Taoiseach says €13bn Apple tax appeal was necessary to protect State’s reputation
Micheál Martin denies the tech giant ‘got sorted’ in appeal against EU finding
Taoiseach Micheál Martin arrives at Dublin Castle on Wednesday. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has defended the appeal by the State and Apple against the European Commission’s ruling that the tech giant owed €13 billion in back taxes, saying it was important to protect the Republic’s reputation and its industrial policy.
He also rejected Opposition claims in the Dáil that “Apple got sorted” in the appeal against the European Commission’s decision.
Mr Martin said it was important to take the case “in terms of protecting industrial policy of the last 30 or 40 years” and to “identify the State’s own credibility and reputation in that we do things within the law”.
The row developed after the General Court of the European Union annulled on Wednesday the European Commission’s ruling that the Republic gave illegal State aid to the iPhone maker and that Apple consequently owed the Revenue Commissioners €13 billion in back taxes.
Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Solidarity TD Mick Barry highlighted the case of Debenhams workers who were made redundant when the Irish arm of the department store firm went into liquidation and were left without redundancy payments.
Mr Barry said that during their ongoing protests to prevent liquidators removing stock from the Irish stores, the former Debenhams workers had been chanting that “Apple got sorted out, we got sold out”.
He told the Taoiseach that the workers were looking for a much smaller sum of €13 million to provide the 1,000 workers affected with two weeks’ redundancy per year of service and statutory redundancy payments.
He said to Mr Martin that “your Government takes no action on their behalf”.
Mr Martin insisted, however, that “Apple didn’t get sorted out and Apple is about workers too”. He said the global tech giant is in Ireland since 1980 and employs 6,000 workers here and that was important.
The Taoiseach told Mr Barry that the essential point the court decided on Wednesday is that “there was no State aid to Apple”.
He criticised the Cork North-Central TD for consistently “undermining the role of multinational companies in Ireland and I think I just want to put on the record that it’s an important role”.
Mr Martin said that “it underpins the work of many small and medium-sized companies who create thousands of jobs. And there are hundreds of thousands of jobs in companies like Apple.”
The case was important for the State’s approach to industrial policy and to protect its reputation that it operated within the law, he said.
The Taoiseach reiterated that what Debenhams had done to its employees was wrong and unacceptable and he agreed that the law needed to change.
He said Debenhams workers would be helped with training supports and to find alternative employment, and he said they would receive statutory redundancy payments. Mr Martin acknowledged that that was not in itself satisfaction for the workers because they were being denied justice by the company.
He said the company had been disreputable and wrong in its treatment of its employees and that the workers had not been treated “with the dignity and respect and supports that they deserve”.