Opposition parties have urged the Government to publish the €13bn Apple tax ruling before a Dáil vote on cabinet plans to appeal the decision if it wants to prevent the ballot from becoming a meaningless act of “theatre”.
Non-government TDs issued the demand after the second emergency cabinet meeting in three days yesterday ended with the Government agreeing to appeal the ruling, allow a Dáil vote, and begin a wide-ranging review of other multinationals’ tax bills.
After a four-hour emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday failed to result in an agreed Government position, the Cabinet yesterday met for the second time this week to broker a deal to end the political stalemate.
Despite an expectation the meeting would last a number of hours, within just 35 minutes ministers announced they had agreed to appeal the decision, provided a series of additional points, insisted on by the Independent Alliance and unaligned Independent Katherine Zappone, were included.
In return for backing the Fine Gael-sought appeal, the Independent ministers said they wanted the matter to be voted on by the Dáil next Wednesday; for the Government to set up a review of other multinationals’ tax bills within six months; and for a more transparent tax system to be established.
Despite vocal criticism of the decision, Independent Alliance members and Children’s Minister Ms Zappone yesterday insisted they had negotiated the best deal possible in order to allow full clarity on Ireland’s tax laws.
However, while Independent Alliance members Transport Minister Shane Ross, Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath, and junior ministers John Halligan and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran in particular stressed the value of the Dáil debate as it will return power to parliament, opposition TDs last night warned it will mean little if the still unpublished Apple ruling remains private.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said unless the 130-page document — which outlines the exact reasons for the European Commission ruling but is commercially sensitive — is released immediately, Wednesday’s vote will be an act of “theatre”.
“I do accept there may be some necessary redactions, but if you’re going to have a debate you’re going to have to facilitate that debate with the full facts.
“How do you have a meaningful debate if Government come into the chamber to say ‘we are privy to information you don’t have’,” she argued.
Ms McDonald’s view was mirrored by the Social Democrats and the Green Party, with both saying they want to see vital information relating to the Apple tax controversy before the debate takes place.
However, despite the criticism, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has made it clear there is no prospect of the report being released as it is commercially sensitive.
The Dáil debate — which will be under parliamentary privilege — is likely to focus heavily on both the level of tax large multinational companies pay in Ireland and the number of jobs they provide to this country.
However, it is also expected to include significant discussion on claims by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Noonan last night that the Apple ruling has been an attempt by Europe to attack Ireland’s 12.5% corporation tax rate.
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