Ceann Comhairle criticises midnight Dáil sitting

Some decisions made in the early hours of the morning have ‘not exactly been sterling’

Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl said the Dáil should be pursuing family-friendly policies. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl said the Dáil should be pursuing family-friendly policies. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw.

 

Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl has criticised the late sitting of the Dáil until midnight to debate the Finance Bill and warned of past mistakes made in the early hours.

He also said the House was supposed to be pursuing “family friendly policies”.

The Dáil was in session until after 11pm on Tuesday and will also sit this evening, Thursday, until 11pm.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl also reminded TDs that “some of the decisions made here in the past in the early hours of the morning have not exactly been sterling”.

A row erupted between Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe when Mr Doherty said it was time to “stop pimping out our country” to companies paying 1 per cent tax, or 0 per cent or just €250.

The Minister rounded on him and said multinationals played a valued role in funding public services and serving jobs and “if the best that Deputy Doherty can come up with is to describe it as pimping out our country then I don’t think you recognise the value of many of the good jobs that have been created by these companies”.

Grave disservice

He accused Mr Doherty of doing a “grave disservice to the role of international development in creating jobs in our country, in sustaining communities and in providing employment”.

He said if any job was lost or any employer was to divest from Ireland the TDs criticising him now would be criticising him for the job losses.

Mr Doherty had referred to Revenue Commissioners’ report that 13 of the top 100 companies were paying an effective rate of just 1 per cent in tax.

But the Minister said there were reasons for that in relation to how they paid tax abroad, and in relation to tax exemptions for economic activity.

He said the same report showed 79 companies paid a tax rate of 10 per cent or more and almost two thirds paid more than 12 per cent. And he pointed to increased corporation tax had moved from €3.9 billion to €7.35 billion since 2000.

But Mr Doherty said while the vast majority of companies including multinationals pay their share in terms of the 12.5 per cent corporation tax some companies pay as little as 1 per cent, 0 per cent or €250 in terms of Section 110 companies.

‘Pimping out the country’

“When you deliberately put that into the tax code what you’re doing is pimping out the country to those companies, allowing them to use and abuse our tax code and pay little or no tax.”

He said the Government claimed it was doing great work in terms of dealing with the “double Irish” tax and stateless companies, but he said “Pull the other one, Paschal. We had to drag you kicking and screaming into the light in relation to that”.

He warned “companies are starting to wake up internationally and they will not like to be investing in a country that has a cloud overhanging it where there is a smell that there is some type of tax avoidance scam going on and a Government is facilitating that”.

Mr Doherty said Ireland got into hot water because of Apple and State aid issues.

He said “let’s clean up our back yard”.

Mr Donohoe said in relation to issues such as the double Irish “all of those decisions were taken because we wanted to be in a place we have a tax code that is a source of competitive advantage and we do so in a way that meets growing international consensus regarding how these matters will be dealt with”.

Debate on the Bill, which gives effect to measures in the budget, continues.