Opening Bell: Room for construction growth, EU's free WiFi plan, Standard Life eyes Dublin move

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Irish construction could create up to 80,000 new jobs if it hits full capacity, according to Linesight.

The quantity surveyors and consultants' annual Ireland Handbook shows that the building industry grew 18% last year, with a further 15% expansion predicted for 2017.

While the Republic's construction sector should be worth just under €17 billion this year, employing roughly 140,000 people, it represents just 7.5% of the total economy.

If capacity increased to match the 10% to 12% slice seen in most other European countries, Linesight believes it would be worth nearly €5bn annually and boost employment by an additional 75,000 to 80,000.

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As pensions and investment firm Standard Life looks to complete a €12.7bn merger with Aberdeen Asset Management, the group has revealed that Dublin is in the running to become its post-Brexit EU base.

According to The Irish Times, a spokesman for the Scottish investment giant confirmed that the city is one of the options being considered, although no decision has yet been made.

Standard Life has operated in Ireland since 1834 and currently employs about 300 people in the capital.

The potential new move would involve turning this Dublin branch into a fully-fledged subsidiary, regulated by the Central Bank.

Standard Life chairman Gerry Grimstone also told Bloomberg yesterday that the company was looking at making Dublin its new EU hub.

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Rural Ireland could have new WiFi hubs in towns and villages by the beginning of the summer.

New WiFi hubs should soon be on the way to towns and villages across the EU.

A report by Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has passed through the committee stage in Strasbourg and is paving the way for the creation of free wireless internet for rural areas across the EU in the coming months.

Ní Riada, who is the lead negotiator on the project, says it's a very simple but effective idea:

"It means that they will have free WiFi in public places like parks or libraries... Any space where people congregate, it should be available to them for free.

"Now, it's limited in the sense that it's on a 'first come, first serve' basis so the local authorities have to be really quick off the mark. As soon as it's passed through plenary and as soon as the funding is put in place, they need to make those applications to make it accessible in their particular area."

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New gender pay rules come into force in the UK today that will require large employers need to report salary information.

There have been calls for a similar system in Ireland.

The proposed programme here would see companies with more than 50 employees have to report what they pay men and women.

British minister for women and equalities, Justine Greening, thinks their new rules will help make the situation much clearer:

"All these companies will have to start reporting their mean and median salary gaps, the different percentages of men and women at quartiles in different salary ranges, and also on bonus as well. We're going to have it all on one website."