Saturday 1 October 2016

Government reaction to the Apple ruling has been 'mind-numbing', says Howlin

Published 02/09/2016 | 02:30

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has expressed huge shock that the current Government wasn't in a position to "put Ireland's case forward instantly".

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The threat of Europe ordering Apple to make a massive back payment of tax to Ireland was a regular topic of discussion at meetings of the Economic Management Council during the lifetime of the last government.

Mr Howlin told the Irish Independent that the Fine Gael-Labour coalition was actively working on a response to a negative decision long before it was delivered on Tuesday.

As a result, Mr Howlin has described the reaction of his former colleague in the Department of Finance Michael Noonan and the Cabinet as "mind-numbing".

The Wexford TD said the EMC, which consisted of himself, Mr Noonan, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the then Tánaiste Joan Burton, was "of the view that there was a great deal of politics at play in the stance taken by the Commission and that this was certainly a matter outside the legitimate reach of the Directorate General for Competition".

He noted that the coalition made "direct contact" with Joaquín Almunia during his time as Competition Commissioner.

"We made a very strong defence of Ireland's position," said Mr Howlin.

"Our focus (was) on putting an end to the double-Irish and other loopholes that allowed companies to effectively become stateless."

Despite the judgment being widely anticipated this week, the Government failed to hold a press conference to counteract the case put forward by Margrethe Vestager.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has yet to make any media appearances and there was embarrassment for Mr Noonan after he announced that Ireland would appeal the decision, then the Cabinet failed to reach agreement on such an approach.

International media were yesterday reporting how the Irish Government was "split" over an immediate appeal.

Irish Independent

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