Friday 23 February 2018

Double Apple-Danish leaves a sour taste

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In the wake of the EU ruling that Apple must pay up to €13bn in unpaid taxes to the Republic, Luca Maestri, the tech giant's chief financial officer, said: "We have an outstanding relationship over the years with the Irish Government and we are very committed to Ireland." The firm, which first set up a base here in 1980, is our biggest employer with close to 6,000 staff.

Commitments need to work both ways. When planning for its €850m data centre in Athenry, Co Galway, was given the green light, the news could hardly have been more welcome west of the Shannon. That should have been enough. But thanks to planning objections and delays, not a brick was laid. At the same time, a similar centre got the go-ahead in Denmark, it is up and running and that country now looks likely to benefit from the objections. Athenry's loss will be Denmark's gain. This double 'Apple Danish' should serve as a lesson.

Delays in the provision of critical infrastructure or the provision of vital jobs is resulting in a concentration of work on the east coast. The ease with which judicial reviews and appeals all the way to the Supreme Court can be mounted after planning has been granted sends out all the wrong signals from a country so heavily dependent on foreign direct investment. Last year, there were 68,000 full-time employees working in IDA-backed companies in the information, communication, and computer science sectors. Their presence has made Ireland the biggest exporter in the world of computer services.

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