Three years ago, James Conway, a 23-year-old Irishman from Co. Sligo was faced with a tough decision: remain in Ireland with zero job prospects, or head to the UK to find work. He decided to leave, and is now working in construction in Wrexham, traveling back to Ireland every weekend to be with his family.
He stays abreast of Irish news as much as he can, but the full gravity of the Ireland-Apple tax scandal, in which the EU Commission ruled that tech giant Apple, which houses its EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) headquarters in Ireland, owes the country $14.5 billion (€13 billion) in back taxes and the Irish government declined to accept it, took a while to sink in.
Yesterday morning, however, Conway posted a video to Facebook in which he shares a novel idea: the Irish government should accept the money from the EU tax ruling and use it to create infrastructure jobs for the many Irish people who’ve had to emigrate just to find work since the 2009 recession.
"Take the money and start laying cable and re-doing roads and doing something to get the likes of myself and all the boys that had to leave back," he says.
"Because, when people are working, they're spending money in the country. How much is Apple spending? Damn all. People are still going to go out and buy their phones, they're still going to make their profit. They'll stay in Ireland because they already have one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the world."
He also challenges Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s claim that most people leave Ireland because they want to, insisting that the truth is “most people leave Ireland because they have to – because there’s nothing at home, only jobs that don’t pay you enough to keep the house you were buying 10 or 12 years ago” and that the government has forgotten all about the ordinary people.
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By just 9:30am (UK time), the video, titled “A little message from myself to the Irish government,” had been viewed nearly 600,000 times, and, Conway told the Irish Times, he had received over 700 messages from around the world.
By the end of the day, the video had been viewed nearly 1,2 million times and shared 21,000 times.
Conway later posted a second video, thanking people for all of their support.
Speaking with the Irish Times, he described the reaction to the video as “very positive.”
“I think it’s probably a reflection of how a lot of people in Ireland and a lot of Irish people around the world are feeling.”
“There’s no recovery going on. Unless you’re around Dublin or the counties around Dublin you’re really not feeling the effects of a recovery.”
He said that, while jobs are opening again in Ireland, the still don’t pay a living wage.
It’s all right if you can subsidise yourself in a way that you can live off very, very little. That’s my major problem. They’re not making work pay at the moment.”
Conway also had a few specific suggestions for infrastructure projects:
“They can improve the roads, they can bring fiber broadband out to rural areas to spread the actual recovery so that rural areas and places outside of Dublin actually see something from this recovery.”
H/T: Irish Times.