Taoiseach Enda Kenny was forced onto the defensive over Ireland’s attractive corporate tax breaks during a visit to Paris.
Mr Kenny moved to deny the country acted as a tax haven after a withering attack from French president François Hollande.
The Taoiseach used a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to state: “The concept of tax haven has nothing to do with Ireland.
“The regulatory system that we have in Ireland is a model that could be used in any other European country,” Mr Kenny said.
The strike back was in response to Mr Hollande’s broadside against the way internet giants used “tax optimisation” structures to switch large profits to low-tax states.
In comments seen aimed at countries like Ireland, the French president said: “We have to act with regard to these big well-known groups which lodge themselves in low-tax countries.”
Mr Kenny said global players like Yahoo were attracted to Ireland for a multiple of reasons, including the corporate tax level, which has long been under fire from the French.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said better tax co-ordination was needed.
“There is scope for improvement at international level,” the Labour leader said.
Cabinet ministers Joan Burton, Ruairi Quinn and Richard Bruton, travelled with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to Paris for the meeting. The Coalition hopes to use the visit to bolster Ireland’s post-bailout image with the influential organisation.
The OECD last year warned in a report on the Irish economy that unemployment would only reduce slowly and the long-term jobless needed extra support.
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