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The Taoiseach went on the US news to defend the Apple tax appeal

Sweetheart deals are “not the way we do business here,” he said.

Source: CNBC/YouTube

AS THE DÁIL debates the government’s appeal of the European Commission’s ruling on €13 billion worth of Apple tax, Taoiseach Enda Kenny took some time to defend his stance on a US TV station.

Speaking to CNBC today, he explained why he is confident the government’s appeal for Apple not to hand over the billions will succeed.

“I’m confident that we will win this case because in our view the European Commission have made finding here, dealing with state aid, which crosses the threshold into tax competency which is a matter for each individual country,” he said.

In Ireland here revenue commissioners have always been completely independent of the state since 1923 and they are quite adamant and quite clear that there was no preferential treatment, no special deals, no sweetheart deals and Apple paid the taxes that were due under profits generated here in this country.

He added that sweetheart deals are “not the way we do business here”.

Last week, the EC ruled that Ireland gave Apple illegal state aid over the course of more than 10 years – a decision described by Kenny as “profoundly wrong and damaging”.

Speaking to CNBC, he said:

What’s happened here, in my view is an interference with our sovereign right as a small nation, as a country and as a sovereign government to decide what are the most appropriate policies for our people, for careers and jobs and opportunities, within the rules and regulations and laws that we follow. And as I said, I make no apology for standing out for that.

Independent members of Cabinet demanded a Dáil debate on the issue last week in return for their support to appeal the EC’s ruling.

nbc Source: CNBC

Today, Kenny described the €13 billion as “a staggering amount”, and “mirage money”, and told CNBC that the case might take years to conclude.

Kenny said that the decision sends out the wrong signal from the commission, “particularly when Ireland has been one of the foremost players on the OECD programme to deal with this problem of a broken corporate tax system internationally by having an international response”.

The Taoiseach said that there are over a thousand multinationals in Ireland, not just because of corporate tax, but due to “the talent pool that’s coming through our education system”.

“In our view, the finding by the European Commission interferes with the good name of this country and others,” said Kenny. “That it creates uncertainty for investors from abroad, and as has been pointed out, it is not a good signal. That’s why the opinion of the European Commission has to be challenged.”

Asked about the risk of an Ire-xit in the wake of the Brexit vote, Kenny said that it wasn’t a possibility, pointing to the positive result in the fiscal stability treaty referendum.

A ‘glass pane’

When it was put to the Taoiseach that the rejection of the €13 billion is “a difficult concept for Irish voters to get”, Kenny said:

The money is not there to touch. It’s not there to spend. There is a glass pane between the money and the country.

Kenny pointed out that the Dáil was recalled for today’s debate, saying:

“And we do that for a reason of sending out a very clear signal that we have never messed around with our legislation”.

When asked if the US Treasury should step in and decide what they need to do about their tax policy – in order to pull the cash back into their country if they have an issue with it – Kenny said “Yes”.

This decision does not lend itself to clarity and certainty from the European investment perspective. But it’s not just about Ireland. Ireland cannot solve this on our own but we’re doing our part. Everybody else has got to measure up as well.

Kenny met with the European Council President Donald Tusk in Government Buildings this afternoon.

Tusk said Kenny explained the reasons why the Irish government have chosen to appeal the European Commission’s ruling. He said he would not comment on the case as it is now “up to the court”.

Read the Department of Finance’s document about the commission’s decision here.

Read: Dáil Apple debate latest: Former SocDem Donnelly says he will abstain from vote>

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