Press Release – Centre Fire Sporting Handguns

Press Release




Following representations and written submissions from the Sports Coalition over a period of time, the Department of Justice has communicated today to the Sports Coalition that it is in receipt of confirmation from the Attorney General that licence holders who hold firearms certificates for centre fire handguns can make substitutions, the same as for any other category of firearm, contrary to the policy adopted by An Garda Siochana since the firearms legislation was amended in 2009.  This follows a detailed analysis of the provisions of the legislation by the Sports Coalition and its legal advisors which resulted in a compelling submission to the Department of Justice based on that analysis.  The Coalition urged the Department to seek the advice of the Attorney General which has now produced this very satisfactory result for all centre fire handgun owners.  Appeals by some organisations and individuals previously, including the NASRPC, to the Gardai were met with a blanket refusal.  The current outcome should underline for all the benefit of working through the Sports Coalition, an organisation which has the expertise, strategic vision and an excellent record of achievement in delivering on firearms licensing issues for all sports shooters.  It was achieved by systematic steps undertaken solely by the Sports Coalition on behalf of not only its own members, but to the benefit of members of other organisations also.


The Chairman of the Sports Coalition, Paul Walsh, in expressing his satisfaction in being able to resolve what had become a festering problem, noted the effectiveness of dealing with conflicts through the Sports Coalition and the medium of the Firearms Consultative Panel on the basis of cooperation rather than through the courts has had been the norm in years gone by.  He further noted that this positive outcome will have a knock-on benefit for the gun trade.






The Sports Coalition is an umbrella organisation whose member associations represent 120,000 sports people on the entire island of Ireland who are involved in countrysports, including sport fishing. 

It is a political lobby group registered with the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).


For further information contact:

Paul Walsh Chairman Sports Coalition (086-8282700)


Des Crofton Spokesperson (087-4634137)

Minutes from FCP Meeting, 24th October 2016

Please find attached the minutes from the Firearms Consultative Panel, held on 24th October 2016








Over the past number of months, I have received numerous emails relating to the recent proposal from the European Commission to revise the Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons. As many of you will know, this proposal is now before the European Parliament’s committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. At the end of last month, the rapporteur on this file, Ms Vicky Ford, produced her draft report (see attached) which is now open for amendments until April 27th at 12:00. It is in this context that I am writing to invite you to attend a briefing session that I will host on April 23rd from 14:00-17:00 in the Lecarrow Suite in the Hudson Bay Hotel, Athlone, Co Westmeath.

The format of the meeting will consist of a discussion of the Commission’s proposals and then possible amendments to the report which could be tabled. I have invited Mr Des Crofton from the National Association of Regional Game Council to speak at the event in order to discuss the practical implications of the legislation on gun users in Ireland.

I have also been in email contact with FACE (the European Federation of Association for Hunting & Conservation) who have given me their position paper on the revision of the directive and their proposed amendments.

Finally, I am attaching with this invitation a briefing note on it from my office.


I hope that this will be an interesting and engaging discussion and I sincerely hope to see you at the event on April 23rd. If you have any queries relating to the event please send me an email and I will respond.

Anyone attending the event please confirm attendance with the NARGC by calling 0906453623 or by emailing


Kind regards,
Marian Harkin

Marian Harkin MEP
European Parliament


Tel: +32.2.2847797
Fax: +32.2.2849797


Designated Public Official under Regulation of Lobbying Act, 2015 – See

Minutes from FCP & Directive Updates – 28th January 2016

Please see below my report.



Firearms – national developments

The Firearms Consultative Panel has had two meetings, the last one being on 28th of January.


Centralised licensing for restricted firearms:

The Gardai are proposing a centralised licensing system for restricted firearms but there has been little movement on this so far as the Panel has not yet been presented with any proposals from the Gardai.  Apparently there are internal human resource issues within An Garda Siochana which the Commissioner needs to address.


Ballistic database:

As per the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, agreement has been reached to create a ballistic database for small firearms.  A feasibility study has now been undertaken which indicates that the database is worthwhile.



The DOJ is prepared to authorise an expansion of the existing ammunition re-loading pilot scheme currently based at the Midlands Shooting Range.  Two more locations/ranges/premises will be authorised shortly and will be announced once the ranges/premises have been fully assessed and certified as being fit for the purpose.  This will be a welcome development to many hunters and target shooters alike who have advocated that this practice should be allowed more generally.



Storage arrangements for firearms on farms had been considered to be of concern to the Gardai and the DOJ.  Following the first meeting of the FCP last October, it had been agreed that the Gardai and the IFA would get together and devise a programme to educate farmers of the importance of securing their firearms.  This message is being disseminated to farmers as part and parcel of proposals for tackling crime generally which is directed towards farms.


Firearms Assessment and Appeals Authority:

The DOJ gave a brief update on the proposal to establish a Firearms Assessment and Appeals Authority.  It was stated that this is a work in progress.  One submission has been received and it is hoped to be able to report more substantive progress at the next meeting.


Garda Commissioner’s Guidelines:

Following a submission from the Coalition for two amendments to the Garda Commissioner’s Guidelines, it had been decided to carry out a more comprehensive review of the Guidelines as much has now changed in the licensing system.  A working group of the Sports Coalition will now review the current Guidelines and draft a submission from the Coalition for consideration.  The Gardai for their part wished to assure all representative bodies that licensing officers were given instruction and legal advices about firearms decisions and the requirement for natural justice, case law etc.  This was given by a Senior Counsel following consultation with the Attorney General.


Regulation of Firearms Dealers:

A new draft Statutory Instrument for the regulation of firearms dealers is prepared.  This has been promised on and off since 2009 but has never been progressed.  We await to see if it appears this time.


Night shooting:

The Sports Coalition raised the issue of night shooting, particularly in areas populated by deer.  This had been raised at the previous meeting by the NPWS with particular reference to Wicklow.  It was agreed that this is a serious matter which needs to be addressed and as NPWS was not represented at the meeting it was proposed to include it on the agenda of the next meeting.


“Weapons” Directive Amendments:

The proposals to amend the “Weapons” Directive by the EU Commission were discussed.  The main contributors were myself and other Coalition members and the DOJ, principally because very few people appear to understand the Directive as it is, and even less about the implications of the amendments.  I had in the week before the meeting given the Department a copy of the FACE Europe proposals.  They thanked me for what they said was a very informative document and confirmed that they would have many (not all) of the concerns expressed in the FACE document and they are on “the same page” as FACE.  These include categorisation of firearms, medical checks, minimum age etc.  On the subject of deactivation of firearms, the Commission has already agreed a common EU standard for deactivation where each member state must provide a body to certify that deactivation has occurred to the Commission’s standard and such body must be recognised internationally.  This is causing problems for Ireland in that it has no such internationally recognised body and the closest recognised body is the Proof House in Birmingham.  This will undoubtedly have cost implications for Irish firearms owners who wish to hold deactivated firearms and will be the subject of further discussion.

Overall, while progress is slow at his stage, it is steady and the atmosphere is positive and conducive to progress.  However, there will be no sudden burst of activity prior to the formation of the next Government.


Firearms – European developments

The proposals by the Commission to amend the “Weapons” Directive move on daily with FACE Europe now in constant communication with the Commission officials.  However, there is by no means unanimity among member states with the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Finland, Estonia, Italy to name but some, who are either totally against the amendments or against many or some of the amendments.  Austria has gone so far as to declare that the Commission’s proposals do not have an appropriate legal basis and have signalled that if the Commission amends the Directive, Austria will appeal it legally.  I sent a brief with the FACE position and suggested amendments to the proposals to every RGC and Coalition member on 21st January urging that it is time to lobby all members of the Oireachtas again but this time to include MEP’s.  I would urge everyone to start again lobbying as before but this time bear in mind a General Election is about to take place.  Therefore members of the Oireachtas will not be found in Leinster House but out canvassing.  The best way of lobbying in these circumstances is by phone to their mobile numbers or by email to their constituency offices.  Remember, firm but polite at all times.


General Election:

Let me be clear at the outset of what I am about to say – I am not now and never have been a member of any political party, ever.

As the general election gets underway, there are some considerations for the Coalition organisations to bear in mind as a large lobby group.  We have both friends and foes in the Dail and that’s a reality which will always exist.  However, I believe we have far more friends, even if they feel compelled to support our causes by virtue of the numerical strength of the Associations.

During the course of 2015, there is no doubt but that we managed to convert a far greater number of Oireachtas members to our side than ever before.  This was due in no small measure to the regularity of our lobbying on the firearms issue and the measured consistency of our message which was delivered calmly and in reasoned tones, while avoiding “big” statements which were weak.  We gained many political friends and I doubt there is any member of either Houses of the Oireachtas who does not now know who NARGC and the Sports Coalition are and what we stand for.  That is evidenced by the ease with which we can access politicians generally.

While NARGC or the Coalition are not so presumptuous as to attempt to tell anyone how to vote, we do nonetheless flag particular political actions, good and bad, for our members and supporters to consider in relation to shooting, hunting and countrysports issues and we leave it to them to make up their own minds.

On the positive side, while there is no doubt that we had difficulties during the term of the outgoing government with Justice ministers and others, the term of office of the Government ended positively for our collective memberships.  But, we must acknowledge the positive action taken by Minister Frances Fitzgerald to bring a long standing grievance for firearms owners to an end.  While we did have to fight hard for the solution, it would be small minded not to acknowledge that she was the first Justice Minister since the late Brian Lenihan to listen to sports shooters and we thank her for the efforts she made to visit us and gain an understanding of our problems and arguments.  We should also acknowledge the positive contribution to this process which was made by the members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, chaired by David Stanton (Fine Gael) from Cork.  Mr Stanton was at all times fair and courteous to us and his Committee members, with one or two exceptions, were very supportive.  We succeeded in getting support right across the political divide, not always an easy thing to achieve.  Senators Pat O’Neill of Fine Gael and Paschal Mooney of Fianna Fail, both of whom had been elected to the Seanad on the NARGC’s nominations, were of immeasurable help.  They arranged meetings, carried messages to and from Ministers and politicians of particular influence, asked our questions in the Seanad, arranged debates and spoke in our support at every opportunity.  I would like to think that we can support them again for the Seanad this time round.  Both have already sought our nominations.  Niall Collins, the Fianna Fail TD from Limerick and the opposition spokesman on Justice was also very supportive and helpful and he turned up at several meetings organised by the Sports Coalition and by local clubs to demonstrate that support and engaged with the Minister on the floor of the Dail and put down questions for answer.  His constituency colleague, Dan Neville of Fine Gael was equally supportive.  His party colleague, John McGuinness who is Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee did likewise. There were also Independents such as Michael Healy-Rae TD who raised the cause of sports shooters in the Dail on several occasions.  There were a great many other Oireachtas members of all persuasions who gave us support.

I must also acknowledge Minister for Arts, Heather Humphreys TD who made herself available to me on quite a number of occasions.  She was very responsive to our calls to ban the sale of Woodcock, a measure which she implemented from the 1st of November last.  She also intervened on our behalf to make representations to the Minister for Justice and of course her continuing support, including financial, for the NARGC’s Boleybrack Grouse Project is very much appreciated.  We are often quick to criticise politicians, me included.  That in itself makes our obligation to acknowledge positive support all the more important.

With such positive actions by so many, it is a pity that I must also report the actions of some who opposed our interests.  The Independent TD Finian McGrath from North Dublin vehemently opposed us on the firearms issue.  Ruth Coppinger, Independent, also found she could not support us in the firearms campaign.

While Sinn Fein Justice spokesman, Padraig MacLochlainn was supportive, his party’s MEPS, Lynn Boylan and Matt Carthy, voted at EU level to ban spring hunting under derogation.  I seem to recall Sinn Fein previously adopting anti coursing and anti “bloodsports” positions and only reversed them in the face of opposition from the representative organisations?!!  Luke Ming Flanagan (Independent) voted to ban hunting for “recreational purposes and pleasure”, which was rather surprising given his long-standing position on defending rural Ireland.  I’m sure our members west of the Shannon will be more than a little surprised to learn of this.  There was also Nessa Childers (former Green Party and now Independent) who voted against both spring hunting (under derogation) and ‘recreational’ hunting.

On fishing, our colleagues in FISSTA fought a difficult but proactive campaign with our support against the mega fish farms in Galway Bay and elsewhere.  In common with our efforts on firearms, common sense won out in the end with a much scaled down proposal now on the table.

Hunting, shooting and fishing people can make up their own minds from these matters.


Des Crofton

National Director – NARGC
Spokesperson for the Sports Coalition.

Reminder: Public consultation on firearms Directive

Please note the email below from the FACE Secretariat.  As the official reaction from Member States is becoming increasingly more divided and key allies in the Parliament are now coming forward with amendments suggested by FACE which will be more reasonable for firearms owners, the time is now ripe for shooting people to start contacting their MEP’s and briefing them.  The attached position paper developed by the FACE Europe Expert Group on Firearms is the most succinct and comprehensive briefing document available.  Please pass it to your MEP/s and ask them to support the FACE amendments if and when the Directive comes before the European Parliament for vote.  The bottom line is that the existing Directive is a legal instrument to facilitate free movement of citizens between member states with their sporting firearms and is not, and never was, an instrument to fight terrorism, which is what is now being proposed by the Commission and in the process getting ordinary law abiding citizens caught up in the fight against terrorism.  Whereas much of what is being proposed will affect legal gun owners in many member states (not so much in Ireland because our system of firearms licensing is in effect already incorporating many of the proposed measures), it will not result in making any firearm less available to terrorists which are the target of the Commission’s proposals.  In simple terms, no terrorist will ever read the Directive and feel compelled to respect it. But the revisions proposed by the Commission will establish some dangerous precedents, even for Irish gun ownership (e.g. the minimum age) and it must be resisted.

So, please use the attached position paper and start contacting your MEP’s and TD’s and Senators.  It is important that TD’s and Senators, all of whom will be offering themselves for election very shortly, should be lobbied to persuade the Minister for Justice to adopt an Irish Government position more in line with the FACE position.  Again, I urge people to be friendly but firm and remember, absolutely no abuse or aggressive lobbying please.  I am already discussing the position with the DOJ.

FACE Position with AM on Firearms Directive

Thank you all in advance.

Des Crofton
National Director – NARGC
Spokesperson for the Sports Coalition


From: Johan SVALBY []
Sent: 20 January 2016 13:26To: Johan SVALBY <>
Subject: Reminder: Public consultation on firearms Directive / Consultation publique sur l’ouverture de la Directive sur les armes à feu / Rückmeldung abschicken -Vorschlag für eine Richtlinie zur Änderung der Richtlinie 91/477/EWG
Importance: High


Dear Members (français ci-dessous / Den deutschen Text finden Sie untenstehend),

Reminder: the European Commission is carrying out a public consultation on its proposal regarding the opening of the Firearms Directive on the following link:

We invite you to participate responding to the questions with the FACE position (attached).

We furthermore invite you to give it the widest circulation within your membership.

Please be reminded that you can reply in your national language.

The deadline for replying is 1 February 2016.

Kind regards,

Chers Membres,

La Commission européenne a décidé de réaliser une consultation publique sur sa proposition relative à l’ouverture de la Directive sur les armes à feu sur le lien suivant:

Nous vous invitons à y participer en répondant aux questions à l’aide du papier de position de la FACE en pièce jointe.

Nous vous invitons également à faire circuler cette demande de participation auprès de vos membres.

N’oubliez pas que vous pouvez répondre dans votre langue nationale.

La date limite pour répondre est le 1 février 2016.


Sehr geehrte Mitglieder,

Die Europäische Kommission führt eine öffentliche Konsultation über die Novellierung der Feuerwaffen Richtlinie.

Wir laden Sie ein, den Fragebogen zu beantworten, indem Sie die FACE-Stellungnahme (siehe Anhang) anwenden.

Wir laden Sie außerdem ein, dieser Konsultation die größte Zirkulation innerhalb Ihrer Mitgliedschaft zu geben.

Zur Erinnerung. Sie können in Ihrer Landessprache antworten.

ie Rückmeldungfrist endet am 1. Februar 2016.

Mit freundlichen Grüßen,


Director of Legal and Public Affairs
FACE – Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU
Rue F. Pelletier 82, B-1030 BRUSSELS
T: +32 (0) 2 732 6900
F: +32 (0) 2 732 7072

Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender specifies with authority, states them to be the views of FACE. This e-mail may contain information which is privileged or confidential. If you received this e-mail in error, please notify us immediately by e-mail or telephone and delete the e-mail without copying or disclosing its contents to any other person.