French 'always in our face' on corporation tax, says Ahern
Bertie Ahern has accused the French of a long-held attempt to strip away Ireland's corporate tax regime, saying they were "always in our face" about it.
The former Taoiseach claimed that throughout his time in politics it was the French that had our 12.5pc regime in their sights.
"All my time in politics, led by the French, not the Germans, they attempted to take away our tax regime," Mr Ahern said at a conference organised by the right-leaning think tank, the Hibernia Forum.
Attending his first EU summit in 2011, Enda Kenny had a row with then French president Nicolas Sarkozy after the latter described Ireland's corporation tax regime as "harmful".
"I'm not sure whether you would call it a Gallic spat or not, but obviously the French president has very clear views about the corporation tax rate for quite some time - and then, so have I," Mr Kenny said at the time.
But Mr Ahern also singled out former French prime minister Lionel Jospin.
"It was always the French, Lionel Jospin, usually the left, or the so-called left in France - I've never considered any of the politicians very left - but they always were against the tax," Mr Ahern said. "The Germans, people like [former chancellor Gerhard] Schröder and [Helmut] Kohl, were always sympathetic to the Irish, but the French were always in our face."
On Brexit, Mr Ahern said key figures in Europe, including Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt, did not understand why Ireland was not using the Good Friday Agreement more in its arguments.