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Days of 'Double Irish' tax scheme are numbered, says PwC's O'Rourke


Feargal O'Rourke.

Feargal O'Rourke.

Feargal O'Rourke.

IRELAND will eventually restrict how multinationals like Google and Apple use Irish companies and structures to minimse their global tax bills, a top tax adviser and son of veteran Fianna Fail politician and former minister Mary O'Rourke, has said.

Fergal O'Rourke (pictured), head of tax services at global consultants PwC and a former government adviser, told Bloomberg that Ireland was not a tax haven and that it played "by the rules".

He said the international finger-pointing at Ireland was misdirected and claimed the politicians who were complaining about tax avoidance had only themselves to blame for allowing it to happen.

"Why should Ireland be the policeman for the US?" Mr O'Rourke said. "They can change the law. I could draft a bill for them in an hour."

The comments come after Finance Minister Michael Noonan revealed in the Budget that measures would be taken to clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance schemes which involved companies becoming "stateless" for tax purposes.

The move followed international pressure from both the US Senate and the European Commission.

But the Government's move against stateless companies will not stop one of the most well-known tax avoidance schemes known as the Double Irish – a complex system whereby corporate earnings are paid to companies based here, which then pay a royalty or fee to a sister company abroad, thereby slashing their taxable profits.

However, Mr O'Rourke, who is also a cousin of the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, told Bloomberg that changes in Ireland and across the globe on tax was inevitable.

Mr O'Rourke was also a member of the Government's Commission on Taxation, which sat in 2008 and 2009.

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