Katherine Zappone: I was close to leaving Government

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has revealed she was close to leaving the Government last week over the Apple tax ruling but that she now supports the decision to appeal the judgement.

The Independent TD outlined how she secured commitments to make Ireland’s tax laws more transparent but also how she was close to leaving Cabinet.

Her comments come ahead of a Dáil debate tomorrow on the €13bn ruling by the European Commission, as government legal advisors prepare to appeal.

Ms Zappone outlined how she was instrumental in breaking up last week’s emergency Cabinet meeting, when she expressed unease in supporting an appeal.

The Dublin South West TD asked for an adjournment of the Wednesday meeting to consult with experts. This followed talks with Finance Minister Michael Noonan the previous evening where she indicated she had “grave concerns” about an appeal.

“I wasn’t going to just agree to that without making sure there were a number of measures in the government decision that would really bring us into a new era of tax justice.”

She said the reconvened Friday Cabinet meeting then agreed there would be more transparency on tax agreements with multi-nationals and that no Revenue tax ruling would stand for longer than five years.

This would ensure everyone pays their fair share, including multi-nationals, she said, adding: “We allowed an avoidance by Apple to pay its taxation on significant amounts of profits.”

Ms Zappone had met with the Attorney General for more than three hours about her concerns last week but said she now was of the view that an appeal would provide certainty on any judgement and, furthermore, clarify whether Brussels had a mandate on these matters.

She was asked if she had a sense she might leave the Government over the matter last week. She replied yes, adding: “It was a very, very, difficult few days... although I made some compromises, I did not compromise my principles or my conscience in this regard.”

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