Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has said the company's operations in Cork will not be affected by the outcome of an investigation into Apple's tax affairs in Ireland.

Apple is committed to staying in Ireland even if European Union regulators rule against the country's tax agreement with the iPhone maker, Mr Cook said, adding that there was no "special deal" in place.

His comments come after the technology giant said it intends to expand its campus in Cork and provide space for 1,000 further staff by the middle of 2017.

An expansion of this scale would see the number of people directly employed by the company in Ireland increase to 6,000 - which would mean about a quarter of its European staff will be based in Cork.

Speaking in Cork this afternoon, he said if the evidence is looked at on a fair basis the European Commission investigation will find that Ireland is not responsible for any wrongdoing.

"I can't say for sure what they will come back with. What I do know for sure is that if the evidence and history is viewed on a fair basis, I believe strongly... there will be no charges and so forth," Mr Cook said. 

He said there was no "special deal" for Apple in Ireland and he said the company is paying the 12.5% corporate tax rate on the income that it generates here.

Mr Cook said that if the the Commission does come back with an adverse ruling, the company is still committed to staying in Ireland and Apple would support Ireland in appealing the ruling.

He said Apple was in Ireland for the long haul and had no intention of moving in the future.

Apple currently employs 5,000 people at the Hollyhill facility in Cork city, a 25% increase on last year. 

Apple has been in the city since 1980 and has steadily grown its presence in Ireland.

Staff are involved in a range of functions including manufacturing, customer care, finance and global supply-chain management.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Joan Burton described Apple's announcement as "a vote of confidence in Cork and in Ireland".

Apple has become an important employer in Ireland and is also partnered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to support research in offshore energy technology.

It is also establishing a €1m Ocean Energy Industry Fund to support innovative new ways of capturing wave energy and converting it to renewable electricity to power its facilities.

The announcement has been warmly welcomed by the Government and the IDA.

In February, Apple announced plans to build an €850m data centre in Athenry.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said the announcements at and at Apple this showed development in Ireland.

Mr Bruton said an environment has been created where ambitious companies see Ireland as a location where they can grow their businesses.

The minister added that this is strong statement about the country, about the sort of talent it grows and attracts and what can be built for the future. 

Extended interview with Apple CEO, Tim Cook

Interview with Apple CEO, Tim Cook

Cook honoured at TCD gathering

Earlier today, Mr Cook was honoured by the Philosophical Society at Trinity College Dublin with its Gold Medal of Honorary Patronage.

He was given the honour at a ceremony attended by hundreds of staff and students at the college this morning.

Addressing the audience, Mr Cook said he was incredibly honoured and humbled to receive the award.

He said Apple has been in Ireland for 35 years, was proud to be the largest employer in Cork and will always be proud to call Ireland home.

He said the facility here is one of the most diverse on the planet, with employees from dozens of countries.

He said Apple had been here in good times and challenging times and that it does not just see itself as based in Ireland but is rooted here.

Mr Cook spoke about the values that drive the workforce and about how the company wants to leave the world better than the way it found it.

He also praised Ireland for its commitment to peacekeeping through the UN - a record he said no other country could match - and he praised Ireland's record on fighting for human rights, making reference in particular to LGBT issues. 

Mr Cook also spoke about his reasons for coming out as gay last year, saying he realised that no amount of a donation he could make would have as much of an impact than him standing up and saying he was proud to be gay.

He said gay marriage in Ireland is hugely significant and "says so much about the people of Ireland that they embrace this. I think it's a part of the culture - I love many parts of the Irish culture and this is another one that I love. I think it's a sea change and it will create a huge ripple across many other countries: Ireland leading the way and I really applaud it." 

He also encouraged others from all walks of life, particularly in prominent positions, to follow suit.

One light-hearted moment in the Q&A arose when Mr Cook offered one a tech prediction by telling the packed exam hall: "Your kids will not know what money is."

A concerned Philosophical Society President Ludivine Rebet, who chaired the Q&A, said: "That's a bit scary."

Mr Cook was also on hand to give a student who works in PC World advice on how he could encourage shoppers to spend more money on an Apple product.

"A PC you have to pay someone to take away, a Mac you can actually sell," he said.

On the business front, Mr Cook also predicted that consumer demand for the iPad would return to growth again and that the new iPad Pro would be key to that.

Apple intends to stick with encryption in privacy battle 

Asked about privacy and the UK's desire to force technology companies not to encrypt messages, Mr Cook said Apple is very pro-privacy and plans to continue to encrypt end-to-end with no back door.

He said to weaken encryption would provide a vulnerability to the very people that intelligence agencies are trying to stop.

In connection with Safe Harbour Privacy Principles, he said: "When you begin to operate things with cloud storage, the location of the data doesn't mean as much to me.

"My own hope is that we look at the technology; look at the capabilities of technology and instead of focusing on things like this, we get back and we focus on the two things that I think are profound and that need to be focused on and that is privacy and security."