Irish Shooting Politics

June 3, 2009

Election time

Filed under: Politics — Mark Dennehy @ 11:35 am

Given the proximity of the elections, the following was sent to each of the current MEP candidates:

What are your thoughts on how the latest proposed amendments to the Irish Firearms Acts – as contained in the Criminal Justice (Misc.Provisions) Bill 2009 – contravene the EU directive on Firearms (91/477/EEC) by requiring all Irish firearms owners to only purchase ammunition or firearms from _Irish_ registered firearms dealers instead of the current (and in force since 1964) laws that allow them to purchase from any registered firearms dealer in the EU so long as the appropriate paperwork is in place?

And each of the major parties was asked (by email and by twitter) for their official policy (as opposed to statements by individual party members) on the private ownership of firearms (including handguns) for the purposes of target shooting and/or hunting.

Responses (if any) to be added later…



  1. Received from Noel McCullagh:

    Where as I do not know as much about this subject as you (there are so many), I can say this.
    Were I to vote on such an issue, it would be in Brussels. I can assure you that I would read thoroughly through legislation and discuss that with interested parties on the ground.
    My thoughts on the free movement of goods and services means that I would tend toward the second scenario that you outline in your question, i.e. that people should be able to purchase goods and wares (ammunition for hunting or shooting, et cereta) provided that they have in their possession all of the correct documents that are required under the existing act in force.
    I am disappointed with the transposition of EU law into the Irish Statute books, and it is my consistent impression that the delays in this process are caused by the Central Party in Dublin requiring time to set up the various companies and so forth, that then proceed to benefit economically once the regulations are transposed to the Irish law books.
    As a journalist covering the release of EU legislation, and one who (by means of being an Irishman) keeps a close watch on how the central party in Dublin “use” and “apply” those laws in practise : I see first hand the dynamics that are at work in Ireland in this regard.
    I hope and trust that this answers your question. Could you let me know if I have left something out that is important to you … you who feel strongly about this issue. May I ask : what is your opinion and do you own a rifle yourself ? What is the price difference between purchasing goods that fall under this Irish Statute in the UK and/or in France?
    My prerogative is that the people in the area, those involved on the ground, are the most informed groups when it comes to very specific matters such as this one.
    It will be my policy to listen to that knowledge, (and thereby hope to take most of it in as it is very often highly expert information depending on the citizens area of special expertise) , and after listening to how policies will effect those operating “on the ground” , I will act accordingly in the interests of those people.
    After all, it is they who I shall be representing here in the Benelux~!
    Best wishes ,

    PS :Sorry for the late reply> My campaign is somewhat slow this week as I had to leave my home due to threats on my life.

    Noel McCullagh,
    Candidate, North-West constituency

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 4, 2009 @ 11:52 am

  2. Received from John Paul Phelan:

    I understand that you will shorrtly receive a response from my colleague representing the Fien Gael view.
    Mise le Meas,
    Senator John Paul Phelan

    Responded to:

    Thank you Senator, I have indeed already received an email from the FG political director, but it doesn’t actually answer my specific question regarding the conflict between the new proposed Irish firearms legislation and the current EU firearms directive – perhaps a more specific statement on that conflict might be made?
    Yours in Sport,

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 4, 2009 @ 11:53 am

  3. Received from Nessa Childers:

    This a very serious issue that effects more than 236,000 lawful individuals in this country. While measures must be taken to fight the rise of gun crime on our streets, the bill was too hasty in its preparation and showed a lack of foresight and consideration for lawful firearms owners. There is no evidence to show that legally held handguns, or stolen legally held handguns, have been used in the commission of any crime. The Labour Party fully supports the law being brought up to date in the matter of licensing of firearms, their security and their use. We do not support, however, measures purportedly introduced to tackle crime being used instead to put legitimate sports clubs out of business. Handgun target shooting sports in Ireland is not insignificant as a sport and is a dimension of indigenous rural business in some counties. If there was evidence that any of the handguns used in any of the 40-odd shooting ranges were finding their way into the hands of the criminals using firearms in our estates and on our streets, then Labour would support the banning of handguns. But we don’t have that evidence. The Government must revisit this legislation to ensure lawful firearms owners are not unfairly discriminated against.

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 4, 2009 @ 11:53 am

  4. Asked FF, FG and Labour via Twitter what their official policies on private ownership of firearms (including handguns) for the purposes of target shooting and/or hunting were:

    @Labour What’s the Labour policy on private ownership of firearms (including handguns) for target shooting?

    Labour: thanks for the question, our Justice spokesperson Pat Rabbitte TD issued a statement on it two weeks ago,

    @Labour And the 200,000 shooters in Ireland were happy with his statement – but it isn’t an official policy, it was only about the Bill.

    Labour: if the spokesperson says it, and it is read into the Dáil, it is our policy.

    So that’s Labour’s official policy.

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 4, 2009 @ 11:55 am

  5. Received from Fine Gael’s Political Director:

    Thank you for your email regarding the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009 currently going through the Houses of the Oireachtas. I note the concerns you set out about the tightening of legislation on firearms and how this will impact on some sports and I wish to respond on behalf of all Fine Gael electoral candidates.

    It had been well mooted that the Minister for Justice planned to tighten the regulations in relation to the licensing of firearms, including a ban on the licensing of handguns. He has proposed as much in this Bill.

    During debates in the Dáil, Charles Flanagan TD, Fine Gael Spokesman on Justice, has repeatedly called on the Minister to shift his focus on legally held firearms to the far more serious problem caused by illegal firearms in the State. We are urging the Minister to direct his attention in the first instance towards the serious matter of illegal firearms, which are easily accessible to criminal gangs, as part of a broader effort to tackle criminality in this country.

    Fine Gael will raise your concerns at Committee Stage of the Bill when TDs will discuss the legislative provisions in detail.

    Reply sent:

    Thank you for your response – might I ask directly, however, why Deputy Flanagan’s comments in the Dail and those of Deputy Deasy are at such odds?
    Deputy Deasy has easily lost Fine Gael a large number of votes amongst the 200,000-odd licenced firearms owners in this country, not to mention their friends and families.
    Is there no overall Fine Gael policy on private ownership of firearms that can be cited?

    Reminder sent this morning. No reply received yet.

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 4, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  6. Received from Eoin Ryan’s Assistant:

    Thank you very much for your email. I will bring your query regarding the amendments to the Irish Firearms Acts to the attention of Mr Ryan and get back to you with his response and thoughts on this issue as soon as possible.
    Yours sincerely,
    Assistant to Eoin Ryan MEP

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 4, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

  7. […] all of these here in case it's of […]

    Pingback by EU-vs-FF : Firearms Legislation - — June 4, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

  8. Received as a follow-up from Noel McCullagh:

    Thanks for that extra information
    I like sports too, I’m a swimmer. |(not to technical as your sport)|

    the situation you describe sounds ludicrous..! And I imagine, that having a gun dealer import your materials back into the country would not be done for free!

    makes enjoying oneself and competing for their country more tedious with bureaucracy than it would otherwise be!

    Thanks for the information. I look forward to returning on this issue with you for a press article , if not as a parliamentarian!

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 4, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

  9. Received from John Francis Higgins

    I am unfamiliar with these laws in relation to weapons and the interaction
    between state and EU law. I would need to study it more. Would this be a tax
    generated i.e. more tax liable to be collected from sales in Ireland? It
    would immediately strike me, that EU law is dominant. I have stated in my
    Election literature that we have moved from a defensive conservative society
    to an aggressive secular domain. This is happening to have sad repercussions
    because there are more and more people around with less religious scruples.
    They have no fear and leads to a sad increase in gun related crime. The
    authorities have to try and stop this sudden breakout of wrongdoing. This
    manifests itself in the Big Brother Syndrome. Sadly the whole legal and
    justice edifice is overseen by people who can´t remember, did not hear, and
    were not there, when asked to account for their own actions. Yes in this
    system it is the normal law abiding citizen who feels aggrieved. This need
    not be the case if leaders have ideals and are prepared to step down from
    office when they get things wrong. It really amazes me that our leaders put
    themselves back up for re-election when they have turned us into a country
    riddled with Debt.

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 5, 2009 @ 12:22 am

  10. Received from Proinsias De Rossa

    Thanks for your question. To be honest, I haven´t received any correspondence on this particular issue so wasn´t aware of it but I will bring it to the attention of the Labour Party´s justice spokesperson in the Dail, Pat Rabbitte TD who´s dealing with it in the Dail. Our initial position on the Minister´s proposals is set out in Pat´s statement of 20 May, available at
    Best wishes,
    Proinsias De Rossa MEP

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 5, 2009 @ 12:25 am

  11. Received from Mary Lou McDonald:

    a chara,
    Thank you for your query. Sinn Fein gave a general welcome to the firearms section of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009 but have not yet taken positions on each individual provision.

    During debates on legislation on this issue in 2006, my colleague Aengus Ã? Snodaigh TD called for an effective and modern licensing regime to allow for gun clubs and sport to continue while ensuring prudent gun control in the interests of public safety.

    The ultimate objective of Sinn Fein´s approach to this legislation will be to achieve the right balance in terms of gun control and public safety while allowing the legitimate use of firearms, in particular sporting competitions and farm use to continue.

    Is mise le meas,
    Mary Lou McDonald MEP.

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 5, 2009 @ 12:27 am

  12. Received from Patricia McKenna

    I am sorry but this is the first time that this issue has been brought to my attention and I am not familiar with the current state of play. I would be extremely reluctant to give you a reply before I have had a chance to carry out further research on it. I always feel it is unwise to comment on something that one is not well informed on. When I have done some research on the issue I will get back to you. Thank you for your question.
    All the best,

    Comment by Mark Dennehy — June 5, 2009 @ 2:11 pm

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