Call for ‘freedom’ for people to make short journeys to buy real Christmas trees

“We are being asked to shop local. Buying a real Christmas tree from a seller in your own area helps to inject money into the local economy,” according to TD Marian Harkin.

While the general public may remain divided on whether it is too early to put up the festive decorations yet or not, there is a deeper issue that exists.

Deputy Harkin has called for a special dispensation to be given for people to travel necessary, short distances beyond their homes for the purpose of purchasing natural Christmas trees.

The independent TD for Sligo-Leitrim said that this once-a-year opportunity for the tree growers to sell their output “cannot be missed if their business is to survive”.

“This needs the necessary flexibility in the administration of current Covid regulations governing travel and trading,” the deputy emphasised.

“Tree sellers [have] a core three-week period in which to sell their annual output. Bearing in mind that tree suppliers vary in scale, with some selling direct from farms, others utilising open air ‘pop-ups’, and the bigger producers needing the right to distribute widely, special consideration has to be given to the industry and their routes to market.

Given that Christmas tree sales fell largely in the agriculture category, such sales could be treated in the same way as similar agricultural activities.

Furthermore, the selling of real Christmas trees is a “small but important annual societal and traditional event”.

The deputy said she would be contacting the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, Minister of State with responsibility for land use Pippa Hackett, along with the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Minister of State Damien English.

She said she will be requesting that the threat to the annual Christmas tree trade be averted, and the “feel-good Christmas factor associated with the purchase of a natural Christmas tree be preserved”.