A bite of Ap­ple’s bill would mean world to brave Jac­inta

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - Joe Duffy

THE gov­ern­ment are right to fight tooth and nail to hold Ap­ple to its prom­ise to open a mas­sive new stor­age fa­cil­ity in Athenry and ex­pand its 5,000 work­force here in Ire­land. Ask any­one in Cork – they be­lieve that Ap­ple is a great em­ployer. They are gen­uinely an­noyed at the fo­cus on an­other as­pect of their em­ployer’s en­deav­ours: the com­pany’s al­most mes­sianic cru­sade to flit around the world to avoid pay­ing its fair share of taxes.

When Ire­land closed a tax loop­hole in the 2015 bud­get, Ap­ple re­sponded by get­ting a le­gal firm to of­fer their busi­ness to other ter­ri­to­ries, while as­cer­tain­ing if the coun­try had a strong op­po­si­tion that might scup­per its prospects. They even­tu­ally landed in Jersey, but the money was chan­neled back to Ire­land, with lit­tle ef­fect for us ex­cept to mas­sively in­flate our GDP num­bers – and coin­ing the phrase ‘Leprechaun eco­nomics!’

It’s al­most as if there are two com­pa­nies called Ap­ple: one a Paddington Bear-like cud­dly cor­po­ra­tion dis­pens­ing beau­ti­ful, de­sir­able, func­tional prod­ucts like the iPad .

The other com­pany, which Ire­land has also at­tracted be­cause of our low cor­po­ra­tion tax on multi­na­tional prof­its, be­haves like ‘mini-me’ in the Austin Pow­ers movies, con­stantly try­ing to keep one step ahead of the Gov­ern­ment.

The Par­adise Papers has hit Ap­ple hard – in the week when it is on the cusp of be­com­ing the first tril­lion dol­lar com­pany in the world – but, in truth, they told us lit­tle new.

But it is also adding up to creat­ing a bad odour around Ap­ple with the pow­ers-that-be, es­pe­cially in Brus­sels. This means our ef­forts to re­ject the rul­ing – and the €13bil­lion – now has lit­tle, if any, sup­port among our EU part­ners.

It’s not as if we couldn’t do with the money. I was re­minded this week of how this is no Par­adise Is­land by the story told to me by a truly re­mark­able woman, Jac­inta Fleming from Tip­per­ary.

Calmly, Jac­inta re­vealed that a year ago she was di­ag­nosed with ter­mi­nal lung and bone can­cer. Her medics put a time frame on the ill­ness: 12 to 18 months.

Firstly, Jac­inta had then to wait four months to ac­cess a wel­fare pay­ment , but she con­tin­ued work­ing un­til she lit­er­ally fainted. Ap­ply­ing for dis­abil­ity ben­e­fit was an­other or­deal for Jac­inta and her fam­ily. Her job­seek­ers was can­celled and she was left wait­ing on the dis­abil­ity ben­e­fit – all ad­min­is­tered by the same Gov­ern­ment depart­ment! Jac­inta was even­tu­ally awarded a measly €120 per week: an ex­tra €50 would pay for her chil­dren’s school trans­port.

Jac­inta has worked it out: given her prog­no­sis this would cost the State about €1,200 – add ten ze­ros to that mod­est num­ber and you have the amount Ap­ple owe us ac­cord­ing to the EU .

For de­cent honourable cit­i­zens like Jac­inta this is cer­tainly no Par­adise Is­land!

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