British prime minister Theresa May earlier this week promised to make the UK’s corporation tax rate the lowest of the G-7 Group of countries, which could severely impact on Ireland’s attractiveness for Foreign Direct Investment.
In the Dáil, Mr Kenny said that while his Government is in the dark as to what exact form Brexit will take, the pronouncements from Ms May are worrying.
“Tomorrow, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, will present his autumn statement. There is an exceptional deficit. I have noted the comments of the Prime Minister in respect of a reduction in corporate tax. I have also noted her comments in respect of a £2 billion allocation for research and innovation. These are issues that are of concern to us,” Mr Kenny said.
During Taoiseach’s Questions, Mr Kenny came under fire for his perceived friendly discussions with US President elect Donald Trump and vice-president elect Mike Pence.
Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Brid Smith was scathing in her criticism of Mr Kenny.
“In the Roman Empire, Caligula wanted to appoint his favourite horse as a consul. I suspect if Donald Trump said tomorrow he would appoint his horse to office, the Taoiseach would probably still warmly welcome it and greet him in Washington on St Patrick’s Day,” she said.
An annoyed Mr Kenny responded by saying: “That is an outrageous remark.”
He told the Dáil of the details of his phonecalls with Mr Trump and Mr Pence.
“I mentioned multinationals to the president-elect and made the point that, over many years, America invested in Ireland because of its strong legal base, its English-speaking population, its access to the European Union and its static corporate tax rate, which was our business under the European treaties,” he said.
“I made the point to him that the real reason American investment is taking place here and has grown substantially over the years is the quality of the education system and of the young people emerging under that market. I made the point to him that it is now at a stage when Irish-owned firms employ almost 100,000 US citizens across the 50 US states,” he added.
Ruth Coppinger TD questioned Enda Kenny on his phonecall with American vice-president elect Mike Pence, and asked whether the Taoiseach had raised any issue with Pence’s support of conversion therapy.
The Taoiseach’s response amounted to saying that Ireland Inc’s ties to US business were too important to be threatening them by raising the issue of homophobia despite the passing of the marriage referendum in Ireland, she said.
Speaking in the Dáil, Ms Coppinger said: “Taoiseach, I’m sure people will sleep soundly knowing that the bowl of shamrock custom is continuing though I’m not sure if it has been moved to Trump Towers from the White House.
“I know you have to go through the motions of formally greeting world leaders but do you have to do it in the gushing way you’re doing it?” she added.