Saturday 22 October 2016

We can't stand idly by as UK acts on economy

Published 05/07/2016 | 02:30

British Chancellor George Osborne Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
British Chancellor George Osborne Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Britain's plans to offset recession in the wake of its seismic decision to leave the European Union were always going to contain measures that would have direct consequences for Ireland.

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Less than two weeks out from the decision to leave the EU, Ireland has been promoting itself as an alternative financial and investment hub to the United Kingdom.

Citing our access to Europe's single market, Ireland Inc has also promoted its 12.5pc corporate tax rate that has proved critical in the attraction of foreign direct investment to these shores.

Ireland's long-standing low corporate tax rate has been described as the cornerstone of the economy.

However, our low corporate tax economy has also attracted claims that Ireland, which is embroiled in a European Commission investigation over the handling of tech giant Apple's tax affairs here, provides special tax relief for overseas companies keen to exploit national tax regimes.

Yesterday's announcement by British Chancellor George Osborne of plans to reduce the UK's corporate tax rate from 20pc to 15pc will, if implemented, provide further challenges to Ireland, its closest trading partner. And it will heap further pressure on the Irish government to compete with the UK as well as attracting - and retaining - overseas investment here.

Any decision by the UK to lower its corporate tax rate could be tempered by its future levels of access to the single market.

However, should Mr Osborne move quickly, as he intends, it will behove our government to introduce its own bold moves to support inward investment and boost job creation.

As the UK inches closer to our tax rate, we may have to emulate some of its domestic measures including the treatment of share options and capital gains tax cuts.

One thing we cannot do is stand idly by as the UK acts to stave off a home-made recession with global consequences.

Perpetual vigil needed to keep road deaths at bay

For the best part of a decade, Ireland made serious progress on road fatalities through a combination of measures including dedicated public awareness campaigns, increased Garda resources and revision of our at times byzantine road traffic laws.

It was also achieved by sheer political will and a crackdown – legal and social – on drink-driving, which is responsible for almost a third of current road fatal collisions.

Road deaths peaked at a staggering 640 in 1972, falling to 368 in 2006. Worryingly, however, they are on the increase once again.

Moyagh Murdock, CEO of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), is in no doubt that Ireland’s “all or nothing” relationship with alcohol lies at the root of so many road deaths, with a serious gap in attitudes towards drink-driving between urban and rural Ireland.

She has called for a more strategic approach by gardaí to tackle the twin scourges of drink-driving and speeding that are predominant in certain areas.

As well as calling for intelligent policing, the RSA is also considering a series of measures including stark advertising, behavioural courses for repeat offenders and resitting of theory and practical tests after disqualification.

The measures deserve our support.

Each road fatality costs about €2.3m, but that is nothing compared to the human cost of mostly avoidable road deaths.

Irish Independent

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