Friday 21 October 2016

Michael O'Leary: Ireland should threaten to leave EU over Apple tax

Published 14/09/2016 | 10:29

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary has said Ireland should threaten to leave the EU over the Apple Tax ruling.

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In a typically frank interview the airline boss claimed that the European Commission was bullying Ireland over the Apple tax ruling.

Last week the Irish government won a Dáil vote, by 93 votes to 36, to appeal the commission’s ruling, which found Ireland granted illegal state aid Apple and should recover €13 billion in back taxes from the tech giant.

But, speaking to Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Mr O’Leary said that this doesn’t go far enough.

“This is a case of the European Commission bullying Ireland. Ireland should respond with a far more robust response than appealing the decision.

“They should go and at every Commission meeting, every ministerial meeting hit the table and say ‘we are not tolerating this and if this isn’t withdrawn we will consider leaving the Europen Union’.”

Mr O’Leary compared the Apple ruling to the case of Russian oligarchs living in London who he alleges are paying no tax to the British government.

The airline boss also launched a scathing attack on Junior Minister John Halligan accusing him of “pork barrel politics” over the Waterford Hospital issue.

The Minister of State for Training and Skills threatened to resign over cardiac services for the hospital but later rolled back.

When asked about his thoughts on the ‘new politics’ practiced by the fledgling government, Mr O’Leary responded: “There is no such thing as new politics, it is same old same old politics all the time. The behaviour of the likes of some of the Independents has been typically old pork barrel politics. Some guy wants something for Waterford Hospital.

“That’s not what you’re there for. And if you are going to resign every time you don’t get what you want or throw your toys out of the pram then just go.”

Asked his thoughts on the Dublin bus dispute which has already seen two days of strike action Mr O’Leary called for the entire service to be privatised.

He criticised management at Dublin Bus for not facing the strike head on. He also praised Transport Minister Shane Ross for not getting involved in the dispute.

“People keep calling for the Minister to intervene. It’s not his job to intervene. I think he should continue to stay out of it. What I’m missing is where is Dublin Bus management? I haven’t heard from one of them.”

He explained that his solution for the strike was to allow private bus operators run the service in the city.

“If it’s a red rag to a bull then fine. But the bulls need to understand that if you guys want to go on strike and hold the public to ransom, which is what they are doing, then there are alternatives and the alternatives would be let the private operators use the bus lanes on the days that these guys want to go on strike.”

Despite being so outspoken on politics Mr O’Leary said he would never venture into the political amphitheatre.

“I think I would be unelectable in politics, I wouldn’t last 30 seconds because I’d be telling the Unions what I think of them and that doesn’t get you elected in this country.”

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