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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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Senator Robbie Gallagher

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Snippet Contents:

I concur with the sentiments expressed by the previous speaker about carers. We have all spoken about the role of carers in this Chamber many times and it is disappointing that, as Senator Conway-Walsh said, these people had to leave their homes and travel this morning from different parts of the country to protest a week after the budget. It is an issue that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
The imposition of value added tax, VAT, on food supplements was raised this time last year and after pressure was put on the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, he deferred the decision. Now it is proposed to go ahead and put VAT on certain food supplements. I heard no word of this in the budget speech but I understand that it will be discussed today as part of the Finance Bill 2019 in the Lower House. This is very disappointing. Many people take food supplements for a variety of reasons but primarily to stay healthy, and imposing VAT on food supplements will affect those most vulnerable in our society. Many take them to stay healthy, to stay away from their GP, to stay out of hospital. I was interested in a recent study carried out by a Dr. Martin Coyne in Donegal who undertook a test of over 10,000 people. He discovered that 70% were low in vitamin D. Unfortunately, in this country, we do not get much sunshine and as a result many people are forced to take supplements such as vitamin D in order to try to stay healthy. This will have a knock-on effect on those people and on many others who take food supplements.
We have spent the past three years talking about Brexit in this House and how it will affect the entire country. I and many of my colleagues from the Border counties have made the point that the people of those counties will be more affected than anyone as a result of Brexit. I thought the Government would have been more conscious of retailers, particularly in the Border counties. As we increase the price of these food supplements, people will be able to travel across the Border and buy them more cheaply, which will have a knock-on effect on the sustainability of many businesses. That is very regrettable. I ask the Leader to pass on my concerns to the Minister for Finance, even at this 11th hour, in order that he can do as he did last year and defer this increase.