An scéal is deireanaí
Appearing before the US Senate Committee today, the leadership of Apple confirmed that a deal was agreed with the Irish Government that reduced the tax liability to two per cent has been in place for a number of years.
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson said:
“Today at questions the Taoiseach denied that a special deal was in place for Apple and its tax liabilities. Appearing before the Senate Subcommittee hearings the leadership of Apple confirmed that a deal had been negotiated and was in place since Apple made its first investment in Ireland in the early 1980s.
“Since 2003 this has meant that Apple has paid less than two per cent corporation tax. The Taoiseach needs, as a matter of urgency, to come to the Dáil and put right the record. Through the hearings this state has been likened to a tax haven this is undermining our international reputation.”
Sinn Fein finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty TD, announced today that the Oireachtas Finance Committee will hold hearings to discuss the issue of the low rates of effective corporation tax paid by multinational companies based in Ireland. Doherty contacted the Committee in November to request the hearing. The Donegal deputy said the findings of the US Senate Committee which described Ireland as a tax haven and found that Apple is using Ireland to not only write off its international tax bill, but has a special agreement with the Irish Government to reduce its Irish tax bill to 2%, as absolutely scandalous.
Deputy Doherty said:
"The findings by the US Senate Committee that show Apple is using Ireland to write-off its international tax bill by setting up an Irish incorporated, non-resident entity to handle 30% of its global earnings but pays tax nowhere, and the fact that Apple has a special arrangement with the Irish Government to reduce its domestic corporation tax rate to 2%, is scandalous.
The committee describes Ireland as a tax haven and that is not something this government should be ignoring or dismissing as not their problem.
"The issue of large multi-national corporations like Apple and Google not paying high effective tax rates in Ireland, or using Ireland as a vehicle to avoid paying tax internationally, is prominent in the news now but it’s something Sinn Fein has been highlighting for a period of time.
“I contacted the Oireachtas Finance Committee in November and requested hearings on this issue which are due to commence shortly. I have put a number of names of experts in the field forward to the committee and I have also proposed that we invite the Irish representatives of leading multi-national companies in Ireland in to answer questions.
“Ireland has benefitted from foreign direct investment in our economy in terms of jobs and payroll taxes. These jobs have to be protected. But our corporation tax rate is already very fair and cannot be undermined by a continual writing down of effective tax rates. Ireland is perceived as a tax haven and that is not beneficial to us in the long-term for either jobs, or tax take.
“This government continues to protest that our tax system is transparent. It is transparently flawed. Our tax code has been written for the benefit of large companies and the wealthiest in society, while SMEs and individuals are obliged to pay their tax bills in full. They cannot negotiate reduced tax bills.
“There cannot be one law for the big company and another for the small. This is what I want to get to the bottom of in the committee hearings. This is where we can shine a light on the tax structures and activities of large companies to reveal once and for all if they are playing the game fairly or they, and this government, are taking us for a ride.”
Brian Stanley TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community & local government, has today challenged Minister Hogan, “to remove the shroud of secrecy surrounding the government’s climate change bill”.
Speaking after the Dáil committee meeting on the climate change bill, Stanley said:
“So far the debate has been carried out in secret. The cabinet committee on climate change meets in secret, Minister Hogan refuses to publish the Attorney Generals advice on emission targets and the proposed expert advisory committee on climate change will not be allowed to publish reports without government permission. If we are to get public by in, these reports must be made public.
“The effects of climate change are scene globally and felt locally. This government continues to sleep walk us towards a climate disaster. I would remind Minister Hogan that there is no environmental bailout. There is no Troika, ECB or IMF waiting to assist us. I would urge the government to adopt our climate change bill and save us from environmental bankruptcy.
“The debate on climate change must be open, transparent and inclusive. The public must not only be aware but must be part of a national conversation on this most important issue. For this to work the public must buy into the process.
“At the meeting I proposed that the committee have public hearings with presentations from experts and stake holders. I suggested that an appropriate date would be Global Environmental Day on June 5th similar to the one currently taking place on the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill.
“Refusing to include emission targets based on secret advice is unacceptable. Minister Hogan must publish the Attorney Generals advice on emission targets. The last government published a bill with targets and the Attorney General had no problem.
“We need a climate change bill with clear targets and a process that is transparent, open and accountable.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has accused An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny of surrendering without a fight on the issue of reducing the number of EU seats in the 26 Counties.
Martina Anderson said:
“I wrote to An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny on 27th March requesting that he use the Irish European Presidential term as a platform from which to lobby support for retaining the 12 EU seats presently held by the Irish State.
“Apart from acknowledging that a reduction from 12 to 11 seats will pose challenges to ensuring effective Irish representation across the range of the EU Parliamentary functions and its Committees, Mr Kenny proposed no plans to mount any opposition to the proposals.
“As they have done with economic sovereignty, Mr Kenny and his government intend to surrender an Irish seat in Europe without a fight. I have to ask the Coalition government in Dublin, when is it going to stand up for the Irish people against the continued erosion of their influence in Europe?“It seems that no indignity imposed by Europe is too great for Fine Gael/Labour to subject the Irish electorate to. It’s time they demanded equal status with all other European States and fought against the ever increasing influence of a growing bureaucratic elite in Brussels. It's time to stand-up and put the best interests of the Irish people front and centre.”
Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson was today in Strasbourg to attend a European Parliament event marking International Day Against Homophobia (May 17th).
Martina Anderson said:
"As a member of the European Parliament's intergroup on LGBT I am proud to be able to stand up for the rights of the LGBT community
"In 2013, we live in a society which is markedly improved in the field of LGBT rights but there remains much to be done on this issue.
"When citizens are still experiencing discrimination, hate and even violence based on their sexual orientation we cannot claim that we are a society of equals.
"In the North of Ireland, there are unfortunately still too many examples of such homophobia in both society and indeed politics as we recently saw when right-wing elements joined forces to veto the Sinn Féin marriage equality bill in the Assembly.
"Indeed, with the recent news that research has shown that gay people are shockingly seven times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexuals in Ireland, we must do much more to ensure that discrimination, fear and a sense of isolation of one section of our community is eradicated. CRÍOCH
May 21st, 2013
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has said that the moratorium on road works during the G8 summit will leave over 1000 workers in limbo.
Mr. McAleer stated,
“I meet with Gordon Best of the Quarry Products Associations and he is concerned that over 1000 workers will find themselves without wages over the eleven day period of the G8.
“Contractors have not be contacted yet nor were they consulted before the decision to halt all road works across the North apart from the Ards peninsula and C class roads.
“This is a complete overkill and the we need the PSNI to tell us why road works in places as far away as Coleraine, Ballycastle or Belfast pose a threat to those meeting in Fermanagh.
“These workers are now in a state of limbo but they will still have mortgages, fuel bills, grocery bills etc to pay. Due to the fact that they are still employed it is questionable whether they will be entitled to social security.
“I have now tabled an emergency question to the Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy asking whether he will ensure that these workers will be paid over the period and I intend to raise the issue at the committee tomorrow.
“While some people are exalting the benefits of the G8 summit the reality so far is uncertainty and community disruption.”
Sinn Féin MLA and member of the agriculture committee Ian Milne has called for more support for hill farmers.
In making his maiden speech in the Assembly Mr. Milne said,
“Hill farmers make up a large percentage of the total population and it is important that they are supported.
“I recognise and welcome the Minister’s commitment to hill farmers especially in her swift reaction to the recent crisis. However the problems facing hill farmers are more complicated than the recent crisis with snow and fodder.
“Research carried out by Oxfam last year found that hill farmers are forced to take drastic action, such as cutting back on their own grocery bill and foregoing the basics in life just to keep their farms viable. Indeed, some of the accounts that we heard from the charity Rural Support, when it addressed the Committee recently, brought home to us the sheer level of emotion and trauma that is experienced by our farmers as they struggle to make ends meet.
“I am calling on the Department to look at ways in which hill farmers can be supported either through grants to improve outbuildings or by ensuring that the new proposed Area of Natural Constraints replacing the Less Favoured Areas payments are more accessible to hill farmers.
“It is also important that we look at improving infrastructure such as internet access, rural health and educational improvements to improve the lives of hill farmers many of whom live in isolated area.
“I will continue to support the hill farmers in attempting to make the industry sustainable in the long term so that this way of life so crucial to our society is maintained.”
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Chris Hazzard MLA has welcomed the Minister of Education's decision to abolish the requirement for schools to carry out Computer Based Assessments.
Mr. Hazzard said,
“I welcome the Minister’s decisive action in ending Computer Based Assessments after several reports highlighted concerns with the system.
“It is widely accepted that assessment of children is a good tool in ensuring that every child can fulfil its potential and achieve the highest standard of academic achievement.
“However the CBA’s did not fulfil that role with teachers and parents finding the system difficult to manage especially when there were technical issues.
"The Minister has listened to those concerns and has now set in place a process to learn the lessons of this experience and put in place a future system which is fit for purpose.
Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has called on those who state that they are now opposed to Jim Allister's Special Advisors Bill to support a Petition of Concern to ensure that there is a not a legislative process for discrimination.
Speaking today Mr McKay said:
"This bill is in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement and is there are very strong concerns that it runs against the European Convention of Human Rights. Jim Allister clearly understands this and as the lone anti-peace process voice in the Assembly is pushing to discriminate and unpick the Agreement.
"As this bill now progresses to its final stage all parties who wish to protect the Good Friday Agreement and equality need to combine and ensure that this bill will not be enacted.
"Simply voting against the bill in its final stage will not stop the bill from going through its full passage. There is no halfway house. There is now a clear onus on those who stated that they are opposed to the bill as it stands to support a Petition of Concern and stop the legislating of discrimination."
Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Fra McCann has welcomed the launch of the Rural Housing Action Plan.
Commenting on the plan and the 50 actions contained within the report the West Belfast MLA said:
“It is hope this report becomes a reality and is not just left on the shelf to gather dust. The report gives all who live in rural communities an opportunity to play a part in creating a plan that can deal with the real problems faced by those who live in rural communities.”
Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams TD has called for the Irish government to intervene and focus the British government on the outstanding issues of the Good Friday Agreement.
Speaking today in Belfast, Gerry Adams TD said:
“Sinn Féin recently tabled a private members motion in the Dáil to mark the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement 1998.
“All parties in the Dáil have welcomed the transformation which the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements have brought and the enormous progress which has been made.
“Importantly all parties including the Government parties also have significant concerns that the current British government are in default on some of their commitments with respect to past agreements.
“The critical test of the political institutions in the north is whether or not they can deliver meaningful change to peoples lives.
“British government policies are undermining the ability of the Executive to do this. They have presided over cuts in the block grant, a shortfall in the promised peace dividend, and now they are seeking to impose a welfare cuts agenda in a way that will bring hardship to already disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens.
“This is unacceptable and must be challenged.
“The Irish government, as a coequal guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement is obliged to intervene and to also challenge the approach of the British government.
“I am calling on them now to bring forward a strategy to ensure the British government deliver on the commitments and support the work of the Executive.”
Commenting today on the issue of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter’s use of personal information regarding Wexford TD Mick Wallace, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD said:
“Minister Shatter’s remarks to the media today will have done nothing to clear up public concern about his use of personal information, obtained from Gardaí, regarding another TD.
“This debacle raises serious issues about the behaviour of the Minister for Justice, who has access to the most sensitive of information regarding citizens. He has clearly crossed the line in using his access to such information for political purposes.
“I am calling on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make time available tomorrow for the minister to address the Dáil in relation to this issue and for opposition representatives to respond.
“In my own view, Minister Shatter needs to make a full public apology for using personal information, obtained as Minister for Justice, on live television in an effort to damage a political opponent.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on environment, community and local government, Brian Stanley TD has today said the government’s proposal to “carry out road repairs on the cheap must be scrapped”.
Responding to Minister for state at the Department of Transport, Alan Kelly’s proposals, Stanley said:
“[…] the government has reached a new low. This government’s road repair scheme expects local people must now put forward 20-50% of funding, including free labour, to ensure their roads are repaired. There are serious questions about health and safety as well as potential job loses to be answered.
“Essential repairs to our roads must be carried out by those trained in this specialised work. To expect local people to repair their roads is a totally irresponsible. To expect local communities to fund raise to repair their roads is a terrible indictment on this government. People pay taxes to cover the cost of road repairs and other essential services. The scheme must be immediately scrapped.
“If this government cannot fund local government to repair roads they have to look no further r than the mirror. This government has slashed local government funding from €210m in 2011 to €24m this year. On top of this the government took a further €150m out of the Motor Tax Fund to pay off the foreign debt. These cuts have led to the crisis that is at the heart local authorities in Ireland today.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on transport Dessie Ellis TD said, “Minister Kelly’s government has cut spending on road maintenance from €1.258 billion in 2011 to €750m this year. Expecting local people to plug the gap is disgraceful. The less well-off communities will once again bear the brunt of this government’s mismanagement of our resources. This is a recipe for disaster.”
The Sinn Féin delegates to the Constitutional Convention have reiterated the party’s call for that body to deal comprehensively with political reform, not just Dáil electoral reform.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, who is representing the party along with Senator David Cullinane and Caitriona Ruane MLA said:
“It is unfortunate that the Convention chose not to consider the need for comprehensive reform of the Oireachtas as a whole, including whether the Seanad should be directly elected and its membership and powers and functions reformed to make them more distinctive and relevant.
“Instead, the Convention membership chose to restrict itself at this juncture to electoral reform of the Dáil only, as stipulated by the Government. The Government shortlist of compulsory issues does not include many of those most relevant to political reform, and those most urgently necessary. I would hope that the Convention sees fit to consider these and other issues of great public importance at a later stage, under its open remit or even under an extended mandate.”
Senator David Cullinane added: “I welcome the deliberative body’s decision to consider, at its next sitting in June, constitutional and other measures to increase enfranchisement and voter participation, as well as a range of constitutional and other measures to increase parliamentary representativeness and diversity and to ensure that seat allocation results reflects more accurately actual voter preferences.”
The three Sinn Féin delegates voted in favour of further consideration of measures to strengthen the system of proportional representation, of additional reforms to increase parliamentary diversity and representativeness, and of measures to increase the ability of all citizens to exercise their right to vote and to increase voter participation, including participatory democratic mechanisms.
Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan MLA has called on farmers needing fodder to apply immediately as the scheme began at midnight on the 18th May. Mr McMullan said,
"The extra £1m secured to help farmers facing fodder shortages is now available since midnight. The scheme will be administered through Countryside Services and farmers who are facing shortages should prepare themselves to apply as soon as possible.
"Farmers facing shortages should contact Countryside Services through the website www.countrysiderural.co.uk where the details are available from this morning.
“The scheme ends at the end of the month so I would urge farmers to get in touch and apply as soon as possible so they can avail of the scheme.
"I would like to thank the Minister for her swift and decisive action that will ensure that farmers can feed their livestock and maintain the health of their animals."
Sinn Féin's justice spokesperson, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, said that the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter must explain how he came by the information, which he revealed on television, about independent Wexford TD, Mick Wallace.
Deputy MacLochlainn said:
"It is very worrying that a Minister for Justice can go on Prime Time and use information which he says comes from An Garda Síochána, to score a political point against a Dáil colleague.
"The Minister must explain how he came by this information and clarify that it is not hearsay.
"Did he seek it out from gardaí in Mick Wallace's constituency? Did he hear it by chance during a social encounter? Was he given the information unsolicited by the garda who allegedly stopped Deputy Wallace for enfringement of a traffic law but did not press charges? Is it appropriate that the Minister for Justice should use information gleaned in the course of his work in this manner or if the information was not received through official channels, should it be repeated on prime time television to score a political point?
"I believe that it is not appropriate and that the minister must make a statement."
Developer Seán Dunne owes over a third of a million euros to Dublin City Council despite claiming in the USA that: "I am personally happy that my debt to the Irish State is clear". Sinn Féin’s Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha, Chairperson of the Council's Finance Strategic Policy Committee, revealed the sum owed by Dunne this week.
He said: "When developer Seán Dunne claimed in his US bankruptcy proceedings that he is happy that his debt to the Irish State is paid I requested City Council officials to ascertain what he owes to the City Council. It was reported to the Council's Finance SPC this week that he owes the City Council €337,264 in rates through his company Mountbrook Riverside (now dissolved) for office properties on Pembroke Road. There is no guarantee that any of this will be recovered for the people of Dublin City.
"Contrast this with the treatment of our older people and those dependent on social welfare who, if they fail to pay the Family Home Tax, will have it deducted from their meagre state payments.
"Developers such as Dunne were massively incentivised and subsidised by the state through tax breaks. They inflated the property bubble and were supported by corrupt banking, leading to the collapse of the Irish economy. And they have the audacity to claim their debts to the Irish people are paid." ENDS
Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan MLA has welcomed the announcement by Minister O’Neill that an extra £1m has been secured to help farmers facing fodder shortages.
Mr. McMullan stated,
“I welcome the fact that the Minister has again acted quickly to instigate a programme that will help alleviate the plight that many farmers are facing over a lack of fodder.
“The Executive also needs recognition for agreeing to give an extra £1m to help the farmers and this will now be dispersed to those farmers most in need.
“Farmers who are eligible need to work with the Department to ensure the swift delivery of this extra hardship payments.
“The unseasonal weather has caused havoc with the farming communities ability to create the proper economic conditions in order to carry out their work and the Ministers timely interjections will help return some stability to those farmers.
“The Department now needs the time and space to deliver on these commitments and I would call on everyone who has the farming community at their heart to weigh in behind the Minister and help alleviate the problems farmers are facing.”
Responding to today’s launch by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) of a review into special education, Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien, TD, said the challenge was for Minister Ruairí Quinn to implement the key recommendations of the report.
Deputy O’Brien said: “I would like to commend the NCSE for carrying out the first comprehensive strategic review into special education in 20 years. The findings contained in the publication of their report: Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Schools must not sit on a shelf to gather dust.
“One of the key recommendations put forward by the NCSE is that the link between allocation based on category of disability, must be changed to one of allocation based on need.
“This is absolutely essential if we are to improve the level of supports for children with special educational needs, particularly where the emphasis is on integrating students into mainstream education.
“In recent weeks I have been dealing with parents of children who have Autism and Down Syndrome whose education is suffering because of the way Home Tuition and Resource Hours are allocated. We need a change of emphasis to a system that prioritises the needs of the child instead of allocation based on category of disability.
“I also share the NCSE’s concerns at the length of time many parents have to wait for a diagnosis to assess their child’s individual needs and learning capacity.
“It is essential we have in place a robust regulatory enrolment framework so as to ensure all children with special educational needs can access a school placement quickly.”
Responding to Justice for Magdalenes announcement today that the survivor advocacy group is to end its political campaign Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald commended the group for its tireless work in seeking recognition of, and justice for, the Magdalene women.
The Dublin Central TD said:
“All those involved in Justice for Magdalenes are to be commended for their steadfast work in seeking justice for all women who were incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries.
“Their tenacity, professionalism and integrity ensured that the voices of the surviving women of the Magdalene Laundries were heard, and that those who are no longer with us will not be forgotten.
“Sinn Féin wishes Justice for Magadelenes every good fortune and we extend our heartfelt gratitude to them.”
Sinn Féin North Belfast councillor Danny Lavery said the people of North Belfast do not want armed gangs in their areas.
The local councillor was speaking after an 18-year-old was shot in both legs in the Cliftonville Road area last night.
Councillor Lavery said:
“Armed gangs are not wanted in North Belfast. People are moving forward and there are systems in place for making sure the PSNI do their job and police this community.
“These armed gangs only strike fear into the community and those involved in the them should stop and examine the negative impact of their actions.
“There is a lot of positive work going on in North Belfast by community groups and organisations and they are showing courage and focusing on the way ahead, not going back.”
Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Chris Hazzard has said that the additional 230 teachers will not only offer new teachers experience but will impact on numeracy and literacy levels.
Mr. Hazzard stated,
“This initiative by the Minister John O’Dowd will have a double impact within education system by given newly qualified teachers an opportunity to get experience and allow children to increase their numeracy and literacy skills.
“It is important that all children are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential and injecting these teachers into targeted areas where children are not reaching the required standard will allow them to rise to the required levels.
“This initiative will continue to raise the academic achievement right across the board and give much needed employment to newly qualified teachers.
Sinn Féin Agriculture spokesperson Oliver McMullan has welcomed the decision by Justice Minister David Ford that a dedicated agriculture crime unit is to be set up within the PSNI.
Mr. McMullan said,
“Last year I called for a dedicated unit to be set up to target specific crimes against the farming community as opposed to rural crime.
“The agricultural industry is the biggest industry in the North and farm equipment and livestock are very expensive so any crime against this industry is costly.
“As we are all aware farmers have been hit hard through weather conditions so they need to have proper protection against criminals.
“I welcome the fact that the Minister has now acted to set up a dedicated unit within the PSNI to tackle crimes against the farming community and hope that this unit can tackle the criminals that are preying on farmers and their equipment.”
The Foyle MLA and member of the Assembly’s Health Committee said:
“The Health Minister should introduce a similar scheme to the pilot scheme in Scotland whereby community pharmacies are able to directly dispense vitamins to pregnant women under the Healthy Start Scheme.
“At the minute in the North there is a lot more bureaucracy involved which deters women from accessing these vitamin under our own Healthy Start Scheme.
“The Minister should outline the numbers and percentage rates of pregnant women availing of the free vitamins under the Healthy Start Scheme in the North and implement a similar system to that in Scotland so that more pregnant women will avail of the service.”
On the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD extended his continuing sympathy and solidarity to all the survivors and bereaved of 17 May 1974. He repeated his call for an independent international inquiry into bombings in Dublin and Monaghan.
Speaking before the commemoration in Dublin, this morning, the Sinn Féin president said:
“Sinn Féin supports Justice for the Forgotten as it continues to campaign for the British Government to provide us with the documentary information - currently being withheld - that can progress investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.
“Sinn Féin believes that as a society seeks to leave conflict behind, and to move forward there is a requirement that all of us address the tragic human consequences of the past.
“Republicans are very conscious of the hurt and suffering which has been caused through conflict in our country. We reject any attempt to create and sustain a hierarchy of victims. All victims and survivors of the conflict must be treated on the basis of equality.
“In order to deal with our past, Sinn Féin believes an independent International Truth Commission is required as a vehicle for truth recovery.”
“I also note that the government has not restored funding to the Justice for the Forgotten group.”