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'Oh my God, you guys have to get it together' Host of US TV show can’t understand why Ireland isn't part of Britain in bizarre interview with IDA boss


IDA Ireland new chief executive Martin Shanahan may have been expecting a grilling on Ireland's low tax policy when he went on a prime time US TV show. But instead he was asked whether Ireland's tax polices were responsible for the great golfers the country has produced and why we didn't use the pound.

Mr Shanahan was a guest on CNBC’s popular business show Squawk Box and he appeared to shock one of the show's presenters by revealing that Ireland uses the Euro as currency.

In the bizarre line of questioning, Mr Shanahan, who has led Ireland's foreign direct investment agency since September, had to reveal to CNBC interviewers that Ireland is also separate to Britain.

He was also asked whether Ireland’s low tax policy has helped it develop so many talented golfers.

Watch the interview here:

The show's co-anchor Joe Kernen tries to persuade Mr Shanahan that Ireland uses sterling, and our IDA chief is forced to naturally convince him otherwise.

To his credit, Mr Shanahan kept his cool throughout despite the bizarre line of questioning.

The interview started innocuously enough with a question on Apple’s tax affairs and the so-called ‘Double Irish tax loophole’ but descended into confusion after around six minutes.

At 6 minutes and 17 seconds into the interview, it appears that the hosts may be running out of material to ask Mr Shanahan. Just then, Squawk Box co-anchor Joe Kernen wades into the interview with spectacular results.

“Are you surprised McIIroy is not playing?” Mr Shanahan is asked by Kernen. 

Shanahan: “Whatever Rory is doing, he’s doing. I wouldn’t try and second guess him.”

It’s at this point that things really take a turn for the bizarre when Mr Shanahan is asked how Ireland’s tax policy ‘turned out a string of great golfers – Graeme  [McDowell], Rory, Padraig [Harrington] – is this another tax  benefit?”

When asked how the weaker Euro was affecting tourism, Mr Shanahan started to reply. However, he was interrupted by Kernen who said; “You have pounds anyway”.

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Shanahan: We have euros in Ireland.

Kernen: [incredulously] You have euros in Ireland? Why do you have euros in Ireland?”

Shanahan: Why wouldn’t we have the euro?

[At this point Kernen was interrupted by his co-host who reminded him that Ireland is part of the EU. However, he wasn’t going quietly and insisted on asking why Ireland was not using the pound.]

Kernen: Huh. I’d use the pound.

Shanahan: We use euro.

Kernen: What about Scotland? I was using Scottish eh...

Shanahan: Scottish pounds.

Kernen: Scottish pounds.

Shanahan: They use Sterling.

Kernen : They use Sterling?

Shanahan: They use sterling. But we use euro.

Kernen: What? Why would you do that?

Shanahan: Why wouldn’t we do that.

Kernen: Why didn’t Scotland? No wander they wanted to break away.

Shanahan: They are part of the UK, we are not.

Kernen: Aren’t you right next to er?

Shanahan: We are very close but entirely separate.

Kernen: It is sort of the same, same island isn’t it?

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland, they have sterling.

Kernen: They do? [massively shocked]

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland they use sterling.

Kernen: It is just too confusing...

At that point, he was interrupted again by his co-host. However, Kernen wasn't giving up and waded back in again.

Kernen: So Northern Ireland uses the pound?

Shanahan: Northern Ireland uses the pound.

Kernen: Oh my God, you guys have to get it together.

[Aside to his co-host]: It makes no sense. I thought Northern Ireland wanted to get away from the..

Co-host:: They want to get with them.

Kernen: It’s too confusing. Northern Ireland wanted should be the ones not wanting to use the pound.

Shanahan [laughing at this stage]: I am not sure I follow your logic.

Kernen: I thought they wanted to break like Scotland. But the good golfers are from Northern Ireland, right?

Shanahan: On both sides. We have good golfers on both sides. You’ve played?

Kernen: I have not. I have played in Scotland recently.

Shanahan: You must come and visit – that is probably one of the reasons we have such good golfers.

Kernen: You use the euro? You should have never have done that.

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