Sports Coalition Press Release, 16/03/2015

PRESS STATEMENT

 

The Sports Coalition has welcomed the statement issued by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality on 11th March in relation to the current firearms licensing review.  The Coalition notes in particular that the Committee will now seek a range of academic perspectives on the issues which have been raised by the current review.  The input of independent experts analysing trends and policies in comparable jurisdictions is a welcome approach as is the move by the Committee to ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to request the Garda Inspectorate to independently assess the procedures and practices relating to firearms licensing.  The Coalition is encouraged that the Oireachtas Committee has identified the importance of reliable statistical data being absolutely necessary where public policy decisions are proposed in this area.

Des Crofton, National Director of the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) and spokesperson for the Sports Coalition said that the Justice Committee has taken the correct approach and the groups which he represents look forward to working and cooperating with the Committee and its experts and also with the Garda Inspectorate.

“We are delighted that at last the issue of firearms licensing will be subject to an independent and objective analysis instead of the self-serving and misleading propaganda from the Gardai which has characterised this debate for the last five years.  The Gardai and Department of Justice have put forward what can only be described as revenge proposals to penalise law abiding sports shooters for having the temerity to repeatedly challenge the Gardai’s maladministration of the licensing system in the courts and for being vindicated by the court decisions.  The current proposals are based on the proposition that large numbers of licensed firearms are stolen from the homes of their owners and end up in the hands of criminals and are then used in crimes, thereby giving rise to an alleged public safety risk.  Statistics purporting to be representative of this have been published by An Garda Siochana and have been found to have no credibility.  The figures published have been exposed as including a significant number of firearms which were not stolen from licence holders, and included a large variety of items which are not guns at all such as toy guns, gun safes, blank firing guns, imitation guns etc.  Included were 266 rounds of ammunition where each individual round was listed as a stolen gun!  The figures were accompanied by a photograph of a collection of guns, none of which are licensable in this country.  When the padding is stripped out of the figures, there is nothing left to support the public safety risk and indeed the applicable figures give the clearest indication that the very strict home security requirements are working well.  You are then left with nothing other than revenge against the shooting community.”

Mr Crofton stated that the Sports Coalition had previously written to the Minister for Justice and Equality seeking an independent risk assessment and the referral of the licensing practices by the Gardai to the Garda Inspectorate.  He said that while the Minister indicated she was prepared to consider involving the Garda Inspectorate, she had thus far not done anything in that regard and she had rejected the notion of a risk assessment on the advice of the Gardai!.

 

ENDS

16th March, 2015

 

Note to Editors

 

The Sports Coalition is an unincorporated body comprised of Irish representative associations for sports shooting and angling interests. Its objectives are to defend and represent the interests of resident sports shooting and angling men and women. The Coalition was established to disseminate information to, and lobby on behalf of the members of the constituent associations concerning the latest proposals of the Gardai and the Department of Justice and Equality to further restrict possession of firearms for sporting purposes without justification.

 

For further information contact;

Des Crofton

National Director
NARGC

&

Spokesperson for the Sports Coalition.

 

Tele: +353 906 453623
Mobile: +353 87 254 1827;
Email: nargc@nargc.ie
Web:  www.sportscoalition.org