Gloves coming off in row over taxes
THIS situation has gone beyond a joke now. Once again we have a report highlighting Ireland as, if not a tax haven, then a shady island in the Atlantic that will help big companies avoid paying their fair share of tax.
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton says he makes no apology for our tax regime – and points to the jobs overseas firms create here.
He's missing the point. The minister needs to get out front before the situation reaches crisis levels.
While we comply with all international regulations, it is now clear the country has veered into a legally grey area which is far too open to interpretation.
Mr Bruton and the Government should come out unequivocally with a commitment to reform both the Irish and the international tax systems if new evidence shows it is needed.
It might be that in the final analysis the facts are in our favour in these cases but right now our international reputation is on the line here.
By and large multinationals are a force for good. Good employers, good innovators and good business neighbours. But it is not good if the Government here is so in awe of them that it turns a blind eye to legal but anti-social practices.
Right now outside Ireland there is a huge debate about how Google has effectively torn up 400 years of copyright law with its vast online power – here we get barely a whisper about it.
Ireland cannot afford pariah status, or to be seen as complying with all international regulations while allowing the interpretation of the rules to veer into a legally grey areas.
As a nation we have worked tooth and nail to earn a reputation for hard work and honesty, finally getting away from the cronyism of the past.
If the past five years taught us nothing else, it is that reputation matters. But in the past week Ireland's name has been dragged through the mud.
We have read page after page of reports on how Google and Marks & Spencer use Ireland to avoid paying tax in Britain.
Now, hot on the heels of a similar report on Microsoft last December, the powerful US Senate subcommittee for investigations has accused Apple of using Ireland to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes in the United States.