Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has fully backed the Government’s decision to appeal Europe’s €13bn Apple tax ruling, claiming the financial windfall is “a Trojan horse” to attack the tax systems of Ireland and other small countries.
The Opposition TD insisted the Coalition had acted correctly in refusing the money and seeking a court battle with Brussels as he said it is “essential” this country continues to protect key aspects of the economy.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s This Week programme, Mr Martin said he is concerned about the “lack of preparation” Government showed before last Tuesday’s ruling but he believes now is not the time for political infighting.
“The idea that one small country is singled out by the [European] Commission, in many ways as a Trojan horse to drive through perhaps a wider tax agenda that could damage us, is deeply worrying and unfair in my view,” said Mr Martin.
“It is instructive that, so far, it [the commission] has only taken cases against the smaller European countries — Luxembourg, Belgium, Ireland, and the Dutch. I think it’s inconceivable that they would take such a stance against a larger country, and that’s a worry.”
Mr Martin said that, despite public and Opposition anger, he and his party believe “an appeal is essential” for the protection of Ireland, and that it would be wrong for the Revenue Commissioners to become “collector general for the entire world”.
Mirroring comments last Friday by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan, he added that Ireland must not back down amid alleged bullying by Europe of small nations.
The comments were echoed by unaligned Independent TD and Communications Minister Denis Naughten, who said he is “not aware” of any multi-national that is breaching tax rules in this country.
Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton similarly backed an appeal.
However, in a statement yesterday, she said her party wants to move the debate beyond “lip service” and will be seeking a series of “tax justice” amendments in the upcoming budget.
Ms Burton said these will include the closure of “remaining loopholes in tax law”, the introduction of “minimum effective tax rates for all companies”, and the “establishment of a standing commission on taxation”.
Meanwhile, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager has said she is planning to open fresh investigations into Luxembourg-based multi-nationals, including Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Amazon.
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