The EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler made a preliminary finding in April 2004 that the stallion tax was an illegal state aid, following a formal complaint made in July 2003. It also criticised Ireland for its failure to inform the EU about the tax break, as is required under EU legislation, during the 35 years of its existence. In its findings, first reported in the Irish Examiner, the commission specifically requested the Government to supply estimates of how much tax had been
foregone by the State over the previous 10 years.The Government was unable to supply these figures as stallion owners were not required to file tax returns. The Government will abandon the long-standing tax exemption for stallions in December’s Budget after failing to persuade the European Commission that it is a legitimate state aid. The Irish Examiner understands from informed sources in Brussels that the Department of Finance has given a commitment to the EU Agriculture Commission that it will address the issue in the Budget and will change the rules.
In the face of what the source described as a very strong stance adopted by the commission, the Government has all but conceded that the controversial tax break - introduced by Charles Haughey in 1969 - is an illegal state aid. If the commission makes a final ruling that the incentive is illegal under state aid rules, it may result in the Government being levied millions of euro incompensation. It is understood the question of possible financial redress is one of the outstanding issues yet to be resolved. Officially, the commission is awaiting a final Government response on its preliminary determination that the stallion tax amounted to an illegal state aid to the bloodstock industry.
Yesterday, Finance said that its final response would not be completed for another four to six weeks. However, representations made by the Government to retain the tax exemption - which included a visit to Brussels by Finance Minister Brian Cowen and Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan earlier this year
'Flights of Vampires carry thee to thy rest'
The eulogy for C.J.H. is in Bertie's hip pocket. It has not been released yet. However,we can safely surmise.
Insert the name 'Charles J.Haughey ' instead of 'Minister Burke',and it will read pretty much the same as the one we already heard-about Ray;-
'It is with profound regret that I have today accepted, on behalf of the Government, the resignation of the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Raphael P. Burke and his resignation from Dáil Éireann. Pending the appointment of a successor I, as Taoiseach, will assume responsibility for the Department of Foreign Affairs pro-tem.
His outstanding record of public service over the past thirty years, first as a County Councillor and later as a T.D., as well as the remarkable twenty nine years service of his late father Patrick J. Burke, demonstrate in real terms the deep commitment of the Burke family to the people of Dublin North and Dublin County.
Both he and his family can feel immensely proud of the major role he played in Government, in successfully achieving the breakthrough which resulted in today's historic events in the North. I thank him for the consummate professionalism with which he always fulfilled his Ministerial duties.
Ray Burke always distinguished himself in the Ministries to which he was appointed, by his great managerial capabilities and his high work-rate:
he introduced a series of initiatives in law reform and structural changes while in the Department of Justice, as well as tackling the whole area of serious offences against children;
he opened up a whole new era of local broadcasting when he legislated for the now successful local radio network which has changed the face of Irish broadcasting;
he stood four square with the strategically important development of Dublin Airport in good times, and when times were tough; and
he was in turn an excellent Minister for the Environment, for Energy, for Communications, for Justice and for Foreign Affairs.
He brought further distinction to his proud family tradition, to his family and friends, to his colleagues and constituents. This country owes him a debt of gratitude for his work on behalf of the nation, and his constant commitment to quality performance in his allotted tasks.
Those who choose politics as a profession, know from the outset that they are putting their lives on the line in their determination to serve the public. They have to accept the criticism which attends their decisions and their every action. Their families too learn to take the brunt of stinging remarks, which often overstep the boundaries of civility and courtesy.
In the case of Ray Burke, I see a much more sinister development: the persistent hounding of an honourable man to resign his important position, on the basis of innuendo and unproven allegations. Some who would class themselves as protectors of basic civil rights have harried and hounded this man without according him the basic right of due process, which deems us innocent unless proven guilty. I believe personally that the according of due process is not just a basic right, but the very essence of common decency.
There has been a sustained campaign of incremental intensity. When this debate first began there were calls for Ray Burke to make a public statement. Then there were demands for a Dáil Statement, followed by Questions and Answers. But when it was agreed that a special Tribunal would deal with all the issues fairly and comprehensively, that was still not enough.
There comes a time when even the strongest shoulder bows, when even the stoutest heart falters, when even the very best can resist no longer.
I regret the resignation of Ray Burke, my party colleague for twenty years and my Cabinet colleague for most of that period.
I deeply regret the reasons for his resignation and the pain and anguish caused to Anne, his family and friends. It is an indictment of those involved in forcing him to this pass, that they clamoured for his resignation without giving him the proper opportunity of proving his case before a properly constituted Tribunal or otherwise.
I always found him to be a proud honourable man, loyal and true, persevering and principled, caring and committed but tough and a person who often lost friends very easily. On behalf of the Government and particularly on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party, I thank him for his distinguished years in the service of his constituents and his country."
Touch up that speech Bertie and we will all be tearful at Charlie's funeral.
Now we dont mind you extolling your mentor's good traits etc, over his tombstone. We will all be very touched etc. However is there any chance you might touch his old multi-millionaire pals like Larry Goodman,Dermot Desmond,Magnier,the Bailey Brothers,etc for a few million each to pay for the big send off.? Ben has already paid his share so a boquet of roses will be sufficient from that quarter,but what about all the rest?
A lot of decent people who have been bled by all of you for the past three decades would consider this a basic decency,particularly if a big and costly state send off is in the offing.! Better still ship the body down to Kerry where his pals can bury him under his bronze idol there.