Ireland ‘stealing’ UK taxes, says Northern Ireland finance minister

As G8 leaders prepare to meet in County Fermanagh with the issue of tax evasion high on the agenda, Northern Ireland’s finance minister Sammy Wilson has accused the Irish government of 'stealing' tax revenue from the United Kingdom.

As G8 leaders prepare to meet in County Fermanagh with the issue of tax evasion high on the agenda, Northern Ireland’s finance minister Sammy Wilson has accused the Irish government of ‘stealing’ tax revenue from the United Kingdom.

Outlining his concerns that companies were using the Republic of Ireland to pay tax which should be paid in the UK, the DUP minister told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Show for Northern Ireland:

“My view is that the British government does have some leverage on the Irish government there, because they have a £7.5bn loan, that is a lot of leverage. They should be saying to the government in the Republic, you cannot steal tax revenue from us in this way and that is in fact what has been happening.”

The claims, however, have been roundly refuted by the Irish government, with the Republic’s Junior finance minister Brian Hayes explaining:

“It is wrong and it is put out there by countries I suspect who are looking to the success we are making of this country in terms of inward investment.

“The fact of the matter is this, it is not Irish tax law that is at stake here, it is other jurisdictions with their tax law.”

The dispute came as the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, pleaded with leaders of the G8 to stop big business dodging taxes in order to address the problem of world hunger. Addressing a service in Enniskillen for the IF Campaign which is calling for action to be taken against world hunger by stopping tax dodgers and giving people in poor countries more control over their land, the Archbishop declared:

“If we stop big companies dodging taxes in the two-thirds world, millions of people could free themselves from hunger. Too many unscrupulous businesses and individuals manage to avoid paying the taxes they owe particularly in developing countries. They’re dodging millions of pounds every day. Indirectly robbing the poor of education, health, food, employment and sustainable development.”

Calling for much greater transparency and accountability, Sentamu continued:

“Transparency and accountability are vital in the global food system.

“Decisions that affect millions of people are made behind closed doors, without the participation of those affected. Corporates and governments must be more transparent about their affairs so that citizens can hold to account the powerful players in the food chain.

“These are big IFs, but if we persuade all our global leaders to make these happen, and IF they do, there really will be enough food for everyone.”

Warning that the world is now at a tipping point, he concluded:

“We could be the generation to ensure every boy and girl, man and woman receives justice, mercy and love, to live a dignified human life in company with others.”

It comes as polling by YouGov has shown than 56 per cent of people believe that “countries regarded as tax havens should change their rules now, whether or not other countries do the same. It is morally wrong for a country to allow companies to use the secrecy of its tax regime to avoid paying tax on profits made elsewhere”.

Just 22 per cent supported the statement “rules on tax havens should only be changed when all countries agree, otherwise small countries that do the right thing could damage their economies while the problem just moves elsewhere”.

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