Belfast Telegraph

Call to clear-up 'tax haven' claims

The Irish government is "sleepwalking" through destructive claims that the state is a tax haven for multinational corporations, Fianna Fail has warned.

Claims levelled against the country by members of a US Senate subcommittee must be countered by Ireland's political leaders, the party's jobs spokesman Dara Calleary insisted.

Senior senators branded Ireland a tax haven in response to evidence from Apple executives that the multi-billion dollar company paid an effective corporation tax rate of 2% in Ireland.

This forced the government to deny it offered special tax breaks to multinationals and Irish Ambassador in Washington Michael Collins sent a letter to the Senate committee rejecting the tax haven claim.

But Mr Calleary said more had to be done to "set the record straight", saying he was "dismayed" by the "lack of any meaningful response from the government".

"While the diplomatic intervention from Ambassador Michael Collins was certainly welcome, such political charges made by US Senators require a political response at the highest level," he said.

"The benefit of US multinational investment in Ireland cannot be overestimated. There are approximately 100,000 people directly employed by US multinationals in Ireland with thousands more jobs indirectly supported. This government has a responsibility to protect those jobs and protect what is a key driver of economic growth in this country.

"If the government means what it says about jobs being its top priority, why has there been no intervention from the Taoiseach, Tanaiste or Jobs Minister to set the record straight on Ireland's corporation tax? And if the government means what it says about the importance of Ireland's international reputation, why has the response to this controversy been sluggish and half-hearted?"

He called on Jobs Minister Richard Bruton to go to the US "without delay" and meet with congressional leaders directly to "clear this up once and for all."

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar reiterated the government's position and insisted there were no special tax arrangements for big companies.

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