Nobody will doubt the importance of multi-nationals to this country but the question of corporate taxation shouldn't be so sacred. I think it may well be positive to discuss this and consider our options and their implications.
Ireland's friendly enterprise environment drew massive foreign corporate investment here. Our english-speaking European isle with it's young under-employed workforce was an attractive product, and, in case the raw charm of our officials wasn't enough, the government threw in generous state aid and zero-to-low corporation tax. It worked - they're here and we would like them to stay, and invest more. But do we still need to smear ourselves in honey?
Unfortunately, the government seem to be fumbling this one. Ireland really needs to reassess its position and ask itself a few important questions. We're clearly not the backwater we were in the 70s but right now we seem to be squarely mired. We cannot afford to loose our paddles but we cannot sit still for much longer either.
Here's some questions the government should consider before the forthcoming budget: what is ireland's comparative advantage? how sensitive are MNC in ireland to marginal tax adjustments? what shape is the laffer curve here? how can the "four-year plan" be used to best order and communicate (frame) a possible tax increase to have least impact? how can ireland hold and attract foreign investment in the advent of a (~temporary) tax increase? how can ireland best harness and leverage the current agglomerative advantages it has built-up?
Since tax harmonization is an ultimate part of the European project - Ireland should really stop fooling itself about being able to hold Europe back on this issue. Consider our No votes to treaties in the past, at a time when we were must less obviously dependent on the Union. The country should prepare for the inevitable and start planning to compete on a level international playing field.