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Are Irish tax policies harming human rights at home and abroad? Christian Aid

Thursday 12 February 2015, Radisson Blu Hotel, Dublin 8.

12 Febuary 2015 - Major conference to hear from: UN human rights rapporteur, OECD and Departmern of Finance on Irish taxation policy.

A major conference to take place in Dublin on 12th of February will feature a report from the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights which is expected to draw attention to the impact the government’s taxation policy is having on citizens at home and across the developing world.

Speaking ahead of the event, the head of Advocacy and Policy for Christian Aid, Sorley McCaughey said the conference would draw out a wide range of opinion on the issue which has become a ‘national conversation’.

“At home and across the world it is clear that taxation policy has become a way of making the rich richer, and treading ever harder on the rights and the futures of the poor. Across Ireland and the developing world many people have had enough of being taxed ever harder, while it seems that huge multinational corporations can get away with paying only the most basic rate. Christian Aid Ireland is pleased to bring this issue to the fore by inviting the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human right, Professor Philip Alston to Dublin, where we expect him to have much to say on the governments’ taxation policy. It’s Vital that in developing tax and fiscal policy we factor in the impact it may have on the human rights of Irish citizens as well as citizens of some of the poorest countries of the world. This is a major event in what is already a major national conversation.”

The conference will also feature the Department of Finance’s own first report on its ‘Spillover Analysis’ on the impact its policies may behaving across the developing world, and a frank assessment of the global efforts to tackle tax avoidance from the OECD’s Head of Tax and Development Unit, Ben Dickinson.

Sorley McCaughey said that the conference comes at a time of unprecedented focus on the tax practices of multinational companies and their exploitation of legal loopholes and accounting tricks to avoid significant amounts of tax.

“At the moment, developing countries lose more to tax dodging than they receive in aid but clearly it is about more than generating more revenue for developing countries. The conference comes at a time when many countries, including Ireland, are still experiencing the effects of austerity policies, as governments attempt to balance budgets through a series of cuts and raised taxes, which have left many increasingly marginalised and removed from adequate public services. This conference therefore is timely, and offers an opportunity to view the debate around taxation, the role of states and of multinationals through a human rights lens.”

Christian Aid began working on tax justice in 2007, when they were the first international development NGO to start campaigning on the issue. The lack of tax justice was, and remains, a major structural impediment to developing countries moving beyond a reliance on aid, to something more sustainable and predictable.


For further information, or to arrange interviews, contact Barry Turley on (0044) 7734 256318 or barry@barryturley.com


Various related themes will be discussed during the course of the day:

  1. The impact that failure to raise adequate tax revenue from multi nationals is having on the state’s ability to provide services and support its own citizens’ human rights.

  2. The potential impact of Irish tax policy on the tax take of developing countries

  3. International developments at OECD to curb tax avoidance

  4. The role of tax in ensuring the success of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

  5. The absence of tax issues from discussions on the development of an Irish National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 6. The role of tax competition in promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth

  6. Grass roots accounts of the damage that can come from regressive fiscal policy from Guatemala and Philippines(Lidy Nacpil, Ricardo Barrientos)

  7. What effect austerity has had on people living on the margins in Ireland

  8. The event brings together a broad range of views- from the business lobby (IBEC), to the OECD, to academics, to the Tax Justice Network. In the context of discussions on Irish tax policy and tax justice in general this breadth of participation is without precedent.



  • Keynote address: Human Rights Impact of Fiscal and tax Policy - Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

  • Ben Dickinson, Head of the Tax and Development Unit, OECD

  • Sorley McCaughey, Head of Head of Advocacy and Policy, Christian Aid Ireland

  • Simon Harris, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Finance

  • Deirdre Donaghy, Fiscal Policy Division, Department of Finance – “Spillover Analysis”

  • Niko Lusiani, Director, Human Rights in Economic Policy, Centre for Economic and Social Rights

  • Fergal O’Brien, Chief Economist, Ibec

  • John Mark McCafferty, Head of Social Justice, St Vincent de Paul

  • Michael Gaffey, Director General, Irish Aid

  • Shane Darcy, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway

  • Ricardo Barrientos, Senior Economist at Central American Institute of Fiscal Studies, former Deputy Finance Minister, Guatemala



About Christian Aid Ireland

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, and sustainably. Our strategy document ‘From Inspiration to Impact’ outlines how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid Ireland on Twitter: www.twitter.com/christianaidirl

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit www.christianaid.ie


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