Thurs 10th November 2016
Irish Government appeals against €13bn EU ruling
Ireland’s stance on the EU’s landmark ruling against Apple, saying the tech giant owed the country €13bn, has finally been made official.
Ireland doesn’t want the EU’s help when it comes to taxation. So much so that Michael Noonan, Ireland’s Minister for Finance, has officially appealed against the Apple ruling.
In August, Europe’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, revealed the culmination of a three-year investigation into Apple’s tax status in Ireland.
Finding that Apple enjoyed a special agreement of sorts with the Irish Government, €13bn was the value Vestager put on the arrangement.
“This selective treatment allowed Apple to pay an effective corporate tax rate of 1% on its European profits in 2003, down to 0.005% in 2014,” she said.
Quids in for Ireland, with billions of winnings a boon to a country still operating under a shroud of debt. However, the Irish Government has been firmly in Apple’s corner throughout the case, and ever since.
Yesterday, just one day before the appeal deadline, Noonan acted.
“The government fundamentally disagrees with the European Commission’s analysis and the decision left no choice but to take an appeal,” Noonan told a European Parliament committee in Brussels.
“The tax practices that gave rise to the Apple decision are no longer part of Irish law, but we still think that the competition commissioner is wrong in law, and we’re appealing on those grounds.”
At the time of the decision, Apple CEO Tim Cook called it “maddening”.
“It’s maddening. It’s disappointing. It’s clear it comes from a political base and has no basis in fact,” he said.
Speaking to RTÉ, Cook strongly lauded Apple’s Irish workforce, currently employing some 5,000 people in Cork, with this figure soon to rise to 6,000. There’s also a new data centre in Galway to be built, but some are now concerned future investment could be curtailed should Apple be forced to pay up.
Apple’s relationship with Ireland “has not been diminished one iota”, said Cook, calling the company’s Ireland-based employees “world class”.
“I’m pretty confident that the Government will do the right thing. That is to stand up and fight against this overreach.”
Ireland must ‘practise what we preach’ on USA undocumented people
If State wants Trump to help Irish illegals we must address ‘crucial issue’ here.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin raised concerns about Donald Trump’s position on immigration which he said was the direct opposite of Ireland’s.
Ireland needs to “practise what we preach” and address the issue of the undocumented migrants living in the State if the Government wants US president-elect Donald Trump to help illegal Irish immigrants in America.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin said the Migrant Rights Centre estimated that 20,000 to 26,000 undocumented immigrants are in Ireland of whom 2,000 to 6,000 are children, who “live in the shadows of our society”.
He said that “if we’re going to take the initiative to protect the 50,000 undocumented Irish in the United States, is there not an absolute imperative on us to practise what we preach and address those in our State who are undocumented”.
Mr Howlin raised in the Dáil concerns about Mr Trump’s position on immigration which he said was the direct opposite of Ireland’s.
“He has promised to deport illegal immigrants in the first 100 days and the clock is ticking.” Mr Howlin asked what the Government was doing “to address the crucial issue” of the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US.
And he said there was an equal obligation on the State to help deal with the undocumented in Ireland.
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald told him: “I do want to confirm to this House that on immigration reform, relief for undocumented Irish remains an absolute priority for the Government.”
She said the Government was taking a two-pronged approach in trying to regularise the status of the undocumented and trying to get a dedicated quota for legal emigration from Ireland.
She said Taoiseach Enda Kenny had had a preliminary conversation with US president-elect Trump “and we will continue to pursue the values that we hold dear and the priority issues of which immigration reform remains an absolute priority”.
The Government raised this issue at every opportunity and fully intended to do so again “in our contacts with this administration”, she said.
Ms Fitzgerald, who is Minister for Justice, said she had met the Migrant Rights Council a number of times and intended to have further discussions with them.
She said “we would encourage people to make contact with officials and regularise their position”.
She said that every few months there were citizenship ceremonies and “we have a very inclusive approach” to immigrants seeking to work in Ireland.
HSE boss Tony O’Brien apologises after leaked memo said patients could be removed with “minimum force”
Minister for Health Simon Harris said that the rescinded memo was “utterly offensive and unacceptable”.
The HSE boss Tony O’Brien has apologised for any distress caused after a leaked memo said nurses could remove patients from beds “as trespassers” using “minimum force” to free up beds.
O’Brien told the Oireachtas Health Committee this afternoon that the memo should not have been disseminated as widely as it was.
He apologised for any distress it caused.
However, he did say it was drafted based on legal counsel in relation to rare cases where patients refused to leave hospital.
Yesterday, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that the memo was “utterly offensive and unacceptable” and had been rescinded.
He was agreeing with Liam Doran, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, who welcomed the retraction but also expressed worry over why the memo included those instructions in the first place.
Roscommon-Galway Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice shared his concern, and said that those responsible for HSE statement on removal of patients should be removed from their roles.
“The notion that the HSE would ask nurses to use force to remove patients from beds is absolutely unbelievable and a further indication of the disconnect that there is between some of the people who run our health service and the most important people of all, who are the patients.
“The callous tone of this statement is quite astonishing and to suggest that anyone in a civilised society would be treated in this manner is quite shocking.”
Simon Harris pledges to take action on medicinal cannabis
Minister makes promise to mother of child with a catastrophic form of epilepsy
Buds of cannabis at a a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, California, US. Minister for Health Simon Harris has promised he will take action on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has promised the mother of an ill child that he will take action on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in January.
The Minister made the promise to Vera Twomey after she embarked on a walk from Co Cork to Leinster House in order to draw attention to the issue.
Her six-year-old daughter, Ava Barry, has a catastrophic form of epilepsy, but is now almost seizure-free after she started taking two doses of cannabis oil a day.
Ava suffers from Dravet syndrome and needed around-the-clock care before she started taking cannabidiol oil earlier this month.
Ms Twomey is calling for a change to Irish law to allow for cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes.
Cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal in a number of countries, including the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Canada, Australia, Malta, Croatia and some US states.
It is usually made available on prescription from doctors and supplied in a standardised form through pharmacists.
Mr Harris had said the Government had ordered a review of the Republic’s policy on medicinal cannabis.
As part of the review, Mr Harris has asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to provide him with expert scientific advice on the matter.
The Oireachtas health committee is also due to discuss the issue later this month.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Harris said he “had a good meeting with Vera and Paul Twomey”, where he took the opportunity to update them on the policy review.
He said the HPRA had been asked to provide advice on recent developments in the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and an overview of related products that have been authorised in other jurisdictions.
Additionally, he said he had asked for an overview of the “wider ongoing and emerging clinical research” on the efficacy of medicinal cannabis, as well as an overview of the different regulatory regimes in place in states which allow it.
The HPRA will also advise on the legislative changes that would be required to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in the Republic.
Mr Harris said he hoped to receive the report from the HPRA and advice from the Oireachtas health committee in January.
He said he will then move forward with any legislative changes that may be recommended.
Cannabis for Medicinal Use Bill
Separately on Wednesday, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People before Profit TD Gino Kenny launched the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Bill 2016 at a press conference in Dublin.
The Bill is unlikely to be passed without Government support.
The Bill provides for the regulation of cannabis for medicinal use so that patients can receive a “legally-protected, secure supply” of a quality-controlled cannabis-based medicine.
The Bill includes provisions for a regulatory authority that would issue licences for importation and supply of such medicines.
The cannabis-based medicines would only be available from a pharmacy under the terms of the Bill, while the advertising and the sale of cannabis to minors would be banned.
Some 90% of Ireland’s prostate cancer patients alive after five years
N.B.: Scientists have revealed recently that a component found in green tea may help reduce the development of prostate cancer in men facing high risk.
Nine out of 10 prostate cancer patients survive more than five years, compared to just one in three 40 years ago.
As part of the Movember fundraising campaign, the Irish Cancer Society has been looking back on prostate cancer research advances in Ireland.
Survival rates have improved tremendously, because of huge strides in the prevention, detection, and treatment of the disease.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Irish men, accounting for a third of their cases.
About 3,400 new cases of the diseases are identified in Ireland every year, due to improved detection.
However, more needs to be done to improve survival rates, particularly for men with metastatic prostate cancer.
Also, ways need to be found to improve the lives of men who have survived the disease, as they often suffer a reduced quality of life.
The Irish Cancer Society and the Movember Foundation Ireland became partners nine years ago to invest in Irish prostate cancer research projects.
Consultant medical oncologist, Prof Ray McDermott, said prostate cancer survival rates only showed one side of the journey a patient with the disease travelled.
“For survivors, their diagnosis and treatment often impact on their physical and mental wellbeing in ways men rarely speak openly about,” he said.
Prof McDermott is clinical director of the prostate cancer research initiative, iPROSPECT, funded by the Irish Cancer Society in partnership with Movember, to devise personalised treatments and improve patient outcomes.
Scientists have revealed recently that a component found in green tea may help reduce development of prostate cancer in men facing high risk.
Trump’s climate change denial poses big problems in global fight
US president-elect has promised to tear up the Paris climate accord ratified last year
The greatest danger posed by US president-elect Donald Trump may be his threat to “cancel” the Paris accord on climate change, which was concluded last December after decades of negotiations.
The Paris accord seeks to limit the rise in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial revolution levels; 1.5 degrees if possible.
“Article 28 of the text I negotiated foresees that a state which has signed – and President Obama signed – may renounce the accord three years after it enters into force,” Laurent Fabius, who presided over the 21st Conference of Parties, or COP, told France Inter Radio.
The accord took effect on November 4th, after the required two-thirds threshold of ratification by 55 countries, accounting for 55% of global greenhouse emissions, was met.
Trump could renounce the agreement in 2019, Fabius said. A US withdrawal would take effect in 2020. The US is the world’s second-largest producer of carbon emissions, after China.
Fabius recalled going through the agreement, line by line, with US and Chinese envoys. China linked its ratification to that of the Americans, and a US pullout could create a domino effect.
“It would have huge repercussions,” Fabius said. “Once you put greenhouse gases in the air, they stay there for up to 10,000 years. There’s a risk that other countries will say, ‘If the US is doing nothing, we won’t either.’ It would be extremely grave for the world; the future of the world is at stake.”
News of Trump’s election cast a pall over COP22 in Marrakech, the first international climate summit since the Paris accord. The meeting had started with great optimism on November 7th, because the ratification procedure had been completed much more quickly than expected.
In other positive news for the fight against climate change, the first global climate deal for aviation was reached on October 6th, and an agreement to phase out planet-warming hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, used in air conditioners and refrigerators, was concluded in Kigali on October 15th.
This hard-won progress is threatened by Trump’s climate negationism. “With Donald Trump’s election, a period of great uncertainty regarding US climate policy has opened,” Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists told Le Monde from Marrakesh.
“It will have an undeniable psychological effect, even if it doesn’t block the working session in Marrakesh.”
On Tuesday, US election day, the World Meteorological Organisationpresented its analysis of the global climate from 2011 through 2015 at COP22. The five-year period was the hottest on record. The organisation reported “the increasingly visible human footprint on extreme weather and climate events with dangerous and costly impacts”.
The same day, the Germanwatch group reported that more than 528,000 people have died in the past decade due to some 11,000 extreme weather events.
Trump has often ridiculed one of the most powerful scientific consensuses of our time. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive,” he tweeted in November 2012.
In a campaign speech last May, Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris accord on the grounds it gave “foreign bureaucrats” control over US energy consumption and would “kill jobs and trade”.
In other tweets, Trump has cited freak cold weather events as proof that global warming is a hoax, claimed that wind turbines are “bad for people’s health” and that low-energy light bulbs cause cancer.
Trump does not even need to renounce the Paris accord to sabotage it. At the insistence of the US and other parties, the accord is non-binding, and there are no sanctions against countries who do not fulfil their pledges to cut carbon emissions.
Trump has vowed to dismantle the US Environmental Protection Agency, which has an $8 billion budget, and whose work he termed “shameful”. He also said he would cut US funding for UN projects that fight climate change.
The Obama administration pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries make the transition to renewable energy.
President Barack Obama’s “Clean Power Plan”, designed to reduce emissions from power plants, has been suspended since February, following a lawsuit by 27 mostly Republican states.
The president-elect wants to develop fossil fuels and increase reliance on coal mining and coal-fired power plants, which are responsible for 40% of US carbon dioxide emissions. And he may resurrect plans for the Keystone XL pipeline between Alberta, Canada, and refineries in Illinois and Texas.