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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. An Garda Siochana to remain as the body with responsibility for the vetting of applicants.
4. A non-judicial system of appeals against refusals with a view to avoiding recourse to the courts which has been costly, time consuming and
5. Changes to firearms licensing policy to occur only after consultation with the stakeholders and based on reliable data.
6. The establishment of an ongoing monitoring system to ensure the licensing system continues to operate in accordance with the legislation as
7. 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.
The brief below sets out the current moves by the Gardai to bring forward very significant restrictions in firearms ownership. These proposals have serious consequences, if they are successful, for not only target shooters but also for a great many NARGC game hunting members. You will all recall I reported to you last year I had information that the Garda authorities were considering a move against some hunting firearms. Well, that is now a reality and furthermore, I understand they are in addition considering a move against all 30 calibre rifles which will affect a great many deer hunters. Some believed that the firearms difficulties with the Gardai were restricted to target handguns and both I and our solicitor William Egan, have been at pains to explain that is not the case. I will repeat here, the issue is how the Gardai think they can circumvent and achieve a ban of almost any class of firearm. Whether hunting people like it or not, for a great many the issue of their continued possession of their firearms is now firmly on their doorstep. This is an issue best fought politically and that means every single club member being mobilised to lobby every politician and aspiring politician, whether that be in the forthcoming local and European elections or the next General Election. The attached document gives a good accurate account of the firearms issue as it has developed and played out to where we now find ourselves.
We appeal to everyone to get very active on this before it gets any further. At present, it has only just been submitted to the Minister within the last four working days. Legislation would have to be enacted to achieve what is proposed by the Gardai and this means the publication of a Bill in advance, referral to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, the Seanad etc. We need to create a “firestorm” with all politicians to motivate the Minister to leave this aside and maintain the status quo. This can be turned into a very unattractive proposition for the Government parties in the lead in to the local and European elections. If any of this were to succeed, it is my opinion that it would be the beginning of a potential landslide of gun bans. We have gathered all the affected parties into a coalition of organisations which we will lead with one voice. They are listed on the attached document.
I have written to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice seeking to meet with them and to make a submission. Despite the danger posed by this move, I believe with a very active lobby by everyone of all politicians throughout the country, we can succeed in persuading the Minister to reject the proposals.
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