News & Media

Issues of sovereignty and reputation at stake - Howlin

30 August 2016

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

With €13 billion of corporate revenue at stake, the decision of the European Commission will inevitably be appealed by Apple. It is not conceivable that Ireland would not be attached to the process, given our national interest in the outcome of this matter. Indeed it is likely that many Member States will join in an appeal of this decision. On that basis, the Labour Party will support the Government in lodging an appeal so that this matter can be determined by the European Court of Justice, according to Labour Leader Brendan Howlin.


“The full ruling of the European Commission has not yet been published, and therefore it is difficult to be definitive about the exact implications for Ireland. We are calling on Minister Noonan to provide a detailed briefing to all opposition parties on the anticipated consequences of the ruling, both positive and negative. That said, the headlines circulating the globe today undoubtedly have implications for our national reputation in the short term - a reputation that we have worked might and mane to repair over recent years.


“All corporations must pay their fair share of tax in Ireland. It is with that principle in mind that in Government, the Labour Party worked to end the “double-Irish”, to fully support the OECD work on tax transparency and profit shifting, and to put an end to the allocation of profits to companies with no headquarters. These measures have supported continued growth of Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland. The EU Commission statement clearly acknowledges that the practices it was examining are no longer possible under Irish tax law.


“There are those now calling for the immediate spending of €13bn on current and capital measures. That might sound very attractive, but it is clear that the funds won’t be available while the decision is still being argued before the courts. Our capacity to spend any such windfall within the fiscal rules is also in doubt.


“Others are effectively arguing for public inquiries into the profits of an individual company - while this decision may not put at risk the thousands of jobs provided by Apple in Ireland, a public inquiry examining the profits and business practices of an individual company certainly would.


“I have made clear my party’s position over recent months that our Government needs to be much more active in demanding a change to the fiscal rules, to allow for additional investment in capital spending which we can afford to make thanks to higher than expected growth. Our Government should be focussed on negotiating those required changes to the rules so that in the event that this windfall gain comes to pass, it can be used to invest our the schools, roads and primary care centres.


“Tax policy is one of the remaining areas that remains entirely at the discretion of individual member states, and has formed the cornerstone of our national industrial policy for many years. With that in mind, we must be very cautious about automatically accepting any ruling that could be regarded as an effort by the European Commission to determine Ireland’s tax policy by the back door.”