We wish to thank our members and supporters for what can only be described as an avalanche of messages of support over the past week. We are overwhelmed by the response. Some of the messages have understandably expressed great anger with the government, the Department and Minister for Justice and the Gardai variously – but mostly with the Gardai. Your messages are clear – fight the current proposals to the bitter end and hold those who are responsible for the licensing debacle to account. One cannot but be struck with the great sense of unity and determination among the vast majority of shooting associations and their members (with some unfortunate exceptions who have not supported us).


Inevitably, a very tiny number of people (4) have queried, and even taken issue with, the origin and content of the suggested comments circulated to members of shooting clubs. We wish to make clear that while obviously, some people will have a different perspective on this issue and we respect that, we must point out that the suggested comments which we have circulated are no more than a collection of what have been repeatedly made to the various shooting associations over the past number of months by members of the shooting public. We have simply collated the most repeated ones (not all of them) and we suggest that they be made more appropriately to the legislators following the forthcoming Prime Time programme.  Among literally hundreds of comments received, not even one comment disagreed with our approach.  As we have now received four comments in response to recent circulations from the Sports Coalition, of which one was from a member of An Garda Siochana, we feel it is appropriate to clarify that the suggested comments are in fact the most common ones submitted by you – the shooting public. We also wish to make clear that it is An Garda Siochana who have escalated this issue unnecessarily and who continue to do so.  The inflammatory and misleading press release issued two days ago by AGS about firearms being stolen accompanied by a photograph of a collection of guns, none of which are licenceable in this state is a particular case in point.  But the implied message was that they were stolen from licence holders! So misleading was the press release that yesterday the Minister was forced to qualify the statistics on the floor of the Dail where she confirmed that a very significant number of the guns involved were taken from a variety of other sources – firearms dealers; Gardai/Army, vets, and that the firearms listed included blank firing guns, de-activated; antique etc.


And lest we be accused of demonising the Gardai, the spokespersons of the various associations which comprise the Sports Coalition are all on the public record on many occasions acknowledging that the ordinary members of the Gardai are not the problem and we continue to acknowledge that.  They are as frustrated and as annoyed as we are. The problems have been exclusively created and escalated by the senior Garda management at Garda HQ.

Des Crofton

National Director – NARGC
Spokesperson for the Sports Coalition


27th February 2015


Sports Coalition Lodges Formal Complaint with GSOC Over Misleading Garda Figures

Sports Coalition Lodges Formal Complaint with GSOC Over Misleading Garda Figures





Sports Coalition Lodges Formal Complaint with GSOC Over Misleading Garda Figures

The Sports Coalition[1], which represents most of the sports shooters in the State in the matter of firearms licensing, has lodged a formal complaint with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) over what the Coalition says are misleading and inflammatory statistical data published by An Garda Síochána.

The complaint also cites the use of deceptive photographic imagery depicting firearms that are not permitted for licensing in Ireland. The Coalition has forwarded a copy of the complaint to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD.

It is noted that the Minister has had to issue a further clarification on the figures today, which clearly indicates that a very significant number of firearms were in fact unlicensed and therefore did not come from licensed firearms holders.




[1] The Sports Coalition is an umbrella organisation where the member associations come together to cooperate on matters of common interest, in particular to work together to protect the interests of resident shooting and angling sports men and sports women collectively and individually. See



Sports Coalition Complaint to GSOC

nargcFerbane Business & Technology Park, Ballycumber Road, Ferbane, Co Offaly

Tele: + 353 906 45 3623; Fax: +353 906 45 3697;

Email:;       Web:



Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission
150 Upper Abbey Street
Dublin 1

Dear Sir/Madam,

The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) is the largest organisation in Ireland involved in game hunting and conservation.  It is, by any measure, the most active association in the country in the representation and defence of the interests of shooting sports enthusiasts.  It has a network of 964 gun/game clubs around the country affiliated through the County Boards – one in almost every parish.  Because of its broad representation and relevance for rural activities, the NARGC is a nomination body for Seanad Eireann on the Agricultural Panel.  The Association can nominate two candidates to stand for election in the Seanad Elections following each General Election.  In addition, most NARGC clubs are “Recognised Bodies” under the Wildlife Acts – a recognition unique to NARGC clubs.  This means that the recognised clubs may take prosecutions for breaches of the Wildlife Acts.


It is well known that at present NARGC is the lead association of the Sports Coalition, an umbrella organisation for sports shooting associations, firearms dealers and range shoot operators.  I write on behalf of the Sports Coalition as its official spokesperson.  The Sports Coalition is presently engaged in consultation with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on


Justice and Equality in the matter of a proposed review of the firearms licensing system and is active in political lobbying in that regard.


The Commissioner of An Garda Siochana has caused to be published statistical data in support of a proposal to ban certain firearms which are currently licensed to citizens and the data concerned purports to represent firearms stolen from the homes of licence holders.  This data has been confirmed and re-enforced through parliamentary questions on the floor of the Dail.  We have vigorously challenged the figures and we have established that they are grossly incorrect and overstated e.g. some firearms included are taken from members of the security forces (including Gardai), some are blank firing, some are de-activated, many are taken from firearms dealers premises etc.  In other words, a great many which have been attributed to licence holders were in fact stolen from people and premises other than licence holders, thereby giving a distorted impression to both the general public and to members of the Oireachtas who have been charged through the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice to examine the proposals and make recommendations to the Minister.


The Oireachtas Committee has facilitated the RTE Prime Time programme, with our co-operation, to film the Justice Committee attending a demonstration of the types of firearms which are permitted to be licensed in this jurisdiction at Harbour House Shooting Range at Nurney, Co Kildare on the 12th of February last.  The Prime Time programme is due to broadcast a programme imminently featuring the debate on this issue with argument from both sides.


Yesterday, the Garda Commissioner caused to be published further and inflated statistical data purporting to be firearms stolen from licence holders.  This now forms the centre of our formal complaint to GSOC.  We complain that the Garda Commissioner has knowingly caused to be published, timed to coincide with the forthcoming Prime Time programme, false and misleading data on the numbers of firearms stolen from licence holders for the purpose of:

  1. Misleading the general public.
  2. Misleading politicians generally but particularly members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, thereby constituting an undue interference in their duties as legislators.

We further charge that our complaint is strengthened by the publication of a photograph accompanying the Garda press statement showing images of a number of firearms, none of which may be licenced in this jurisdiction.  These included a sawn-off shotgun, a machine pistol, a machine gun, an assault rifle, a pistol fitted with a silencer etc.  These images were provided for no purpose other than to mislead and falsify the legitimate activities of lawful sports shooting enthusiasts.  We complain that this constitutes a misfeasance in public office by the Garda Commissioner and such other of the officers advising her and who were involved in this deception and we request GSOC to carry out a thorough investigation of both the figures published and the use of such inflammatory photographic imagery.

The questions to which the true answers will expose the falsity of the data published and the extent to which it is designed to mislead will be established by securing answers to the following questions:

  1. The number of the 17 handguns listed which were licensed to firearms licence holders at the time of the alleged theft and the number stolen from the licence holders’ homes if different from the number licensed.
  2. In relation to the 40 air pistols reported to have been stolen in the same period, how many were licensed to firearms licence holders at the time of the theft and how many were stolen from the licence holders’ homes, again if different from the number licensed.
  3. In relation to the 40 air pistols reported to have been stolen in the same period, were these in fact airsoft pistols stolen from the licence holders’ homes.
  4. In relation to the 17 handguns and the 40 air pistols reported to have been stolen in this period, how many were stolen from premises other than licence holders’ homes, for example club premises, firearms dealer’s premises, or from the homes or premises of persons who were not the licence holders.
  5. How many of the 1,700 firearms which were reported stolen, were unlawfully taken from places or premises to which the provisions of S.I. 307 2009 Firearms (Secure Accommodation) Regulations 2009 expressly applied at the time of the thefts.
  6. A figure of 947 firearms are accounted for by category in the overall figure of 1,700.  What were the remaining 753 and can you please provide a breakdown.
  7. How many of the 1,700 firearms which were reported stolen, were crossbows, replica firearms, blank firing firearms and de-activated firearms.
  8. How many of the 17 handguns reported stolen were replicas, humane killers, flintlocks, blank and de-activated firearms.
  9. How many of the 17 handguns reported stolen were taken from members of the security services in the Republic of Ireland and/or in this jurisdiction from members of the security services of Northern Ireland.
  10. Were any of the 17 handguns reported stolen air pistols within the meaning of the Firearms Acts and if so how many.
  11. How many of the 17 handguns reported stolen were centrefire guns and how many were rimfire.
  12. Were any of the 40 air pistols reported stolen in fact airsoft pistols within the meaning of the Firearms Acts.


We have submitted these questions to the Commissioner, but based on previous experience, we do not expect to get an answer.


We trust our complaint will be examined as expeditiously as possible and we remain available to meet your investigator/s as you deem appropriate to answer any queries you may have.


Yours sincerely,



Desmond Crofton,

National Director – NARGC


Spokesperson for the Sports Coalition


Photograph used by RTE





 We took the RTE Prime Time crew out onto the mountain in Enniskerry on the morning of 23rd February for a deer stalk which they had asked to see as part of the above planned programme.  There was plenty of snow, freezing cold weather but a beautiful clear sunny day.  We saw five deer and shot two with crisp clean shots resulting in instant death.  Couldn’t have been better!  The gralloching was not filmed.  At my suggestion Paul Walsh did the interview from a deer stalker’s perspective.  He was excellent!

The producer said that while she had very much enjoyed the Harbour House demonstration shoot for the Oireachtas Justice Committee members, she was much more into what she had experienced with us on the mountain and expressed a wish to come back out with us at a later date.  She will notify me of the Prime Time broadcast date as soon as it is decided and the programme format.  When I have that information, I will publish it immediately to everyone I can.

In preparation for the programme, everyone who shoots or who supports shooting/hunting needs to be geared up for sending comment by email, twitter, fax, text, letter and phonecall to every politician in their area while the programme is on air and especially immediately after it!!!!  We will only get one opportunity to do this so please make it count!  Politicians will be watching to see what the reaction is to the programme.  Don’t let our critics have the day!  Get active and send your comments.  Head your comment PRIME TIME.  The comments need to be short and varied:



  • This is just middle Ireland being attacked again.
  • You have taken away our post offices, our Garda stations, our hospital beds, our teachers; you have made us pay more for our water, our sceptic tanks and now you propose to take away our sport.
  • Why should law abiding citizens be penalised for the actions of criminals?
  • By what logic has the decision been made to make law abiding citizens suffer because the Gardai can’t do their job effectively?
  • Criminals are targeting areas where Garda stations have been closed and where the number of Gardai were reduced. If criminals are stealing firearms from legal owners it is as a result of the Garda’s and government’s own policies.
  • Leave the legally held guns alone.  They are not the problem.
  • The Gardai would do better seizing the tens of thousands of illegal guns in the hands of the criminals.
  • Burglaries are now on the increase. There would be no firearms stolen if the Gardai got on top of the burglaries but with Garda stations closed there is little hope of that.
  • The Gardai are talking of legally held guns being a public safety issue. What a joke! Senior officers see nothing wrong in cancelling penalty points for their families, friends and colleagues for no good reason thereby endorsing bad behaviour on the roads, mostly speeding, where nearly 200 people were killed in 2014.  But not one person was killed with a legally held firearm in that year nor in the previous year nor in the previous year either.
  • What about all the illegal guns coming in with drug shipments? They would be better off tackling that instead of hassling law abiding citizens.
  • Can the Gardai tell us how many guns will be removed from the hands of criminals if they start banning legally held guns.  I would love to know their answer to that question.
  • If politicians give in to what the Gardai want, they will be just rewarding them for breaking the law in all the court cases taken.  If they do that, no votes for them at this house.
  • I’m fed up of the Gardai trying to take away our sport. Us shooters are law abiding citizens and we are not a danger to anyone.  How dare they!
  • The only answer to this totally unjustified attack on shooters again is to make the politicians pay at the ballot box.

These are just some examples of the sort of comments which should be sent to all politicians, but especially those on the Justice Committee.  Please draft your own comments also and/or vary the ones above, but we implore you not to send any abusive comments.  These are counter-productive and serve only to damage our cause.  Just one comment per person please.  We need literally thousands of comments and messages going to the politicians when the programme is broadcast.


We need to email and correspond with every RGC and club on this.  WE WILL PUT THE PROGRAMME DATE UP ON THE NARGC, NASRPC, WA1500, THE SPORTS COALITION AND OTHER RELEVANT WEBSITES as soon as we know the date.

The contact details for the politicians can be accessed on the link below:

Please get, not only every club member, but also their family members and friends and supporters to send a comment to every politician in their areas when the programme is broadcast.  We also need the support of our hunting and fishing colleagues in FACE Ireland in the same urgent way.

You should prepare your comment NOW and have your email, letter, fax etc., ready so that you can dispatch it the moment the Prime time programme is over.  Check who the politicians are in your constituency and have your message for each of them ready and get your friends and family to be equally ready.


I can only impress upon you that this is likely to be a decisive moment and you must not lose it by inaction.


Des Crofton

National Director – NARGC &

Spokesperson for the Sports Coalition

Former head of ballistics with An Garda Síochána criticizes drive by senior management to make possession of sporting firearms illegal

Former head of ballistics with An Garda Síochána criticizes drive by senior management to make possession of sporting firearms illegal

William Brennan was an inspector at Garda Headquarters at Phoenix Park until his retirement 10 years ago.

He is now spokesman for the pistol club for gardaí, whose 95 members would also lose their favourite sport if new legislation is brought in to ban sports firearms.

Around half the membership are serving gardaí. Others are retired gardaí, retired police officers from other countries and former Defence Forces members.

The Department of Justice is currently reviewing the firearm licensing laws. Hundreds of the sportspersons submitted their views to a public consultation which ended last month.

“There is a view among some senior garda officers that this would essentially finish off our sport here in Ireland,” said Mr Brennan. “We have had superintendents across the state trying to revoke firearms licences and in every single case taken to court, those firearms licences have been given back.


“I am disturbed to hear some of my former colleagues constantly referring to our guns as weapons. Something only becomes a weapon when it is in the wrong hands and that applies as much to a golf club or a set of kitchen knives as it does to sports pistols.”

He said thousands of people who shoot at the 19 shooting ranges across the country are no different to people in other sports.

“We have massive security around our firearms, kept in alarmed safes and locked in special cases when being transported to ranges,” he said. “Our pistols are completely useless as personal protection weapons. The guns are broken up and put away and it would take 45 minutes to reassemble them.”

Mr Brennan was critical of the view that legally-held firearms pose a danger to the public. “That’s nonsensical and a bit of a joke really,” he said.

“An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice would be much better off focusing their attentions on eradicating the vast amount of illegal firearms from our country.

“I’ve yet to hear anyone ­describe any of the recent killings in our country as having been carried out by someone holding a legally-held machine gun.”

Gardaí would not comment ahead of the firearms review.


Sports Coalition update, 17/2/2015

Members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality witnessed a demonstration of various national and international disciplines of competitive target shooting in Harbour House Sports Club last Thursday, 12th of February.  In doing so, they got to see first-hand the types of firearms actually licensed in Ireland rather than the impression left on them following presentations and an earlier meeting with An Garda Siochana.


Following the recent commitment of support from R.I.S.E. (Rural Ireland Says Enough), a date for the first joint public rally, to be addressed by Mr. Des Crofton, Coalition Spokesperson and NARGC Director, will be announced imminently.


The member associations of the Sports Coalition are pleased with the campaign’s progress. In particular, they have expressed their gratitude to Des Crofton for his committed leadership and strategic planning.