Tag Archives: Tony Groves

From top: Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe; Tony Groves

Ireland is a tax haven. This simple statement of fact causes the most ridiculous responses. We get told that we are talking down the country, that we’re not wearing the green jersey.

We even get the whopper, preferred by the Minister for Finance Pascahl Donohoe, that the recent OECD report confirmed we weren’t a tax haven.

Firstly, let’s deal with the facts.

A recent study of tax havens, €600 Billion and Counting: Why High-Tax Countries Let Tax Havens Flourish, put numbers on what is essentially an organised, tax compliant and totally legal, global larceny. And no, there’s no contradiction in that sentence.

The first key finding is that 45% of multinational company profits are artificially shifted to tax havens. Ireland, as you can see below is the worst legal offender. 45% of profits whisked away to tax havens; that’s like saying that you or I could put almost half of our monthly salary into a tax avoidance scheme.

The Global Corporate Tax revenue loss is estimated to be over €200 billion per annum, or 12% of Global Corporate Tax Revenue. To put that in context, the World Bank says that global foreign aid totaled €130 billion in 2016. So Multinational Companies shift nearly double the world’s total aid budget for tackling poverty into tax havens.

The next finding is a cracker; the main loser in tax revenue is the EU, with losses estimated to be above 20% of its taxable profits. Now, and here is where it gets mind-bending, the main beneficiaries of this legalised larceny are Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The 3-Tax-Haven-Amigos, not mentioned on the above graph, impose real effective tax rates of 2-3% on huge artificial bases and in doing so financially hamper the ability of the combined EU 27 countries to tackle various social crises. So definitively, Ireland is a tax haven.

That doesn’t mean that Minister Donohoe was wrong. He wasn’t, he was just being selective with the way he read the OECD report. The report that he was referencing was the OECD’s Tax Transparency Ratings and was dealing specifically with individual countries legal framework and legal implementation of their own tax laws.

Ireland was the only country of the 3-Tax-Haven-Amigos to achieve a rating of compliant. But rather than it confirming us as not a tax haven, what the OECD report actually confirmed is that we are the best tax haven. We have the most transparent tax avoidance structures in the world. It is, in sales-speak, our Unique Selling Point.

It starts and ends with transfer pricing. In simple terms: if Company A is operating in Germany but opens a small company Company B in Ireland which then assumes ownership of the intellectual property of Company A, then, even though Company A is producing and selling their product in Germany, the profits are taxable in Ireland via Company B.

This Transfer Pricing method, the study found, has resulted in high-tax countries stealing from each other, while letting tax havens flourish, in the name of free market competition. Companies like Apple, Google and Facebook have True Global Profits of totaling tens of billions, yet using the profit shifting are able to only show Observable Profits of hundred of millions.

This sounds like a good deal for Ireland and our other Amigos, right? Not really, no. The average profit for multinationals per employee in a non-haven is 34%. In Ireland it’s almost 200%. Simply put, Ireland gets one sixth the number of jobs equivalent to non-havens for the same money. See below:

There is a simple solution to this conundrum, something that could end transfer pricing overnight and see a more equitable re-balancing of both the tax take and ultimately the workforce: make the profits taxable where the jobs are.

So if Company A employs 10,000 people in Germany and 5,000 in Ireland then it can only “shift” 50% of its profits.This, I’d argue, is not something we should be afraid of. Rather than costing Ireland jobs, such a strategy should create more jobs. Remember, we are the most transparent tax haven in the world. Why wouldn’t the multinationals increase their workforces here if it meant increasing shareholder value?

So, yes, Ireland is a tax haven. That’s not up for debate any longer. The debate must now move on into how we make us the best little tax haven in the world in which to create jobs. A transparent low corporate tax, high job economy. It’s possible and it’s certainly a damned sight more ethical than what we are currently doing.

Tony Groves is the co-host of the Echo Chamber Podcast and blogs at EchoChamberPod
You can Subscribe to the Echo Chamber Podcast by clicking here for iTunes or here For SoundCloud,

Tony Groves

Whether it’s Orwell, or Chomsky, or JFK it doesn’t matter; the sentiment is that in order to believe in freedom of speech you must extend that belief to those of whom you disagree with.

Easier said than done, folks.

I’ve watched people I know, like and respect verbally attacked for having the temerity to have opinions. I’ve seen those I dislike, disagree with and wouldn’t hold in high regard suffer similarly. Hate, vitriol and discrimination doesn’t discriminate against its victims.

Sadly, it’s getting worse. A recent report of Service Men and Women told of uniformed Irish Navy Officers being accosted in public and called traitors for rescuing Muslims from drowning. These are our brothers and sisters, rescuing our brothers and sisters.

The new Minister for Culture, Josepha Madigan, while defending Leo Varadkar’s lukewarm speech to the Fine Gael National Conference, reminded Hugh Linehan of the Irish Times that “Hitler was a brilliant orator”.

As examples of Godwin’s Law go, this was not the worst. But comparing anyone to Hitler is not a good look; particularly in the context of a backhanded compliment to a genocidal maniac.

When I mentioned the hilarity of this on twitter the Minister blocked me. While hardly a great look for a public representative, it is a nice example of a lesson more of us need to learn: Freedom of speech doesn’t mean people have to listen to you.

To take this a step further, freedom of speech doesn’t mean you should have a platform. There’s privilege in a platform, power in it even.

Places like Broadsheet give platforms to people with a diversity of opinions. They often do it well. Their coterie of comments section trolls are, in my opinion, a stain on what is , for the most part, a force for good.

The editor of Broadsheet and I disagree on this. He believes freedom of speech extends to anonymous trolls and therefore believes that the price for being heard (platformed) is verbal abuse, slanders and smears.

But he’s wrong. He’s not protecting freedom of speech. He’s platforming hate. The type of hate that asked the mother of a palliative child “where’s the father”. The type of hate that discusses rape and ethno nationalism on articles about politics. The type of hate that reacts to articles about homelessness by blaming “foreigners”. The type of hate that groups me with murderers for mentioning Sinn Féin.

It is opinions like these, platformed by Broadsheet, that spill out onto the streets and lambast Navy Officers. It is by platforming these views that Broadsheet normalises them. Believing in and defending freedom of speech are not the same thing as platforming hate.

So Broadsheet, you can upgrade your site all you want; but until you upgrade your values you will be part of the problem.

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld.

From top: Leo Varadkar and Frances Fitzgerald; Tony Groves

Ebonics: American Black English regarded as a language in its own right rather than as a dialect of standard English.

I wrote a paper many, many moons ago on Ebonics. I guess these days this would be called cultural appropriation, but at the time I thought I was, as the cool kids say, woke.

The study of how language, and the evolution of language, influences our daily lives has always fascinated me. Whether it was the birth of Gangsta Rap or the recent death of the 140 character tweet, words and how they are structured affect our world view.

When the Irish Independent’s Political Correspondent, Philip Ryan tweeted “Sinn Fein will also have the proud distinction of collapsing governments on both side of the border” I felt like simultaneously applauding and deriding him.

As short and simple tweets go, it was a trolling masterpiece. It appeals to those who already see Sinn Fêin as the biggest threat to our (status quo) democracy and it infuriates those who see the mainstream media as a propaganda unit for the government.

When the Minister of State Michael D’Arcy (the man Jonathan Sugarman exposed as not knowing his brief as part of the Finance Committee) spoke of the current political pissing contest he decided that, rather than focus on the campaign to destroy Maurice McCabe, he’d blame Sinn Féin.

The Shinners you see, according to Minister D’Arcy (I shudder typing that) are carrying out “political terrorism” and engaging in “slash and burn politics”. These comments were made on RTÉ Radio 1 and went unchallenged.

On Friday evening, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, went on RTÉ News and addressed the nation in what I can only describe as a twitter rant worthy of the hard right defenders of George Hook, Kevin Myers et al.

Before you go getting upset that I’m being emotive about emotive language remember, this is the Taoiseach who mistakenly repeats the line that “communication is a virtue” and is spending millions of Euros on crafting his words carefully for his audience.

He began by saying that he doesn’t “want to see Frances Fitzgerald decapitated” and then went on to say that calls for her “execution” and her “public hanging” were inappropriate. He even added that he wouldn’t “throw her under the bus”.

None of these blatant smears that the Taoiseach used to deflect from what are serious concerns about the Tánaiste’s ability to do her job were challenged.

Verbal mud, worthy of a cowardly anonymous keyboard warrior, was thrown on political discourse and allowed to dirty up our representative democracy.

It is now the case that the comments section vitriol of the trolls is broadcast on the main evening news. I suppose we should just accept this dumbing down of debate, especially since the purveyors are our best and our brightest?

The hyperbolic lynch mob is now the establishment. They are the trolls now. They’ve culturally appropriated troll speak and debate and accountability are secondary to running down the opposition.

Maybe communications is a virtue. Maybe it’s that virtues are no longer virtuous. Maybe we should give up on trying to speak truth to power. I don’t know.

My paper on Ebonics was laughed at by the English Department. They said it wasn’t to be taken seriously. But Gangsta Rap became Hip-Hop and Hip-Hop now pervades every layer of society. In the same way I suppose the trolls are having their very own coming out party on the Six One News.

I should be worried. But Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta.

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld.

From top: Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Damien English TD; Tony Groves

I’ve been feeling very Russian this week; not in the Tolstoy verbose way, or in the cool Constantin Gurdgiev way. I’ve been feeling like a Babushka Doll. You know the ones, the Russian nesting dolls that you open up to reveal a smaller identical doll inside of it, and so on.

I feel like a tiny little Babushka Doll.

A recent Research Report on Leadership of Corporate Culture, conducted by one of the largest professional services firms in the world, delivered what the most unsurprising results of all time..

The report covered 450 CEO’s, CFO’s, board chairs, executive and non-executive directors, company secretaries, risk officers (shoutout to Jonathan Sugarman) and investment managers. The respondents represented both private and publicly listed companies and were drawn from the UK and across Europe.

It’s a very detailed report, but it really just put in writing what many of us already know. Tone, cultural tone, is set at the top of organisations.

This is important in an Irish context. No, it’s not only important, it’s a matter of life and death. As the Director of the Dublin Region Homeless Executive, Eileen Gleeson tried to walk-back her comments on homeless people on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show, she made another telling Babushka Doll moment.

When asked by Sean to respond to the criticisms of Fr Peter McVerry she replied that she would not be getting into a slagging match with the “service providers”. I listened agog.

Fr Peter McVerry was clearly seen as a service provider and not as a humanitarian, or a altruistic man, or any other way you might describe a man of such generosity. Nope, in the eyes of the state he is a service provider.

Tone from the top. Almost a month ago the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar referred to homelessness as normal at a Fine Gael dinner.

Since then he’s repeated these claims. Even when presented with the statistics that show our “normal” level of homelessness is in the range of 1,500 to 1,650 he still persists with the normalising of the abnormal.

Then yesterday the junior housing minister Damien English, launched an impassioned plea for us all to stop (as Bertie might have said) cribbing and moaning about what is a normal phenomenon.

He said:

“Some of this narrative has seeped into international coverage of our housing system and is damaging to Ireland’s international reputation, that our social response to this issue is being portrayed as dysfunctional.”

The system that created the situation that finds 3,124 children homeless isn’t dysfunctional. That’s normal according to Damien. No, what is dysfunctional is people thinking it’s abnormal.

The junior housing minister also said something very interesting. Something that nobody has picked him up on.

When he said “assertions have been made that homelessness in Ireland is at such crisis levels that we should be excused from the requirements of EU in responding to the issue”, he meant that the government have accepted a level of homelessness is acceptable.

He is saying that, despite EU law allowing for individual states to act to protect their citizens, that this Government will do no such thing.

It was a startling admission that this government values our international reputation more than the well-being of our citizens.

The 8,200 people who are already homeless need to accept this at the new normal. The tens of thousands of families currently at risk of homelessness should accept their plight as the new normal. People barely clinging on need to accept this as the new normal.

Those of us lucky enough to be secure can’t be seen to be talking down the country. Sure isn’t it the new normal.

Tone from the top. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has made the immoral moral and the abnormal normal. And when you open him up Damien English pops out, and when you open him up Eileen Gleeson pops out. That’s normal these days.

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld.

Earlier: “Years Of Bad Behaviour”


From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; Tony Groves

If Enda Kenny was considered by many to be the Accidental Taoiseach, then Leo Varadkar might be considered the first Occidental one. Occident derives from the latin occidens “sunset, West” and has evolved to simply mean the Western World or Western Culture.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is the biggest proponent of Western Culture ever to hold the highest office in Ireland. But in reality we couldn’t have a worst time to be led by such an individual.

Western Culture, ignoring imperialism and the hollowing out of the (horrible term) Third World, was historically about raising living standards, improving social mobility and creating economic opportunity.

But sadly, those parts of the culture are long in reverse. Every economic indicator tells of lowering living standards, less social mobility and an economic model of feudalism.

It is to this Culture that the Occidental Taoiseach belongs. He is part of the Kardashian Culture. He takes selfies, shoots videos from his private jet, waves socks and has a Strategic Communications Unit who have reduced the value of any words he speaks to less than a marketing slogan.

I saw the hashtag #NotMyTaoisock last week and, rather than laugh, I grimaced. This is what he has turned the highest office in the land into. I’m all for fun and I don’t think the offices of power need to be a sense of humour free zone, but it’s deeply unfunny when he’s paying people to make jokes with our money.

Take just the last few days of the Occidental Taoiseach’s Accidents; he (or TCD History Professor Patrick Geoghegan) plagiarised a JFK quote and tried to pass it off as deep, he tweeted an image of novelty socks (containing the caption You’re A Ride), then he had someone take a picture of him filling a dishwasher, with the caption “no-one gets away without packing the dishwasher around here”.

On November 10, he told the Fine Gael National Conference that “every child deserves a childhood”.

On November 11 he told the media (and a Facebook Live Audience) that Ireland has “one of the lowest levels of homelessness”.

It took him less than 24hrs to forget about the 3,124 homeless children.

Then on November 12, rather than be quiet he opened his mouth (or his now Trump Like Twitter Account) simply to exchange his feet, tweeting:

“Context matters. Was asked a question…about homelessness levels. We don’t by international comparison. That’s a fact.”

Let me give you some context, Taoiseach:

In 2008, at the death of the Celtic Tiger era, we had approximately 1,522 homeless people in Ireland. Today we have over 8,371.

In 2008 we had approximately 16,000 millionaires. Today we have over 116,000.

Taoiseach. Your attempts to contextualise and normalise homeless children are disgusting. Your party is in power since 2011 and has overseen this huge growth in inequality.

The Occidental Taoiseach has had more Enda Kenny like faux pas in the last fortnight than Enda Kenny himself had in over 40 years in politics. Please Taoiseach, put the phone away, pull up your fancy €9 a pair socks and get on with the real and difficult challenges that are facing the country.

Many people think you are the most Right Wing Taoiseach in the history of the state, I myself have some sympathy with this belief. But I’m starting to think you’re more dangerous than that. I think you have already made a calculated assessment that you can fool enough people via PR, Tweets and Facebook to get re-elected.

You know, in your less vacuous moments, that you’ll never persuade the many who see the lack of substance beneath the handsome veneer, so you won’t even bother trying. You’ll simply send a tweet on Monday saying you’re tackling the latest crisis and then explain it away as normal on Facebook Live on Tuesday.

If that doesn’t work you’ll get your Varak-ops department to follow you around on a bike ride.

The Occidental Taoiseach is banking on fooling enough of us so as he doesn’t have to reach out to those left behind. You can fool some of the people some of the time. The rest, in this context, don’t matter. Isn’t that right, Taoiseach?

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld.

The Echo Chamber podcast.

Episode 6.

Hosts Martin McMahon (top centre) and Tony Groves (top right) meet Ken Foxe (top left), journalist, academic and Freedom of Information warrior.

You’ll like him.

The Echo Chamber


In fairness.

The Echo Chamber

Fearless and authentic social justice warrior Izzy Kamikaze (top left) joins Tony Groves (top right) and Martin McMahon to discuss the impact made by her friends, historian Catherine Corless and the late Dara Quigley.

The Echo Chamber


Martin McMahon’s image of Dara Quigley mentioned on the podcast.

Tony Groves.

Twenty six miles plus change.

Financial consultant and Broadsheet columnist Tony Groves is running the Dublin City Marathon on Sunday in aid of Inner City Helping Homeless (ICHH).

Tony, who will be on Broadsheet on the Telly tonight, is this close to his fundraising target but could use a last minute push.

If you have anything to spare.

Tony Groves (Gofundme)

Previously: Only The Tony


In fairness.

Tony Groves

I’m not even angry anymore. I don’t know what I am. I do have all this rage inside me, but that’s not the same as anger. I’m not great at explaining myself and when I try to I just get in a bit of a mess. Sure, there’s no point looking back.

Closure, everybody wants closure. The kids therapist always says closure. There’s no such thing as closure. There’s only right now and right now is very fucking hard.

Right now I’m reading how the Minister for Finance is going to admonish the banks. I’d say they’re bricking it. I’d imagine they’re taking the big apologies they used at the banking inquiry out of a safe, blowing off the dust and making their way towards the Dail whistling away to themselves.

Admonish? I’d admonish the heads off them. But that’s not the answer.

I always had a bad temper, got into too many scrapes and had a few too many near misses with the law. I remember, back when myself and herself first moved in together, coming in late one night with blood on me.

I remember her fussing over me, making sure I was alright. Then, I remember her going berserk when she realised it wasn’t my blood. She made me promise no more fighting that night. And I’m not sure if that was for the best. I’m not sure of anything now.

I do remember getting my wages cut, and I do remember baby number 2, tweedle-ella, arriving as the last happy day we had.

I remember needing help on the mortgage and I remember asking the local branch to see what could be done. I remember that I was lucky because I had plenty of equity in the house, even as the prices fell.

I remember them saying that the problem wasn’t the mortgage, it was the Credit Union loan and the Credit Card, the fucking Credit Card that they gave me and that they put up the limit on every six months. Jaysus, I was fucking eejit.

So they bundled the debt together and threw in the last few bob I owed on the car and offered me a Mortgage Top Up. Save me hundreds per month, I was told. And it did. The top up got rid of the short term debt and stuck it on the never-never.

What I don’t remember, and what I still don’t remember is how they managed to use the Top Up to take away our Tracker Rate. I mean, I remember them telling me that the Top Up was at a Standard Variable Rate, and that was cool. Jaysus, 6% is a lot better than Credit Card Rates of 16%.

But I don’t remember them saying that the Tracker was part of the deal. But when I complained later they sent me out copies of the agreement, and there, highlighted, was my signature and her signature above the manager’s signature. Buried it the waffle above; in point 7 was our consent to removing the Tracker Rate.

No, I’m not angry. Not anymore. The Central Bank did nothing in 2010. I don’t see them doing much now. There’s talk that I’ll get a few bob back, I won’t hold my breath.

Whatever Paschal does won’t amount to anything. They’ve known about this for years. And as for Leo Come Lately; don’t make me laugh.

No, I lost more than most, but not as much as many. I have the house. I have the kids, the Tweedles. And I’m going to visit the wife this evening. She’s doing a bit better and might even be up to seeing the Tweedles, so there is that.

I hope no one tells her about the stern talking to the bans are going to get.

I’m also going to have to go through the rigmarole of meeting her “care team”. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great people, but I always feel like they’re evaluating me, like it’s my fault, or that something in me is broken and their eyes are trying to spell it out to me. They look at me almost as if they are admonishing me.

A few bob won’t fix that.

[The above is a fictional account of how people in difficult situations wound up being taken advantage of in the tracker scandal. This is something that is contrary to Central Bank rules, which state the onus is on the bank to act in the best interests of the customer. It is an example of how the cost of reimbursing people won’t ever come close to compensating them]

Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld.


The Echo Chamber.

Just ‘dropped’.

The informative, common sense-stuffed, weekly 30-minute podcast returns with Tony Groves (top left) and Martin McMahon deliberating on Ophelia, The Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis, Tweet stealing and why we really don’t know what a tracker mortgage scandal is. Yet.

Contains: Facts, gags and one penis mention.

The Echo Chamber