NI should not chase a multi-national mirage

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The recent EU ruling about Apple’s tax affairs and the response of the Irish government should be ringing alarm bells on this side of the border as well.

It has been clear for a long time that the Irish Republic’s dependence upon foreign direct investment, and its provision of a – let us say remarkably generous – corporate tax and regulatory regime is as much a bubble as the Celtic Tiger property boom.

It is both economically unsustainable and morally wrong, forcing ordinary taxpayers to pay for the infrastructure that rich corporations rely upon, and depriving the poorest countries in the world of desperately needed revenue.

As Professor Richard Murphy, with whom I shared a platform analysing the Northern Ireland Executive’s nonsensical corporation tax plans, said on RTE radio this week:

“The politicians have to decide, whose side are they on? Global capital’s or ordinary people’s?

“It’s really as blunt as that and there can eventually be only one answer if we’re going to keep democracy and stability in our countries, which is, the people must win.”

I hope that our Executive, whose economic strategy seems to be to follow the Republic’s folly as closely as possible, will take note of Richard’s wisdom before continuing any further down this cul-de-sac.

We have all we need in Northern Ireland: a skilled and enthusiastic workforce, creative and innovative ideas and abundant natural renewable resources, to build a sustainable, thriving and fair economy on the firm foundations of our own enterprise.

Investment in the people and businesses of Northern Ireland, and in the infrastructure and improvements we need, especially in the West, would reap a far richer harvest than chasing after multinational mirages.

It is said that an apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head made him realise the theory of gravity.

Let us hope that this falling Apple provides a similar jolt of common sense in Stormont.

Tanya Jones, Green Party, Fermanagh and South Tyrone