You do really have to despair at the thick, ignorant, parochial nature of the echo chamber that is the Irish Government.
"Apple boss Tim Cook has been accused of snubbing the Dáil after refusing to attend hearings on a €13bn tax bill with which the company was hit," reports the Examiner undoubtedly due to a leak from a lackey in the aforementioned echo chamber. The Indo went one better by making it a part of their editorial today with, "Apple at least owes us an explanation, if not €13Bn."
So what then is this local storm in an eggcup? "Mr Cook had been invited to answer questions on the European Commission's State aid probe into the company, but Apple said that, given the investigation and the timing, the company has been advised not to do anything that, "could potentially prejudice future outcomes". To refresh your memory," according to the Indo. "Apple boss Tim Cook has been accused of snubbing the Dáil after refusing to attend hearings on a €13bn tax bill with which the company was hit," was the Examiner's take on this passing puff of wind.
So let's set the stage here. A few small fish in an insignificant pond, (or fishbowl), are demanding the largest whale in the ocean drop everything to attend the fishbowl and make the goldfish look important and interesting in front of their own bottom-feeders, because that's what this is. And when the ever-busy Cook dignifies those inept leeches with a reasonable and respectful reply, they are outraged at the apparent attack on their own self-importance. I despair!
Tim Cook heads up the largest company, (by capitalization) on the planet. A cluster of pompous idiots in Irish Government buildings who are no better than semi-illiterate go-boys and girls, actually believe that a summons from them to attend one of their local self-congratulatory celebrations , ahem, Oireachtas finance committee hearings, will have this Admiral of Industry drop everything and scurry to their whims. And then the national papers present it all in the breathless tones of an international diplomatic incident, and you can sense the guiding hand of the Government Press Office behind that bullshit.
We truly are laughable! Is there a single brain in the Dail or the Civil Service with a modicum of business sense? What is the fucking point of this manufactured outrage? It certainly does not serve the people of Ireland and it dents the relationship we have with a very important industrial partner here. Insulting and embarrassing such an important person at such a critical time is a recipe for changing the man's mind about engaging with us here. The barely concealed vitriol aimed at Cook stopped short of calling him a shirt-lifter, (because the man is gay). The man in question thought it wiser at this time not to attend, as is his right, and he probably did so under advisement from Apple's legal team. But his own press office will be showing him cuttings from our press today, and if I were him, I'd say, "That's it, Fuck 'em!"
It reminds me of the kind of pointless aimless spat you might hear about between teenagers on Facebook, except Tim Cook, at least, is no teenager. Tim is a highly intelligent, educated, experienced, ruthless and private man and in this instance, it's the private bit that counts. I would bet that the last thing Tim wants is some obscure paper or website in the States to run with a headline, "Tim Cook insults Ireland and the Irish," as a result of our parochial self-indulgence. If that happens then I have no doubt that Apple Inc will make Ireland pay, and pay big in the future. It may involve taking away something we have or denying us something they had planned to give us. Is there anybody in the Dail or a mile radius of that private club who understands how these things really work? Apple is planning to build a huge data centre near Athenry, Co Galway but its planning application has been halted by local objections. This is a multi-million euro investment in a deprived area and brings with it high paying skilled jobs longterm. Tonight in Cupertino Tim could sit down and instruct his team to withdraw the planning due to the objections. It would appear plausible for him to do so and the thing could be up and running is Copenhagen or Bilbao in a couple of months instead.
To further put this in even more context, "Tim Cook's bonus pay is cut as Apple misses sales targets," according to the Guardian. "Cook received a total payout of $8.75m in 2016, including salary and bonuses, which was down 15% from $10.3m in 2015 and also down on 2014’s $9.2m," the paper reports. Tim took a drop in salary of over one and half million dollars year-on-year and you can bet your ass he's got that to the forefront of his mind at this time. He is also in secret negotiations with incoming President Tram, ah! Trump, and I suggest that in the grand scheme of things, this might be slightly more important to the guy than coming over here to discuss yesterday's dinner with a room full of abject morons.
This all started when John McGuinness, chairman of the Oireachtas finance committee, invited the chief executive of the tech giant to answer questions on the European Commission ruling next month but when Apple formally declined in a mannerly fashion, Mr McGuinness described the rejection as “more than disappointing." What is really “more than disappointing," is the fact that Apple were not quietly sounded out in advance as to the man's willingness and availability for starters. Back-channels might have subtly declined the date and suggested another with no need for anybody to perceive they'd lost face. All high level meetings are arranged this way because they have to be for millions of reasons. And then there is the very idea of Cook having to come to our aspiring Court of Camelot to answer any questions in the first place. Ireland is under the EU microscope, not Apple. Cook has no questions to answer here and in fact it is our Finance Minister Noonan who has us partnered on the same team as Apple against the common EU enemy.
There will be bitter taste left in the mouth of that same Irish partner Stateside today when the story inevitably reaches them. If our Department of Foreign Affairs ran our Embassies the same way, we'd be at war with half the world today!