GAA director urged Charlie Haughey to abolish VAT on hurleys

Liam Mulvihill said cost of hurleys was making it almost prohibitive to take up sport

The cost of a hurley was making it almost prohibitive for young people to take up the national game, the GAA director general warned taoiseach Charlie Haughey in 1990.

Liam Mulvihill wrote to Haughey urging the government to abolish VAT on hurleys because of the unique needs of hurlers, according to files released by the National Archive.

“Most other sporting sticks will last for a considerable time, whereas the average player needs several hurleys each year,” Mulvihill wrote. “We are not making a case on behalf of other sports goods such as helmets, jerseys, etc, but we make a special case with regard to hurleys . . .”

He highlighted the uniquely Irish nature of hurling and said ash was in a limited supply situation that had caused prices to rise.


“In recent years, substantial relief has been granted to the arts, the theatre, the hotel/catering industry and magazines. The GAA contends that hurleys is a suitable case to be made.”

Mulvihill said the money lost to the exchequer from a move on VAT for hurleys “would only be less than half a million pounds”.

His case was referred by the taoiseach's office to Albert Reynolds, the then minister for finance.

However, Reynolds wrote back to the head of the GAA to say that under European law he could not abolish VAT on hurleys. He also said the suggestion that reliefs granted to the cultural services could include hurleys would not work because the relief was for cultural services provided by public authorities.

“I am glad to say, however, that I was able to reduce the standard rate of VAT which applies to hurleys from 25 per cent to 23 per cent in this year’s budget,” he said.

The current VAT rate for hurleys is still 23 per cent.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times