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If you work for Apple in Ireland your job is safe — for now

CEO Tim Cook has credited Apple's business as part of the employment revitalization in Cork, Ireland — but now, the business responsible for 6,000 jobs across Ireland is under pressure.

Still, it could be a while, if ever, for local tech workers to be affected by Tuesday's ruling, experts said.

The European Union's legislative arm, the European Commission, ruled that Ireland must recover up to 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) — plus a hefty amount of interest — in "illegal tax benefits" from the Apple, a move that Ireland said it would appeal.

While Cook said Apple is committed to investing in Ireland, he noted in a letter that "the most profound and harmful effect of this ruling will be on investment and job creation in Europe."

A view of buildings on the Apple campus in Cork, Ireland.
Paul Faith | AFP | Getty Images
A view of buildings on the Apple campus in Cork, Ireland.

For now, the sentiment in Cork is very positive, said John Dennehy, CEO of IT recruitment firm and software company Zartis, which has offices in the southern Ireland city of 120,000 residents.

"Things, when they go to appeal — they tend to move very slowly," Dennehy said. "It's going to be five or six years before the dust settles. In terms of the timeline, it's not an immediate thing."

Local business advocacy group Ibec said the ruling has no short-term fiscal or budgetary implications, as the appeal process will stretch over years. Indeed, for now, Apple appears to be hiring in Ireland, with Cork job postings from supply and demand analysts to customer support. It's a popular employer in Ireland, with four stars on review board Glassdoor.

"Apple has some of the better jobs in the cities where they were located," said John Challenger, chief executive officer of by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas. He said if they were worried, Apple's Ireland employees might look outside the traditional technology sector "at the top companies and hope to find companies that offer similar kinds of pay rates and opportunities."

There are many large multinationals driving employment in Ireland that workers could look toward.

The technology sector in Ireland directly employs over 105,000 people, with 75 percent employed in multinational companies, according to ICT Ireland, which represents the foreign-direct-investment technology companies in Ireland.

While it's uncertain — perhaps even unlikely — that workers in Ireland will pay any price for the tax ruling, Apple does have other options in the long run, Challenger said.

"There are always government entities that are happy to trade lower taxes for jobs," Challenger said. "No question — longer term, these companies can move all around the world to where there are governments that will want their businesses located there, that will offer them better deals. In a global, flat world, in a virtual world, where so many jobs can be done virtually by people, often companies and people are willing to move to where [they are offered] the best deals."

If Apple did scale back in Ireland, that could have an impact. As Dennehy puts it, "everyone in Cork knows someone at Apple."

Cook wasn't shy in emphasizing its importance to Cork's economy, in a public letter to the Apple Community in Europe:

".... [I]n October 1980, Apple opened a factory in Cork, Ireland with 60 employees. At the time, Cork was suffering from high unemployment and extremely low economic investment. But Apple's leaders saw a community rich with talent ... [and] today the local economy is stronger than ever.

The success which has propelled Apple's growth in Cork comes from innovative products that delight our customers. It has helped create and sustain more than 1.5 million jobs across Europe — jobs at Apple, jobs for hundreds of thousands of creative app developers who thrive on the App Store, and jobs with manufacturers and other suppliers. Countless small and medium-size companies depend on Apple, and we are proud to support them."

While Ireland is one of Apple's oldest international strongholds, it has since expanded its operations across the world to areas that are well-known for low-cost labor. Meanwhile, other countries have made inroads in becoming more business-friendly.

"I think ... why Ireland is pushing so hard to keep this together is that at the end of the day is that talent," Gene Munster, senior internet analyst at Piper Jaffray, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday. "I'm sure they're very talented in Ireland, but I think that these big companies can find talent anywhere in the world. It's important for Ireland to keep this together for local employment."

Australia, for instance, has considered plans to bring the corporate tax rate down. And Singapore, the World Banks Groups' top "Ease of doing business" country in 2016, has been a topic of discussion on social media site Reddit in Ireland.

But Dennehy said that since Ireland is the only primarily English-speaking country with plans to stay in the European Union, he's seen more interest from American companies than ever. The American Chamber of Commerce Ireland said it believes that no other company with Irish operations is under review by the European Commission for "state aid" purposes.

"We're seeing a significant increase in U.S. tech companies hiring in the past two years," Dennehy said. "In Ireland you can get a work permit at a cost of 1,000 euros, and process takes about six weeks. There's a more open society and we trade internationally. We recognize the need for skilled migrants to come to the country. And I think they're welcomed."