WHY YOU SHOULD MARCH ON 9TH FEBRUARY 2013
The banking collapse has left the average EU citizen with a bill of €192. Bad enough you might think until you consider that the average Irish citizen will have to cough up €9,000 to rescue the banks. That’s right; it’s not a misprint; there’s not an extra zero in there.
That’s why there are protest marches on 9th February.
That’s why you should be there.
Because despite pious platitudes that Ireland is a special case the EU has decided that the European banking crisis must be dealt with by each individual country regardless of size or ability to pay. So much for the idea of a community!
Ireland makes up just 0.9% of the EU population, and the Irish economy makes up 1.2% of the EU’s GDP. But even though we are a tiny part of the EU we have to cough up 42% of the European banking crisis.
All in all the banking bailout is set to cost us €64bn.
Trying to pay this €64bn bank debt is behind five years of austerity.
Trying to pay this bill is costing jobs and driving thousands to emigrate.
Trying to pay this bill is behind increased taxation and more threatened wage cuts.
After five years of austerity we all know that without a bank deal there is no hope of recovery and that continuing with this failed policy will cripple Ireland for generations to come.
We must send a clear message across Europe that we need a deal on debt.
The ICTU Rallies on February 9th 2013 are your chance to send that message and to protest against the cause of our economic crisis – bank debt. A large turnout will show the EU leadership the depth of feeling in Ireland about the issue.
Marches on the afternoon of 9th February are planned in:
As the crow flies, it’s 320 kilometers (199 miles) between Brussels and London. But at 8 a.m. sharp on Wednesday, when British Prime Minister David Cameron stepped up to the microphone in the basement auditorium of US media company Bloomsberg’s European headquarters on Finsbury Square, the Channel suddenly got a lot wider.
n Brussels, the lack of desire to even react to Cameron’s challenge made itself felt – and if it hadn’t been for loud calls of protest, the spokeswoman for EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso would just as soon have broken up the midday press conference after delivering three succinct statements.
But the fact is that — even if both sides affirm that they don’t want to pull up the drawbridge — Wednesday’s speech put two questions out there front and center: Can there be a European Union without the British? And can the British manage without the EU?
The clear answer to both questions is: Yes. Of course they can manage without each other. Whether they would manage better is another issue. None of the 27 and soon to be 28 (Croatia) EU countries – not even the French – want Britain to leave. Brussels is a bazaar, and at the negotiating table the British are heavyweights that others happily align with.
A case in point is the EU 2014-2020 budget, which an alliance of countries led by London and Berlin recently rejected much to the anger of many Brussels functionaries and parliamentarians. The British and Germans were also long-time partners on environmental issues.
Northern European countries align with Britain when it comes to Commission involvement in the labor market, for example in opposing quotas for women on boards. Britain is also a powerful advocate for all those who favor EU enlargement.
And of course the vision of a European Defence Community without Britain is a paper tiger. “London has to be part of any joint European foreign and security policies if they are to be taken seriously,” Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a European Parliament member from Germany’s Free Democratic Party, told Die Welt.
Fate of The City
However, even before the outbreak of the crisis such visions had moved to the bottom of the agenda. And what with the challenge of ensuring that their joint currency has a solid future, the euro-zone countries have other more important things on their plate right now than going over dozens of agreements with Cameron’s people.
“Renegotiating contracts that London signed is an illusion,” German Christian Democratic Union politician Gunther Krichbaum, who chairs the German Parliament’s Committee on European Union affairs, told Die Welt. “All the other states would have something they wanted to renegotiate too and at the end of the day you would have the same compromises.”
If London really does decided to push for an ultimate confrontation, draw the consequences and pull out of the Union, what it loses – access to the largest market in the world, with 500 million consumers — would be far greater than what it gains. And in a free-trade zone, the British would have to accept rules they had no hand in creating.
A “Brexit” might not shatter the Union – but Britain itself just might end up shattered: in 2014, the Scots, will be voting for their independence, and some may be more inclined to separate from the UK, if it is leaving Europe. If that were the case, Cameron would have burned both hands with his referendums.
Just how serious leaving the EU would be for the British economy is something economists and business folk disagree on. However the fact is that half of the country’s exports go to EU member states and some 3 million jobs depend on it. The common market is hugely important for Britain, indeed Cameron stressed that in his speech.
However, there is the possibility for the UK to hammer out a free trade agreement with the EU as the Swiss have done. Last fall, a study conducted by the Institute of Economic Affairs, the London-based free market think tank, concluded that that option would mean that leaving the EU would only cost Britain one percent of its GDP.
Still, British companies and business associations are worried about the country’s current tendency to cut itself off. And rightly so: many multinationals use Britain as a base from which to drive continental business. With the British out of the Union, these firms might soon be moving their headquarters to Dublin, Frankfurt or Paris.
London as a financial hub would without a doubt take the biggest hit. Said Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of TheCityUK, an influential lobbyist from the London financial industry, after Cameron’s speech: “Our recent Competitiveness Report found that 40% of financial services firms choose the UK as a place to set up and grow their business because of our access to the EU.” In this sector particularly firms are very mobile and would not hesitate to move.
Tom Brown, head of the loans department at the Norddeutsche Landesbank in London, is even more direct. “Without the EU, London as a financial hub would be reduced to a fraction of the size it is now,” he said, adding that the reason London grew to become Europe’s largest banking center was because Britain joined the EU. “Without the possibility to move offices and workers freely around the EU, the City would be washed up.”
Read the article in the original language.
Photo by – Bertrand Hauger
In a press conference opposite the White House, NRA spokesperson Wayne LaPierre told gathered reporters that his organisation cared deeply about the children of his country, and would not rest until every single one of them had easy access to a terrible diet.
Speaking in sombre tones, he said, “We are at crisis point, and the only way to stop our children being negatively affected by junk food, is to make sure they are surrounded by even more junk food.”
“If you really think about it, no-one would be able to call a child ‘fat’ if everyone had a BMI well into the 50s.”
“Childhood obesity is only an issue because so few children have good access to junk food.”
LaPierre went on, “The liberal left will tell you that removing crappy foods from the equation would solve this crisis, but to that I would say ‘nay’.”
“It is a constitutional and God-given right of every american to have access to burgers the size of your head. We just need to even up the playing field – by filling it completely with fat kids.”
“So I call on congress today to ensure that every school in our great nation has easy access to cheap, poorly prepared fatty food with a low nutrient value.”
“Then one day soon we can forget about which of our children is ‘fat’, as they’ll all be exactly the same. Like true, free Americans.”
A piece posted to the Tea Party Nation website yesterday, and sent to the group’s members in an email from TPN head Judson Phillips, blamed the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut on teachers, unions, bureaucracy, and the presence of sex in popular culture. In a lengthy screed that’s essentially a round-up of every major cultural and policy grievance the American right holds with the rest of the country, author Timothy Birdnow cited concerns about the mental health of shooter Adam Lanza, the lack of spanking in schools, and the new movie “Django Unchained” — among other things — as evidence that American popular culture “has made murder, rape, mayhem, hatred, and violence ‘cool.’”
He then went on to recommend a number of interesting solutions, including a lamentation that George Zimmerman was not guarding Sandy Hook Elementary School:
Homeschool. Take away the power of the radicals in the classrooms. Makes your kids safer, too.
Back Right to Work legislation for the public sector. Teacher’s unions have helped cement much of this in place. As long as we have group think in the classrooms we will never see the end of this. […]
Work to devolve power back to the parents, the local officials, and the communities. A society that is top-down will inevitably lead to alienation of the sort we have seen here. This young man was twenty years old, and his actions were neither spurious nor random. As an FBI profiler said on television last night, he undoubtedly felt powerless and sought to remedy that. Why does a twenty year old feel powerless? He could leave his mother’s home at any time at his age. He feels powerless because he has lived in an over-bureaucratized society, one run ultimately from a far-away central location. […]
Restrict the sex in movies, television, on the internet. There is a reason why young people commit these sorts of crimes, and sex plays no small part. Their passions are eternally inflamed, and they wander the Earth with no outlet for their overstimulated glands. […]
Support the creation of local organizations to act as “neighborhood watch” for schools. Had George Zimmerman been at the front door instead of some mechanical card reader those children would still be alive. Perhaps it’s time we start asking for volunteers to protect our children. It will require security checks, but isn’t that worth it? This dovetails with the union problem; the unions will fight this measure tooth-and-nail.
This isn’t the first time Tea Party Nation has indulged in extremist outbursts. Members of the group chanted “pay for it yourself,” suggesting the uninsured should finance their own health care out of pocket, at protests during the Supreme Court hearings on Obamacare. In 2011, TPN emailed a message urging businesses to “not hire a single person” in protest against Obama’s presidency. And Phillips also responded to the controversy over Mitt Romney’s tax returns by suggesting Republicans inquire whether President Obama is a drug addict.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) weighed in on the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, saying the crime was no surprise because we have “systematically removed God” from public schools.
“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee said on Fox News. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”
This line of reasoning isn’t new for Huckabee.
Speaking about a mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. over the summer, the former GOP presidential candidate claimed that such violent episodes were a function of a nation suffering from the removal of religion from the public sphere.
“We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem,” Huckabee said on Fox News. “And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised … when all hell breaks loose.”
Adam Lanza, 20, is the suspect in a school shooting that left 27 dead Friday, including 20 children. Lanza is reportedly the son of a teacher at the school where the shootings occurred.
This article looks at the failure of successive governments to make full use of the natural resources of Ireland leading to the current strategy of heaping more and more new taxation upon the Irish people to make up for their loss of income
Since the formation of the Irish State in 1922, financial sources for the maintenance and development of the state as an independent entity have been in decline. This has arisen through Ireland’s joining the EEC in 1973 and subsequent Treaties of the EU, to successive governments’ neo-liberal economic policies that gradually reduced the role and income of the state. Contributing to these problems was the loss of fiscal autonomy when Ireland joined the eurozone in 2002.
Sources of income such as customs duties and charges, fisheries, agriculture, oil and gas, and minerals were all affected in different ways, leaving the increasing taxation of the people as the main plank of the government’s policy to extricate itself from the economic crisis. Since the banking crisis of 2008, government borrowing  has increased the national debt  from € 50.4 billion to € 119.1 billion in 2011, more than doubling it in a few short years.
The establishment of a customs union (a free trade area with a common external tariff) was one of the main aims of the EEC. On joining the EEC in 1973, the Irish government lost import duties as a source of income from its main trading partners. Three years later, in 1976, the EEC extended its fishing waters from 12 miles to 200 miles under the Common Fisheries Policy  when it was agreed that fishermen from any state should have access to all waters. Thus, while Ireland owns 23% of the fishing waters  in Europe, it is only allowed 3% of the European fish trade quota. 
Since joining the EEC there has been ongoing change in Irish farming  but “with fewer and larger farms, less employment, more specialisation and concentration of production and growth in part-time farming” yet “agricultural output remains at about the level of 20 years ago”. As a source of employment farming has been in decline for a long time, about 24 per cent in the period from 1980 to 1991 and a further 17 per cent between 1991 and 2000. Recent demonstrations by farming families in Dublin have shown the negative effect of government cutbacks, increased costs and taxes. According to a recent Irish Times  article, “the protest was called to highlight concerns about planned reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy and the upcoming budget. It also highlighted the margins being taken by supermarket chains at the expense of farmers. Placard messages included ‘No Cap cuts; no farm cuts; no extra costs; regulate the retailers.’”
More short-sighted policies can be seen in reports  that the State is “also considering selling off some assets of the forestry body Coillte (The Irish Forestry Board)” to private investors. Coillte  was established under the Forestry Act 1988, and the company is a private limited company registered under and subject to the Companies Acts 1963-86. All of the shares in the company are held by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Minister for Finance on behalf of the Irish State. Profits have increased from a loss of €438K (1989) to profits of €4.2 million (2009). Moreover, the company  employs approx 1,100 people and owns over 445,000 hectares of land, about 7% of the land cover of Ireland.
More state assets
In the same article,  plans to sell off other state assets such as parts of Bord Gáis (Gas Board) and ESB (Electricity Supply Board) and “its 25 per cent shareholding in Aer Lingus” were also being considered.
According to Sinn Féin’s deputy leader and spokesperson for public expenditure and reform, Mary Lou McDonald,  “Both the ESB and Bord Gáis are wealth generating self-financing companies that have invested heavily in first world energy infrastructure across the island and created thousands of good jobs benefiting hundreds of thousands of families over the decades”. She added, ““Fine Gael and Labour’s decision to treat the profitable elements of these companies as a cash cow for bank debt reduction makes no economic sense and reflects the kind of short term policy and political decision making that got us into this economic mess in the first place.”
The extent to which the Irish Government has bent over backwards to attract foreign investment in mining – and in the process delimit its share of potential income – can be seen in an extract from a Government Report  titled ‘Land of Mineral Opportunities’,  published in May 2006. “Tax incentives relevant to exploration and mining in Ireland include:
*No State Shareholding in the Project and No Royalties are Payable to the State.
*Immediate write-off of development and exploration expenditure
*Corporation Tax of 25 percent (reducing to 12.5% for downstream manufacturing)
*Capital Allowance of up to 120 percent
*Expenditure on rehabilitation of mine sites after closure is tax-deductible
*There are no restrictions on foreign investment in Ireland,
*There are no restrictions with capital repatriation from the State.”
Oil and Natural Gas
Over the past 15 years gas and oil  have been discovered under Irish waters in the Atlantic  Ocean. However, the government’s “Minister Ray Burke (later jailed for corruption) changed the law in 1987, reducing the State’s share in our offshore oil and gas from 50% to zero and abolishing royalties. In 1992, Minister Bertie Ahern reduced the tax rate for the profits made from the sale of these resources from 50% to 25%.” In May of this year , an article  by economist Colm Rapple stated that a committee that included 12 TDs [MPs] and senators from Government parties and nine from the opposition thought that “the terms at which we give away rights to potential offshore oil and gas reserves are far too generous. […] They want far tougher terms applied to all new licences.”
So how will the government square this dismal history of giveaways with the upcoming centenary of the 1916 Rising in 2016, an attempted revolution which was initiated with a proclamation  read out in the centre of Dublin declaring “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.”
This declaration was followed up in 1922 with The Constitution  of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) Act, 1922 which stated in Article 11 that “All the lands and waters, mines and minerals, within the territory of the Irish Free State hitherto vested in the State, or any department thereof, or held for the public use or benefit, and also all the natural resources of the same territory (including the air and all forms of potential energy), and also all royalties and franchises within that territory shall, from and after the date of the coming into operation of this constitution, belong to the Irish Free State”.
There seems to be no limit to the government’s sticky fingers. The National Pensions Reserve Fund  has seen its total value reduce from €24.4 billion in 2010  to € 15.1 billion in 2012 with €20.7 billion of the fund  spent on preference shares and ordinary shares in Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland since 2009. As the government props up the banks and pays off unsecured bondholders, it is likely that the forthcoming significant national commemorations will refocus the Irish people on past conceptions of national democracy. Chicken, anybody?
Pat Robertson speaks about atheists and Christmas on CBN’s “The 700 Club.”
Pat Robertson has been accused by evangelical Christian and creationism proponent Ken Ham of “destructive teaching,” after the televangelist stated that the existence of dinosaurs is evidence that Young Earth Creationists are wrong about the planet being 6,000 years old.
The controversy arose earlier this week when Robertson, co-hosting his “The 700 Club” program on CBN, dismissed the theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old, which Ken Ham, CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, took offense to.
“Not only do we have to work hard to not let our kids be led astray by the anti-God teaching of the secularists, we have to work hard to not let them be led astray by compromising church leaders like Pat Robertson,” Ham said Wednesday in a post on Facebook.
“Pat Robertson gives more fodder to the secularists. We don’t need enemies from without the church when we have such destructive teaching within the church,” Ham added in the statement shared with those following his non-profit Christian apologetics ministry on Facebook.
Ham took offense to comments Robertson made earlier this week on his show, when responding to a viewer’s question about what to tell children about dinosaurs and the Bible.
“I know people will probably lynch me for this, but Bishop (James) Ussher, God bless him, wasn’t inspired by the Lord when he said it all took 6,000 years. It just didn’t,” Robertson said, referring to the 17th century Irish clergyman who first argued that the earth was created in 4004 B.C.
“You go back in time, you have carbon dating, all these things, and you have the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time.” Robertson continued. “They are out there. And so there was a time when these giant raptors were on the earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So don’t try to cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years, that’s not the Bible.”
Ham added in another social media post on Friday that secularists have “loved” Robertson for his comments, which according to the creationist, “undermine God’s Word.”
“I still shake my head at the number of church leaders who want to appease the secularists and accept their anti-God religion of millions of years and even molecules to man evolution,” Ham wrote. “Such leaders (including Pat Robertson) have a lot to answer to the Lord for one day. Such leaders are guilty of putting stumbling blocks in the way of kids and adults in regards to believing God’s Word and the gospel.”
A debate on creationism and evolution was stirred up earlier this year after scientist Bill Nye released a video titled “Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children”, where he argued that it is dangerous to believe the earth is only 6,000 or 10,000 years old.
Answers in Genesis responded by defending the conservative position on creation, however, which states that dinosaurs were created on the same day as Adam and Eve.
“Dinosaurs are used more than almost anything else to indoctrinate children and adults in the idea of millions of years of earth history,” Ham writes in article titled “What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs?“. “However, the Bible gives us a framework for explaining dinosaurs in terms of thousands of years of history, including the mystery of when they lived and what happened to them. Two key texts are Genesis 1:24–25 and Job 40:15–24.”
CBN spokesman Roslan pointed CP to the work of Dr. William Lane Craig, a leading theologian, philosopher and founder of ReasonableFaith.org, where he defends Biblical Christianity and argues against the Young Earth Creation theory.
Christians believe in various theories regarding creation, which are outlined in a chart composed by OriginScience.com. Only the Young Earth Creation theory, however, maintains that Earth is 6,000 years old – while others agree with most scientific estimates that put the planet’s age closer to 4.5 billion years.
Key Budget Measures – Education
1. The staffing schedule for primary schools remains unchanged at 28:1 in the education measures announced under Budget 2013. However, the measures announced in staffing schedule changes for small schools (1, 2, 3, 4 class teachers) in Budget 2012 last year remain in place.
2. An additional nett 450 primary teachers will be recruited to cater for increased demographics in the 2013/2014 school year.
3. The additional days-in-lieu (max. 30) currently applicable to teachers and SNAs who avail of maternity leave will be revised with effect from May 1st 2013.
4. Teachers and SNAs will be referred to the occupational health service after four weeks of sick leave, rather than the current twelve weeks and eight weeks respectively (this is already part of the revised sick leave scheme).
5. Provision for special education remains in place, including the number of resource teachers and SNAs.
6. There are no changes to overall teacher numbers or funding for DEIS schools.
7. The standard capitation grant rate for primary schools in 2013 will be reduced by 0.5%.
8. The student contribution at third level will be increased by €250.
9. There is a further change to the staffing schedule for private schools at second level. It will rise by two points.
Budget 2013 Main Points
Draw your own conclusions but the cumulative effect will be savage for the average family.
Child benefit cut by €10 per month
Unvouched expenses for TDs abolished
Third-level fees to rise by €250 per year
DIRT increases by 3% to 33%
Expenditure adjustments to toal €2.25bn
Motor tax to rise from January 1st
Excise duty on tobacco to rise
€1 duty increase on 75cl bottle of wine
10 cent rise on spirits, beer and cider
No increase on petrol/diesel
Carbon tax extended to solid fuels
Corporation tax remains unchanged at 12.5%
Homes bought in 2013 exempt from property tax
Property tax based on market value introduced
Property tax will be collected by the Revenue
Capital Acquisitions Tax threshold falls by 10 per cent.
Increase in USC for over 70s with incomes of €60,000+
Film tax relief extended to 2020
Tourism industry’s 9% VAT rate to remain in 2013
Stock relief for farmers extended
CRO to publish guidance for SMEs on credit
CRO to extend team of reviewers
Diesel rebate for hauliers from July 1st
R&D tax credits amended to encourage innovation
Tax reform plan to support SMEs
Noonan confident Ireland will return to markets
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan begins speech
Older people are suffering the ill effects of the cutbacks and they stand in solidarity with their children & grandchildren who are also suffering.
This is why the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament will proudly march alongside trade unions and other community groups before Budget 2013 on Saturday next to say “No to Austerity”. We are asking all our members around the country to walk alongside us with dignity & respect to show the Coalition government that we have had enough of the recession, enough of the cuts to income and enough of the threats to the travel pass. The last Budget saw a vicious cut to the means tested fuel allowance thus increasing fuel poverty.
So walk alongside us … but wrap up warm with good shoes and scarves and gloves. This time however we want you to wear different shades of grey to symbolise the many hits we’ve taken. But we are not without hope – wear a sprig of green as well to show that we still have hope. And what about some “Greys in Shades” – wear some sunglasses as well.
Lastly what about some placards? We’ll have some but we encourage you to make your own & bring them with you. Your own words are always best but here are some possible slogans you could have on your placards:
We’ve paid for our Pensions
For a proper health service
Keep Older People Warm & Mobile
Fair Pensions for all
For dignity & respect
For a better, fairer old age
A Fairer Ireland for Older People
HITS – Health, Income, Travel, Security
Hit the bankers – Not the pensioners
Bash Bankers – Not Pensioners
We all stand together
Hands off our Pensions
We’ve paid for our pass
No more austerity
Enough is Enough
No more cuts
We’re all in it together
Why not just shoot us?
Never too old to suffer
No Country for Old Men … or Old Women
March is to be held on the 27th Nov
The Economist Intelligence Unit looked at GDP, life expectancy, political freedom, job security, climate and gender equality to compile a list of 80 countries ranked by their general quality of life. It also considered economic forecasts for 2030, the year that a baby born now would reach adulthood.
The full list is as follows
* Irish Fin Min toasts bumper year for U.S. investment
* Dublin faces growing European hostility to low tax
* Crisis brings down costs, but talent is limited
By Lorraine Turner
DUBLIN, Nov 22 (Reuters) – U.S. business chiefs gathered in the Irish capital on Thursday to give thanks for low taxes, a cool climate and the financial crisis – three factors that have helped produce a bumper year in their favourite corner of Europe.
But there was a hint of foreboding at the American Chamber of Commerce’s annual Thanksgiving lunch in Dublin that Ireland’s promise to maintain its low corporate tax rate, its crisis wage cuts and its perfect weather for high-tech data farms may not be enough to keep the relationship sweet.
A limited pool of skilled workers, the loss of lucrative pharmaceutical patents and the threat of a fresh European attack on its low company taxes mean Ireland will need to fight to keep the investment flowing.
For its part, the government is thankful that multinationals, many of them based in the United States, are still backing Ireland as it struggles to recover from economic crisis and an international bailout in 2010.
“I’d like to give thanks for the U.S. investment and the enormous job creation,” Finance Minister Michael Noonan told the executives gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving feast of turkey and pumpkin pie, saying he expected another record year for investment this year.
“It’s important that what is being offered in Ireland is as attractive as it ever was,” he said, promising to maintain a package of incentives for companies and executives to face down growing competition from Britain, Israel and Singapore.
U.S. firms invested $30 billion into Ireland last year, more than in China and the rest of emerging Asia combined, according to the American Chamber of Commerce.
Ireland has long cultivated its ties with the huge Irish-American community, and the country is sometimes tongue-in-cheek called the 51st state of the union.
But sentimentality does not attract U.S. business projects. Thanks to the 12.5 percent company tax rate and transfer pricing – in which multinationals route profits from high tax to low tax countries – foreign firms can repatriate most of the money they pour into Ireland, bolstering their profits.
Ireland, lying on the western edge of Europe and relatively isolated from many of its major markets, jealously guards the competitive advantage brought by the low tax regime.
But European hostility over this has re-emerged, with German opposition leader Peer Steinbrueck, who hopes to oust Chancellor Angela Merkel in elections next year, criticising it last month.
A storm over how multinationals cap their tax bills, brewing since a Reuters investigation into the issue, is likely to put Ireland in the spotlight, an editorial in The Irish Times noted on Thursday. “For the government, such developments are a major concern,” the newspaper said.
At Thursday’s lunch, Noonan reiterated that the corporate tax rate was “not negotiable”.
Multinationals have benefited from Ireland’s economic crash as business costs have fallen back to 2003 levels, according to the IDA, the agency tasked with attracting foreign investment.
U.S. multinationals currently employ over 100,000 of Ireland’s 1.8 million strong workforce and a host of companies, including PayPal and Apple, are expanding.
Dublin commercial property prices, once on a par with Manhattan and Moscow, have more than halved. Capitalising on this, Google spent 100 million euros last year on the tallest commercial office building in Dublin. The U.S. technology giant plans to kit it out with a swimming pool in the basement for its 2,000 plus staff.
But high-tech companies are struggling to find enough talent in Ireland, where graduates preferred to become architects or real estate agents during the property-fuelled boom years rather than software engineers or scientists.
Multinationals are fighting over recruits from overseas who have brought plethora of foreign accents to the coffee shops and sandwich bars of Dublin’s trendy south docklands area, where Google and Facebook have large offices.
In September, a senior Facebook executive said the firm would continue investing in Ireland, where it already has over 400 staff, as long as it could find the right sort of employees.
Conscious of the problem, the government has introduced tax breaks for overseas workers who move to Ireland.
Peter O’Neill, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland, said Ireland can not rest on its laurels if it wants to attract the right worker and the right companies to Ireland.
“The bar is getting higher all the time,” said O’Neill, who is chief of IBM Ireland. “Investment is mobile, people are mobile, you’ve got to have the right environment at all times.”
A strategy to lure drugs companies, started in the 1960s, has made Ireland the largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals in the world, according to Dublin-based industry group PharmaChemicalIreland. Products such as Viagra and Botox are manufactured in the country.
But this reliance on the life sciences sector, which employs over 47,000 people, has become a weakness as patents lapse on a host of drugs, allowing competitors to make cheap copies elsewhere. These include Pfizer’s Lipitor and Enbrel, although Enbrel will go off patent later than originally scheduled.
Officials in Ireland say the “patent cliff” will be offset by new patented drugs and products coming into production but there will be a time lag, according to experts.
“The new products coming on-patent in the short-term will not be able to offset the fall in exports of these blockbuster drugs coming off-patent,” said Chris Van Egeraat, lecturer at Maynooth University. “We are going to talk about billions in a reduction of exports”.
The impact is already being felt; Irish exports fell sharply in September from record highs the previous month.
“You’ve two risks for Irish exports: you’ve the specific risk related to the patent cliff, and you have the risk related to the global environment,” said KBC Ireland chief economist Austin Hughes, predicting a gentle slowdown. “But luckily a lot of the companies that are in Ireland are doing well.”
Irish officials can at least be thankful that the weather at least is here to stay.
Ireland’s temperate climate, often the bane of wind-swept tourists, is an asset for data centre operators. Natural air can be used to cool the rows of giant servers that act as the world’s online library without costly heavy air-conditioning.
Google recently opened a 75 million euro data centre, housing computers that run cloud computing services, where users store data on secure external servers rather than their own network or computer. Microsoft also unveiled a $130 million expansion to its Dublin-based “mega” data centre earlier this year.
Cheaper and better options exist in Europe, but Ireland is fast becoming a cloud hub for the region because the tech giants already installed in Ireland are opting to build out in a country which they know and like.
“Ireland will become an increasingly important attraction for the cloud market,” said Rakesh Kumar, an analyst with Gartner, which advises companies such as Microsoft and Cisco.
“These companies… have got facilities, they’re happy with them, they’ve got good skills and good languages… so when they have a choice to either expand and build out new sites in different regions, it makes a lot of sense to stick to what they have,” he said.