Belfast Telegraph

Ireland should tell EU to stay out of its tax affairs: Michael O'Leary

By Staff Reporter

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has weighed into the tax dispute between Apple and the European Union, saying the Irish government should write a letter to the EU telling them to "f*** off".

Dubbing the bloc's ruling "bizarre", the outspoken Irishman added: "One of the fundamental principles of the European Union is that each country has its autonomy to make its own tax decisions.

"Frankly, the Irish government should turn around - they shouldn't even appeal the decision - they should just write a letter to Europe and tell them politely to f*** off.

"The idea that you have the State aid mob - who've had more court verdicts overturned than any other department in Europe in the last 20 years - come along 10 years after the fact and say, 'No we didn't like that, we think you should have done something else', is frankly bizarre."

On Tuesday, Europe's antitrust commissioner Margrethe Vestager slapped the maker of iPads and iPhones with a €13bn (£11.1bn) tax bill.

She claimed Apple paid just 1% tax on its European profits in 2003 and 0.005% in 2014, and claimed its arrangement with the Irish government was illegal under State aid rules.

Apple is set to challenge the decision, but Mr O'Leary said: "I think there's no chance of this surviving a court ruling in Europe. There's certain things that Europe has no competence in."

The Ryanair boss went on to claim that the airline was "one of the most compliant taxpayers in Ireland", having paid a tax rate of about 11.9% on its profits last year.

On Brexit, the chief executive, who backed the Remain campaign during the EU referendum, expects the UK to suffer "significant economic damage" as a result of its decision to quit the bloc.

In July, Ryanair said it would "pivot" growth away from UK airports and instead focus on hubs in the European Union following the Brexit result.

The firm said its growth rate in the UK is expected to slow from about 15% to 6% next year.

However, with long-term growth in mind, Mr O'Leary is now calling on the UK Government to approve three new runways in a bid to end Britain's airport capacity conundrum for "the next 50 years".

He urged the Government to be "radical in its decision making" and rubber-stamp new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports.

Belfast Telegraph