MOU signed between Mercyhurst and Council
The prospect of an American college creating a campus in Dungarvan has taken a major step forward.
A press conference was held at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania on Monday, November 14, to announce the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding with Waterford Council officials.
The MOU authorises a shared feasibility study of a Mercyhurst campus in Dungarvan. A 12-month timeframe has been allocated for this process.
Waterford Council CEO Michael Walsh joined the simultaneous signing through electronic conferencing.
“This is the first step towards what will hopefully be the construction of a dedicated campus in Dungarvan,” says Waterford TD John Deasy, a graduate of Mercyhurst, who travelled to Erie earlier this year to meet the university’s new president, Michael Victor.
“The aspiration has always been to make Dungarvan a university town. It’s taken eight years to get to this point and its fantastic to see the initial groundwork has been completed.
“When I went to Erie last March I could sense a new impetus had emerged within Mercyhurst and now we are beginning to see the manifestation of that, which I hope will change the face of the town of Dungarvan for the next 10 years,” he added.
Since that visit to the States, Mr Victor and the university’s provost, David Dausey, have been to Dungarvan to meet Deputy Deasy, Waterford Council officials, and Mercyhurst’s Irish board.
The relationship between Dungarvan and Mercyhurst dates back more than three decades, with educational links to St Augustine’s College, Abbeyside starting in the mid-eighties.
Many students from the Friary and other schools in West Waterford have attended third-level there since and Dungarvan and Erie were formally twinned in 2007. For the past six years students from Erie have come to Dungarvan to study and use it as a base to explore the rest of Ireland and Europe.
Dungarvan has also hosted Mercyhurst’s Global Intelligence Forum a number of times, most recently in July 2015.
Mr Deasy and his former St Augustine’s schoolmate John Melody, now a successful businessman in Erie, went there on scholarships in 1986 and have kept in close contact since.
They and others have spent the past number of years working with Mercyhurst to deliver a European headquarters in Dungarvan, catering for up to 350 students each year.
“We are potentially about to enter a war with the UK on the basis of competitiveness and attracting inward investment and we are the minnow.”
Finance Bill 2016
Dáil Debate | 27 Oct 2016
I want to discuss the Finance Bill provisions to deal with corporation tax and multinationals, and how we deal with these issues as the implications of Brexit manifest themselves.
The question for me is what affirmative steps we can take now when it comes to our tax code that would insulate Ireland from the negative effects of Brexit. I believe there is some confusion as to what direction to take, understandably, because of the enormous number of unknowns that exist, particularly as it applies to the UK.
For example, yesterday it became clear that we are in the dark regarding the UK's intentions on immigration controls and that is not the only area. We are in a similar situation when it comes to corporation tax and how it will structure its tax regime to remain competitive outside the EU. If, for example the UK leaves the Single Market and reduces its corporation to 10%, as has been mooted, how do we deal with that when it comes to our competitiveness?
In the meantime, how do we deal with the uncertainty that could be just as damaging? I believe there is one immediate step that has not been taken and needs to happen now. The UK has had and has our tax regime in its sights and is trying to figure out how to eat into a share of foreign direct investment coming to Ireland, as it has been for some time.
That began in earnest about six or seven years ago. It picked up pace when George Osborne MP, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that there would be an incremental lowering of the corporate tax rate in the UK to 15% or so. That was before Brexit.
While all of this has been going on, our corporate tax regime has come under a continual and sustained attack from the European Commission. It started a couple of years ago with the closure of the double Irish. That involved the OECD as well. It allowed companies to shift profits, transfer pricing, etc., as well all know.
That corporate taxation facility, which did make Ireland attractive to multi-nationals, was wound up for new entrants from the start of 2015 and will disappear altogether at the end of 2020 for multi-nationals with schemes existing before January 2020. I was probably one of the only Members in this House who cautioned against ending the double Irish.
Would the same decision be made today in light of Brexit and the increased threat to our competitiveness? I do not know, but I do not think we would be as quick to dispense with the double Irish facility if we had that choice presented to us again. Should we reconsider the phasing out of the double Irish in 2020 for those pre-existing entrants in the scheme? In view of Brexit I believe everything is on the table.
Since then, we have received the European Commission's decision concerning Apple. Commissioner Vestager found that Apple received billions of euro in illegal state aid, according to her, and ordered the corporation to repay €13 billion in back taxes to the Irish Exchequer. To put it simply, it amounted to an attack on our corporate tax regime and a threat to Irish sovereignty.
As we know now, it has not stopped there. Commissioner Vestager has turned her attention to every other multi-national here to see whether or not they similarly received illegal state aid. We are appealing the decision because we are aware of how much damage this could potentially do to our competitiveness and our ability to attract foreign direct investment. The expectation is that Ireland will lose the appeal.
Two days ago, the Commissioner for economics, Mr. Pierre Moscovici, relaunched to common consolidated corporate tax base, CCCTB. In a nutshell, it would create a common tax base for corporations around Europe and would mandate that taxes are paid in the locations in which goods and services are sold, which is most likely in the larger EU markets.
If implemented, the reality is that it would eat into our corporate tax revenues. It amounts to another attack on our sovereignty. The EU Commission and Commissioners Vestager and Moscovici are operating as if our largest trading partner, Britain, voted to remain in the EU.
They are proceeding with grand tax policy initiatives that take absolutely no account of what we may be facing in three of four years' time when it comes to the UK's tax regime and how it positions itself to attract a larger percentage of foreign direct investment to this country's potential detriment.
What are we looking at when it comes to the UK's corporate tax regime? We do not know, but various scenarios have been drawn up. We could see a complete unilateral break if the UK loses its EU passport rights, for example, in which case it will have to improve its tax offering access across the board. What does that mean? It potentially means a lower rate of corporate tax, VAT recovery for financial institutions, exemptions for financial service businesses and tax incentives that are presently contrary to EU state aid rules.
If that happens, what do we do? There may not be a great deal we can do because of the EU constraints when it comes to corporate tax and VAT. We may be confined to making improvements to our personal tax regime. What is happening in Government now? Understandably, we are considering our position based on every potential eventuality. We are dealing with issues such as the knowledge box and introducing incentives for CEOs and business people who are potentially coming to locate in Ireland.
When it comes to Ireland, the European Commission is operating as if Brexit did not happen. Two commissioners in particular are chipping away at our competitiveness and our tax sovereignty as if nothing has changed. This is my point: we cannot afford to fight a war on two fronts. As I said earlier, the British have had our corporate tax rate in their sights for years.
We are potentially about to enter a war with the UK on the basis of competitiveness and attracting inward investment and we are the minnow. I was struck by the comments of the Minister, Deputy Noonan, around the time of the Apple case when he said that there was a declaration of war on our sovereignty and our corporate tax rate. We are looking at that happening on two fronts if somebody does not impress upon the European Commission the implications for Ireland as a result of Brexit.
At the same time, the EU seems intent on changing those corporate tax structures, even if that means diminishing our attractiveness to multi-nationals. What do we need to do? We need to immediately make terms with the European Commission until we know whether or not the UK retains access to the Single Market and how it plans to construct its tax code. I am obviously directing my comments to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan.
I am also directing my comments to whom I believe is the important person in this case, and that is the President of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker. He is the only senior person when it comes to those two Commissioners that I have mentioned. It needs to be impressed upon him immediately that his Commissioners need to deal with the bigger picture and desist from making any further attacks on our competitiveness until we understand how the UK intends to proceed post-Brexit.
We are scrambling to find direction when it comes to Brexit. I believe that is where we need to start. Understandably, perhaps, we are struggling to find direction when it comes to dealing with Brexit. Unfortunately, I also think there is an attitude that there is very little we can do until we know what the British want and how they intend to proceed.
I disagree with that sentiment and I believe that our first and immediate port of call needs to be to Mr. Juncker to express the case I have just made. I do not believe that there is a leader in the EU who would not grasp the political and economic realities of the argument I have just made. I do not believe there is one. They understand that this entire process is a crapshoot. Nobody knows what is going to happen.
The answer may comes back that the EU cannot stop the European project in its tracks and that it cannot put on hold reasonable and good EU policy measures because of Brexit, but we cannot give the British a chit or the opportunity to bargain before we start negotiating with them.
I am afraid there needs to be balance here and that needs to be impressed upon EU leaders. If, on one hand, our corporate tax base continues to be undermined by the European Commission and, on the other hand, we find ourselves competing with a highly-attractive UK tax code framed to attract inward investment at all costs, our economy will be set back again very badly.
If those two dynamics are not in some way addressed and one of them halted, this economy could be looking at a potentially perfect storm when it comes tax, inward investment and our competitiveness.
RTE | Today With Sean O'Rourke (5/10/16)
Attention people of Cork. You have long since prided yourselves in calling yourselves “the rebels”, and your county, “The Rebel County”. But a word of warning. You have a claimant to that title. Your neighbour, the County of Waterford.
First it was Independent TD and member of government, John Halligan, who threatened to walk last month if a second cath lab was not given to Waterford University Hospital. Now it’s John Deasy, one of Fine Gael’s own, who really cut loose on his own party, speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke .
Yes, Waterford is fast becoming known for its rebel politicians.
“If this budget is framed to protect the status quo and the political classes running this country – which are Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – that’s an absolute derogation… and a complete collapse when it comes to decision-making in the national interest.”
The Deasy family have form here, given that John Deasy’s father, Austin Deasy, resigned from Fine Gael in 1988 in protest against Alan Dukes’ Tallaght Strategy. How far John Deasy will take his rebellious streak remains to be seen. But today, joining Sean O’Rourke to discuss next week’s budget, the conversation took a few twists and turns.
Deputy Deasy quickly started into what he thinks are the fundamental errors in Ireland’s taxation system and how he sees Budget 2017 as history repeating itself; a tool for keeping the status quo.
The biggest group to be hit, in his opinion? Middle income earners.
“People call them ‘the squeezed middle’. I think they should be called ‘the people who pay for everything.”
“They’ve seen about seven or eight austerity budgets and they’re getting smashed. The incentive to work is actually fast disappearing and leaving their bodies. For Fine Gael, that is their natural constituency – those people in the middle. Fine Gael will be judged on whether or not they turn their backs on these people in the budget.”
So, Sean O’Rourke asked, if Deputy Deasy’s political views are so at odds with that of his party’s, what exactly is he doing in Fine Gael?
When his mother and father used to bicker, he said, his father would always accuse her of employing the tactic of ‘answering a question with a question’. It seemed Sean and John were straying into the area of domestic spats.
“Why is it unusual for you to speak to someone who has an opinion outside of what is commonly accepted in their political parties? Why is it extraordinary for you to talk to someone in Fine Gael with those viewpoints?”
OK, so enough of the whataboutery – to borrow a phrase coined by our host.
“There’s very little principle in Irish politics, that’s been my experience.”
Stark words from John Deasy, speaking very candidly and without any apparent compunction.
“Things are going to change in Fine Gael very soon, and I think everybody knows that. Whether it’s in the very short term or in the medium term; by that I mean in the middle of next year.”
Deasy is calling Leo Varadkar for the top Fine Gael job, with Simon Coveney following close behind. Right now, he says, a change, regardless of who it is, would be best.
And then, the final dissenting blow.
“I think when a political party rewards failure to the extent that Fine Gael and Enda Kenny has, it’s in serious trouble.”
Folks, it’s definitely worth checking out this interview. Radio gold, as they say.
John Halligan’s declarations regarding a second cath lab at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and the currently less discussed runway extension at Waterford Airport were well-intentioned, ‘but it’s backfired on him’.
That’s the view of Fine Gael TD John Deasy, who chewed the fat on the local and national political landscape with The Munster Express during a lively interview on Thursday morning last.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with John Halligan – John is a good guy - but I can’t help feeling that he has fallen into his own trap,” said Deputy Deasy.
“He decided to pick out a few issues, important and all as they were, highlighted them intensively and then used language like ‘a formality’ and a ‘fait accompli’ when it came to the cath lab at UHW, which, in my view was a big mistake – I feel he’s gotten it badly wrong.”
Deputy Deasy also called on “the people of Waterford and the media in Waterford city to start asking serious questions” about UHW consultants whom he feels “didn’t do enough” to prevent the break-up and fragmentation of the former HSE South East region.
“The past few weeks have, in my opinion, set back the progression of the second cath lab, something many of us have raised and considerably lobbied on for many years, very, very badly.
“And I’ve found how the consultants have positioned themselves in recent times interesting, particularly when setting it in the context of what led to the break-up of the former South East Hospital Group, in which Waterford Regional Hospital was the primary health service provider.”
Deputy Deasy said that ever since UHW was reconfigured into the South/South West Hospital Group, the prospect of services at UHW being downgraded or even withdrawn was both “real and unfortunately inevitable”.
“That services which ought to be provided at UHW would be either be recommended or increased at Cork University Hospital was on the cards from the moment this new group came into being, and effectively relegated UHW.
“And we’re now living with the failure of consultants to stand together more forcibly before this reconfiguration was set in stone. On top of that, the events of recent weeks, I feel, have set the provision of the second cath lab back even further, and now the consultants are trying to justify their actions again. And I do feel they have questions to answer on issues that have yet to be put to them sufficiently.”
During our interview, Deputy Deasy was adamant that he wasn’t breaking any perceived silence that’s been particularly alluded to on social media since the general election.
“I’ve been very busy since the election, my office has been very busy, and we’re getting through a lot of work,” he said, stating that he didn’t wish to engage in a discussion about where he has been in recent months. “I have been very busy, doing the work I was elected to do.”
As for the challenging political landscape, John Deasy believes that “Fianna Fáil are preparing for an election, and I’d say we’re talking about the middle of next year”. Reflecting on his own general election vote, which saw him go from 2011 poll-topper to fourth past the post in February, he added: “It was still the second highest vote I ever received. People thought I was safe – I didn’t – and the same thing happened to my Dad during his time.
“Look, once Paddy Power had me at 1/80 for re-election, then how I did, no matter how I ended up doing, was inevitably going to receive some attention. The reality is that people split their Fine Gael vote, and when people feel a candidate is certain to be elected, that kind of thinking can end up proving deadly for any such candidate. Thankfully, in my case, that’s not how it turned out and my vote was actually a good deal better than how a great many people perceived it either on election night or since then.”
As for Waterford Airport, whose long-term viability was one of the topics he raised with most regularity in the previous Dáil, Deputy Deasy believes it’s far from an ‘all is lost’ scenario for management at Killowen.
With sources close to the Airport suggesting that management are quietly pleased with their search for a commercial carrier to replace VLM, Deputy Deasy said it was important to point out that the removal of the latest service was down to VLM, and not the Airport.
“VLM went bankrupt, let’s remind ourselves of that. The route to Luton was actually doing quite well and the management had worked hard to make it successful, and they’d done just that. And I don’t buy the line that the airport’s geography (between Cork and Dublin) means a successful commercial carrier into London can’t make a sustainable go of things out of Waterford. And, of course, key to this, in the long term, is the runway extension. We all know that.”
John Deasy added: “What is disappointing, however, is that funding to the Airport from the Department of Transport, has been made conditional on the delivery of a new carrier. Even when the Airport had had its difficulties when losing previous carriers, the funding was never cut, and that I was something I fought tooth and nail for…
“Waterford Airport is the key infrastructural issue for the city, county and the entire south east region, and I’ve never had any doubt in my mind about that. And we need people to stay focused on this critical economic issue when it comes to the long-term gains that can be made once a new carrier is secured and the runway is extended. And we must not lose sight of that goal.”