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Diplomatic Representation Expenditure (Continued)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett] I propose that the Taoiseach invites him-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is a separate matter. We are not dealing with it.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett -----when President Obama attends the summit. At the same time, could I ask him to invite representatives of teachers and doctors who are being persecuted by the Bahraini regime when President Obama is at the summit?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Hold on a second. We have gone from the United States to Bahrain to Palestine.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is US foreign policy.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It relates to US foreign policy and it is entirely in order. I am asking the Taoiseach to ask some of those countries that have been at the wrong end of President Obama's foreign policy and who are suffering as a result of it to have an opportunity to give their side of the story during or around the time of the G8 summit while President Obama is in the country. They want to ask the President why the United States refused to endorse their observer status at the United Nations and why it refused to denounce the behaviour of the Bahraini Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is a separate policy issue altogether.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Could the Taoiseach not do that? That is a serious request that the Taoiseach would do so if he is inviting President Obama to the country.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The G8 summit takes place in Lough Erne in County Fermanagh. I have no idea whether President Obama will be attending and, if so, what his schedule might be. As I said to Deputy Keating, I did suggest to the President that he would visit the country if he could do so during his next Administration. I have no intention of using a potential visit of the American President to facilitate invitations from all over the world, as Deputy Boyd Barrett mentioned-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I mentioned two.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----of particular sectors of societies that have problems. Clearly, there are other fora and opportunities for those matters to be discussed. As the Deputy is aware, the Irish representative voted in favour of UN observer status for Palestine. That has been this country’s position for a long time.

Corporate tax rates are a matter for the Government. We have been clear about that for many years. Those who wish to invest in this country, in particular from the US, like definition, clarity and a horizon against which they can plan their business. Corporate tax rates in this country have moved neither up nor down. They have been static and everyone is aware of that.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett At 6.5%.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That is our business. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, has been examining tax piracy and the double-Irish syndrome, as it is called, in respect of clearing up any perceptions that this country is a tax haven. I raised the point with the President last year when he visited. It is important that everyone understands that this country is not a tax haven for companies which might wish to conduct their business in a manner that is not entirely straightforward. We will see what the President’s schedule is like.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Will there be no invitations for the Bahrainis or the Palestinians?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is not for me to invite any other individual to this country.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is, in Ireland's capacity as Presidency of the EU.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I am aware that certain people have been in correspondence with the Deputy. There are other opportunities that will allow them to address issues at a European level or a national level. Confirmation or otherwise from the American Administration of a visit by the American President to this country should not be used as an opportunity to invite all and sundry from all over the globe.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett From Bahrain and Palestine.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That is not the intention.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin In terms of corporate tax, the issue is not so much our policy, which is clear, in terms of maintaining the rate but that in previous times the Administration did issue documentation suggesting we were a tax haven which it had subsequently to correct. The Taoiseach has contacts with the business community and with American companies. We have double taxation laws with many countries. We are in an above-board, transparent and legal corporate taxation framework. In the aftermath of the presidential election there will be an anti-outsourcing lobby in America which believes that jobs are leaving American shores. In many ways it is a protectionist approach to what is a globalised economy. In order for American companies to gain additional custom and to sell their goods and services they set up overseas in major markets. They have set up in European markets for some time and we have been a beneficiary of that. There is a need for an initiative to be taken. Have we taken any initiative to counteract a campaign that will be under way in the aftermath of the election? After the previous presidential election such a campaign involved situating key expert personnel in our embassy in Washington in order to support the ambassador in dealing with legislators on Capitol Hill and bringing a greater understanding of what is the situation in this country. That is the point I was making to the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We will do that. We were expecting a report towards the end of last month which will be ready sometime early in December on the possibilities and potential that exists for free trade between the European Union and the US, which holds enormous potential, of a magnitude of at least 2% growth in the economies of Europe as a consequence because of the extraordinary level of trade either way. We will certainly tie it onto that.

What we are seeking from a European point of view is to get a mandate to open the discussions which will clearly go on for a considerable time. This is the appropriate time to do that. The point Deputy Martin mentioned is one that I raised with the President when I met him last year and it is one on which we will follow through. We want nobody to be under any illusion that this country is some kind of tax haven. We will follow through on that and continue the dialogue to clear up any remaining misconceptions on the issue. That is an important element for American investment but also for the perception globally of Ireland being a country open for business where our tax structure is very clear and there are no misconceptions about our position by US companies. That is a matter on which we will follow through. The views of Members will be important in the debate.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I agree with the Taoiseach that this is the time, at the dawn of a new Administration, to press the US Government on the undocumented. I commend the approach and appeal to the Taoiseach to make representation to the Secretary of State, whom we are advised will be leaving her position this year. I am sure the Taoiseach meets people who are variously called undocumented or illegals. They are not there through any fault of their own. I appeal to the Taoiseach to raise their case and to press it in the future.

I welcome the fact the Taoiseach has been invited to attend the G8 summit in the context of the EU Presidency. I wish him well in that challenging role. The G8 is by any definition an exclusive group representing rich states. Mr. Cameron has taken the opportunity to set out his thoughts on what should be discussed. I invite the Taoiseach to do the same, not just as Taoiseach but in the context of the EU Presidency.

The biggest issue facing us in terms of conflict resolution on a global scale is the Middle East. It infects the entire region and spreads with all of the other difficulties that arise from it. The two elements locked in conflict cannot get a peace process in place because there is no leadership to do it within the Israeli Government and no inclination by it to do so. I support the two-state solution. Will the Taoiseach take the opportunity to put that on the agenda? Notwithstanding our difficulties - everything is relative - will he also raise the issue of poverty? He is aware that people in the developing world, in particular the Continent of Africa, live in extreme poverty, almost like our Gorta Mór. The developed world is represented by the G8 and has an opportunity to put in place proper policies to deal with those issues.


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