Monday 20 November 2017

Halligan 'can't say' if he will review position in Government over EU Apple ruling

Independent Minister John Halligan Photo: Tom Burke
Independent Minister John Halligan Photo: Tom Burke

Ciaran Murphy

Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation John Halligan “can’t say” if he will review his position in Government over an EU ruling stating that Ireland has granted Apple favourable tax arrangements to the tune of €13bn.

Mr Halligan said that the Independent Alliance, of which he is a member, will “get an independent analysis” of the situation regarding the EU ruling on Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland.

The European Commission found that Ireland has acted against European rules by effectively granting Apple a taxation rate of 0.005% after just over a decade. in Ireland.  The commission said that the Government gave Apple "selective treatment", allowing it to pay a tax rate of 1% in 2003, sinking to 0.005%.

Both the Government and Apple will appeal the decision, it has emerged.

When pressed on the issue regarding Government possibly rebutting the €13bn from Apple, Mr Halligan, who has always defended his socialist credentials, said that the alliance would need to meet, discuss and see an independent review of the report.

Read more: European Commission: Ireland must demand €13bn in back taxes off Apple

Speaking at a jobs announcement in Waterford yesterday, Mr Halligan said that he “is speaking on behalf of Independent Alliance” and that the grouping had met with finance Minister Michael Noonan on the issue on Monday.

He said: “The Independent Alliance will do review our position regarding what has happened in Europe.  We will look at what the ruling is.  We will meet Minister Noonan, which we hope to do tomorrow or the day after that.

“We will get an independent analysis and then we will make a comprehensive statement.

“It was extraordinary that they did owe that money,” he said.  He repeated his statement about meeting Mr Noonan and the independent analysis.

“I’m not defending anything.  What I am saying is that you will hear a statement from John Halligan in the next couple days with the Independent Alliance.”

When asked how €13bn should be spend, if it were paid over to the Government, he understood that it could not be used to fund capital projects.

He said: “From what I can gather, the money cannot go into capital projects…if it is the case that the money comes back into public coffers, as you say, then maybe it should be used to pay off the [banking] debt.  That is, if that is the case.

“But look, let’s see what happens.  Let’s see how this plays out over the next couple of days.  There’s a lot of people to meet in the department.  We really have to look at the ruling in depth, which we haven’t done yet.

“And then, as a member of the Independent Alliance, we will make a comprehensive statement to media within a few days.”

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor added: “We are appealing it.  We do not agree with the announcement that came today from the European Commission.  That money is in a special fund and that money cannot be spent on current spending.

“It will either be returned to the Irish Revenue or it will be returned to Europe.  I am the Minister for Jobs and I suppose what I will say to you is that Apple has been in Ireland for the past 20 years, they employ up to nearly 6,000 people, there’s a huge investment into Cork, another huge investment into Athenry.

“I’ll make sure whatever jobs needs to come to Ireland, will come to Ireland.  We understand that Ireland and our tax laws have been compliant with what’s right.”

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