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Ireland is “stealing” the UK’s tax funds, according to NI finance minister

Safe to say we know what Sammy Wilson wants to see on the G8 agenda, then.

Sammy Wilson:
Sammy Wilson: "They should be saying to the government in the Republic, 'You cannot steal tax revenue from us in this way'."
Image: Paul Faith/PA Archive

NORTHERN IRELAND’S finance minister has said the Republic of Ireland is “stealing” tax revenues from the British government – and wants London to demand changes in Ireland’s tax system in exchange for its bailout loans.

Sammy Wilson has said the decision of the UK government to lend billions to Ireland, in a bilateral loan alongside the EU-IMF rescue package, offered Britain enough of an opportunity to demand changes in the Irish corporate tax system.

“My view is that the British government does have some leverage on the Irish government, because they have a £7.5 billion loan,” Wilson, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party, told the BBC’s Sunday Politics.

“They should be saying to the government in the Republic, ‘You cannot steal tax revenue from us in this way’ – and that is, in fact, what has been happening,” he added.

Wilson overstated the extent of the bilateral loan from London to Dublin – a law enacted in Westminster to give effect to the loans limited any lending at £3.2 billion (€3.76 billion), of which £2.42 billion (€2.85 billion) has so far been lent. Those loans are due for repayment in 2019 and 2020.

The Republic’s junior finance minister Brian Hayes, speaking on the same programme, said it was up to other countries to change their own tax laws if they wished to stop companies headquartered there from being able to avoid tax.

He said the notion of Ireland being a tax haven was “put out there by countries, I suspect, who are looking to the success we are making of this country in terms of inward investment.”

He added: “It is not Irish law that is at stake here: it is other jurisdictions, with their tax law.”

Tax avoidance by multinational companies is one of the three main items on the agenda for the G8 summit taking place in Northern Ireland, at the Lough Erne resort outside Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh.

Read: US committee wants to impose US tax on Google and Apple’s Irish income

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Gavan Reilly

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