Dublin: Beware of Germans and French bearing gifts.
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary certainly is. He told the European Union bosses to f**k off (actual quote) with their shiny ribbon-wrapped special gift of $14.5 billion in taxes to be paid by Apple to Ireland Inc.
Meanwhile, Apple boss Tim Cook is equally upset. He says Ireland has been “picked on” by the EU, and Apple and Ireland are being made scapegoats and they will fight the EU together – but will they?
"They just picked a number from I don't know where. In the year that the Commission says we paid that tax figure, we actually paid $400m. We believe that makes us the highest taxpayer in Ireland that year," Cooke said.
A massive windfall for Ireland? Dancing in the street?
Not exactly. The fear and dread is that Apple, deprived of their sweetheart deal of less than one percent actual tax imposed in Ireland, will gather up their marbles and settle elsewhere, leading to economic armageddon as the foreign tech sector follows suit and departs in droves.
A nightmare vista of Ireland without Google, Facebook and Apple looms, according to some experts.
The mood in Ireland was utter confusion at first but has hardened into a deeply anti-European Union view in an astonishing turnaround since Britain's vote to leave the EU when Ireland stood firmest of all against Brexit and break-up.
If a referendum on European membership were held tomorrow I think there would be no certainty at all that Ireland would vote to remain.
Having just been kicked from pillar to post by the EU, when the Irish economy collapsed and the EU imposed deeply punitive repayments on Ireland, the latest kick in the backside has angered the Irish, who deeply resent the diktats from Europe over tax policy by an unelected commissioner who has made very serious allegations.
Being the whipping boys of Europe once again is going down like flatulence in an elevator among ordinary Irish folk.
Multinationals and their subsidiaries and their suppliers account for over 340,0000 jobs in Ireland, an incredible number in a labor force of just over 2 million.
Now it is squeaky bum time. The EU Commissioner has decided that Apple owes Ireland $14.5 billion dollars in unpaid taxes and must repay it and has vowed to end Ireland’s special tax status with American multinationals.
Tax deals with foreign countries by multinationals are rarely edifying and are rather like watching sausages being made. Sure Ireland has a special deal, but so do numerous other countries who house multinationals. The little folk can scream “unfair” about multinational tax avoidance all they want, but that is how the system works.
The irish government sees a Trojan horse rather than a gift, petrified that Apple and other multinationals will end their Irish operations if the tax revenue is paid to them and future sweetheart deals canceled.
The Irish government has said they will appeal the decision that they are owed the tax, preferring not to receive it, which is pretty confusing.
Ryanair Chairman Michael O’Leary, Ireland's best known businessman, had a succinct message for the Irish government - let the EU go to hell he stated.
O'Leary argued that the EU tax finding was deeply flawed, and, as each EU member has the right to set its own taxation policy, Ireland should not even be subject to any such rule.
"Frankly the Irish government should turn around – they shouldn't even appeal the decision – they should just write a letter to Europe and tell them politely to f**k off.
"The idea that you have the (EU) state aid mob – who've had more court verdicts overturned than any other department in Europe in the last 20 years – come along 10 years after the fact and say, 'No we didn't like that, we think you should have done something else,' is frankly bizarre."
The whole issue is bizarre. The biggest fear now is that the scheme where multinationals game the system has finally been exposed and can no longer operate.
Will multinationals think twice about staying/expanding, settling in Ireland if the tax dodge game is up?
It is a definite possibility, hitting an economy barely recovering from the toughest times since the 1930s. And that folks, would be a major catastrophe.