The following notice has been issued by An Garda Siochana and can be accessed on either of the links below:

What about pheasant shooting during Level 5?

Pheasant shooting season begins on Sunday 1st November. This normally involves shooting club members travelling to pheasant shoots around the country, frequently in groups, and is regarded as sport shooting.

Under the current regulations (SI 448), sporting events must be organised under the structure/ licence of a national governing body, funded by Sport Ireland. As such, sport shooting is prohibited in any other circumstances.

Recreational hunting does not fall under any of the exemptions allowed for exercise or sporting events. It has also been clarified that recreational hunting does not come under any permissible exemptions for travel outside of the home.

Shooting of vermin (rats/foxes/crows) is permissible as an essential support service to the farming and agriculture profession.!TUDPY5

The above is an information advice issued by An Garda Siochana in advance of the opening of the pheasant shooting season next Sunday.  From comments already circulating on social media from individuals and some shooting organisations it would appear that this measure is considered unreasonable and interpretations are being offered which are seriously flawed giving rise to individual clubs and sports shooters being misled into believing that pheasant shooting will be in compliance with COVID-19 Level 5 as game shooters would be alone and within 5km of home.

The advice being circulated on social media which is referred to, is seriously flawed and should not be followed for the following reasons:

  1. COVID-19 Level 5 restrictions are supported by law i.e. Statutory Instrument 448 of 2020 making any breach an offence.
  2. Game shooting is a sport and has always been argued as such by the various national bodies and clubs and pheasant shooting is therefore a sporting event, whether alone or with others
  3. Sporting events under the terms of the regulations may only take place if organised under a licence or structure of a national governing sporting body which enjoys funding from the government-backed Sport Ireland.  To our knowledge no game hunting body enjoys such funding from Sport Ireland.
  4. It has already been argued by bodies and individuals on social media that pheasant shooting will comply if it takes place within the 5km distance from home limit, and if the game shooter is alone.  This is untrue and would be a serious mistake to make.  The sports exemption applies to professional sports for the purposes of training only.  Pheasant shooting is not “training”.
  5. The consequences of an individual found breaching the regulation is potentially very serious for that individual, apart at all from the consequences which might be inflicted on other innocent people.  It’s clear that breaches will be dealt with by prosecutions and offenders should expect the courts to adopt a strict approach in the current climate. 
  6. Gardai in two stations in large towns have confirmed on the spot fines of €500, seizure of firearm and possible revocation of licence.  They have also cryptically noted that a dog is not necessary for the shooting of vermin.
  7. No matter how inconvenient it may be, shooting people deserve to be given factual advice and not be misled.

The Sports Coalition, in common with a number of the estate driven shoots, supports this move as it is a reasonable measure to protect not only club members, but also landowners and the wider community at the height of the worst public health crisis in a hundred years.  It is but a tiny inconvenience in return for protecting our communities and landowners from whom we have enjoyed decades of welcome, cooperation and hospitality.  The Sports Coalition are in contact with the NPWS to seek an extension to the season into February.


The NASRPC resigned from the Sports Coalition on the 24th of October.  This followed several weeks of difficulties which had arisen between the NASRPC and the other Coalition Members in the run up to the Minister’s announcement of 18th of September which accompanied a new S.I. bringing clarity to the licensing of .22 calibre handguns and setting out a road map to the licensing system into the future.  It is unfortunate that the NASRPC’s principal officers have sought fit at various gatherings of shooting people to misrepresent the reasons for the difficulties which arose leading to their resignation.  I am therefore now publishing the full exchange of correspondence between the NASRPC and the Sports Coalition which clarifies the position and will demonstrate beyond doubt that the NASRPC personnel concerned were at all times off-side.


Des Crofton

National Director
Spokesperson for the Sports Coalition


NASRPC To Des Crofton – 16/10/2015

NASRPC E-Mail to Sports Coalition – Resigning from Coalition – 24/10/2015

Des Crofton Response to NASRPC – 26/10/2015


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;

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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