Opening Bell: Ireland's Christmas spending, Glanbia recruiters target Irish emigrants, Irish Rail's DART row

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Shoppers have increase their spend by almost 4% this Christmas compared to 2014.

Figures from Retail Excellence show the seasonal spend is up by 3.6% on last year.

The increase has been most marked in Dublin and larger urban centres where the rise could be as high as 5%.

However Lynn Drumgoole from Retail Excellence says not all parts of the country experienced an upturn in trade:

"Overall we are predicting Christmas to be up 3.6%, but it is a season of mixed fortunes, where Dublin and larger urban centres will have experienced growth of over 5%, the same good fortune isn't being felt in many provincial towns around the country."

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Glanbia has launched a global recruitment drive to fill over 200 vacancies - the food group is specifically targeting professionals who left Ireland during the country's economic crisis.

The positions are spread across a range of areas, including IT, science and innovation, sales and marketing, finance, human resources, operations, engineering, and management roles.

There are close to 90 job vacancies in Ireland - the other jobs are located in the US, UK, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. 

“With this campaign, we are targeting the rich seam of talent in the global Irish diaspora who may be returning home for Christmas," Michael Patten, Glanbia’s human resources and corporate affairs director said.

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Petroceltic, the Irish oil and gas exploration company may be put up for sale.

The company has been unable to pay its bank debts, in a statement it said that it has no "certainty on liquidity beyond early January" and that a strategic review is likely to result in the sale of assets - or the sale of the whole company.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Davy Corporate Finance have been appointed to carryout the review.

The company's share price fell by 77% during the last year as the global oil supply glut continues.

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Irish Rail may be heading into a winter of discontent - new timetables are set to be implemented from the end of January, with DARTs potentially operating at ten minute intervals during peak times.

However, the National Bus & Rail Union says this won't happen unless there's been a full agreement by all of its members, claiming that Irish Rail are being disingenuous prior to this agreement.

A previous disagreement between the NBRU and Irish Rail resulted in a three-hour strike during the October Bank Holiday, while a second strike was called off at the 11th hour when both sides agreed to attend Labour Court.

In response, Irish Rail has announced that new drivers are being brought in for these extra trains.