Plan to fight €13bn windfall will 'fuel protest', say TDs
Fine Gael's intention to fight the European ruling that the State must demand €13bn in back taxes from Apple will "fuel" protest and will be "thrown back in the Government's face", left-wing politicians have said.
While Fine Gael ministers insist there was no wrongdoing in tax dealings with Apple - and the European Commission's decision must be fought for the sake of Ireland's reputation - opposition TDs are demanding the State should seek the back taxes to spend on public services.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said his group's criticism of the Government's position wasn't opportunistic and that they had been raising concern that Ireland was a "tax haven" for years.
He claimed that the "public are being robbed of billions that could be used for housing and health and public services".
Referring to this month's planned anti-water charges march, he added: "There's no question that the anger over what has been revealed... is going to fuel people's determination to protest on that day."
Mick Barry - an Anti-Austerity Alliance deputy - said: "The Government should go after as much of the €13bn as it can get and the monies should be used for jobs, houses and education services."
He said the issue would be raised to argue against "austerity policy", adding: "This is going to be thrown back in the Government's face - 'Why are you doing this when you could have taken the Apple money?'."
A Government spokesman said: "It's tempting and easy for members of the opposition to identify ways in which the money can be spent."
He said the Government would be "irresponsible" to budget on the back of the money which was not available on the basis that there would be an appeal of the Commission's ruling. Apple has said it intends to appeal and Fine Gael ministers want the State to do so as well.
The Green Party's Eamon Ryan - who is against a State appeal of the ruling - said the Apple issue "won't help" in debates about issues such as water charges.
However, he did not share the view that the argument should be about securing the back taxes for spending. He said Ireland should instead focus on restoring its reputation as being supportive of "tax justice" while developing the economy to retain multinationals and strengthen local enterprise.