HOW are we feeling after Pascal’s Epistle to the Apostles on Budget Day? He gives a long mass, doesn’t he? Have you been counting the pennies? Gain a fiver here, lose a tenner there? Thinking of maybe giving up the fags?
Whatever about the Budget, this year is most likely to be remembered, in financial terms, as the year the government decided to abandon the 12.5% corporate tax rate. I say ‘decided’, but we all know we’ve been over the proverbial barrel for some time on this issue, if you’ll excuse my French. And the French in particular have been gunning for us now for a while, ironic given their own penchant for designing little corporate schemes and sweeteners themselves.
This rate has been sacrosanct in Irish policy for decades. It’s just one of those things we’ve grown to accept in Irish life, like Jedward or getting stuck in traffic in Castlemartyr.
Different finance ministers have fiercely guarded the rate over the years, like Bull McCabe guarding The Field. But like poor old Bull, we couldn’t stop time and the inexorable drift towards a minimum international rate has been on the cards ever since Joe Biden was elected. Bull couldn’t take a stick to The Yank this time. The number was up for leprechaun economics.
You’d have to be a moron to suggest that our low tax on multinationals hasn’t been of huge benefit to the country since former Finance Minister, Charlie McCreevy, reduced it from 32% to 12.5% in the 1999 Finance Act.
The result is a hugely vibrant multinational sector which plays a key role in employing our people. Even a majority of prospective Sinn Féin voters think we should keep the rate, an incredibly loose definition of socialism in any man’s language.
The problem of course, is that many companies weren’t playing close to 12.5% in reality. It’s fair to say that the 12.5% was followed by a big Irish wink from the State – sure what we don’t know won’t hurt us ....
In a world where globalisation is hyper-charging inequality and multinationals are failing to contribute their fair share, this was the right decision and it’s time now for Ireland to stand on its own feet. Companies like Stripe show what can be achieved by our home-grown enterprises and the future must be in supporting and growing our own domestic businesses.
It’s time for Bull McCabe to give up the field and start developing a Silicon Valley instead.
A skyscraper at De Barras?
One of my favourite pubs in Dublin is The Cobblestone bar. Renowned for its traditional Irish music, it’s the kind of place you can walk into at any time and hear brilliant musicians and enjoy a fantastic atmosphere. The playwright Sam Shepard used to bring musician Patti Smith there, saying it was his favourite bar. Billy Connolly would always call in to play a few tunes on the banjo when he was passing through. And what are they proposing to do with it?
Because it’s Dublin, someone wants to build a huge hotel around it, of course, effectively destroying an iconic cultural landmark on Smithfield Square. Protestors made their voices, fiddles and bodhráns heard outside the pub in a protest last Saturday but time will tell if their sweet music will fall on deaf ears.
If this sort of vandalism continues, Dublin will be a town full of tourists walking around looking at … other tourists. Let’s hope someone in the City Council has the cop-on to reject the application. It would be like building a skyscraper around De Barras.Panic-baking in a pandemic
LIKE most fellas my age, I took to panic-baking in the midst of the pandemic.
I’ve already comprehensively covered my hummus-making exploits on these pages but I have yet to come clean about the soda bread obsession.
I had my own recipe licked at the height of the restrictions, even bulk-buying organic stone-milled flour from Meath, like some sort of a crazed lunatic.
I was like Rory O’Connell gone postal.
The recipes got more and more adventurous too – I was incorporating walnuts, linseed, molasses – I threw a can of Guinness in on one occasion. It was a troubling time.
On reflection, I was probably psychologically travelling back to the safety of my grandmother’s kitchen for comfort and maybe feeding the family with my own bread was some sort of a way to wrestle control back from a world in turmoil.
Around six months ago, I took the apron off and had a good long look at myself. This has to stop, I thought.
And I did stop, returning to Lidl to re-enter the land of the sane and buy a sliced pan.
Anyway, last week I got a notion to put on a few loaves for the week ahead and I made an absolute hames of it.
When I tried to shake the bread out of the tin, it collapsed onto the worktop like porridge.
And you know what? I was delighted. This is how life should be, I thought to myself. And off to Lidl I went for a loaf.
Nature, indeed, is healing.