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United in corporate tax heaven

Ireland's low corporate tax rate has drawn fire from other countries in the European Union and indeed from the United States, but there's one place that is hoping to match the 12.5 percent rate - and that is Northern Ireland.

Political leaders in Belfast are seeking a break from the North's tie-in with the United Kingdom corporate tax level of 26 percent, this to put the North on a par with the South when it comes to attracting overseas investment.

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And the Irish government says it has no problem with this pitch for parity.

"We don't see that as a threat at all," Tanaiste and trade minister, Eamon Gilmore, said on a visit to Belfast last week, his first official mission north of the border since his government came into office.

"I think the challenge for both of us is to work together to grow the economy north and south, that certainly is something that is very much on the minds of the Irish government and it's something that we intend to work co-operatively on with the first minister, deputy first minister and with the Executive here," he said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness wants to see precise parity with the southern rate even as some North politician are calling for one even lower than 12.5 percent.

"The granting of the power to lower the rate of corporation tax, I think, will be a huge boost and will fit in well with trying to develop an all-island economy and do that without threatening anyone's allegiance. I think we all know that there are things we can do to benefit our citizens north and south without it impinging in any way on the allegiances of anybody within this Executive," said McGuinness.

It is expected that any cut in the North's rate would be countered by a proportionate cut in direct funding from the British exchequer through London's annual block grant.