Cabinet and Independent Alliance split over appeal on Apple tax ruling

Members of the Independent Alliance are to seek the advice of an independent expert this morning over the Apple tax ruling, which has caused a split both in cabinet and among the group’s members.

A cabinet meeting yesterday ended in deadlock after Fine Gael, the Independent Alliance, and Independent TD Katherine Zappone failed to make progress despite over four hours of talks.

Members of the alliance will meet at 10am today to obtain a comprehensive review of the tax situation from an independent analyst.

The aim of today’s meeting is to gain as much advice and background as possible — the group wants as much information in its arsenal before going back to its government partners.

All ministers will reconvene tomorrow for another emergency meeting to hammer out some sort of agreement. Last night, both sides remained at odds and were unwilling to back down from their positions.

It appeared there may be a rift within the alliance on the issue after Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran indicated that he would support an appeal against the European Commission’s decision.

Cabinet and Independent Alliance split over appeal on Apple tax ruling

Shane Ross and Finian McGrath, both of the alliance, demanded the Dáil be recalled to debate the ruling, which found Apple underpaid the State by €13bn in tax. They are also seeking a comprehensive review of the country’s tax policies.

It is understood there is no aversion within Fine Gael to recalling the Dáil but a clear and unified position would have to be agreed between all in government before this happens.

After the cabinet meeting, Mr Ross said there had been “very frank exchanges of views”. He said: “Our initial reaction is that we were concerned about all the issues involved. We had certain difficulties with taking any of the courses that were proposed and we expressed those views.”

Asked whether the alliance would be willing to back a state appeal, he said that “no decisions have been made at all and no decision will be made until Friday”.

Another alliance member said “we’re not talking about destabilising the Government at all”, adding the group plans to row in behind Fine Gael on the issue.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has repeatedly said the Government should appeal against the ruling.

Yesterday Mr Noonan met with both Mr McGrath and Mr Ross before the main cabinet meeting, which was delayed as a result.

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan

There was also a separate break-out meeting with Ms Zappone after she made it clear that more time was needed to reflect on the ruling.

Going into cabinet, Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the ruling as an “unprecedented situation”.

He said: “The Government has made its position very clear, as outlined by Minister Noonan. I think it’s important that everybody would have the opportunity to have any anxieties they have or questions raised they want answered.”

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