Finance Minster Paschal Donohoe has told the Dáil a special holding account for the €13 billion the European Commission says is due to Ireland in back taxes from Apple will be set up "as soon as possible".

Minister Donohoe said Ireland may be subjected to fines after failing, so far, to set up the escrow account.

He said Irish officials have been engaged in intensive work with Apple, and the precise nature of the deal is confidential.

The commission ordered the US tech giant in August 2016 to pay the unpaid taxes as it ruled the firm had received illegal state aid.

It said "selective treatment" allowed the US multinational to pay a tax rate of 1% on EU profits in 2003, down to 0.005% in 2014.

"I cannot be drawn into commenting on a time frame, save to say that it will be done as soon as possible", he said.

"Fines may occur on foot of Ireland's failure to comply with a judgment of the European Court of Justice, the level of fines is at the discretion of the court" he added. 

But Mr Donohoe said Ireland would "fully comply" with its duties under the European Union.

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath said there were many complexities involved in the arrangements, but by delaying the establishment of an escrow account, the Government has given ammunition to "those who would seek to target Ireland".