Mary Lou hitches up the Sinn Féin Party Mobile for a drive-by in Silicon Valley

Last week, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald traveled to Silicon Valley. She met executives from Google and Salesforce, among others.

He then issued a statement saying Ireland is a place of “innovation” and “talent”. She also stressed the importance of supporting “good jobs”.

Big Tech will have been heartened to hear such words. That’s a lot more reassuring than all that tax evasion stuff. Did Mary Lou take the Metaverse pill?

Traditionally, it makes sense for Sinn Féin to stay in touch with this country’s industrial mainstays ahead of a potentially victorious next election. In terms of tax revenue, few can match the big tech companies.

But is McDonald on a series of “get-to-know-you” dates with Big Tech, or is it a “calming tour”? Maybe a bit of both?

Google didn’t respond to questions about what the meeting was about. But we hear she came across well.

Sinn Féin is all but committed to existing base tax rates for multinational corporations

There will be some obvious things of interest to big tech bosses when they meet Ireland’s presumed next Taoiseach. These include tax rates, EU policies and energy.

But when it comes to corporate taxes, the tech titans have little to worry about. Sinn Féin is now much more like Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil than the Irish Left parties. It practically follows the existing base tax rates for large multinational corporations such as Facebook, Apple and Google.

That would have been unthinkable 10 or 20 years ago when Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg were branded as billionaire parasites whose companies are not paying their fair share.

However, some questions still hang.

Does Sinn Féin still think Ireland needs to drop its support in Apple’s €13 billion tax bill? When Apple (and Ireland) won the appeal in this tax case two years ago, Sinn Féin called it a “bad day for the Irish taxpayer”.

In fairness, the party was not alone. A number of parties – and many individuals – took principled positions on the issue, opposing Ireland’s position. But that was when McDonald and Pearse Doherty were years away from government.

Does it still seem like a clear decision to reverse the current government’s pro-Apple position on the €13 billion tax issue?

Close

Insiders say Mary Lou McDonald has been well received by Silicon Valley executives

Big Tech accounts for an impractically large part of Irish income

Looking at Sinn Féin’s trajectory in tax policy, it’s a fair bet that it could change course. If so, it will certainly position the question as a “sovereignty issue” with Ireland’s self-determination in tax matters (it’s the same argument that Revenue uses when asked about it).

The backlash from those who would say such a reversal would be a weakening of party principles is something the party may have to live with when in power.

However, there are a few smaller pledges to reverse tax breaks that Sinn Féin could live up to. It said it would remove certain tax breaks for very high-paid multinational executives. This would likely include the Special Assignee Relief Program (Sarp).

Presumably this is part of the ongoing consultation process.

In terms of EU politics, Sinn Féin is unrecognizable from the party that saw the EU as a neoliberal, military conspiracy and fought against every EU treaty until relatively recently.

There is no longer any fear that the party will oppose EU-wide laws. Or that it wants to leave the euro.

All EU governments have at some point stood up for the industrial interests of their countries. Ireland has been doing this to farmers for decades. More recently, it has voted on several EU policies, from taxes to intellectual property, in a Big Tech-esque manner.

How would Sinn Féin go about this? Would it matter? Could it bear the accusation of taking the bids of tech giants?

Energy is also a big issue. Aside from substantive issues surrounding the grid and power generation itself, what actions would it take in relation to data centers?

Will Paschal Donohoe’s view that data centers are important to the economy change?

Or is it even more attractive to see them negatively?

This is something that Sinn Féin is exactly asked for when it hits tech giants like Amazon Web Services (2,000+ Dublin employees), TikTok (2,000+), Microsoft (2,000+) and Meta (3,000+).

As everyone knows, Big Tech makes up an impractically large part of Irish income. From a risk perspective, that’s not a good place. It also weakens an incoming party’s ability to be inflexible on some matters where it was previously adamant.

Most in the tech world, upon meeting with their top executives, would view Sinn Féin’s initiative as responsible and professional, rather than a silicon sell-off.

The ground seems set for the party to give multinationals the same ‘long-term view’ that every Irish government has taken for the past 40 years.

Call it a kind of continuity Sinn Féin of the 21st century. Except that in this version, Mary Lou might put on some high-tech goggles.

https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/news/mary-lou-hitches-up-sinn-fein-partymobile-for-silicon-valley-drive-by-41975672.html Mary Lou hitches up the Sinn Féin Party Mobile for a drive-by in Silicon Valley

Fry Electronics Team

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