Ireland not a tax haven and ‘should not be scapegoated’

Brian Hayes: Ireland has nothing to apologise for

Ireland is not a tax haven and should not allow itself to be “scapegoated” by larger European countries, Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes has said.

Ireland had nothing to apologise for and was critical of the approach taken to a number of member states’ tax affairs by certain MEPs in the European Parliament, he said.

“There’s an attempt in the European Parliament by some colleagues, in inverted commas, to scapegoat Ireland and Luxembourg and other small countries, and we’ve got to resist that,” he said.

“I’m all in favour of a wide investigation of all these issues but I’m not going to allow it to become a country specific investigation.”


He was speaking after a debate on the European year for development in the European Parliament information centre in Dublin.

Mr Hayes pointed out the European Commission was already probing tax arrangements with foreign companies in place in Ireland and other countries.

"Ireland has nothing to apologise for and I think we need to be strong in saying that. Ireland is not a tax haven. The OECD have said that; not Brian Hayes, Michael Noonan or anyone else," he said.

“The Minister for Finances has in the last three budgets radically changed some corporate structures in this country by way of the double Irish and residency rules. So we are in a good position here and it’s a matter for other countries to follow us.”

Mr Hayes said other MEPs might like to “run with the hare” on the issue because they thought it would be popular.

“I make no apologies for saying that I will not be supporting country-specific inquiries because it suits big countries, and I think they should stop running to the game that big countries have provided.”

In 2013, Apple’s use of Irish companies to pay minimal tax on tens of billions of dollars of overseas income was sharply criticised at a US Senate hearing at which Ireland was labelled a “tax haven”.

Last September, Ireland was one of the main targets when US president Barak Obama announced a crackdown on "corporate inversions" where US companies moved their domicile to other countries by taking over smaller businesses.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Features Editor of The Irish Times