Three members of the Independent Alliance met with Finance Minister Michael Noonan yesterday in a bid to finalise plans to appeal against the €13bn Apple tax ruling — on condition that any deal includes a Dáil vote and full review of other multi-nationals’ tax bills.
Transport Minister Shane Ross, Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath, and junior minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran held the crunch talks with the Fine Gael minister — and notably without outspoken Skills Minister John Halligan — after a separate internal meeting of the Independent Alliance earlier in the day.
While no final agreement was reached after the discussions with Mr Noonan, it is understood there is a general acceptance from both sides that the Alliance will back an appeal motion in cabinet later today.
A senior Fine Gael source has confirmed that the party will only agree to the demand to bring the Dáil back early — most likely next week — to vote on the issue after the alliance agrees to the appeal.
While the move will be championed by the Alliance as in keeping with its pre-election pledge to ensure power is based in the Dáil and not Cabinet, the breakdown of the parliament means it will be little more than a rubber-stamping exercise, with Fine Gael claiming it never had any “aversion” to the development.
It is understood that the separate issue of a detailed review of the tax bills of other multinationals of a similar size to Apple had yet to be agreed by both parties last night, despite the alliance’s insistence it be included in any final deal struck today.
Although he was present for the earlier internal Alliance meeting between 12pm and 3pm, Mr Halligan did not meet with Mr Noonan yesterday afternoon, with sources claiming he had a prior engagement to attend.
The Waterford TD had made his views known about the €13bn Apple bill during an RTÉ radio interview before either meeting, outlining his frustrations with the situation.
While saying he does not believe the Apple controversy “should bring down the Government”, Mr Halligan said he is “regretful” the company is paying so little tax and that any deal to appeal against the decision should only take place after a general Dáil debate on the matter.
“That would be my view. Whether they do that or not I don’t know,” he said.
The views of Mr Halligan — who also told RTÉ that he wants “an assessment as to how we collect tax” from multinationals — formed part of lengthy discussions during the internal alliance meeting.
However, despite concerns that he could step down over the likely decision to back an appeal of the €13bn ruling, Mr Halligan has made it clear throughout this week that he has no intention of leaving the Coalition.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved