The Independent Alliance has defended its decision to back Fine Gael’s Apple ruling appeal by stressing it will now be able to carry out a widescale review of all multinationals’ tax status in return for the support.
Transport Minister Shane Ross described the agreement as “remarkable” as he and other Independent Alliance members denied claims they have sold out their public supporters on the issue.
Speaking moments after the Cabinet meeting concluded, Mr Ross — who was flanked by Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath, and junior ministers John Halligan and Kevin “Boxer” Moran — said his group can in future guarantee multinationals “pay a fair rate of tax from now on” because of the deal.
Despite admitting it has been a “difficult few days”, he insisted there was no disagreement within the Independent Alliance and that the group made the right decision in ultimately backing the Apple ruling appeal.
“We got an extremely good arrangement there which will reassure us and multinationals that give so may jobs, but will also ensure that in future they pay a fair rate of tax. We haven’t put a time-frame on it at the moment, but I’ll be pushing for it to be done as soon as possible. I think it would be reasonable for it to be done in six months,” he said.
The decision to allow a review of the tax bills of other multinational firms of a similar size to Apple — the terms of reference of which will be agreed in the coming days — was key to guaranteeing the Independent Alliance’s support for the Government’s appeal, in addition to sending the decision for ratification by a Dáil vote on Wednesday.
Despite accepting he still “personally” believes “multinationals probably don’t pay a reasonable amount of tax”, junior minister John Halligan said the review will help to resolve the matter.
Asked how he could justify his claimed U-turn on the issue, the Independent Alliance TD said he would “support the Government motion if it means the Government will stay in power”, adding: “I won’t bring down the Government, on this issue.”
Independent and Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone similarly defended her decision to back the appeal, saying she had won measures including a commitment to increasing transparency in the tax system.
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