Too soon to brag about tax clampdown
By insisting, as he did yesterday, that other countries can follow Ireland’s lead in closing corporate tax loopholes, Michael Noonan risks being seen to over-egg the pudding. The Finance Minister rightly shut the door on the so-called ‘Double Irish’ tax loophole favoured by multi-national corporations last week in the Budget.
But he is fooling no one to suggest he was acting in isolation.
The Government was under huge pressure from the US, Brussels and elsewhere for allowing some of the richest companies in the world to use a gap in the Irish legal system to cut their tax bills to almost nothing.
Mr Noonan himself has acknowledged the reputational damage done to this country by being seen as too indulgent when it comes to the tax paid by big corporations.
None of this is entirely fair – places like the US, Germany and UK each have their own blind spots in terms of how they cosset some sectors and industries.
But life is not fair, especially for small countries. Ireland’s reputation has been dragged through the mud and reputation matters. As a country we can’t afford a situation where companies are immediately cast under a shadow of suspicion simply for locating operations here.
Taking action, as the minister has done by shutting two of the most blatant tax loopholes in each of the last two Budgets, helps, but it’s only a start.
It’s certainly too early to sing our own praises.
The influential ‘New York Times’ this week claimed Ireland is “still addicted to tax breaks” and has a “beggar thy neighbour” approach to attracting industry with a soft tax regime.
That was prompted by the other announcement in the Budget – the minister’s plan to create a “Knowledge Development Box”.
It raised hackles at the ‘New York Times’ because it could mean a new lower rate of tax for the same big technology and pharmaceutical companies that could previously rely on the ‘Double Irish’. Let’s get our house fully in order before we parade ourselves as leaders in the fight against corporate tax dodging.
Adams should not be shielded from truth
A great number of issues have arisen over the rape of Maria Cahill by an IRA man, the subsequent IRA ‘kangaroo court’ and cover-up; and the later involvement of Gerry Adams. Of most significance now is the question of whether Mr Adams is fit to continue as leader of a significant political party which, according to opinion polls, commands the same support as the main government party, Fine Gael.
If he was leader of any other party he would be gone by now, but the iron discipline of Sinn Fein ensures that he remains president of the party. But this is not just a matter for Sinn Fein.
Certainly, if he was an Irish bishop there would be a national outcry demanding his resignation, indeed his colleague Martin McGuinness was to the forefront of demanding such resignations after the Murphy Report.
We all know Sinn Fein is different, but there is no doubt where the right thing to do lies in this matter. Those who surround and support him now should no longer act as a shield, they should tell him he failed a vulnerable young woman and such behaviour is unacceptable.