Instead of giving away Irish gas and oil to multinational companies, the Government should use the nation’s natural resources to get the country’s economy back on track.
This is the view of Margaret Heneghan of Reclaim Irish Resources, Galway, who argues that gas or oil could be exported to bring in revenues that would keep hospital wards open, fund care for the elderly, and allow for the reversal of pay cuts and levies.
“Billions of euros worth of gas and oil lie off the west coast of Ireland and around Lough Allen basin,” she said. “Imagine what we could do with our gas and oil resources. We could ensure cheap supplies of gas, oil, and electricity for our population. This would also save €6 billion a year that is spent importing oil to generate electricity at Moneypoint.”
In 1975 the Irish State would have held a 50 per cent share in any gas and oil discoveries, received eight per cent in royalties from extracting companies, and a 50 per cent tax would be paid to the Revenue on the profits.
However, under former Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke and former taoiseach Bertie Ahern these terms were relaxed. Now the State only demands 25 per cent tax on profits but this only has to be paid after a company’s costs have been recovered. Norway by contrast demands a 50 per cent share in discoveries, 52 per cent in royalties, and has a 78 per cent tax rate on profits.
In 2002 an international study found that Cameroon is the only country to receive a lower share of revenue from its own oil and gas resources than Ireland.