Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP has formally drafted and submitted a detailed proposal to the European Commission requesting an exemption from VAT for mountain and lowland rescue teams and for defibrillators purchased by charities, community groups, and sports clubs.
Mr Gallagher, along with his party colleagues in the European Parliament, submitted the proposal in response to a public consultation by the European Commission Directorate responsible for Taxation and Customs Union.
Mr Gallagher said today, “Our submission outlines why we believe mountain and lowland rescue teams should not have to pay VAT on purchases of vital rescue equipment and why we believe community groups such as GAA clubs should not have to pay VAT to purchase a defibrillator.
Mr Gallagher said today “The 12 mountain rescue teams throughout the island of Ireland provide a valuable and essential public service with over 300 volunteers in who are committed to being on call at any time for requests for emergency assistance.
“These volunteer teams pay VAT on all their life saving, despite it being in the public interest. There seems to be no legitimate reason why mountain and lowland rescue groups are not included in the VAT exemption group.
“The most obvious discrepancy lies in the fact that land based voluntary search and rescue groups are levied with full VAT on equipment purchases but marine voluntary search and rescue services are not.
“Mountain and lowland rescue teams enable citizens to enjoy tourist and leisure activities. These activities and the economic benefit which they provide would almost certainly suffer without the dedication and commitment of mountain and lowland rescue teams”.
The submission also outlines why defibrillators purchased by community groups should also receive a VAT exemption in the public interest.
Mr Gallagher said today, “In cases of cardiac arrest, with each passing minute without defibrillation, chances of survival drop by 14%. Therefore, it is important that there is immediate access to defibrillators in all local communities, especially where people gather in large numbers such as churches and local GAA clubs.
“While many charities, sports clubs and community groups do provide public access to defibrillators, many others are hindered from doing so due to the addition of VAT, which makes the devices significantly more expensive. That is why we are urging the European Commission to act and exempt defibrillators in the public interest.”
Mr Gallagher has called on the support of the Irish Government and Minister Noonan to help secure an agreement from the European Commission to exempt mountain and lowland rescue teams from VAT on vital purchases of rescue equipment and to exempt community groups from VAT on purchases of defibrillators.
Mr Gallagher, if re-elected to the European Parliament, will continue to vigorously pursue the matter with the European Commission and the Irish Government.