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IRELAND will not reform its tax system unilaterally to allay concerns it allows multinational companies to avoid taxes, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan (right) has said.

The country has been forced to defend its tax arrangements after the US Senate heard last month that Apple had paid little or no tax on tens of billions of dollars in profits channelled through Irish subsidiaries.

"It's unfair to put pressure on Ireland to move, because any move we make will be of no consequence," Mr Noonan said, adding that it would welcome multilateral action. "There is nothing in the tax code that we can do," he added yesterday.

Mr Noonan has been a staunch defender of the Irish tax system since the Apple controversy first erupted.

Speaking last month, the minister said Ireland would not become the "whipping boy" for misunderstandings in the US Senate. He also warned TDs not to jeopardise jobs in their constituencies by joining in unwarranted criticism of Ireland's tax regime and insisted Ireland was a "transparent, tax compliant country".

He said Apple paid 12.5pc on all the profits the company made in Ireland.

"We would want to be very careful that we don't join in to this claque of criticism when in actual fact the Irish taxation system is totally transparent," Mr Noonan added.