A preliminary finding by the European Commission has found that Ireland provided illegal state aid to tech giant Apple for more than 20 years. It said it has doubts that two “sweetheart” tax deals agreed in 1991 and 2007 between Apple and Ireland are compatible with the internal market of the European Union.
In a statement, the European Commission said: “Accordingly, the commission is of the opinion that through those rulings the Irish authorities confer an advantage on Apple. That advantage is obtained every year and ongoing. At this stage, the commission has no indication that the contested measure can be considered compatible with the internal market”. It added: “The commission’s preliminary view is that the tax ruling of 1991 and of 2007 in favour of the Apple group constitute state aid.”
The Irish government has already responded and said: “As this is an ongoing legal process, Ireland will not be commenting further on any individual aspects of this case.”
Read the European Commission’s decision in full here
The roots of lay and clerical anti-abortionism in Ireland would appear to be a modern phenomenon as medieval sources indicate a country in which abortion could be seen as a less severe offence by clerics, for example, than bearing an unwanted child or committing ‘fornication’.
In the middle ages women commonly underwent abortions in Ireland and the fact that they did so is reflected in numerous sources. Enshrined in the medieval Irish legal code is that fact that a wife could be divorced if she had procured an abortion for herself. This prohibition is part of a long list of grounds for divorce which included infanticide, flagrant infidelity, infertility, and bad management.
Thus the circumstances in which a man could divorce his wife were obviously quite severe but even still the wife was allowed to receive her marriage-portion back (even after an abortion).
Ireland has four saints who are recorded as openly and miraculously carrying out abortions, Ciarán of Saigir, Áed mac Bricc, Cainneach of Aghaboe and Brigid of Kildare.The life of Saint Ciarán (c. 6th century) told the story of a young virgin, Bruinech, kidnapped by King Dimma who raped her, and she became pregnant. Bruinech appealed to Saint Ciarán, who miraculously aborted the foetus. Later, versions of this Life told of Ciarán making the foetus disappear rather than aborting it. Áed blessed a nun who was pregnant and the foetus disappeared, similarly with Cainneach. Brigid was the only female saint to carry out abortions. She is also the premier female saint of medieval Ireland.
The Penitential of Finnian written c. 591 CE lists the punishment for women who abort
If a woman by her magic destroys the child she has conceived of somebody, she shall do penance for half a year with an allowance of bread and water, and abstain for two years from wine and meat and fast for the six forty-day periods with bread and water.
It is worth noting here that the penance is quite a lenient one and was much less for example than the time assigned to penance for childbirth which demanded six years fasting on bread and water. These sanctions appear to indicate a society where women were certainly acquainted with reproductive choices, exerted agency in choosing to abort and in which the penalties for doing so were quite minor.
Knowledge of abortifacients must have been passed down through the (female) generations and were thus greatly feared by the (male) Establishment because “they subversively aimed the devious weapon of spells and potions at the patrilineal kin group, the community, and all orderly, congenial gender relations.” Thus the killing of the foetus was not so much the issue at stake rather it was the power of the women who chose to do so (and had the means to do it) that was feared as it lay outside male knowledge. Making the link between a woman’s reproductive freedoms and witchcraft ranks as a severe challenge to female reproductive agency.
Members of youth groups from across Ireland outside Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin in October 2013
In April 2009, the State contained 1.423 million people aged between 15 and 35. In April 2014, there were 1.206 million in the same age group. That’s a reduction from one generation of more than the entire population of Limerick city and county. This is the age group of rebellion, of adventure, of trying it out and trying it on. It’s the generation that annoys its elders and outrages convention and challenges accepted wisdom. It is demography’s answer to the stultification of groupthink. It is not always right but without its capacity to drive everyone else up the wall, smugness settles over everything like a fine grey dust.
Look anywhere in Ireland that is not a specific redoubt of youth culture, and the place is heavy with middle-age. From the civil service to the media, from politics to the arts establishment, you find demographic landscapes that have been largely frozen for the last six years. The thinning ranks of the young have been unable to mount any sustained challenge to the self-serving orthodoxies of their elders. Which would be fine if the place they leave could afford the consequent culture of stasis and complacency
Research by Dr Michael Collins of the Nevin Economic Research Institute finds the poorest 10% pay just over 30% of their income in taxes.This is mostly in the form of indirect taxes levied on the things they spend money on. Meanwhile, the top 10% spend 29.5% of their income on tax – mostly in the form of direct income tax. The combined tax burden produces a u-shaped graph, with the bottom and top of the income distribution paying most, and those on lower middle incomes paying least.
A culinary movement to find great produce sourced within a 12 mile radius of your front door?
What freshly-produced madness is this?
Kevin from Sage Restaurant writes:
The lush farmland and dedicated farmers of Midleton [Co Cork] and its hinterland enables us to source all our meat from within this radius. All our poultry is reared by “12 Mile” farmers and is free-range. Our fish is trawled and line-caught by East Cork fleets in Irish waters.