Taoiseach says 12.5pc tax will remain, promises education reform

26 May 2011

Ireland will not budge on its 12.5pc corporate tax rate, Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny promised today. He said to change it would represent a massive breach of trust to investors.

Speaking at the Intel Open Forum on Education at Dublin’s Science Gallery this morning, the Taoiseach said: “There will be no change in our corporate tax rate. To even move that would be a massive breach of trust. It is sacrosanct. We have said this to investors around the world who have put their money where their mouth is.”

Kenny also said there will be a radical reform on the cards for Ireland’s education system after last year’s OECD PISA results highlighted issues around maths, literacy and language performance.

Last year’s poor performance by Ireland in the international PISA rankings sent shockwaves through the education system. The performance of Irish 15-year-olds in mathematics and reading showed a significant deterioration since the last survey in 2006. Ireland ranked 26th in mathematics and 17th in reading literacy.

On the subject of education reform, Kenny said: “If we do nothing the world will change anyway. The next decade will be shaped by advances in nanotechnology and biotechnology. If we can’t change the education system we have it will be a problem. We need to give young people the ability to compete and challenge their peers around the world.

“Big ‘G’ as in Government needs to understand that in terms of curriculum and skills, needs change is going to be central to the future we’re going to live in. We can create elements of that future ourselves.”

Competing in the innovation age

Kenny said that serious innovation is under way in all corners of the globe and millions of children in school today will be shaping the future.

“I would like to think that every student can leave school competent and confident in their ability to compete on an even level.”

He said that over the 18 months, the priorities of the State will be focusing on the problems of the banking crisis, unemployment and the budget deficit.

Despite this, he remains committed to removing red tape and other obstacles preventing businesses from growing again, including credit.

“I’m promising open access to your Taoiseach to help you free up obstacles,” he said, stopping just short of giving out his mobile number, to the amusement of the delegates at the forum.

“For me, as someone who taught in front of a class, education is the key priority of the future, from cradle to grave, and is the hallmark of any country.

“We can’t all be PhDs but everyone has a contribution to make.

“The job of politics now is to rebuild the broken trust and platforms. It’s not very nice having to deal with these issues but my mandate is to sort things out in a way that is fair and competitive. Step by step, job by job.”

Commending Intel’s Smart Class programme, Kenny joked that the idea of kids no longer carrying schoolbags to school resonated with him because when he went to school there were no schoolbags, either.

He said he knew a man in his mid-80s who recently did honours maths in the Leaving Cert and now gives grinds.

Education, Kenny said, must be accessible at all levels of society and he quoted US president John F Kennedy: “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

In conclusion, Kenny said: “This country has a brilliant future and we will endeavour to sort our problems out in the next 18 months. The future is bright and strong and for my part I have the support and commitment of Government to see that it is the direction we will follow.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years