If you are in the Carlow/Kilkenny electoral constituency, please be aware that in May there will be a By-election to elect a new TD to fill the vacancy left by Phil Hogan when he was appointed Ireland’s Commissioner to the EU. Ironically, it was the same Phil Hogan who delivered the Fine Gael promise to the shooting and hunting community in advance of the last General election that Fine Gael would reverse the legislation introduced by the sitting Fianna Fail lead government to ban stag hunting by the Ward Union hunt – a promise on which the party performed a U-turn. Make sure you contact every person who is standing for election and ask them what they will do to resolve the current problems which will escalate when renewals are due in the second half of this year. Ask them if they are prepared to support the thrust of the recommendations of the Sports Coalition to resolve the matter, which are:
- An independent examination of what has occurred over the past five years and the publication of the findings. (The Garda Inspectorate perhaps?) The joint Oireachtas Committee has now asked the Minister to refer the matter to the Inspectorate.
- A centralised system of administration of the licensing system, independent of An Garda Siochana, which would endure without the rancour which has characterised the current administration.
- An Garda Siochana to remain as the body with responsibility for the vetting of applicants.
- A non-judicial system of appeals against refusals with a view to avoiding recourse to the courts which has been costly, time consuming and highly adversarial.
- Changes to firearms licensing policy to occur only after consultation with the stakeholders and based on reliable data.
- The establishment of an ongoing monitoring system to ensure the licensing system continues to operate in accordance with the legislation as intended.
- Revised operating guidelines to be published and to be mandatory for all parties.
Ask them for a commitment in writing.
Lastly, please sign the petition which can be downloaded from the Sports Coalition website www.sportscoalition.org and also get as many family and friends to sign also and return to the NARGC Office at Ferbane Business & Technology Park, Ballycumber Road, Ferbane, Co Offaly.
Carlow/Kilkenny By-election to fill Fine Gael vacancy will be influenced by controversial firearms proposals.