News Blog

Fake apologies, tax havens and the ghost that haunts Dublin's Mansion House

Eoin Burke-Kennedy Wed, May 22
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  • 09:42
    So we've been outed as a tax haven. A gettaway driver for big corporates. Sheltering profits in so-called "ghost companies" for Apple and others. This can't really come as a surprise. We've known about these arrangements for some time. Given the climate, Kenny will be on a sticky wicket in Brussels today when he chairs a European Council meeting on tax. If you remember, his tenure as Taoiseach began with a rather stormy encounter with Sarkozy and Merkel over Ireland's corporate tax regime back in 2011.
  • 10:01
    Good morning and welcome to today's news blog with Eoin Burke-Kennedy. The lead in today's Irish Times is about pension reform and news that Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton is postponing changes to pension schemes here while the Government digests the full implication of an adverse ruling in the European Court of Justice. Read more
  • 10:15
    What about that apology from Minister Shatter? It's been described as qualified and conditional. Can I add non-existant.

    Here's my translation: "If Deputy Wallace feels I did him some personal wrong [which I didn't] by mentioning it [which I was entitled to do] then I have no problem in saying I am sorry [which I have stopped short of saying]."

    Only a man skilled in the art of rhetoric could have crafted such a non-apology.
  • 10:38
    A true rhetorician
    A true rhetorician
  • 10:51
    Richard Bruton was the first minister out this morning to defend our much maligned tax regime. "We make no apologies for having a regime that’s designed to promote employment in this economy," he told RTÉ's Pat Kenny.

    There's an interesting piece in today's FT on the issue under the headline - Dublin changed corporate code after lobbying from US industry
  • 11:03
    Burger King is back selling 100 per cent beef in its restaurants. Hooray. The company just announced a new partnership with meat supplier Kepak Group. Hold on a minute, didn't Kepak recently buy the Silvercrest plant in Monaghan from Larry Goodman. The very same plant where the horse meat problem first arose, and the very same factory which caused Goodman to lose his contract with Burger King in the first place. No it couldn't be. I must have that wrong.
  • 11:11
    This is astonishing. Hailstones the size of grapefruit fell from the sky during the Oklahoma storm.
  • 11:19
    Breaking news. A man has been charged with the murders of four soldiers in the IRA’s 1982 Hyde Park bombing, Scotland Yard just announced. A Co Donegal man is accused of being responsible for a car bomb left in South Carriage Drive. The explosion killed four members of the Royal Household Cavalry as they travelled from their barracks to Buckingham Palace. The man was reportedly arrested at Gatwick Airport on Sunday and will appear in court later today.
  • 11:40
    He was an opportunistic ego-maniac but his music has lost none of its power and fury. No I'm not talking about Chris de Burgh rather   Richard Wagner. Derek Scally writes an engaging piece about the great composer today's Irish Times. It's here
  • 12:09
    Apparently, Dublin's Mansion House is haunted. The city's mayor, Fine Gael councillor Naoise O'Muiri, told the Irish Sun that his daughter saw an unidentified girl with dark curly hair watching TV as she walked from her room to her parent's room in the middle of the night. The mayor is adamant the mystery girl constitutes a paranormal event.

    My guess is that the girl in question is the daughter of John D'Esterre, who Daniel O'Connell [a one-time occupant of the Mansion House], mortally wounded in a duel. Wracked with guilt for his actions , O'Connell paid D'Esterre's daughter an allowance for 30 years. Though what she could be watching on TV at that time of night is anyone's guess. Reruns of Frasier, I suspect.
  • 12:12
    Dublin's Mansion House. Haunted or not?
    Dublin's Mansion House. Haunted or not?
  • 12:29
    A Stormont-funded study suggests the loyalist marching season generates almost £55 million in economic and social benefits for Northern Ireland each year. The potential tourism revenue, generated by those travelling to the North to watch or take part in the marching season, was not factored in, the study's authors said. Presumably, neither was the potential loss to the economy of having half the community flee south for the month.
  • 12:47
    Back to some real news. My colleague Suzanne Lynch has just doorstepped Enda Kenny in Brussels. He reiterated that Ireland does not negotiate specific tax deals with individual countries. He also said he not been contacted by the European Commission regarding the US Senate report on Apple’s tax activities.

    “There’s been quite a lot of media comment about Ireland in the last few days. I’d like to repeat that Ireland’s corporate tax rate is statute-based, is very clear, is very transparent and we do not do special deals with any individual companies in regard to that tax rate.”
  • 13:29
    The Shatter penalty points row is still generating controversy. Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has told the Dáil, in no uncertain terms, that confidential garda information about an individual should not be made public unless the person has been charged, seemingly putting him at odds with his Cabinet colleague in justice.

    But no, he insists he has full confidence in Shatter, in the Garda Commissioner and the Garda Síochána. Gilmore also claimed that Shatter had apologised and "said he was sorry" for his remarks about Wallace. Did he? Really? Such are the joys of coalition government.
  • 13:41
  • 13:45
    Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei has releasesd heavy metal track but admits it's not very good.
  • 13:57
    The deference to financial and corporate power that impelled Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan to give the blanket guarantee to the financial institutions on September 30th, 2008, speaks again in the obsequious secret deals done with multinational companies on tax and in the fastidious avoidance of taxing high earners, writes Vincent Browne. Read on
  • 14:42
    Tiger Woods has branded Sergio Garcia's "fried chicken" remark "wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate" but he also tweets it's time to move on. This follows Garcia's earlier apology for a remark which many have labelled as racist. During a question and answer session hosted by the Golf Channel’s Steve Sands, the Spaniard was asked if he would have the world number one around for dinner one night during the upcoming US Open. “We will have him round every night,” Garcia said. “We will serve fried chicken.”
  • 14:43
  • 14:52
    Plans to replace Grafton Street’s brick paving with a new stone paving have been prepared by Dublin City Council.
    Plans to replace Grafton Street’s brick paving with a new stone paving have been prepared by Dublin City Council.
  • 15:04
    Recent criticism that the capital's premier shopping street - Grafton Street - had become a soulless, commercial nowhere place has seemingly prompted Dublin City Council to fastrack plans to give the street a facelift. (See pic below).
  • 15:19
    No RTÉ presenter will be paid over €500,000 by the time this year’s contract negotiations are completed, director general Noel Curran has told the Joint Oireachtas Comittee on Communications. The average pay of the top ten pool of the company’s broadcasters would be €280,000 by the end of this year compared with €444,000 average in 2008, Breda O’Keeffe RTÉ acting chief financial officer also said.
  • 15:32
  • 15:32
    Whale watching: Lifeguards and local fishermen have successfully freed a whale which had become tangled up in lobster pots off Tramore. [see pic below] Rope holding some lobster pots together had apparently become snagged in the mammal’s mouth. Tramore RNLI crew-member Tom McConnell said: “This was a huge creature.   We had to be extremely cautious and work carefully with the other vessel to free it. We felt that one wrong move and we could be flipped over in our inshore lifeboat."
  • 15:40
    Britain's collaboration with the CIA's notorious rendition programme was more substantial than previously thought, according to a new research project. The University of Kent-hosted database has tracked over 11,000 flights by more than 120 aircraft linked by past investigations to renditions. It also contains details of over 50 private companies contracted for or by the CIA in relation to rendition flights. Read more
  • 16:14
    For some reason, the Swedish rioting story has climbed to the top of our most-read charts. According to reports, hundreds of youths set fire to cars and attacked police over three nights of unrest in the poor immigrant suburbs of Stockholm.
  • 16:27
    Breaking news: Police are attending a violent incident in Woolwich, south east London. A witness claims two men in a car ran over another man, then got out of the car and attacked him. Other witnesses say two men attacked another man with a "machete-style knife". Pictures posted on Twitter appear to show three people lying on the ground.
  • 16:36
  • 16:42
    Back to the incident in London. A witness has been speaking to the BBC. This is what he said: "I got there minutes after it happened because you could hear gun shots from Woolwich high street, basically two men carried out an axe attack on a young army cadet walking along the street, by the looks of things the police responded and then shot them in front of the public, at the same time I couldn't really tell if the cadet was fatally hurt or not as police were crowded around him."
  • 16:57
    More from London. It's now been confirmed that a man was killed and two others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. The victim is said to be a serving soldier. Several witnesses described seeing a “beheading” while another described seeing a man wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt being attacked with a machete-style knife.
  • 17:23
    The scene after a violent incident in London's Woolich
    The scene after a violent incident in London's Woolich
  • 17:26
  • 17:51
  • 17:51
    Touching story. Helen Mirren pretends to be the Queen for a 10-year-old boy with leukemia. [See pic below ]   Read full story.
  • 18:07
    The line coming out of the EU leaders' meeting on tax is that France, Germany and Britain have called for stricter rules to stop companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon aggressively avoiding taxes while acknowledging nothing unlawful was taking place. "We cannot accept that a certain number of companies can put themselves in situations where they escape paying taxes in ways that are legal," French president Francois Hollande said.

    Ireland's reputation has taken a battering in the last few days over its tax regime and, you'd imagine, this story has some way to run.
  • 18:11
    Kenny has just told reporters in Brussels that the row over Apple’s corporate tax arrangements in Ireland was not mentioned to him during today's EU meeting.
  • 18:13
    That's all from me today, folks. My colleague Hugh Linehan picks up the baton tomorrow.