Independent ministers have told Government colleagues to review all Irish-based multinational company’s tax bills and ban any future Apple-type deals in return for supporting plans to reject the €13bn EU ruling against the technology giant.
The calls were outlined to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan last night in addition to a demand that any decision to appeal the European Commission decision is voted on by the Dáil.
In separate meetings with senior Fine Gael figures yesterday, the Independent Alliance and unaligned minister Katherine Zappone said they will not support an appeal unless the triple set of moves are included.
And while a Fine Gael source last night stressed nothing will be agreed before Cabinet signs off on plans to reject the €13bn ruling, the moves have placed fresh pressure on the party to address questions about Ireland’s existing tax regime.
Before today’s second cabinet meeting on the Apple crisis in just 72 hours, the Independent Alliance yesterday met privately before three of its members brought the group’s conditions directly to Mr Noonan.
During a three-hour internal debate, Transport Minister Shane Ross, Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath, and junior ministers John Halligan and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran agreed they will consider backing the Fine Gael-sought appeal on condition the move is voted on by the Dáil. The alliance also agreed to request a review of the tax bills of other Irish-based multinationals of similar size to Apple, after Mr Halligan had earlier told RTÉ Radio the issue is key to ensuring his support for any deal.
The points were raised with Mr Noonan during a subsequent two hour meeting with Mr Ross, Mr McGrath, and Mr Moran .
However, while Fine Gael figures said after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting they had no “aversion” to a Dáil vote, it is understood Mr Noonan did not formally agree and said nothing will be agreed before an appeal is signed off on.
In separate meetings, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone held lengthy discussions with Attorney General Máire Whelan and Department of Taoiseach officials over the EU decision.
After further meetings with independent experts including academics, economists and NGO campaigners, Ms Zappone, who sought today’s Cabinet meeting after declining to sign off on an appeal on Wednesday, sent a series of points to officials which will be supplied as a cabinet memo today.
These include plans to introduce a “fair and transparent” tax system, which sources said will include an insistence all tax deals with multinationals are publicly detailed and that any future Apple-type deals are banned.
The developments emerged last night as Fine Gael’s Education Minister Richard Bruton denied there is any “rift” in cabinet and Sinn Féin called for the immediate publication of the full EU Apple ruling in addition to the recall of the Seanad to debate the scandal.
Meanwhile, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager hit back at Apple chief executive Tim Cook’s RTÉ Morning Ireland interview, stressing the technology giant still owes Ireland a minimum of €13bn in unpaid tax which must be provided.
Mr Cook yesterday said the ruling was “political crap”, “maddening”, and “disappointing”, as he vowed to fight the decision.
However, speaking in Brussels, Ms Vestager, a former Danish cabinet minister who has led a series of other investigations into the tax situation of multinationals in Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, said she will not back down.
“If it was up to me, the non-confidential version [of the EU ruling] would have been published yesterday, because that is another way of enabling everyone to see what we have decided and on what basis we have made this decision,” she said.
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