Speech by Mr. Damien English T.D. Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal at Chambers Ireland Corporate Social Responsibility Awards 2016
Thursday 1st September
The Double Tree Hotel, Dublin 4.
Check Against Delivery
Ladies and Gentlemen. Good evening to you all.
I would like to thank Chambers Ireland and particularly Chief Executive Ian Talbot for your invitation to speak tonight.
My congratulations to your team Ian, and to Tina Roche and all at ‘Business in the Community Ireland’ for your initiative in promoting Corporate Social Responsibility in Ireland.
Nights like tonight are worth having. They reward effort, encourage excellence and highlight your work to new and wider audiences.
I am a big fan of CSR. In my previous role in the Department of Education I saw first-hand the benefits of companies getting involved in combating exclusion through programmes for literacy, numeracy and coding.
Tonight I have learnt even more about the great work that you do up and down the country.
Through your CSR you are contributing to the social recovery of Ireland, as well as our economic recovery.
For all of that, I want to sincerely THANK YOU.
I note that earlier in the year, at the launch of these awards, Gerard O’Neill of Amarach Research spoke about the link between CSR and Customer Relationship Management.
In Government we have many customers and many relationships to manage.
One main group of customers we have is you; Chambers Ireland member businesses. Both indigenous Irish and Multinational Companies.
Earlier this week the European Commission attempted to drive a wedge in our long standing relationship with you, by their ruling on Apple, and it would be remiss of me not to discuss this with you tonight.
The ruling is an attempt by the Commission – an appointed body, not an elected body, to meddle in the national taxation affairs of a sovereign member state.
The European Union draws it authority from the EU Treaties which were voted upon by the Irish people. The Irish people have not authorized the EU to look after our tax affairs.
It is important Ireland maintains control of its taxation and economic affairs, because we are a small island country, off another island, off the coast of Europe. We have few natural resources in the traditional sense.
And yet, we are a magnet for global investment. Why?
- Because of our relationship with you and our pro enterprise environment – one of certainty and stability.
- Because we have a young, well educated, and flexible workforce.
- Because we have an education system responsive to the need of enterprise. One that is reforming and changing, with new apprenticeships and traineeships.
- We have a historic friendship with Britain which will not diminish with Brexit.
- We are a bridge between America and the European Union.
- We have a vast global diaspora acting as unofficial ambassadors worldwide.
- And finally, because of our taxation policy.
A taxation policy that all major political parties have bought into and respected whilst in Government through the years.
A taxation policy that the European Commission and others have tried to strike down, most recently in their response to the economic crisis.
The Apple tax ruling by the European Commission is our biggest economic and sovereign challenge since the arrival of the Troika.
Unless overturned, it is a challenge to our open global economy and Irish jobs. We cannot have CSR if we have no corporations.
Our position in Fine Gael is that we need to appeal the decision. I hope the Cabinet meeting tomorrow, and all elements of our Partnership Government, endorse this position.
My personal view is that we will make an appeal. Our position is right. The Commission is wrong. And I believe we will win the appeal.
On that note I want to thank Chambers Ireland for being one of the first organisations to call for an appeal.
You in Chambers Ireland know that backing this position is backing Ireland as a location for the best of international capital, investment and jobs.
Backing this position is backing Irish research, innovation and talent.
Backing this position continues to create opportunities for all of our people, beyond what an island nation of ours could otherwise expect or hope.
And backing this position is backing the members of Chambers Ireland.
To conclude, our relationship with Chambers Ireland can be described as a mutually beneficial one. Government needs your businesses to be viable and sustainable.
We need you to be profitable to pay tax and create jobs, to employ people that will drive your business forward.
In turn it is through your success in business and your people that allows you to drive your CSR programmes forward.
All of this is at stake if we do not defend our historic open and transparent corporate tax regime.
Finally ladies and gentlemen, that is the serious stuff out of the way. Congratulations to everyone who has won an award so far, I know there are more to come.
I would like to hand you back over to our host Mary Kennedy.