Dáil must debate Apple tax crisis: Halligan

Update 3pm: A meeting of the Independent Alliance which was considering its position on appealing the Apple tax ruling has ended this afternoon.

The group - which has two ministers at Cabinet - has still not decided on the issue and is expected to meet again in advance of tomorrow's Cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile Independent Minister Katherine Zappone is also continuing a round of meetings with officials and the Attorney General.

Earlier:

A leading Independent Alliance member has said he wants the Apple tax crisis debated in the Dáil before Government agrees a united position on how it will respond to the controversy, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Junior minister for skills John Halligan outlined the situation - and the Alliance's demand that the tax situation of all major multi-national firms be reviewed in return for ending the political stalemate - before a meeting of the junior coalition partner today.

Speaking on RTE Radio's News At One Programme, the Waterford TD said he "wants to be as honest as I can" that it is "regretful" Apple is paying such a low tax rate.

However, stressing he does not believe the controversy "should bring down the Government", he said the best way to resolve the stand-off with Fine Gael is to send the issue to a general Dáil debate as early as next week before, not after, the full Government position has been agreed.

"That would be my view. Whether they do that or not I don't know," Mr Halligan said.

"I think there should certainly be a Dáil debate, all of us should listen to what is being said in the Dáil and all of us should not try and score political points off one another on this.

"I think it is important is to let the whole country hear what people have to say in the Dáil.

"I think one of the problems I express for ordinary people is they're tax compliant all the time - they want to be, need to be and have to be - and they would ask the question that if there are people making massive profits surely it is reasonable that they would pay reasonable tax into the economy. And that is what the issue is.

"I think this is why we need a full Dáil debate. That then may sway the Government whether or not to appeal this decision. But we certainly should debate that decision," he said.

Mr Halligan's remark, which was made before the Independent Alliance meeting today, comes despite a senior Fine Gael source insisting after the deadlocked cabinet meeting yesterday that Government must agree "a united position" at the second emergency cabinet meeting on the issue tomorrow.

The senior source said while Fine Gael has no "aversion" to bringing the Dáil back early to debate the Apple tax issue next week, Fine Gael is adamant a formal wording of a motion to be debated must be agreed by all Government members before that debate takes place - an issue that contradicts Mr Halligan's suggestion.

Meanwhile, Mr Halligan has also confirmed the Independent Alliance is seeking a full review of the tax situation for major multi-national firms based in Ireland in return for ending the Government impasse.

He said there is a need for "an assessment as to how we collect tax and how tax is paid" and that "I don't think multi-nationals should be afraid of that".

"Every one of us - including you and I and small businesses that have gone to the wall - have to pay reasonable tax, otherwise our economy will collapse.

"The Independent Alliance has asked that we review our intake of tax, how we take tax in from multi-nationals," he said.

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