It was an outrageous decision, no question about it. Following on from the EU having the temerity to issue an explosive ruling at the back end of August, the decision to recall the Dáil really took the biscuit, writes Michael Clifford
Of all the companies making all the rulings in all the countries in all the world, they have to go and throw this out on the one occasion the TDs had an extended holiday?
Outrageous doesn’t even begin to describe it.
So it was that the boys and girls of the 32nd Dáil began to troop into Leinster House yesterday to address the issue.
A warm September sun beat down through the muggy haze, reminding one and all they really should still be off with buckets and spades this week.
The tribunes of the Left were up and at it bright and early. Richard Boyd Barrett, Mick Barry, et al took to the plinth ahead of the debate to tee-up their contributions, explaining to the media how they would illustrate the folly and downright betrayal in appealing the EU ruling.
“Their latest reasoning is that the money is owed to other countries rather than Ireland,” said Barry.
“Yet, with this appeal, they are not saying that other countries should get the money, they are saying that Apple should keep the money. They are siding with Apple not just against workers in Ireland but across the world.”
Like much of the contributions from all sides since the ruling, there are strands of truth amid the hyperbole.
Inside, Finance Minister Michael Noonan rose first to outline why he had decided on an appeal ahead of telling his fellow ministers, not to mind putting the proposal to the Dáil in a time of new politics.
Noonan has been through the depths of all manner of crises over the last five years, maintaining a relaxed countenance.
These days though, he is beginning to look more tired than laid back, like a man waiting for his leader to make a decision that will allow both to leave the stage with grace.
“The full tax was paid in accordance with the law,” he said, neglecting the detail that full tax in this case was something quite empty.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was on his feet next to plough the same ground, but then went all misty-eyed, declaring that “Ireland is blessed with the beauty of the land” and its “wonderful people”.
It was as if he had listened to Tim Cook’s folksy manner when interviewed last week on RTÉ and reckoned that was the way to go.
Kenny did bring it all back home a few minutes later, declaring “we compete hard and we do so fairly and within the rules” which sounded like a war cry for the Mayo team ahead of the All-Ireland final on Sunday week.
He announced a review of the country’s corporate tax regime, but noted it would not be allowed to touch the actual rate.
“We are unshakably committed to our 12-and-a-half rate,” he said.
The most cogent defence of the Government’s position came from the alleged leader of the opposition, Micheál Martin.
He had all his ducks in a row, pointing to facts and figures that showed Ireland’s 12.5% corporate tax was very close to the advertised rate, unlike in countries such as France where the effective rate was a fraction of the nominal rate.
He also found space to have a cut at Sinn Féin, which seems to form a part of most major Fianna Fáil speeches these days.
Despite that, Martin has all the appearances of a man rehearsing for the role of taoiseach which he presumably sees hovering into view on the far side of the next election.
On the other side of the argument, Pearse Doherty displayed his customary grasp of the issue, even if he did stray offside when accusing ministers of “lying”.
Gerry Adams was full of his usual bluster, decrying the bigger parties’ “hypocrisy, corruption, and duplicity”, speaking with the moral authority of one who arrived in politics straight from the boy scouts.
Contributions from Boyd Barrett and Paul Murphy further heightened the obvious division on this issue.
In the end, the day’s debate was no more than a public airing of entrenched positions.
No minds were changed, no positions moderated.
Everybody knows where they stand on this, and the modus operadi in the current Dáil was simply applied.
As long as it’s OK with Fianna Fáil, the Government will be allowed to govern.
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