The Government was today urged to follow the lead of the British authorities and cut VAT on condoms.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) said the expected move by the UK means condoms sold in Northern Ireland will soon become significantly cheaper than those on sale south of the border.
The high cost of condoms in the Republic puts them beyond the reach of many students and young people – the category most as risk from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), it said.
USI President Tony McDonnell said the Government applies the full rate of 21% VAT to any purchase it considers a ‘luxury’, the category in which it classifies condoms.
“The UK government used to share this preposterous view, but is now preparing to reclassify condoms as ‘essential’ items and apply the lowest rate of VAT to them,” he said.
“If the Government applied the same logic as the UK, the VAT on condoms sold in the South would fall from 21% to 5%, bringing the price of condoms down dramatically and making them more accessible to those who need them most.”
Mr McDonnell said the USI has been pressing the logic of reducing tax on condoms for years and welcomed the fact that students in the North should soon find them substantially more affordable.
“Now that the UK government is finally seeing the light, who would seriously suggest that students in the North have a greater right to sexual health than their peers in the South?” he asked.
“It remains to be seen how much longer the Government will wish to place tax revenues before principle, but USI will be keeping up the pressure.”