Facebook confirms plans to create ‘up to 800 jobs’ in Ireland
Taoiseach meets social media website’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in California
Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley, California. Facebook has confirmed it plans to create hundreds of new jobs in Ireland next year. Photograph: Facebook
Sources indicated that the company may employ as many as 800 new people, an increase of more than a third to its 2,200 strong Irish workforce.
Speaking after meeting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park in Silicon Valley, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the news of the new jobs was “very positive” as it showed that Facebook was “very committed to Ireland”.
Gareth Lambe, head of Facebook Ireland, said the company was delighted to be expanding its operations, noting that Ireland was “an important part of Facebook’s story and one of the most vibrant tech communities in the world”.
Mr Varadkar was speaking on the second day of a three-day trip to Seattle, San Jose and San Francisco. Asked about proposals by the Republican party to cut the US corporate tax rate to 20 per cent, Mr Varadkar said he did not expect the proposals to have much of an impact on Ireland.
“As a country we believe that individuals countries should set their own tax rates so it wouldn’t make any sense for us to criticise,” he said.
“What we always say about our tax rate is that it is constant, we have a 12.5 per cent tax rate now for corporations for decades and that has withstood changes of government, it has withstood recessions and periods of economic expansion so very much our tax offering is as much about the certainty as the rate.”
Mr Varadkar added: “It has never been the case that a low corporate tax rate is all we have to offer. In my meetings with Facebook, they wanted to know about the talent pool, about whether we will be staying at the heart of Europe. Tax has only ever been a small part of what we offer.”
Athenry data centre
The Taoiseach was expected to discuss Apple’s plan to build a €850 million data centre in Athenry in Co Galway, which was first proposed in February of last year but was delayed because of planning objections.
The project cleared its final planning hurdle on Wednesday after the High Court rejected a bid by the objectors to appeal last month’s decision to allow the project to proceed.
However, Apple has failed to confirm if the project would proceed following the delay.
After the verdict, the company said in a statement that it would make no further comment “at this time”on the project, which prompted concerns that the Athenry scheme might not go ahead.
Commenting on the European Commission’s decision to refer Ireland to the European Court of Justice for not collecting €13 billion in state aid it claims is due to Ireland from Apple, Mr Varadkar said the intention was to collect the money “as soon as possible” though he declined to give an exact timeline.
He added that Ireland could not do anything with the money it would receive “because other countries may have a claim on it and also the whole issue yet has to be heard and decided on at the European Court of Justice.
“It will be many years before we know where that money goes.”
The Taoiseach was scheduled to travel to San Francisco overnight where he was due to meet the Mayor of the city at a reception in City Hall. Further meetings were also planned with potential investors in the city on Friday.