Frank Mulrennan, CEO of Celtic Media, whose newspaper titles - including The Anglo-Celt - are members of Local Ireland, speaking to Deputy Brendan Smith at the Dáil about the need to scrap VAT on newspapers.

TD urges minister to remove VAT on newspapers

Brendan Smith urged Minister Eamon Ryan to scrap VAT on newspapers in the Dáil this week.

Speaking in the Dáil chamber, the Fianna Fáil TD noted that Local Ireland and Newsbrands Ireland had outlined "very cogently" argument in favour of scrapping VAT in print and digital formats.

Deputy Smith noted that four out of five adults read local newspapers in Ireland.

He concluded his concise statement by saying that a such a cut in the forthcoming budget was crucial: "The viability of these publications and associated jobs is at stake. The Government must act in this budget by helping to ensure the continued viability of this sector.

"People must not be subjected to a reliance on unregulated social media for information and news, or, in many instances, misinformation and fake news.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “Ireland is one of the few countries that impose a high level of tax on print and digital newspapers. NewsBrands Ireland and Local Ireland, representing our national and regional newspapers, such as The Anglo-Celt and The Northern Standard, have cogently outlined the crucial need to reduce the VAT rate on newspapers, in print and digital formats, to 0%.”

Minister Ryan received Deputy's Smith's appeal positively saying he fully agreed with the sentiments. He stated that “if we become reliant on social media feeds where we only hear from people of the same views, that will result in a deepening sense of division and a coarsening of society”, adding: “It will lead to a disparaging of other people in a way that is not good for our health, our souls or our future.”

Local Ireland and Newsbrands Ireland attended the Oireachtas last week to stress to local deputies the impact a removal of VAT could have for the viability of newspapers and jobs.