Fine Gael Dublin Senator, Catherine Noone, has called for an increase in the amount of spot checks on unlicensed Christmas tree sellers, following an increase in rogue vendors who are selling Christmas trees illegally.
“There are numerous Christmas tree sellers all over country at this time of year and I would urge people to buy a real Irish Christmas tree.
“Around 550,000 Christmas trees are sold in Ireland each year, with 350,000 sold at home and about 200,000 trees exported to the UK, France and Germany. The industry is worth €21 million to the Irish economy.
“Unfortunately however, the sellers who are playing by the rules and paying VAT are unfairly losing out to those who aren’t.
“Garden centres make a significant portion of their yearly profit during the month of December, through the sales of Christmas trees. These sales can be crucial to licensed businesses to get them through the quieter months of January and February.
“I was contacted by a Christmas tree grower who informed me that licensed sellers in their area have been badly affected this year, as a result of an unprecedented number of unlicensed vendors.
“Some garden centres in the area have seen their sales fall to a little as half of last year’s turnover, as an unprecedented number of rogue vendors have descended on the area.
“Spot checks were carried out last year and were hugely successful in getting unlicensed sellers off the streets. However, it appears that rogue vendors are back with a vengeance this year, so I am now calling for an increase in spot checks in order protect those who are playing by the rules.”