US ambassador to Ireland welcomes end of ‘double Irish’

Kevin O’Malley says he does not think end of tax avoidance strategy would affect US firms in Ireland

Newly appointed US ambassador Kevin O’Malley has said he does not think the end of the corporate tax avoidance strategy would affect US companies operating in Ireland.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Newly appointed US ambassador Kevin O’Malley has said he does not think the end of the corporate tax avoidance strategy would affect US companies operating in Ireland. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The US ambassador to Ireland said he applauds the phasing out of the “double Irish” taxation arrangement - a change which, he said, could work to Ireland’s benefit.

Newly appointed US ambassador Kevin O’Malley said he did not think the end of the corporate tax avoidance strategy would affect US companies operating in Ireland.

“I think the elimination of the ‘double Irish’ is not going to discourage anyone and I wonder if it isn’t going to encourage people.

“The more we all talk about things like double Irish, the less we are talking about a highly qualified, highly educated, dedicated workforce that speaks English and is strategically located in the EU, which I would really prefer to be talking about,” Mr O’Malley said.

“I applaud the fact there’s been a curtailment and a phasing out of any kind of tax system that doesn’t really reflect real jobs for real people and real prosperity,” he said.

The ambassador, whose ancestors emigrated to the US from Westport, Co Mayo 100 years ago, met with Cork’s Lord Mayor and visited University College Cork and the National Maritime College of Ireland on his first official visit to Cork yesterday.

He said the subject of undocumented Irish in the US was a “big issue with lots of complications” which President Obama “is the process of examining”.

A lawyer with 40 years of experience, the ambassador told a a lecture theatre packed with law students how he had originally studied for the Catholic priesthood for six years before switching to law.

“I learned that you could get a BMW as a lawyer... and also a wife,” he quipped.

However, he drew similarities between his profession and the priesthood.

“If you want to get down with people who have problems, if you want to solve those problems, the two are very similar,” he said.

Mr O’Malley told the students to “nurture your spiritual side” because “as a lawyer you will be called upon to make judgments”, and encouraged them to practice organised or unorganised religion or meditation to further their development.

“I think it is a good thing to have a spiritual or moral compass. We all have a spark in us that is looking beyond something we can’t touch,” he said.