The Irish tax system is under the microscope after US Senator Carl Levin called the country a ‘tax haven’ and this despite the fact that the US government does not officially class Ireland as one.
The Senator is clearly unhappy with the fact that Apple Inc, the computer technology company, is reported to only pay as little as 2% tax on its profits by registering its business in Ireland. By doing this the profits can be funnelled through Ireland and then on to an actual tax haven country, thus avoiding a big tax bill in the US.
It is clearly not unreasonable for the US Senate to be unhappy with this situation. Huge companies such as Google and Apple have for many years now avoided paying large amounts of tax in their homeland by the use of these schemes.
The Irish government are furious and have repeatedly denied that any special deal was provided for Apple. The standard rate of corporation tax in Ireland remains at 12.5%. Most of the foreign multinational companies based in Ireland are American and employ about 150,000 people in the country. The IDA (Industrial Development Authority) of Ireland intends to write to Senator Levin about his comments.
Barry O’Leary of the IDA:
Irish officials will definitely be clarifying and making sure he (Senator Levin) is up-to-date on exactly what happens in Ireland ……the description he used (tax haven), I dont think anybody else would.
His annoyance with the US Senator was echoed by Government Minister Pat Rabbitte:
If there were monies channelled through Ireland (by US multi-nationals) then that is a function of what is allowed by the American tax system.
It has been suggested that the US authorities could easily close off this tax arrangement by changing their own tax law. Putting the ball back in the US Senator’s court is unlikely to reduce the pressure that the Irish Government is under and not just from the US. Fellow EU countries, especially France and Germany, are also unhappy with Ireland’s 12.5% tax rate for corporations and have made several attempts over the last few years to have the rate upped.
The Irish country village pub made famous by the film ‘ The Quiet Man’ starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara has been sold to an English fan of the film.
The bar is located in Cong in County Mayo, deep in the heart of Connemara and is reported to have sold for close to the asking price of 300,000 euro (US$385,000). The bar is central to the famous fight scenes between Sean Thornton (John Wayne) and Squire ‘Red’ Will Danaher (Victor McLaghlen). The fight meandered its way through the local fields, into the town and back out into the streets again with the protagonists eventually succumbing to the drink they had take in the bar before falling home to be served their tea by Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara).
Sean Thornton: (loudly)
Woman of the house! I brought the brother home to supper!
He’s kindly welcome.
Will Danaher: (meekly)
God bless all in this house.
WIPE YOUR FEET!
The film revolves around Sean Thornton who has returned to his homeland from America. His arrival causes quite a stir among the locals. He courts and eventually marries Mary-Kate Danaher but their marriage gets off to a rocky start when Thornton refuses to extract a dowry from his wife’s brother, entitled as she knew she was to it. Eventually a brawl erupts between Thornton and Danaher with a satisfactory outcome for all concerned.
The film has been criticized for parodying Irish country people and especially for its portrayal of stereo-typical Irish characters who seem to embody just about every cliche possible.
But it is precisely this characteristic that gives the film its charm and humour. Barry Fitzgerald as the local matchmaker is a constant source of amusement as he plots and schemes his way through the various village dramas.
Interest in the film has never abated. Guided tours of the Cong area are available to eager tourists who are shown the original locations where many of the movie scenes were shot. There is even a ‘Quiet Man Cottage Museum’ for those who really want to get into the experience.
At the time of John Ford’s film in 1952 the pub building was actually used as a shop but was re-opened as a pub in 2008. Now it has been sold again to another ‘outsider’ – hopefully he will have less trouble in the village than Sean Thornton did!
by Michael Green
A hoard of treasure including medieval silver coins, some military items and a Bronze-Age axe and spear-head that were looted from Ireland have been recovered and returned to the National Museum of Ireland.
The use of metal detectors in Ireland requires a licence. It is suspected that several people searched for and found the historical treasures between 2009 and 2012 and removed them illegally. Some 899 items were removed from the County Tipperary area, a location that was already in the news this year for the discovery of a 17th Century Pot of Gold Found in the Foundations of an Irish Pub. Some of the newly recovered coins date to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The bronze spear-head dates to between the years 1400 and 900 B.C. – some three millenia ago!
Doctor Kelly is the keeper of antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland:
The most striking part is probably the coin hoard. It includes 28 medieval coins that were all found together as well as 30 silver coins that are also medieval. There are coins dating from the reign of King John to Elizabeth I and from Georgian and Victorian times all of which suggests a range of finds were made.
The British Museum are believed to have reported internet messages about the illegal theft of the items to their Irish counterparts. With the assistance of the Norfolk Constabulary in the UK parts of the vast hoard were recovered and returned to Ireland.
Seamus Lynam is the Acting Director of the National Museum:
The recovery underlines the continuing threat posed to the portable archaeological heritage of Ireland by metal detectorists. Many items similar to those recovered have been offered for sale in recent times over the internet and are the subject of on-going investigations. The recovery shows the determination of the National Museum, the Gardaí and other State bodies to protect the nation’s heritage and demonstrates the ability to recover important heritage objects even when they have been illegally removed from the jurisdiction.
This episode highlights the difficulties faced by not just Irish but all National Museums in preserving their nations heritage. Without the assistance of the British Museum it is unlikely that the 899 items would ever have been returned to Ireland, where they can be studied and viewed by tens of thousands of people.
by Michael Green
The Fine Gael and Labour Coalition Government are committed to implementing legislation on foot of the X-Case. This 1992 Irish Supreme Court case confirmed that a woman was entitled to an abortion in Ireland if her health was threatened. This included the risk to her health of suicide and it is this provision that is causing so much trouble for the Government.
Fine Gael are perhaps the most conservative of the larger political parties in Ireland with many of their T.D.’s (members of the Irish Parliament) being from rural districts. Some of their Dublin T.D’s are now also very concerned about the new legislation and it is clear that they will vote against the proposals.
The proposed legislation does not actually change the law of the country relating to abortion. Rather, it clarifies and formalizes the procedures that should be implemented when the medical profession encounter such difficult scenarios.
The impetus for the legislation was brought about by the tragic death of Savita Halapanavar who was denied an abortion and died from complications relating to a miscarriage she had while in the care of the Irish health-care system. It is clear that her life could have been saved had the medical profession had clearer instructions on how to act. Currently Doctors are having to interpret the legal position on an individual case-by-case basis and at their own risk.
It is proposed that the abortion legislation will provide a procedure whereby a suicidal woman can be legally given an abortion. This circumstance may occur for example where a woman or teenager is raped and becomes pregnant. The rebel Fine Gael T.D’s are concerned that this provision may be abused and lead to a situation of ‘abortion on demand’.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has so far ruled out a ‘free vote’ on the issue, whereby Party members would not be obliged to vote for the legislation with the possibility of being expelled from the Party if they did not. Fianna Fail may allow their own members to have a free vote which would certainly cause problems for Fine Gael if they did not follow suit. The Labour Party, Sinn Fein and most Independents will vote in favour of the measures so it seems that the new legislation is very likely to be passed and become law.
The difficulty for Fine Gael is just how much damage it will inflict on itself over this, perhaps the most divisive of all social issues.
by Michael Green