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European demands for hike in corporation tax unfair – Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has claimed that demands for a hike in the corporation tax rate in return for cheaper bailout loans is unfair.

Amid opposition criticism of delays in securing lower interest rates, Mr Kenny went on the offensive, attacking European states for imposing conditions.

The Government claims that cutting the cost of the international loans in return for a rise in the 12.5pc corporation tax rate will save only about 200 million euro.

The Taoiseach said he will raise the issue over demands for the business levy to be hiked at this month's meeting of European leaders.

"I think it's unfair that this is being allowed to drag because of national issues, which is blocking Europe's progress, not just our country's return to economic independence but blocking Europe's progress," he said.

Mr Kenny said it was necessary for Europe to help countries that are meeting serious challenges and insisted Ireland would not change its corporation tax.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin accused the Government of failing to negotiate with Europe while Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald claimed Finance Minister Michael Noonan had performed "another U-turn".

The French government has led the charge against Ireland's corporation tax rate and demanded an increase in return for lower interest rates