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Enda Kenny, taoiseach, speaking with President Obama in the Oval office, March 14, 2014
Corporate Tax & Ireland as Doormat: Enda Kenny during his US visit for the St Patrick's Day holiday made it clear to US business that he was personally available on the phone for lobbying or other anxieties. He in effect made it explicit that there's "an open door" to continue the traditional role of the Irish Government as being available for requests for personal as well as corporate tax breaks in addition to the existing low headline corporation tax rate of 12.5%.
Kenny gave a speech in Washington DC on Thursday March 13, to members of the US Chamber of Commerce and he described his “close” relationship with the US Chamber, saying he meets with them regularly, and spoke only last week to its president, Thomas Donohue, who has supported keeping a low corporate tax and for bringing down income taxes in Ireland.
He assured the group of business persons: “If you got a problem, you have an issue or anxiety or concern or a proposition or a proposal I want to hear it. My number is a public number you can call me anytime.”
He said people in other countries always “find it difficult to figure out how anybody can ring up the taoiseach and say I want to talk to you”. But he said he tries to take as many calls as possible from citizens who want to discuss any issues with him. “That is responsibility taken to the ultimate level of politics,” he said.
“For American business and American investment in our country, you have an open door to Government. Because it’s in Government’s interest to see that these obstacles are removed and opportunities are created for people to live and work and grow our economy. That is an invitation, it is open to everybody.”
The taoiseach was confirming what is a common belief, apart from big indigenous firms, American firms always get priority attention compared with indigenous SMEs.
Kenny in effect said he is available for lobbying on corporate tax in particular as that is a key current priority. As for local callers, if you don't personally know him, don't bet on getting through.
As for the post-midnight bunfight in New York between Martin Fraser, secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach, and Anne Anderson, Irish ambassador to the US, it must have related to something Kenny was annoyed about even though he pretended to know nothing.
The Irish Independent reports that an angry scene took place in the foyer of Fitzpatrick's Hotel in Manhattan, when Fraser and Anderson had a heated exchange.
Anderson was heard telling the government official: "I am not a liar."
Maybe someone was tired and emotional!
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