PRESS RELEASE FIREARMS LICENSING CASES BEFORE THE HIGH COURT

PRESS RELEASE

FIREARMS LICENSING CASES BEFORE THE HIGH COURT

STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REGIONAL GAME COUNCILS (NARGC)

Following settlement this morning in the High Court of 168 cases challenging refusals by Chief Superintendents of An Garda Siochana to grant firearms certificates, The National Association of Regional Game Councils, which is supporting the cases is outraged, but not surprised at the behaviour of Senior Gardai in the operation of the firearms licensing system.  Recent revelations in the High Court simply confirm what thousands of firearms licence holders already knew or suspected.

In light of the evidence placed before the High Court and the findings of Mr Justice Hedigan in relation to same NARGC now calls for fundamental changes to the licensing system to ensure transparency, fairness and the maintenance of public confidence in the safety and security provisions of the system.

In particular, NARGC calls on the Minister for Justice Equality and Defence to exercise his functions under Section 42 of the Garda Siochana Act 2005 by appointing a qualified person to conduct an inquiry into, and report to the Minister, on the manner in which Officers within An Garda Siochana have operated the firearms licensing system.  In light of all that has occurred, NARGC must be consulted in setting the terms of reference for such inquiry.

The current system of firearms licensing is seriously flawed, as recognised by the High Court.  The wider shooting community have lost all confidence in the Garda Siochana’s ability or intention to administer the system in a fair and professional manner.

As a consequence of the revelations in the High Court the Garda Siochana has lost all credibility and cannot be trusted with the licensing system.  The NARGC has previously called for a centralised system and we now request yet again, that the Minister establishes a centralised firearms licensing system which comprises the three pillars of the Department of Justice, the Garda Siochana and the Shooting community with independent oversight.  This is the only vehicle which is capable of ensuring future legal challenges will be rare.

It is also the model used in almost all EU countries where there is no comparable litigation list as has occurred in Ireland.

In the interests of minimising financial exposure for the taxpayer in the future, NARGC also requests that the Minister establishes a non-judicial appeals system, a system which the Association had previously urged on the Minister’s predecessors.

ENDS

31st January, 2012

For further information contact Des Crofton, National Director the NARGC office:

090-645 3623 or on 087-254 1827

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