12.5% corporation tax rate is non-negotiable, says Tánaiste


TÁNAISTE MARY Coughlan firmly ruled out the Government conceding any change in the Republic’s corporation tax in the talks with the EU and IMF. She said the 12.5 per cent rate was non-negotiable.

Ms Coughlan was replying to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who said it was the job of politicians to find solutions and make decisions. He asked if he could take it that the tax would be “defended to the limit’’ by the Government.

Earlier, Fine Gael’s Alan Shatter was suspended from the House following heated exchanges with Ceann Comhairle Séamus Kirk.

Mr Kenny opposed the 95-minute limit put by the Government on the economic debate, arguing that all of yesterday’s business should be given over to it. It was, he said, “rich for the great republican party’’ to come to the House and say that there would be statements on the state of the Irish language.

“Wrap the green flag around me and preserve the national language on a day when we now have confirmation of the handing over of our economic independence to personnel from abroad,” he added.

Mr Kirk said the House could not get into the business of anticipating what might be said later, and it was singularly inappropriate to abuse the Order of Business in such a manner.

Mr Kenny said that after almost 95 years, the Government was providing 95 minutes for a debate on banking.

“This day represents the conclusion of the type of politics practised by the Tánaiste’s party: cronyism, sleeveen politics, dig-outs, nods and winks, how’s your father, buy them off . . . of gross incompetence in the State . . . and make the people pay at the end of the day,” he added.

As Mr Kirk insisted the House could not debate such matters on the Order of Business, Mr Shatter intervened to say the Ceann Comhairle was “making a disgrace of himself’’ and “undermining the credibility of the House’’.

Mr Shatter said Mr Kenny was entitled to make known his views on why Fine Gael was not agreeing to the Order of Business.

When Mr Kirk ordered him to leave the House, Mr Shatter said he would not do so, adding that his party wanted more time to discuss an issue of major national importance. “The veil of Fianna Fáil is clouding your perception of how to deal with this matter,” he added.

Mr Kirk then adjourned the House for 10 minutes. When it resumed, the Dáil voted to suspend Mr Shatter by 70 votes to 61.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the Government’s proposal for the debate was not adequate, given that the country “is being humiliated by the manner in which the Government has been dealing with the financial situation and international institutions’’.

Mr Gilmore said the Central Bank governor had earlier “told us what the Taoiseach has refused to tell us for the past week, which is that the Government is negotiating a multibillion euro loan’’.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said there were voices on the Government benches who equally rejected what was now unfolding. “I believe it should be put to the test and an opportunity for a vote on a specific proposition should be before us today,’’ he added.

The Government’s proposal for the economic debate was carried 70 votes to 59.