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CORPORATION TAX RATE IS SAFE; Taoiseach vows to fight off EU loan concession.

Byline: SARAH BARDON

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny yesterday vowed to protect Ireland's corporation tax.

Mr Kenny said he will try to be as constructive as possible in discussions with EU colleagues but will make it clear that Ireland's 12.5% rate is not up for negotiation.

He was responding in the Dail to questions from Opposition TDs about the efforts to renegotiate the EU/IMF deal.

Mr Kenny is due to attend a summit of EU leaders tomorrow and Friday in Brussels where he will face pressure on the investment incentive.

France and Germany want to see the rate increased in return for offering concessions to Ireland on its financial support deal from the EU.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the deal will "sink" Ireland if it is not changed. Meanwhile, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said plans to change the structure of the EU bailout fund had been underway since before the election and it was wrong to suggest the changes were a result of the new Government.

Mr Martin said it was "dishonourable to overspin what is being spun".

Finance Minister Michael Noonan hit back by claiming he will bring reality to the debate on corporation tax rates. At a meeting in Brussels, Mr Noonan said other European states pushing for a hike are imposing lower charges than Ireland.

Mr Noonan quoted a World Bank report on 185 nations which put Ireland's effective corporation tax rate at 11.9% with the statutory figure 12.5%.

He said: "Many of the European countries, including France, have a much lower effective rate than that.

"If the debate is to continue I'll be pushing that it takes into account the effective rates and not the nominal rates because no one pays the nominal rates as far as I can see."

Mr Kenny also told the Dail there are no plans to sell State forestry firm Coillte.

He was responding to Mr Adams, who expressed concern about reports the body was to be sold.

CAPTION(S):

SYMPATHIES Enda Kenny signs a book of condolences at the Japanese embassy in Dublin yesterday watched by Ambassador Toshinao Urabe
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Mar 23, 2011
Words:354
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