So just a few hours after that stunning EU ruling, which has effectively done a “Wikileaks” on Irish foreign investment policy over the past few decades, public opinion seems to have quickly evolved into a debate between #TeamKeep and #TeamAppeal.
No doubting what side the national public broadcaster is on. Joe Duffy had a few dissenting voices in his half-hour’s coverage today but miraculously his supposedly “reliable” text poll produced an impressive 56% support of appealing the ruling by “over 3000” of his listeners.
In general the thrust of the #TeamAppeal argument is that by keeping the money we’d be “penny wise, pound foolish”. All of a sudden American multinationals will be fleeing the country like there’s no tomorrow and this in turn would doom our futures with all of the jobs and tax revenues that would go with them.
But what I say to that is…I’m sure if there was a national debate on the first of these “sweetheart deals” with Apple when they were made 25 years ago in 1991 (when the Minister of Finance job was held by Albert Reynolds up to November, Charlie Haughey for a week and Bertie Ahern from then on – it was Brian Cowen in 2007) we’d have been told about the importance of the investment in Ireland’s future.
Yet now, when there’s €13billion on offer, we want it to help our schools, we want it to help our hospitals, we want it to help our housing crisis. Just how sweet a deal for us was that which they made back in 1991? Where was the real benefit?
But look…I’m not the one to make the case for #TeamKeep. I’d rather leave that to someone like FIntan O’Toole in the Irish Times :
At the very least, we should not be railroaded into lodging an appeal against the ruling that will define us, for the rest of the world, as the tax-avoider’s crazy little sidekick. We have some big thinking to do – and the cabinet’s job on Wednesday morning is to open up that process of deliberation, not to insist that any democratic decision that Apple does not like is unthinkable.