UK lawyer says State must give up 12.5% tax before it gets aid


IRELAND SHOULD give up its 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate before it receives financial help from the UK or other European countries, according to a leading British human rights lawyer.

Michael Mansfield QC, best known in Ireland for representing the Bloody Sunday families in the inquiry into the killings, and for representing the Birmingham Six, was giving the Free Legal Advice Centre’s annual Dave Ellis memorial lecture last night.

He also said he would like to see Irish building materials group CRH sued by Palestinians whose homes had been cut in two by the Israeli security wall, built, he said, with the assistance of CRH.

He said the International Court of Justice in The Hague had ruled that the “separation wall” was illegal. In a statement last night, CRH said it was a 25 per cent minority shareholder in Mashav, an investment company that owns Nesher Cement, an Israeli cement company.

“CRH has no day-to-day management input to, or responsibility in, Nesher [and] carries out no construction work in Israel, in the Palestinian territories or anywhere else,” the statement said. It added that it could not confirm or deny where its product may be in use.

“It abides by the law in every jurisdiction in which it operates and the board is satisfied that CRH is fully compliant with human rights law,” the statement said.

Referring to Ireland’s 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate, Mr Mansfield said: “Ireland has profited enormously from European money while undercutting countries who were contributing to it. It can’t have it both ways.

“Sympathetic as I am to the people who will have to pay the price of all this, I don’t agree with the basis of the boom. Companies are shifting their headquarters to Dublin to avoid tax and the Irish Government is encouraging companies to come here and avoid their responsibilities in their own countries.”

He said the UK government was cutting 40 per cent from the legal aid bill of £2 billion (€2.4 billion), which meant that people will be deprived of public services and will also be robbed of legal advice relating to access to those services.