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Apple CEO Tim Cook accepting the award Iain White - Fennell Photography
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Taoiseach presents Apple CEO Tim Cook with special award in Dublin

The award was given to mark 40 years of investment by the tech company in Ireland.

APPLE CEO TIM Cook has been presented with an award by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a ceremony in Dublin.

Cook received the award at an IDA Ireland event in the National Concert Hall to mark Apple’s 40 years of investment in the country.

The company employees thousands of people at its European headquarters in Cork, which opened in 1980, its first location outside the US.

However, the company’s tax payments here have been the subject of controversy in recent years, after a landmark 2016 ruling by the European Commission found that Ireland gave Apple illegal state aid worth up to €13 billion over a decade.

An appeal of the Commission’s ruling was heard by the EU’s lower General Court by Irish and Apple last year, and an outcome in the case is expected this year.

Varadkar told the event that the government would continue to focus on attracting investment from outside target markets by funding IDA Ireland.

“We are particularly focused on attracting investment to locations outside of Dublin,” he said.

During his acceptance speech, Cook hinted that Apple would “never turn away from the values” that brought the company to Ireland, amid speculation that the tech giant could move elsewhere if the rate of corporation tax was raised.

“What limits us is the risk that distrust may overtake optimism, that cynicism may calcify what divides us, and that the ambitions we hold in common may shrink from baseless fear…” Cook said.

“As we look forward to our next decades together, Apple could not be more grateful for your partnership and your leadership.

“Let’s make sure that 40 years from now, when we are old and grey… a room like this one will gather again in gratitude that so many from different backgrounds and experiences could come together.”

Speaking to reporters afterwards, the Taoiseach said he believed that companies should “pay their fair share in taxes” but warned that any increase in Ireland’s corporate tax rate would harm the country’s citizens first.

“My concern is less for the impact that it’ll have on companies and more the impact that it’s going to have on Ireland, the Irish people, and the Irish public finances,” he said.

“Things are changing, and there are going to be new rules around corporation tax.

“We need to be part of changing those rules, and we should be… the likelihood is that it will result in a fall-off in the amount of money that we take in from corporation tax over the next couple of years.”

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