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Your letters, your views...
The Apple tax affair contains one uncomfortable truth above all the attendant discomforts brought on by the EU’s ‘Apple’ ruling, that being, democracy and small people really don’t matter. When the Irish economy collapsed, my public sector salary was attacked from several fronts. However, on one particular front — the reduction of my contracted salary —the government of the day were required to pass emergency legislation to bring about pay cuts, this on top of the disgraceful ‘pension levy, USC and other, general tax rises. It’s all the more disturbing then, that we are only slowly learning of the nature of corporate taxation policy in Ireland, especially with regard to foreign- owned corporations. It certainly seems that exploratory conversations between Revenue and certain corporations were the norm, during which ‘letters of comfort’ were formulated, letters that acted as bespoke tax codes for those same corporations. The end result of our polemic tax policy, which over-taxes the poor, whilst under-taxing the wealthy, means that Apple struggles to know how to deal with its €200,000,000,000 cash stockpile, whilst me and my fellow public servants, engaged in a struggle against poverty, are told that our sovereignty as a nation is under attack from a foreign usurper in the form of the EU. Respectfully, my sovereignty was attacked from within.
Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, was spot on when he likened demanding the EU money from Apple to eating the seed potatoes. You see, the seed potatoes yield next year’s crop and more seed potatoes for the years afterwards. It is critical to understand that this is an EU competition ruling and not a tax ruling.
There is no criticism of Ireland’s deal with Apple but rather that the same deal was not offered to all the others. But our trusted officials made individual deals with every one of the companies who decided to set up in Ireland and rightly so.
The other thing to bear in mind is that this is not about Europe at all but the relationship between the IRS in America and their home grown Corporations not repatriating their overseas profits back there to suffer a corporate tax rate of 35%. So Apple, like many others, have simply routed profits to an offshore limbo until negotiations with the US Government can change the US tax rates. Their CEO, Tim Cook, has said as much and has stated that he has every intention when the time comes of paying that €13 billion and more to his own Government where it is ultimately due.
Neither the EU, nor Ireland, have any claim on it and Michael Noonan knows that. For him to now demand the money might seriously affect Apple’s continued presence here and it would certainly rattle the confidence of so many other IT and Pharma companies who followed Apple into Ireland since 1980.
We made a deal with Apple and all of the others too and they pay us what we agreed they pay. Asking one of them retrospectively now for 10 year’s worth of tax money that neither they, nor we, ever agreed upon would be breach of contract at best or perhaps extortion at worst.
The EU Commission would need to get real.
Ex-(thankfully) minister, and current European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, really showed the people of Europe why all governments are getting worse and worse and why the people whose taxes pay their salaries are beginning to suffer in almost every way imaginable – not least because of the still worsening environment he once pretended to be looking after. His proudly televised reason for not making an important decision was that he might have had to resign. Isn’t that what people with integrity are supposed to do to try to stop the downwards slide?
The mind-numbing family murder-suicide tragedy in County Cavan has received huge media coverage understandably, given the scale and horrific nature of what happened. But away from the headlines and starkly disturbing TV images is the reality that many people out there are suffering in silence, ignoring or not dealing with their mental wellbeing.
Though it is possible that nobody could have prevented the loss of those five precious lives last week we can maybe help a fellow human being who is facing a private hell of depression or other hidden mind-related illness, or it could be ourselves needing support and encouragement in a particularly bad patch.
We can appear tough and impervious to life’s slings and arrows, to the challenges that can mount and multiply, but we are all vulnerable to what Shakespeare, one of the greatest ever observers of human nature, called the “thousand natural ills that flesh is heir to.” Not only is there no shame in seeking a helping hand, advice, professional help, or the ear of a trusted friend or neighbour... it is a life-enhancing and life-affirming act, a step towards resolution of whatever is getting us down.
I’ve read a lot about Near Death Experiences (NDEs). Leaving aside the debate as to whether they involve contact with a world or dimension beyond this one, what really caught my attention is that almost all the people revived or resuscitated following attempted suicide were hugely relieved to be “back”. That reinforces my opinion that life is worth living, and that it’s well worthwhile looking out for others we believe may be contemplating a bleak, unspeakably tragic act that solves nothing and only leaves behind an unfathomable loss.
Lower Coyne Street
I was thinking about Alan Hawe, the man who murdered his wife Clodagh and their three children in Cavan. Although he killed them in a premeditated manner, he will never be referred to as a murderer.
Our system will never refer to him as such.
A neighbour said “he was the most normal person you could meet”.
For me it’s simple.
“Regardless of the stress you were under, you, Alan Hawe, are a murderer and I will always remember you that way.”
The Irish Examiner editorial, ‘Long overdue - LÉ Cliona crew finally honoured’ (Opinion September 2) is spot on. I am sure you will agree it was a team effort that enabled a satisfactory outcome to the LÉ Cliona project, and all are entitled to an equal share of the credit. More specifically the constructive analysis of the boiler room fire incident on board by your correspondent Seán O’Riordan during the campaign was of critical assistance. Indeed, over the years the Irish Examiner has facilitated ourselves to raise and debate various contentious issues surrounding the Shot at Dawn during WW1 and the experience of Defence Forces personnel blacklisted by the Irish Government following WW2, which ultimately assisted our efforts in the achievement of a beneficial outcome for those concerned. On this occasion... just to say thanks.
Chairperson Irish Seamen’s Relatives Association (1939-46)
Conquer Hill Road
Maybe your editorial staff is too young to remember it but your Breaking News website article about the letters that Victoria Beckham wrote to her teenage self omits the Irish angle. It goes something like this:
“You will be married in Co Dublin by the Bishop of Cork, Paul Colton, whose claim to fame will be that he was ‘the bloke that married Victoria Beckham’.”
August 27’s Irish Examiner devoted 13 pages to the all-Ireland hurling final. Ireland’s win on the previous day over Hong Kong in the International Cricket Cup, which advanced this country’s progress towards test status, did not even merit inclusion of the result in the same edition.
Model Farm Road,
Isn’t it time we told the EU to take a hike? First they ordered us to pay for water. Now they want to dictate internal economics by taking control of our tax system. Next they will be ordering us to keep working ’til we drop down. Well if God wanted me to pay for rainwater he would send me an invoice. And internal tax is none of their business. Time for a referendum on an Ire - exit? Let’s get our country back.
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