Ireland has ‘nothing to fear’ from G8 tax talks, Kenny insists

Harper sparks diplomatic row in Dublin saying Putin supports Syrian ‘thugs’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD (right) meets with Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, at Farmleigh House, Dublin, ahead of the G8 Summit.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD (right) meets with Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, at Farmleigh House, Dublin, ahead of the G8 Summit.

 


Ireland has “nothing to fear” from the changes being demanded at the G8 on tax avoidance, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

He rejected comments by Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister Sammy Wilson that Ireland was “stealing” UK tax revenue, insisting the Republic was complying with international regulations on the issue ahead of the meeting today.

But the meeting could become dominated by Syria after Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper in Dublin last night sparked a diplomatic row by saying Russian president Vladimir Putin was “supporting thugs of the Assad regime”.


Tax evasion
Tax will also be on the agenda when Mr Kenny attends the G8 summit today and focus will be made on countries setting up a public register revealing the identity of owners of companies and sharing information on tax evasion and tax avoidance. Mr Kenny, after meeting Mr Harper in Farmleigh, Dublin, insisted Ireland would not come under scrutiny as being a tax haven. “Ireland has already defended its position,” he said.

“We have absolutely nothing to fear in respect of the transparency and the statue based corporation tax rate that we have here,” he added.

On the charge from Mr Wilson, he said “we have complied with all the regulations internationally here”. There was a possibility that British government would soon make a decision to allow Northern Ireland to have the same low corporation tax rate as the Republic, he added. This “would make the island more advantageous in terms of being seen as a location for foreign direct investment”, he said.

Mr Harper said on Syria that the G8 summit was in fact the “G7 plus one” since “we in the west have a very different perspective on the situation”.

“Mr Putin and his government are supporting the thugs of the Assad regime for their own reasons and I do not think it is justifiable and Mr Putin knows my view on that.”

Mr Harper said Canada was not going to arm the opposition in Syria but added “I fully understand why our allies would do that”. “Our aid will continue to be humanitarian,” he said. He said he would like to see the Syrian opposition become “more representative and less sectarian”.

Canada had “no reservations in principle” on the tax reform proposed by British prime minister David Cameron for discussion at the G8, Mr Harper said. Any changes though needed the backing of other states to tackle tax evasion and tax avoidance. “It is important that we do it and do it together,” he added.