Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney has said there is nothing surprising in a report that computer company Apple paid €36m tax on profits of more than $7bn (€5bn) at its Irish unit.

The report in The Irish Times also said that the iPhone manufacturer avoided paying €850m of tax in Ireland from 2004 to 2008.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Coveney said companies have Irish registered elements that were not resident in the country and the Government cannot secure a tax from that.

He said it was similar to Irish citizens who were resident abroad and did not pay tax in Ireland.

He added: "There's an international effort, which Ireland is part of, to look at why tax treatment of multinationals that are global in their operations to look at appropriate ways of changing that and Ireland will co-operate fully with that change."

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte this afternoon said Ireland is enthusiastically cooperating with an OECD project to address the issue of stateless companies paying lower levels of tax.

Mr Rabbitte told RTÉ's News At One that the Government wants to see this issue addressed, and he said that hopefully the OECD project would do this.

Mr Rabbitte said Ireland's 12.5% corporation tax rate is open and transparent, and it is the Government's belief that Irish companies are complying with that.

However, he said it would appear that Apple was one of the "legacy companies", which fell into the category of a stateless company.