European chiefs came under attack in the Dáil with claims the Apple judgment was an attempt at a power grab by Brussels and would damage many countries including Ireland.
Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil joined forces to criticise European chiefs and the Brussels ruling against Ireland for allegedly supplying illegal state aid to the US tech giant.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny led the defence of Ireland’s tax system, saying: “It is not true that Apple was provided with more favourable treatment than others. There was no preference shown. The law was applied fully and appropriately, and Apple paid its taxes due in Ireland.”
Mr Kenny said Ireland was appealing the decision with “the strongest possible assurances” from Revenue that laws were not ignored and no preference was shown.
The Fine Gael leader also claimed the ruling ordering Ireland to recoup €13bn from Apple would damage other nations too.
“If the position in Europe is to be that tax rulings can be revisited and set aside by the European Commission even decades after the event, investors will simply not know where they stand when they decide to locate in Europe.
“Have no doubt about it, that uncertainty will be weighed carefully in the minds of investors arid will count against European countries, not just Ireland, when they compete for mobile investment unless this decision is challenged and overturned, with certainty restored.”
The government-proposed motion yesterday to appeal the commission ruling was supported by Fianna Fáil, who also weighed-in attacking Brussels.
Party leader Micheál Martin took a personal swipe at EU president Jean-Claude Juncker over the Apple case, saying he was “supporting a policy which is designed to win headlines rather than strengthen Europe.”
The Cork South Central TD, whose county has a large number of the Apple jobs in Ireland, also said there was no doubt the Apple judgment was a “core part of trying to remove the opportunity for competition between member states in the taxation of companies”.
“No golden pot” was being withheld, declared Mr Martin.
Ireland was not a haven for tax avoidance, added Mr Martin, and the World Bank in fact had rated the country as having high compliance with tax laws.
Party colleague, finance spokesman Michael McGrath, said Ireland was the envy of Europe and there were headlines in the UK inviting firms to move there following the Apple ruling.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, who was close to leaving government last week after the ruling, said her support for an appeal was partially based upon the fact that there was no point in giving the Irish people a “false hope of a windfall” over the €13bn.
The appeal, which will take a number of years, would bring clarity, she said.
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