Following on the recent controversy about extraordinary taxation rates on Chinese garlic under the EU’s Common External Tariff (CET), the Revenue Commissioners have alarmed GAA officials by today confirming a similar tariff on other internationally-traded materials.

It seems that the tariff is now set to discourage the shipment of hides of the Asiatic Water Buffalo (“Bubalus bubalis”), a recent addition to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red list of endangered species.  The leather from the Eastern Himalayan animal has long been favoured by Sliothar manufacturers here because of its favourable flight characteristics and its ability to resist water – a feature that makes it particularly suited to Irish playing conditions. Indeed, sliothars finished in leather from the Kathmandu Valley – so called “Gurkhas“, are the balls of choice for Puc Fada contestants.

A spokesperson for the Sliothar Manufacturers Association , Lucht Sliotar gComhar Oifigiúil,  confirmed to Cuala that its members had little choice but to pass on the tax to consumers but it was a matter for Cuala whether the burden would be born by the club or passed on to its members.  The alternative – switching material to Irish goat skin – was not an option in the short term, because of heavy demand for Bodhrans in the run-up to the Fleadh in Derry and the European Soccer Championships in Poland/Ukraine.

A spokesperson for Coiste Chaighdeáin Sliothar confirmed that while the GAA promotes the purchase or Irish-manufactured equipment it does not regulate the sourcing of raw materials.  They were monitoring the situation but dismissed suggestions that the Asian livestock would be introduced to Irish farmsteads in the foreseable future.

Meanwhile Nepalese farmers have expressed disappointment at the development but denied reports they were considering renaming the Buffalos traditional working pastures – heretofore named in honour of the lucerative trade with their Celtic customers – known locally as Paddy Fields.

Back in Hyde Road, it is anticipated that sliothar prices are set to soar as a result of the new ‘hide’ tax. The club shop estimates that the price could rise to as much as €19.85.  While Cuala hurlers may be tempted to stock-up before any price increases take effect,  they are reminded that hoarding of sliothars is expressly prohibited under club bylaws.

The Cuala Shop is open on Tuesday 19:00 – 20:00 and Saturday 9:00 – 11:30