Michael Noonan: are you Nanki-Poo in disguise?


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I love Gilbert and Sullivan. Their tunes are terrific but it’s the absurdity of their plots that gets me every time. I’m listening at the moment  to The Pirates of Penzance, where the hero, although he’s twenty-one, won’t have his twenty-first birthday until he’s in his dotage, because he was born on 29 February.

The southern government appear to have wandered into a G and S operetta. The European ruling is that Apple must pay the southern government €13 billion in taxes, since over the years they’ve been paying the equivalent of €50 for every million earned. Apple, understandably, are very vexed and indignant, and reject the ruling. The G and S bit comes when Enda Kenny’s government says “We agree”. They’re like a lottery winner who is going to fight tooth and nail to avoid having all that money foisted on him. And it’s not as if the south couldn’t do with a windfall. The health system, the education system – all sorts of areas are in dire need of funding.

The south’s Finance minister, Michael Noonan was on the radio yesterday accusing his political opponents of rushing onto social media with their  well-shaped soundbites. Then, like Tony Blair with his hand of history, Michael declared that to take the €13 billion would be “like eating the seed potatoes”. Michael may like a soundbite as much as the next man, but Apple CEO Tim Cook is safe from the possibility that Michael will test his gnashers on Apple.

The reason behind Noonan’s G and S response is that he’s fearful Apple and other big companies like Facebook and Google will take their business and their jobs elsewhere, if the south starts taking back a proper tax revenue from them. The fact is, the south will offer companies absurdly low tax arrangements, so that they’ll come, they’ll stay, and they’ll provide jobs in Ireland.

What to do? The European competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager said yesterday that what was needed was international arrangements so that big international companies weren’t able to hold countries to ransom, and play one off against the other, by dangling the prospect of jobs in exchange for laughable tax arrangements.

Ms Vestager is absolutely right. At the moment, Apple and companies like them can bully countries into doing their will because if they don’t, Apple will take its business elsewhere. In terms of jobs, the south of Ireland has done well out of the multinationals. In terms of justice, they have colluded in allowing those companies to have a degree of power that makes the Dail look like a Skibbereen production of The Mikado, with Michael Noonan cast as Nanki-Poo and Tim Cook as the Lord High Executioner.



17 Responses to Michael Noonan: are you Nanki-Poo in disguise?

  1. John Patton August 31, 2016 at 8:51 am #

    Brilliant, Jude. Apple is one of the most profitable corporations on the planet with some of the dearest products of its type. It has created an evangelism among its customers that is equally absurd as the current situation in Dublin. What sane person queues overnight to be first to get their paws on an overpriced phone! Apple has successfully , in PR terms, dealt with suicide in its China operation and I have no doubt that it will ride this one out too. Not a cent of the tax will be paid. However, consumer tastes are fickle and there is a very well regarded challenger to the crown in S Korea. Enda should be seizing the money while Apple is still there because the pace of change in the digital market is very rapid. Ask Nokia which was the undisputed champion until a few years ago. Oh and Biffo should offload all those iPads he has stashed in the garage while there is still a market for them

  2. Cal August 31, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    The south has whored itself for decades and I expect nothing to change unless they’re made to do it.

    This is one occasion where the EU has shown its usefulness. Individual countries appear too weak to take on these corporate giants.

    • Sherdy August 31, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

      The south has whored itself, but the people have been screwed!
      Now we have accepted the principle, will €13bn cover our embarrassment?

  3. jessica August 31, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    I suppose there are different ways of viewing this.

    I see it as scratchy back corruption going right to the core of government which not only squandered public money by lost tax revenue but caused additional unnecessary hardship and possibly had a part to play in the causes of the current housing crisis and state of the health and public services.

    As for being threatened ny job losses, the loophole I believe was plugged in 2014 and I amnot aware of any job losses over it.

    The reason Noonan doesn’t see it as a windfall is because it isn’t Jude.

    The EU and the US will not be targeting Apple, but the Irish exchequer. It will be up to Ireland to go after Apple, so basically this is not a windfall but a debt recovery process which will make the Irish people pay for money given away in dodgy deals by the people they elected to run the country who will not get one penny back from Apple and will as with the bank debt crisis, result in the Irish peoples taxes covering Apples debt.

    Perhaps it will finally allow the Irish people to see what Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have been doing to the country over the past few decades.

    If it finally opens our eyes then it will be worth the huge expense coming.

  4. Michael August 31, 2016 at 10:48 am #

    Not only does the Irish government not agree with receiving back the €13 billion, they are spending tax payers millions in fighting the case.

    If Apple owe €13 billion I wonder how much Google, Microsoft, Dell, JP Morgan etc etc owe?

    • jessica August 31, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

      It is not so much how much they owe, it is really how much of tax payers money did these governments allow them to get away with not paying that will be interesting.

  5. Perkin Warbeck August 31, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    As a devotee of Gilbert and Sullivan, Esteemed Blogmeister, you are to be found, as usual, in excellent company.

    Starting with the contributors to The Great American Songbook all of whom, to a man and a woman (not forgetting Dorothy Fields) paid tribute to G and S as their primary source of inspiration.

    Thus, the verbal dexterity in the lyrics of the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Larry Hart and Oscar Hammerstein 111 contain in their DNA the verbal dexterity of Sir William Schwenck Gilbert while the melodic sorcery of Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers and Cole Porter again may be traced to the music , simultaneously impish and luscious, of Sir Arthur Sullivan.

    Near mention of Ira Gershwin allows one to segue seamlessly to the (gulp) Christian Brothers.

    According to Congo Crisis O Brien who never darkened the door of a CBS in his illuminating life, and his hagiographers in the homogenized media on Liffeyside, the CB’s were there primarily to nourish the IRA and would indubitably have abolished any mention of Gershwin.

    The reality, alas, would, as it tends to do in its spoilsporty way, beg to differ.

    As a pupil of the largest CBS in Dublin and possibly Ireland, if not the Universe, during the Fabulous Fifties, the Perkin always viewed the annual Gilbert and Sullivan production as THE highlight of the academic year.

    Every winter without fail the CBs saw to it that there was a school production of a different Savoy Operetta, including HMS Pinaforte, The Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe, The Mikado, The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers.

    Long, long after one has forgotten the last of the geometry cuts one never quite grasped in many a nissen hut in the school yard, the salt of the Gilbert wit and the pepper of the Sullivan music is what stayed with one.

    Not to mention the particular touch which the much reviled CB’s brought to these productions; a touch which can only be described as, erm, Gilbertian. The boys who played the male parts were confined to one dressing room; the boys who played the female roles were confined to the other dressing room.

    Nothing untoward there, Frankie Howerd (with an e) !

    Curiously enough, the xenophobic Christian Brothers never exposed their naïve pupils to either ‘The Emerald Isle’ (an opera) or ‘An Irish Symphony’ by Sir Arthur Sullivan . Even more curiously, the courageously clinical Conor Craze O’Brain never alluded to these anomalous oversights.

    If the texts of Gilbert were truly s’wonderful then the scores of Sullivan were indubitably delightful, delicious and de-lovely.

    You nailed Noonan in one, EB, by naming him Nanki Poo. (One doubts if Gilbert himself would have had the gall or indeed the cojones to imagine Nanki Poor as Noonan).

    A Limerick man, of course – less Sean South of Garyowen, more the Shoneen South of Nary Own- The Minister for Finagling would seem to have overlooked the simple geographical fact that his own county boasts a little village called Oola. Which not only rhymes with moolah but as Gregser would attest, translates as Apples.

    Thirteen bill-uns (Noonan-speak) could build a few Wall Streets as the Core of Celtic Capitalism in the Small Apples of Contae Luimni. Which latter county, naturally, rhymes with (gulp) Imni , which is the Leprechaun for (gasp) Funk.

    But, then this kind of Free Southern Stateen reaction to the Wild West of Wall Street finds a certain precedence in its response to Noisome Norneverland.


    Cultural independence we chose to abolish
    And our economic autonomy to demolish..
    Don’t dare compare
    Of all fruits this pair
    When it comes to d’Orange we Apple polish.

    PS Now where is that Third Party who’s holding one’s Escrow Account ? Any Third Party animals out there care to own up ?

    • Jude Collins August 31, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

      Ah Perkin – I should have known you would harbour similar golden memories of G and S.I do have me Spotify wore out playing ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ by them D’Oyle Carte crowd. Oh joy oh rapture…

  6. Mary Jo August 31, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    “They’re like a lottery winner who is going to fight tooth and nail to avoid having all that money foisted on him. And it’s not as if the south couldn’t do with a windfall. The health system, the education system – all sorts of areas are in dire need of funding.”

    How much worse to let the EU Commission usurp our sovreign right to make our own taxation rules while trying to bully us into forfeiting US corporate investment in Ireland.

    The EU will usurp the 13 billion anyway for its banks or other member nations who will lay claim to a share of it, if our government loses its appeal, or worse still, rolls over obediently like the well trained puppy it is.

    I’m disappointed to see SF take the populist position on this issue. They know better. There won’t be any 13 billion available to Ireland to house the homeless or mend the health service. Just 6000 jobs and our credibiity as a good place to invest gone down the drain.

    I don’t often support Noonan but he’s right on this issue.

    • Michael August 31, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

      Should multinational companies that earn billions in profit not pay their fair share of tax to the country in which they are stationed?

      • jessica August 31, 2016 at 7:10 pm #

        “Should multinational companies that earn billions in profit not pay their fair share of tax to the country in which they are stationed?”

        Oh it is worse than that Michael, these companies weren’t stationed in Ireland.
        Ireland facilitated the sales in other countries to be piped through an Irish incorporated phantom entity (it didn’t exist) and into the bank of another nation which allows a 0% tax.
        The old swiss bank account system.
        Not only that but deliberately turned a blind eye to these sums of money passing through from trade partner nations such as the USA tax free.

        Tax Laundering is probably the best way to describe it.

    • jessica August 31, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

      “I’m disappointed to see SF take the populist position on this issue. They know better. There won’t be any 13 billion available to Ireland to house the homeless or mend the health service. Just 6000 jobs and our credibility as a good place to invest gone down the drain. I don’t often support Noonan but he’s right on this issue.”

      Then you are missing the whole point Mary Jo.

      When you incorporate a company, you have to post annual returns to show what money was returned, how much is profit, how much is reinvested in R&D and how much is taxable profit which is then taxed at 12.5% which goes into the public purse.

      Why should a global corporate company, be allowed to incorporate a business in Ireland that has no operations, no premises, no employees and does no trade in Ireland?

      But lets say they have other businesses which bring jobs and wealth to Ireland and you want to do them a favour in return, you would still have to review the tax returns. Now imagine these show the business operates out of another country where there is a zero % tax rate and billions of pounds in sales within the US are allocated to this Irish business. Fair enough, they have a 12.5% corporation tax you think.

      But then you find out that the money isn’t going to Ireland, it is going elsewhere, then you learn that where it is going has a 0% tax rate and no tax is being paid in Ireland or indeed anywhere.

      You go to Dublin and say, what is going on? Why are you allowing billions of pounds in tax revenue for sales in our country listed as paid to the Irish exchequer to go unpaid through such lax and dubious accounting procedures? Your people are losing billions of much needed cash and this is hardly going to help your reputation as a good place to do business. What are you playing at?

      Our geniuses in government say, its ok, we are getting a good deal out of it. Jobs and stuff. Don’t worry about it.

      Needless to say the US were pissed and both Hilary Clinton and the Trump have promised to come after Ireland to get these billions back next year, and those were the two who are running for president so it is going to happen.

      Because while you may think Noonan and his cohorts are right to have this, we can make our own taxation rules attitude and it is the EU trying to Usurp rights.

      Bear in mind, this is billions of pounds of tax revenue which should have gone to another country where the business took place. It was denied to them because it was declared as being an Irish business and the tax is levied there instead, which is ok, providing the business is indeed genuinely Irish and genuinely paying tax.

      But it wasn’t, and their lacklustre responses have already made Ireland a target for the US and made powerful enemies in our largest and most important trade partner.

      So Fine Gael not only throw away billions of pounds while our people are going through hardships but have brought our business practices into disrepute, and you are disappointed in Sinn Fein for taking the side of our biggest trade partner by far.

      Is it any wonder these incompetent Muppets in Fianna Fail and Fine Gael keep getting re-elected!?!?!?

      Sometimes I think we deserve all we get.

    • jessica August 31, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

      I should also add Mary Jo.

      The EU is not trying to Usurp Irish tax legislation at all.
      They are doing the US a favour by as their position as the legislative trading authority in which Ireland operates, they have reviewed the annual returns and pointed out in a court of law the blatant incompetence in allowing this money to go unpaid.

      This is not the end of it, it is just the beginning. The US will use this court ruling as the basis to go after Ireland and make us pay this revenue to the US.

      Apple will bury Irelands pathetic attempts to do anything and threaten to pull out if they don’t back off to which they will and the Irish people will be in for another bail out of this Apple debt Ireland now has to the US with interest, current value 19 billion euros.

      And that will be just the beginning for how many other corporates have abused the same loophole between 2004 and 2014?

      Perhaps the image of Mr Noonan on the door of 10 downing street with a begging bowl is an image you should try to imagine.

      We need to get rid of these economic incompetents before they destroy this country.

  7. M M August 31, 2016 at 2:24 pm #

    Remember the zeal with which the Irish government and their media lapdogs chased after Thomas “Slab” Murphy for his unpaid tax bill of 150 grand?

    Seems his biggest problem was not knowing the right people to get it written off.

    • jessica August 31, 2016 at 4:16 pm #

      That was with the interest M M and it was repaid.
      The money Apple alone have avoided paying in tax with interest comes to 19 billion, no wonder no one wants to know about it.

      That’s what happens when incompetent wheeler dealers meet global corporate business. It will be a costly lesson for the Irish people.

      Not least when the US come knocking wanting their money back next year.

      Any wonder Noonan said he couldn’t afford the north.

  8. paddykool August 31, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

    Hey Jude …check out YouTube for this great version of “The Mikado”….https://youtu.be/f2TW90OEU-U