Apple’s Irish Data Center Faces New Challenge as Residents Plan to Fight Back Against Court Approval

Apple has been trying to get its $1 billion data center in County Galway, Ireland built for well over two years now, and last week the company finally won approval for construction by the Irish High Court. While it was expected that Apple would now move forward and begin planning for construction, two local residents have brought up a new legal challenge for the company.

As reported by The Galway Advertiser (via Business Insider), two Athenry residents have requested a certificate to appeal the court ruling made last week that granted Apple permission for the project. The case is said to be due back to the court on Wednesday, October 25. Previously, the same individuals challenged Apple's data center by citing multiple environmental concerns, but their challenge was rejected.

Locals marching in support for Apple's data center last November (via Apple for Athenry)

Environmental protection issues have been the source of the objector's arguments for the last few years, originally arguing that Apple's data center could have negative effects on local animal populations, and could lead to potential flooding concerns on a neighboring golf course. Then, the data center's proximity to a local nuclear power plant was used to bring up new objections to the site's construction, despite the plant having been shut down for years.

Many locals still support Apple's data center in the area, with the leader of the Apple for Athenry Facebook group telling Business Insider that "the collective hearts of Athenry sank" when the new legal challenge was brought up this week.

Apple originally wanted the data center to be up and running by early 2017, but these repeated setbacks have greatly elongated the company's timeline for the site. Once it is functional, the Derrydonnell Forest data center will see ongoing construction over 10-15 years, supporting services like the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud.


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Apple Maps Transit Directions Expand to Ireland

Apple Maps has added public transit directions for Ireland, as pointed out by developer Steven Troughton-Smith on Twitter. With the updated directions, users in Ireland can now choose from a few different public transportation routes when traveling around Ireland.

Transit directions are available in a few cities like Dublin and Cork, including transportation provided by Bus Éirann, Aircoach, and more. There's also support for city-specific transit options like Dublin's electric rail system the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) and Dublin Bus.


Unfortunately, most of the transit options in Ireland are facing service cancellations in the face of Hurricane Ophelia, which made landfall around 1 p.m. local time. Many transit advisories listed in Apple Maps mention cancellations lasting from 10 a.m. to at least 7 p.m. local time in Ireland.

Apple has been adding public transit directions to new cities around the world since the feature first debuted in iOS 9 in 2015. Some of the latest areas to get the feature include Taiwan, Ottawa, Edmonton, Québec City, and Hungary.


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Apple Wins Approval for $1 Billion Data Center in Ireland

Apple has won approval to build a $1 billion data center in the west of Ireland, successfully fending off an environmental legal challenge brought by local residents (via Reuters).

Ireland's High Court on Thursday ruled that the proposed data center in Galway county, planned by Apple since February 2015, could proceed despite locals' various environmental concerns for the area if Apple successfully built the facility.


The residents against Apple attempted to halt construction last November by claiming that the permission it was granted by independent planning body An Bord Pleanála was invalid.

They alleged that An Bord Pleanála hadn't performed a proper environmental impact assessment of the proposed data center at Derrydonnell. Apple successfully asked the High Court to fast-track the case, and today's approval will likely bring the legal proceedings to an end.

When Apple announced the Irish data center in 2015, it also announced one for Denmark. That center is expected to begin operations later this year.


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E.U. to Take Ireland to Court For Failing to Claim Apple Tax

The European Commission said on Wednesday it will take Ireland to court for its failure to recover up to 13 billion euros ($15.3 billion) of tax due from Apple (via Reuters). Apple was ordered to pay the unpaid taxes in August 2016 after the Commission ruled that the company had received illegal state aid.

The Commission argued that Irish revenue commissioners gave Apple unfair advantage between 1991 and 2007 by allowing the company to move income from the European market through two "non-resident" head office subsidiaries based in Ireland. Ireland vowed to appeal the ruling.
“More than one year after the Commission adopted this decision, Ireland has still not recovered the money,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, adding that Dublin had not even sought a portion of the sum.

“We of course understand that recovery in certain cases may be more complex than in others, and we are always ready to assist. But member states need to make sufficient progress to restore competition,” she added.

The Commission said the deadline for Ireland to implement its decision had been Jan. 3 this year and that, until the aid was recovered, the company continued to benefit from an illegal advantage.
Ireland's finance ministry said it had never accepted the Commission's analysis in the Apple state aid decision, but would collect the money due pending Dublin's own appeal of the ruling.

"It is extremely regrettable that the Commission has taken this action, especially in relation to a case with such a large scale recovery amount," the ministry said in a statement.

Apple claimed earlier this year that the Commission made "fundamental errors" when it ruled that the company owed Ireland the unpaid taxes plus interest, and argued that the profits to those activities were attributable to the United States.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the EC's ruling "total political crap" and described the lower end 0.005 percent tax rate Apple is accused of paying as a "false number". The Apple CEO has previously said he believes the decision will be reversed.

In addition, Vestager announced a demand for Amazon to pay around 250 million euros in taxes to Luxembourg. Amazon denied it owed any back tax, and claimed it had not received any "special treatment" from Luxembourg.

"We will study the Commission's ruling and consider our legal options, including an appeal," an Amazon spokesperson said.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Some Supporters of Apple’s Irish Data Center Have ‘Totally Lost Hope’ as Final Verdict Again Delayed

One year ago, Apple began a staunch defense of its proposed data center in Galway County, Ireland, as a group of locals attempted to derail construction by reciting various environmental concerns for the area if Apple successfully built the facility.

The delayed data center was supposed to be met with a decision this week, but now The Irish Times is reporting that a final verdict has been delayed yet again, with the Court Services confirming this week that the case will not be heard until October 12. While there are some residents opposing the data center, there remains a large group fighting with Apple to help bring jobs to the area.

Apple supporters marching last November, via Athenry For Apple Facebook page

According to local resident Paul Keane, who spoke with Business Insider, some of those on Apple's side have "totally lost hope."
But Local resident Paul Keane, who is a member of the Athenry for Apple Facebook group, said: "Some have totally lost hope and more are now more fearful of a complete loss of confidence in investment for the west and long term damage to the country simply because we couldn't get our act together."
The residents against Apple attempted to halt construction last November by claiming that the permission it was granted by independent planning body An Bord Pleanála was invalid. They alleged that An Bord Pleanála didn't perform a proper environmental impact assessment of the proposed data center at Derrydonnell, located on the outskirts of Athenry, where the residents live. Apple successfully asked the High Court to fast-track the case, but a final decision was still set for months later, and now it has been pushed back even further.

When Apple announced the Irish data center in February 2015, it also announced one for Denmark. Construction for that site has completed, and now the center is ready to go live sometime later this year. Around 300 jobs would be created over "multiple phases of construction" at the Irish data center, which would help power Apple's online services across Europe, including iTunes, the App Store, iMessage, Maps, and Siri.


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Apple Pay Expanding to AIB in Ireland, CaixaBank in Spain, and Other Banks in UK, France, and Italy

Apple Pay continues its global expansion today with several new participating banks, and more coming soon, in France, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and the UK.


In France, Apple says Apple Pay will be available later this year to Banque BCP and Arkéa Banque Privée customers, and through mobile-only banking and/or payment solutions Orange Bank, Lydia, and N26.

In Italy, as promised, Apple Pay is available now for American Express credit cards issued directly by American Express.

In Ireland, Apple Pay is available now at AIB, one of the so-called "Big Four" financial institutions in the country.


In Spain, Apple says Apple Pay will be available later this year at CaixaBank and mobile-only banking app imaginBank. Visa in general will also begin supporting Apple Pay in Spain by the end of the year.

In the UK, Apple Pay is now supported by mobile-only banking app Starling Bank.

Earlier this month, Apple announced several other new and forthcoming banks with Apple Pay support in France, Italy, and Spain. Apple maintains a complete list of Apple Pay participating banks in Europe on its website.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay
Tags: Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Ireland

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Apple: European Commission Made ‘Fundamental Errors’ in Irish Tax Ruling

Apple has claimed that the European Commission made "fundamental errors" when it ruled last year that the company owed Ireland 13 billion euros ($13.7 billion) in unpaid taxes plus interest.

Apple appealed the commission's decision in December, but on Monday the company published a piece in the Official Journal of the European Union detailing 14 pleas in law to support its action, according to The Irish Times.

The European Commission argues that Irish revenue commissioners gave Apple unfair advantage between 1991 and 2007 by allowing the company to move income from the European market through two "non-resident" head office subsidiaries based in Ireland.

Apple and the Irish government, which has also appealed the commission's decision, argue that the bulk of those profits are due in the U.S.
"The Commission made fundamental errors by failing to recognize that the applicants' profit-driving activities, in particular the development and commercialization of the intellectual property (Apple IP), were controlled and managed in the United States," Apple said, according to the Official Journal. "The profits from those activities are attributable to the United States, not Ireland."

Apple maintained that the commission had "failed to recognize that the Irish branches carried out only routine functions and were not involved in the development and commercialization of Apple IP, which drove profits".

Cupertino also said that the commission failed to conduct a diligent and impartial investigation, and "exceeded its competence" as it relates to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, by "attempting to redesign Ireland's corporate tax system".

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called the EC's ruling "total political crap" and described the lower end 0.005% tax rate as a "false number." Ultimately, the Apple CEO believes that the decision will be reversed.

Appeals by Apple and the Irish government have been made to the European Union's General Court, where proceedings may take up to two years to complete, after which the case is likely to go all the way to the European Court of Justice.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Apple Set to Appeal EU Tax Ruling This Week

EU-apple-taxApple is set to appeal this week against the European Commission's ruling that it must pay up to 13 billion euros ($13.8 billion) to Ireland in back taxes (via Reuters).

EU regulators concluded in August that Apple had received undue tax benefits from Ireland – where the company's European headquarters are located – which allowed it to pay substantially less than other companies.

Apple CEO Tim Cook vowed to appeal the ruling at the time, calling the back tax calculation a "false number" and the EU's judgement "total political crap". The Irish government also rejected the conclusion and said it would fight to reverse it.

On Monday, Apple's General Counsel Bruce Sewell told Reuters that the company's imminent legal challenge will be based on its belief that EU regulators willfully ignored tax experts to come to its conclusions.
"The Irish put in an expert opinion from an incredibly well-respected Irish tax lawyer. The Commission not only didn't attack that - didn't argue with it, as far as we know - they probably didn't even read it. Because there is no reference (in the EU decision) whatsoever."
Sewell also said Apple intends to challenge the EU's basis for its penalty judgement, and will argue that a "crazy notion of non-residency" was chosen on purpose to produce a punitive amount, when other legitimate tax law arguments could have been used that would "produce much lower numbers". As to why the EU had gone down its chosen route, Sewell said he believed regulators had singled out the company because of its success.
"Apple is not an outlier in any sense that matters to the law. Apple is a convenient target because it generates lots of headlines. It allows the commissioner to become Dane of the year for 2016," he said, referring to the title accorded by Danish newspaper Berlingske last month.
Ireland also issued a statement on Monday, saying that the EU commission had "misunderstood the relevant facts and Irish law".
"Ireland did not give favourable tax treatment to Apple - the full amount of tax was paid in this case and no state aid was provided," it said. "Ireland does not do deals with taxpayers."
In addition, Apple says it plans to tell the court that the Commission erred when it ruled that Ireland-based Apple Sales International (ASI) and Apple Operations Europe existed only on paper, with no justification for the billions of euros it posted in untaxed profits. Sewell said that just because a holding company has no employees on its books doesn't mean it is inactive, since it could be actively managed by employees of its parent company:
"When Tim Cook, who is the CEO of our company, makes decisions that impact ASI, the Commission says we don't care because he is not an ASI employee, he is an Apple Inc employee. But to say that somehow Tim Cook can't make decisions for ASI is a complete mis-statement of corporate law, it's a misunderstanding of how corporations operate."
The strongly worded statements from Apple and the Irish government form a two-pronged attack on the European Commission as it readies a more detailed version of its ruling for publication in relation to the coming court case.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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Ireland is compensating a woman who was forced to travel for an abortion

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LONDON — The Irish government has for the first time compensated a woman for the trauma caused when she had to travel overseas to get an abortion. 

Amanda Mellet was told when she was in the 21st week of pregnancy that the foetus had a fatal abnormality and it would not survive. 

In the Republic of Ireland, a constitutional ban on abortion means that only women whose pregnancies put their lives at risk can have access to safe, legal abortion services. This constitutional ban means that abortion is not permitted in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities. Read more…

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