousand households while Norway has over 400 per thousand households. “In Ireland, a lower penetration of heat pumps is primarily due to three factors - lack of awareness among consumers; a lack of a strong consumer proposition; and lack of policy support to overcome the high initial installation cost for heat pump technologies.”

Norton says there is an urgent need to strengthen the heat pump supply chain by an active cross-industry participation.

We need to incentivise manufacturers and installers to improve their product and service quality.  Relevant continuing professional development is essential for those working in the plumbing and heating sector.  Though the plumbing apprenticeship curriculum has undergone revision relatively recently, it could be augmented further on heat pump installation. As part of a wider re-skilling to support a green economic recovery, measures are required to encourage the take-up of apprenticeships by new entrants to the industry.

Launching this first report under the IERC’s Energy Policy Insights for Climate Action (EPICA) series, Professor Norton concluded, “Our EPICA project will be delivering a series of papers providing evidence based policy recommendations on a range of pressing climate issues as well as targets set under the Climate Action Plan.”


The new Best Practices and Policy Solutions for Ireland’s 2030 Heat Pump Target report is supported and funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).

About IERC  

The International Energy Research Centre (IERC) is a centre of international excellence in integrated energy systems research funded by Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Government of Ireland and hosted at Tyndall National Institute, Cork, Ireland. IERC is a key element of the Government Energy Research Strategy and conducts sustainable energy research and examine the knowledge gaps through five different research lenses: Technology, Data Analytics, Behaviour, Business Models, and Policy & Regulation.


About Tyndall National Institute

Tyndall is a leading European research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) materials, devices and systems. It is one of Ireland’s five National Labs, specialising in both electronics and photonics. Tyndall works with industry and academia to transform research into products in its core market areas of electronics, communications, energy, health, agri-tech & the environment. With a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide, they are focused on delivering human and economic impact from excellence in research. A research flagship of University College Cork, Tyndall is home to a research community of 600 people of 52 nationalities.



Pandemic Unemployment Payment will remain open for new entrants until end March 2021

photo Stephanie Hau via Unsplash

From Department of Social Protection

Published on 24 November 2020


Social Protection Minister, Heather Humphreys TD, secured Government approval today to keep the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) open to new applicants until March 31st 2021.

To date, over €4.3 billion has been paid out under PUP to hundreds of thousands of people who lost their jobs as a result of the Pandemic.

Following a Government decision in September, PUP was due to close to new applications on 31st December next.

However, the extension of the closing date to 31st March will ensure workers can still access the PUP in January in the event that their employment ceases after Christmas.

Commenting on the extension, Minister Humphreys said:

“By keeping the PUP scheme open to new applicants until March 31st 2021, we are providing certainty to employees who may be returning to work in the run-up to the Christmas period.

I have listened to the retail and hospitality sector and I know they have had concerns that closing PUP to new entrants on December 31st, as originally planned, would act as disincentive to take up work.

“Workers can be re-assured that if they have to re-apply for PUP in January, February or March, they will have an entitlement to the payment.

The Minister added:

“The Pandemic Unemployment Payment has proved to be an extremely effective tool in responding to the economic impact of Covid-19 and in cushioning hundreds of thousands individuals and families from sudden income shocks.

“This extension will help mitigate the risk that employees might think they would encounter were they to take up work in the lead-in to Christmas. It’s about giving employees some peace of mind.”

Extension of the waiver on waiting days for jobseeker’s payments

Minister Humphreys also secured Government approval to extend the waiver on waiting days for Jobseeker payments until the end of March 2021.

Ordinarily, when a person makes an application for jobseeker’s benefit or allowance, payment is not made for the first three days of unemployment – these are called 'waiting days’. These waiting days will continue to be waived on applications for Jobseeker’s payments until the end of March 2021.

Minister Humphreys said:

“In line with keeping the PUP scheme open for applications, I am also extending the waiver on the waiting days for jobseeker’s payments. This will ensure that individuals who get temporary work between now and the end of March, and who lose their job can claim a jobseeker’s payment and receive their income support immediately.”




Tyndall celebrates its 100th H2020 European Research Funding Award


Tyndall National Institute’s newly published Annual Report highlights that Tyndall is leading the way in this competitive €80 billion European programme

(12 Nov 2020)  Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has announced that Tyndall National Institute (Tyndall) has succeeded in securing more than 100 Horizon 2020* awards totalling over €56M in funding, making it one of the most successful institutes in Ireland for European funding. The announcement was made during the launch of the Tyndall 2019 Annual Report.

The report announced that in 2019 alone, 17 new projects were funded by H2020 to the value of €10m, a success rate that is three times higher than the European average. It has been assessed that for every €1 of EU funding channelled through the research framework programme approximately €11 is generated in direct and indirect economic effects through innovations, new technologies and products.

Tyndall has secured over €57m to date in direct funding from EU Programmes such as Horizon 2020 and ERDF (European Regional Development Funds).  Irish-based partners in Tyndall projects have also secured an additional €51m direct funding.  As such, TNI is contributing a very significant share of Ireland’s overall draw-down from Horizon 2020. Tyndall’s own drawdown and of its linked Irish partners accounts for 10% of the €1.039bn to Ireland to date. Tyndall consistently ranks in the top performers in the EU for Information Communication Technology (ICT) research funding. 

Projects funded in 2019 ranged from making new deep-tech discoveries and developing next generation innovations, to training early career talent, providing expertise and access to infrastructure to SMEs, and addressing global challenges in health, agri-food, the environment, and energy. 

In the 2019 Annual Report, Tyndall reported income of €42m, up 17% on 2018, including €32m from competitive research projects. This also included €10M in European funding and an industry commitment to new research programmes of almost €6M. 

Other key developments in the 2019 Annual Report include:

  • A continued strengthening of partnerships between researchers and international industry, including Intel and Seagate, for critical knowledge transfer activities.  
  • Tyndall achieved significant industrial impact through the deployment of platform technologies such as integrated magnetics, as demonstrated through the awarding of a joint patent with Apple Inc.
  • SMEs accounted for 49% of all industry programmes during the year, and indigenous SMEs now account for one-third of all industry researchers-in-residence at Tyndall. 
  • The launch of high-potential spin-out Varadis* 
  • Tyndall supported 143 PhD and Master’s students.
  • A new ambitious strategic plan ‘Tyndall 2025’ was developed, with the objective of doubling the size of the institute double in size to become a significant player on the international research stage and secure a global leadership position for Ireland in deep-tech research.

Commenting on the Annual Report and the H2020 funding, Minister Harris said, “Horizon 2020 is a highly competitive programme with excellence at its core, and achieving the milestone of 100 funded projects by Tyndall to date demonstrates the high calibre and quality of Irish research.

“This success cements Tyndall as one of Europe’s leading institutes in the area of ‘deep-tech’, the use of advanced technology that will have a profound effect on the lives of citizens, as well as industry through robotics, engineering, smart industry and medical devices. 

“Industry-academia collaboration is the driver for the successful translation of research from the laboratory into innovative new products and services in the marketplace, ultimately leading to the creation and retention of high-quality sustainable jobs.

 “The ground-breaking work delivered by the Institute will transform our high-tech economy and secure Ireland’s future as a worldwide technology leader, whilst supporting key Irish technology companies and SMEs.”

CEO of Tyndall National Institute, Prof. William Scanlon, said “2019 was another phenomenally successful year for the Institute, building on our position as a leading centre of scale in translational research while continuing to further the development of deep-tech innovation in Ireland.  

Our success rate in securing H2020 funding is over three times the European average, and 2019 brought in over €10m alone.  Tyndall is also the main Irish beneficiary in EU ICT funding as well as the principal contributor to UCC’s position in the top five ICT-funded universities Europe-wide.” 

Tyndall is behind some of Ireland’s most advanced research, particularly in electronics and photonics – the science of light generation and manipulation.

Prof. Scanlon, added “For our research to be relevant we need to actively transfer it to industry.  We support businesses through access to the very best research talent, and we help to promote and commercialise research.   In 2019, we continued to strengthen critical knowledge transfer activities with partners across the globe, including Intel and Seagate.  

 “Our Tyndall 2025 goal is to be the international research partner of choice and to build on Tyndall’s 40 years of research excellence and industrial impact and to significantly scale to address societal challenges through deep-tech innovation.

Under the H2020 programme, Tyndall has driven forward the research and development of key enabling technologies across micro- and nano-electronics and photonics, advanced materials and nanotechnologies, life-sciences, and artificial intelligence. These translate into smart products and digital solutions for the manufacturing industry, medical technologies, agricultural processes, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability.  

 Dr. Giorgios Fagas, Head of EU Programmes at Tyndall, said, “The Irish economy has ultimately been the major beneficiary of these funds. Over €51m of this has gone to our Irish partners, including 23 SMEs and 15 multi-nationals. Over 100 high value jobs have been created through these Horizon 2020 projects in Ireland. ”  

The full Annual Report is available for download on Annual Report 2019.pdf

Editors Notes:

About Tyndall National Institute

A research flagship of University College Cork, Tyndall is a leading European research centre in integrated ICT (Information and Communications Technology) materials, devices and systems. Tyndall is Ireland’s largest Research and Technology Organisation (RTO) specialising in both electronics and photonics. Tyndall works with industry and academia to transform research into products in its core market areas of electronics, communications, energy, health, agri-tech and the environment. With a network of over 200 industry partners and customers worldwide, they are focused on delivering human and economic impact from excellence in research. Tyndall is home to a research community of 600 people of 52 nationalities.

 About Horizon 2020

Horizon H2020 is the EU funding programme for research and innovation, distributing its €80bn budget over seven years. Running since 2014, the programme is scheduled to end this year. To date, Ireland has won over €1bn in H2020 funding. €56.1M of this has been won by Tyndall National Institute. 

 About Varadis Spin Out

Varadis, although only formed in 2019, is already on a path to early customer acquisition and scale. The company, led by CEO Brad Wrigley, and supported by Tyndall’s radiation sensors (RADFETs) research team, was launched with the aim of maximising the impact of the Institute’s radiation technology research.  The new spin-out is riding the wave of investment in private and public space exploration markets. In other global markets for radiation measurement devices, RADFETs can measure the amount of radiation that a tumour has absorbed in radiotherapy sessions, as well as having important applications in industrial power, disaster recovery, worker safety and wearables. Varadis spun out with the benefit of an exclusive technology licence, access to the research talent of the RADFETs team and the advanced fabrication infrastructure at Tyndall. This ongoing access to Tyndall’s world-class infrastructure, and the future support of UCC’s Innovation and partner agencies in Enterprise Ireland and the European Space Agency, gives Varadis the ability to scale quickly and deliver high-impact return for all stakeholders.


For further information please contact:

Ursula Morrish

Marketing and Communications Manager

Tyndall National Institute 

University College Cork, Lee Maltings, Dyke Parade, Cork, Ireland. T12 R5CP

t  +353 21 234 6463

m +353 85 2372189


Business Groups Appeal for Withdrawal of Morrison’s Island Judicial Review

Cork’s leading representative business organisations,  Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, Construction Industry Federation, Vintners Federation of Ireland Cork City Branch and Retail Excellence Ireland, have jointly called for the withdrawal of legal challenges to the Morrison’s Island flood defence and public realm scheme. The unprecedented collective call from organisations which represent thousands of businesses comes ahead of a High Court hearing tomorrow (Thursday, November 5th) of an application from the Save Cork City (SCC) group for a judicial review of the scheme.

Speaking on the potential for SCC to conclude their legal challenge to the Morrison’s Island flood defence and public realm scheme the leading representative organisations of the impacted business community, Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, Construction Industry Federation, Vintners Federation of Ireland Cork City Branch and Retail Excellence Ireland say the following:

“Securing a flood defence solution is essential to the international reputation of Cork if it is to deliver as the economic and cultural hub of our region. At the riverside of Morrison’s Island, there is a comprehensive plan to turn a rundown car park into a waterfront promenade and to protect the most vulnerable part of our city core while doing so.

drawings of Morrison Island Flood Defense Scheme

Along with the significant restoration of the existing historic quay walls, the change at Morrison’s Island creates a valuable amenity space for residents and visitors alike. It transforms what has become a dilapidated section of our City into an inviting pedestrian corridor through the removal of parked cars, a new pedestrian bridge at the College of Commerce and a revamped Parnell Plaza with an attractive seating area. It is the very embodiment of a liveable city.

We ask SCC to consider whether this judicial review is proportionate to their stated goal of protecting heritage and whether it is appropriate to delay a project that has received such widespread support and approval.

Judicial review does not weigh up the benefits or otherwise of a project, a step already taken by a vote of the elected representatives of Cork City Council. Nor does it assess the planning and environmental context, a role that has already been carried out independently by An Bord Pleanála, Ireland’s unique appellate body. Right now acknowledging progress, accepting concessions and building consensus is important and we ask SCC to reconsider their actions on Morrison’s Island.

Stakeholders from all quarters have engaged at every stage of the public consultation and have influenced the project we have before us today. Two weeks ago, a day before lockdown, traders were up to their knees in water, their premises damaged without the ability to secure insurance. The city and its people deserve the protection that Morrison’s Island works will provide. The severity of this flooding and the potential for it to reoccur is something that is entirely avoidable, making the events of this October all the more frustrating.

We can’t allow flooding to be considered acceptable, and we ask SCC to consider the reality of what their ongoing judicial review means for people running businesses in the area and for developers and investors looking to focus their activity in Cork. The collateral damage of flooding is not just to properties, it is to people and their ability to earn a living.”


Find the Plan here

Find all documentation here

Currently available Business Supports

Financial Supports

Income supports

The COVID-19 Income Support Scheme provides financial support to Irish workers and businesses affected by the crisis.

  • Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme: The new Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), provides a flat-rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on the numbers of eligible employees on the employer’s payroll. The EWSS, operated by Revenue, has replaced the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and will run until 31 March 2021.
  • COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment: The Pandemic Unemployment Payment is available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost their job due to the COVID-19 is the quickest and easiest way to apply for payments.On all customers can
    • apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment
    • apply for Enhanced Illness Benefit for COVID-19 including for self-isolation cases
    • apply for a jobseeker’s payment
    • request to close their COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
  • Short-time Work Support: Employees of businesses that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short-time Work Support.

Loans, grants, vouchers and schemes

  • COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme: The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme facilitates up to €2 billion in lending to eligible businesses. Loans under the Scheme range from €10,000 to €1 million, for terms of up to five and a half years. Financing will be offered through a range of products, including term loans, working capital loans and overdrafts. Loans of up to €250,000 under the Scheme are available unsecured (except where this is a requirement of the product feature, as in the case of asset finance, invoice discount facilities, etc). The Scheme is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating finance providers.
    • COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme FAQs
    • COVID-19 Business Loans: COVID-19 Business Loans up to €25,000 are available through Microfinance Ireland with zero repayments and zero interest for the first 6 months and the equivalent of an additional 6 months interest-free subject to certain terms and conditions. The loans can range from €5,000 to €25,000. Repayments will commence in month 7 for the remaining period of your loan. The Government will rebate to you the interest paid in the following 6 months (months 7-12 of your loan). The interest rate after the first 6 months will be a reduced interest rate 4.5% APR if submitted through the Local Enterprise Office Network (or other referral partners) or 5.5% APR if you apply directly to Microfinance Ireland. The loan terms are typically up to 3 years and there are no fees or charges.
  • COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme: The SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%. Applications can be made through the SBCI website at Eligibility criteria apply.
    • SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme FAQs
    • Future Growth Loan Scheme: The enhanced Future Growth Loan Scheme makes up to €800m of loans available for terms of 7-10 years. This scheme is available to eligible businesses in Ireland, including those in the primary agriculture (farmers) and seafood sectors, to support strategic long-term investment.
  • Sustaining Enterprise Fund: The Sustaining Enterprise Fund of up to €180 million is specifically aimed at firms operating in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors, with 10 or more employees, that are vulnerable but viable. The fund is operated by Enterprise Ireland with amounts between €100,000 and €800,000 available to eligible companies who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The fund includes a 50% non-repayable grant element, up to a limit of €200,000.
  • Sustaining Enterprise Fund for Small Enterprise: As part of the Sustaining Enterprise Fund, Enterprise Ireland operates a specific Sustaining Enterprise Fund for Small Enterprise. This fund provides a short term working capital injection of up to €50,000 to eligible smaller companies to support business continuity and strengthen their ability to return to growth.
  • Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund: The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund will focus on investment in medium and large scale enterprises in Ireland through a Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund. The fund, worth up to €2 billion, will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms.
  • General grant supports: The full range of Enterprise IrelandIDA IrelandLocal Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports continue to be available to eligible firms to help with strategies to access finance, commence or ramp-up online trading activity, reconfigure business models, cut costs, innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.
  • COVID Restrictions Support Scheme: A new COVID Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), will offer a targeted, timely and temporary sector-specific support to businesses forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels as a result of restrictions imposed on them in response to COVID-19. The relief will operate as a cash payment equal to 10% of the average weekly value of the 2019 business’s turnover up to €20,000 and 5% thereafter, subject to a maximum weekly payment of €5,000, for the same number of weeks as the restricted period. Qualifying businesses can access the scheme through Revenue.
  • Restart Grant Plus: The Restart Grant Plus provides direct grant aid to businesses with up to 250 employees to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures. The minimum grant is €4,000 and the maximum grant is €25,000 with top-up payments available in certain circumstances. Businesses that accessed funding through the previous round of the scheme are eligible for a top-up payment to a total combined value of the revised maximum grant level.
  • Enterprise Support Grant: The Enterprise Support Grant for businesses impacted by COVID-19 is available for eligible self-employed people who close their COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment on or 18 May 2020. This will provide business owners with a once-off grant of up to €1,000 to restart their business which was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Micro-Enterprise Assistance Fund: The new Micro-Enterprise Assistance Fund will help businesses with fewer than 10 employees, which are ineligible for existing grants, with a grant of up to €1,000 to help them adapt and invest to rebuild their business. The fund is administered by the Local Enterprise Offices.
  • Trading Online Voucher: The Local Enterprise Office Trading Online Voucher is a government grant scheme, designed to assist small businesses with up to 10 employees. It offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 along with training and advice to help your business trade online. Businesses that have already received a Trading Online Voucher can apply for a second voucher, where upgrades are required.
  • LEAN for Micro: LEAN for Micro is available to Local Enterprise Office clients to help build resilience within small companies. Businesses can avail of consultancy support with a LEAN Expert or help to implement new remote working and physical distancing guidelines. Contact your Local Enterprise Office for further details.
  • COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant: The COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant, worth up to €5,000, is designed to help companies to develop a robust financial plan, including the preparation of documentation required to support applications for external finance from banks and/or other finance providers. The grant is a new support for Enterprise Ireland clients and those manufacturing or internationally traded services companies that employ 10 or more full time employees.
  • Lean Business Continuity Voucher: The Lean Business Continuity Voucher is available to eligible companies to access up to €2,500 in training or advisory services support related to the continued operation of their businesses during the current pandemic. It is open to small, medium or large client companies of Enterprise Ireland or Údarás na Gaeltachta (including High Potential Start-ups). The voucher may be used to obtain services from approved providers.
  • Cross-border companies: InterTradeIreland’s Emergency Business Solutions offers professional advice, to the value of €2,250, to address key business challenges related to COVID-19. The E-Merge programme provides €2,800 consultancy support to help cross-border businesses develop online sales and eCommerce solutions.
  • COVID Products Scheme: The COVID Products Scheme will allow for up to €200m in targeted State support to facilitate the research and development of COVID products, to enable the construction or upgrading of testing and upscaling infrastructures that contribute to the development COVID-19 relevant products, as well as to support the production of products needed to respond to the outbreak. The scheme will be delivered through IDA Ireland's COVID-19 supports and Enterprise Ireland's COVID-19 Business Response.
  • Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme: The Apprenticeship Incentivisation Scheme, delivered by SOLAS, provides financial support for apprenticeship employers who take on apprentices on national apprenticeship programmes. Apprenticeship employers are eligible for a €3,000 payment for each new apprentice.
  • Irish Business Design Challenge: The Irish Business Design Challenge is a competition with a prize fund of €50,000, inviting micro, small and medium Irish businesses to share the challenges they are experiencing as a result of COVID-19 and the solutions they have designed to resolve them.
  • Code of Conduct for commercial rents: A voluntary Code of Conduct between landlords and tenants for commercial rents has been developed based on examples from other jurisdictions and with input from other Departments, State agencies and key stakeholders. The aim of the Code is to facilitate discussions between landlords and tenants impacted by COVID-19.

Rates waiver and tax measures

  • Commercial rates waiver: With limited exceptions, all businesses will be granted a waiver to 31 December 2020. Updates will be available on and from local authorities.
  • 'Warehousing' of deferred tax debts: The scheme, administered by Revenue, will ‘warehouse’ VAT and PAYE (Employer) debts associated with the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Reduction in the standard rate of VAT: A six-month reduction in the standard rate of Value-Added Tax (VAT) from 23% to 21% will apply, effective from 1 September 2020.
  • VAT rate reduction from 13.5% to 9%: A VAT rate reduction from 13.5% to 9% will apply from 1 November 2020, in recognition of the unprecedented challenges facing the hospitality and tourism sector.
  • Advice for taxpayers and agents: Revenue's COVID-19 information and advice for taxpayers and agents provides information on Revenue services and tax and customs measures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic including information on tax returns and interest suspension arrangements.

Sector-specific supports and guidance

Progress Continues in the VQ

The Victorian quarter committee are delighted that Cork City Councillors have voted in favour of the part 8 planning for the MacCurtain Street public transport improvement scheme.

The committee has worked closely  over the past eight years with Cork City council to bring this to fruition.

70% of the through traffic will be taken out of the street allowing customers to have a more relaxed experience.

mcCurtain Street Revamped
MacCurtain Street has become the number one night time area for socializing and these public realm improvements  will enhance this in the years ahead.

While the short term trading environment is very challenging due to the pandemic the future is bright and we look forward to embracing the changes.


CORK City Councillors have approved Part 8 planning for the MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme.

The plans, which also incorporate some of the surrounding area, aim to transform the busy street for the first time in over 50 years, making it more suitable for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport.


The National Transport Authority funded scheme will see the transformation of the street from a one-way to a two-way traffic system, as well as wider footpaths, bus priority measures, street resurfacing, additional street furniture, the planting of new trees and the renewal of street lighting and traffic signals.

The scheme also encompasses streets, quays and bridges close to MacCurtain Street which will see new segregated bike lanes and bus lanes established.

Public realm upgrades are planned for Leitrim St, Coburg St, Bridge St, the lower section of St Patrick’s Hill, St Patrick’s Quay, Brian Boru Street, Merchant’s Quay, Anderson’s Quay, as well as Cathedral Walk and part of Mulgrave Road.

The scheme went to public consultation in July and 69 submissions were received, a report issued to city councillors stated.

These submissions were “duly considered” and as a result, some amendments have been made.

These include the provision of an additional bus shelter at Anderson’s Quay for patrons of the new coach set down area, a new disabled parking bay which will be added to Pine Street and the number of bike parking spaces will be increased to circa 120 across the scheme area - up almost 50% from the original proposal of 70 spaces.

The public realm design also includes opportunities to provide the possibility of providing a commemoration to Tomás MacCurtain which will be assessed and further developed before construction begins.

Detailed design will now get underway and it is proposed that works will be carried out in a phased basis with the works along the quays carried out first.

The public realm and new traffic arrangements in the MacCurtain Street area will only be commenced when all other works on the quays have been completed.



Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme


Covid Restrictions Business Support Scheme

by Dave O'Brien

What is it?

A new support mechanism for businesses who have suffered significant Covid 19 restrictions. The scheme is in addition to the Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme. It is available for all businesses who have suffered restrictions due to the country moving to level 3, 4 or 5 of the Plan for Living with Covid 19. It could also apply to other businesses at lower levels of restrictions however details of this are vague. The relief will operate as a weekly cash payment to the business.

Who qualifies?

A business, be it a company or sole trader whose business had to close or operate at significantly reduced levels, where the turnover for the period of restrictions has reduced by 80% compared to your average weekly turnover in 2019 for the same number of weeks.


For instance, if a company is closed from midnight on Wednesday the 21st to the 1st of December 2020 then their income for the period would be nil for each of the 6 weeks. In this instance, it is clear that the business would qualify. However, in the event that the business is partly open (i.e. a restaurant for take away), you compare your weekly income in this period to your average weekly income for 2019 and if the average weekly income has reduced by 80% then you qualify.


Example 1 – Company has take-away only for the next 6 weeks and turnover is €5,000 (i.e. €833 per week) for the period. Turnover for the whole of 2019 was €1m. Your average weekly turnover for 2019 was €19,230. The company’s turnover has decreased by over 80% and hence they qualify for the scheme.


How much can you get?

This is dependent on your 2019 turnover. You can claim up to 10% of your first 1 million turnover and 5% on everything above that subject to a maximum weekly payment of €5,000.


Example 2 – 2019 turnover is €3m. Your first €1m is at 10% which equals €100,000. This divided by 52 (the number of weeks in the year) is €1,923.  Your next €2m is at 5% which equals €100,000. This divided by 52 equals €1,923. Therefore, the total weekly payment this business can receive is €3,846. They will receive this amount for each week that they qualify for the scheme.


Example 3 - 2019 turnover is €750k. Your first €750k is at 10% which equals €75,000. This divided by 52 (the number of weeks in the year) is €1,442. They will receive this amount for each week that they qualify for the scheme.


Example 4 - 2019 turnover is €10m. Your first €1m is at 10% which equals €100,000. This divided by 52 (the number of weeks in the year) is €1,923.  Your next €9m is at 5% which equals €450,000. This divided by 52 equals €8,653. However, there is a limit of €5k per week that a business can receive. Therefore, the total weekly payment this business can receive is €5k. They will receive this amount for each week that they qualify for the scheme.


When is it coming in from?

It is coming in from Budget day, the 13th of October 2020. Any payments will be backdated to then if you qualified from this period. We are expecting businesses to either qualify from the 13th of October or from the 21st of October. The initial application will be until the 1st of December. Depending on the level of restrictions after this date will determine whether a company can stay on the scheme.


When can you apply?

Mixed messages on this. Today is the 20th of October. We had been assured applications would be open this week. However, Revenue issued a “general overview” of the scheme and they have indicated that the claims process will only be available from mid-November – I don’t know if this is a misprint or whether this is genuine. We were told cash would be issued within a couple of days of making a claim but we were also told that claims could be made this week. We need more guidance around this aspect.


Businesses will need to continue to file their returns on time and continue to hold a tax clearance certificate in order to qualify. Also, it must be the intention of the business to reopen when restrictions are lifted.


Is there guidance published?

Not yet – but expect there will be and once published we will set out the rules in more detail.


Will the EWSS be considered turnover for the purposes of qualifying?

This is unclear but the all the sound-bytes would indicate the EWSS will not be considered turnover.


Will the payment be taxable?

Kind of – the payment is known as an “Advanced Credit for Trading Expenses”. It will reduce your expenses when you are calculating your taxable profits. However, it will only result in additional tax if the company is profitable for the year in question.


When does the Scheme end?

31 March 2021 – but expect businesses to be jumping on and off the scheme depending on the level of restrictions in place.


How will it operate with Group companies?

If businesses are operating from separate business premises then they will be treated as separate activities for the purposes of the scheme. This is the case whether the businesses are in separate companies or out of the same company.

Our Initial Verdict on the Scheme?

Very positive so far. It may allow businesses to hang on in there that little bit longer. Hopefully the detail in the guidance won’t make it too complicated.


We will issue more information on this when Revenue issue the guidance.



Dave O'Brien

Tax Partner - Quintas