Ireland and the United States have enjoyed a very close and warm relationship for many generations through successive governments on both sides of the Atlantic. It is important that our countries maintain these strong links in the interests of our peoples who are affected by issues including business, trade, peace and security and people-to-people links. Ireland has a significant diaspora in the United States and we maintain close links to our citizens in the US, to Irish-Americans and to those who feel an affinity with Ireland. We also have a duty of care to our citizens who are living and working in, or travelling to, the United States.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1) WHAT IS IRELAND’S RESPONSE TO THE NEW IMMIGRATION POLICY ON PEOPLE TRAVELLING TO AMERICA FROM SEVEN MUSLIM-MAJORITY COUNTRIES?
While US immigration policy is a matter for the US authorities, it is clear that the most recent decisions could have far-reaching implications – both on humanitarian grounds and on relations between the US and the global Muslim community. We share the concerns of other EU partners as set out in a statement by Minister Flanagan on Sunday.
Many people are feeling great concern about these changes including some Irish citizens in the United States. Our Embassy in Washington and Consulates remain in active and ongoing contact with Irish immigration centres throughout the US. We are conscious that matters are still evolving and that the US courts are now involved. We will monitor developments very closely. And Minister Flanagan will be in Washington DC this week for meetings on Capitol Hill.
Here in Ireland, we have a vibrant multinational community which contributes a great deal to our country.
In terms of our refugee policies in response to the current migration crisis, under our Refugee Protection Programme, Ireland is welcoming 80 asylum seekers every month from migration camps in Greece, as well as refugees from the Lebanon.
2) WILL THE TAOISEACH VISIT THE WHITE HOUSE ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY?
St. Patrick’s Day provides the Irish Government with a unique annual opportunity to hold bilateral talks with the US President and this longstanding arrangement is of great value to Ireland.
Visiting the White House on St Patrick’s Day allows the Taoiseach of the day to outline, in person, the Government’s view on a range of issues, such as business and economic ties, immigration and other matters of common interest. The Taoiseach has accepted an invitation from President Trump to visit the White House for the annual St. Patrick’s Day meeting. The Taoiseach will continue to act in the interest of Irish people.
3) WHAT ABOUT CORPORATE TAX AND FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT?
Ireland’s tax base is not overly exposed to US policy as corporation tax receipts are small in comparison to income tax or VAT; they only account for 15% of our tax revenues.
The recent uplift in corporation tax receipts has come from a broad base including indigenous firms; it is not just from select multinationals. Revenue has said the growth in corporation tax receipts in 2015 reflects “improved trading conditions.”
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is very important to the Irish economy with just under 200,000 people employed by overseas companies, the highest level on record.
Our corporate tax rate is one of a number of factors that make Ireland an attractive place to invest and do business. We also have a highly educated workforce of talented people, a business friendly environment and provide an English-speaking gateway to a market of over 500 million EU citizens.
On deciding where in Europe to invest, Ireland’s corporate tax rate relative to other European tax rates will be significant, and arguably more important than Ireland’s tax rate relative to that of America.
4) WHAT ABOUT THE UNDOCUMENTED IRISH IN THE US?
Achieving relief for undocumented Irish migrants in the US and agreement on a facility for future migration between Ireland and the US are longstanding Government objectives. We continue to be committed to these objectives notwithstanding the immigration policy agenda of the new Administration.
Minister Flanagan has raised the issue of immigration reform with senior US figures on many occasions. Most recently, Minister Flanagan raised the issue with then-Secretary of State John Kerry in October and with Speaker Paul Ryan in November 2016.
The Government has also availed of every opportunity to sensitise the incoming Administration to our concerns and interests regarding immigration reform, and the plight of the undocumented Irish in particular. The Taoiseach raised the matter in his separate telephone conversations with President Trump and Vice-President Pence in the days following the Presidential election.
Minister Flanagan will discuss this issue with senior politicians on Capitol Hill this week. The Government’s Emigrant Support Programme provides support to Irish emigrants around the world, including in the US.