Today (Friday) local businesses plan to blacken out their windows as part of a national protest against the Government’s unfair 23 percent VAT hike on health supplements.

BY MICHELLE CREAN

The sharp rise, which goes from zero to 23 percent – due to be implemented on March 1 – has left businesses and customers enraged – saying it will have a detrimental impact not only on customers who rely on supplements in order to maintain their health – but also to the local economy which will feel a direct impact of decreased sales.
In Killarney, Tina Tynan, from Horan’s Health Stores, said they have a petition in store that loads of customers have already signed and today they’ll protest to let even more customers know.
Also joining the campaign are staff from Milltown Organic Store who plan to blacken their windows from 2pm to 5pm.
“We are part of the blackout today as it is ridiculous going from zero percent to 23 percent VAT in one go. It is a harsh increase,” Tina told the Killarney Advertiser.
“How’s that going to affect customers if somebody is buying two products a week they now might only be able to afford one.
“Some customers are shocked and upset and they want to sign the petition.”
Tina said that she was disgusted with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s recent comments the ‘food supplements very rarely do anything for our health. They are mostly snake oil and just cost people money’.
“Leo’s comments are ridiculous. What about pregnant women needing to take folic acid, does he say that that doesn’t work for them, or those with osteoarthritis, or people low in calcium or iron?”

Lillian Leask from the Milltown shop said that all six women working there feel strongly about this issue. Today they will blacken out the windows and customers will join them outside in protest.
“We have had a huge response from customers, most people are shocked at what is seen as a very ill-informed and backwards step for this country,” Lilian said. “We have a petition in store that has had over 200 signatures. We have invited customers and staff through Facebook to come to the shop at 3pm to stand outside holding banners and posters and pose for a photo to hopefully send the message that this is not a good move on the Government’s behalf and does not have the public’s support in any way.

“The Government sees that the supplement and vitamin sector is a rapidly growing one and therefore there is money to be made on it. The pharmaceutical industry has a particularly strong presence in Ireland and the alternative health option is a threat to their business, so they may well be lobbying for the VAT. I feel this VAT is entirely unfair and shows that the Government’s interest is purely in making money and not in preserving the health of its country. If they wanted people to be well, healthy and independent in their health choices they would not be proposing this tax. It’s clear that keeping people sick and reliant on medication is good for business. We need consumers to send the message this is wrong and sign the online petition.”

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