Fianna Fail policy on firearms

From Irish Shooting Politics:

Sent by email:


As an Olympic target shooter, I’d like to ask for details on Fianna Fail’s policies and plans with regards to the Firearms Act, the handgun ban and private firearms ownership in Ireland, and to invite you to engage with the target shooting and hunting community on to discuss these matters. With some 200,000 licenced firearms owners in the state, I think such engagement would be appropriate during the election campaign.


Received in response:

Dear Mr. Dennehy,
Thank you for your email dated 13th February 2011.

Fianna Fail has no plans to change existing legislation which we believe serves several very important functions, and strikes a balance between these and recreational interests generally. We are supportive of the sports of target shooting and hunting, and are mindful of their social importance, particularly in rural areas. We will view the website you refer to and would be happy to engage with any representations.

Yours sincerely,
Clare Minihane

Fianna Fáil Headquarters

Labour policy on firearms continued…

Desperately disappointing stuff to read.

From Irish Shooting Politics:

After the initial dialogue with them,  subsequent (and frankly, very disappointing) dialogue with Labour:

Thank you Demot. I’m sorry to say that I consider it a disappointing answer; a speech given two years ago in relation to a specific piece of legislation and a statement that no policy would be commented on without seeking professional advice is not the statement of the basic principles Labour would use when deciding on policy that I was hoping for.

I know that at present, none of the 200,000 licenced firearms holders in the state is likely to vote for a Green Party or Fianna Fail candidate; however, the choice between Fine Gael, Labour and Independent candidates, especially in rural constituencies, is one that clear support for sensible legislation in this area could swing in Labour’s favour – many of the 200,000 licenced firearms holders are farmers living in rural areas, and many of those who are not farmers also live in rural areas. Fine Gael’s stated policy on this is to leave the current legislation in place (a policy which few in the community would feel was fair or just or even effective) – surely this would be an opportunity for Labour to convince more undecided voters in rural constituencies to vote Labour?


This was not responded to. Following some parallel discussions, the following was sent:

Some of us target shooters spoke with Charlie Flanagan of Fine Gael on the topic of firearms legislation in more detail yesterday. He was completely against alot of the policies enacted by Dermot Ahern. He committed to meet with us and discuss the finer points at length, and on specific details said he would like to see the issues around the muzzle energy limit for air rifles and other similar minor issues changed to encourage and expand the international and Olympic end of the sport. He also said that he met a few times with the Firearms Consultation Panel, representatives from clubs such as Hilltop and the MNSCI, and would like to see the Firearms Consultation Panel made a permanent feature in any future legislation drafting. He said in relation to the centerfire handgun ban that while he is fully aware that no legally held firearms have been used and admits that Minister Ahern targeted respectable shooters and not criminals in his efforts, that he would for the immediate future revert to the Garda Commissioner on certain matters, but agreed to a full review.

In light of this, could you please ask Pat Rabbitte to review his position on this matter?

Thank you,

In response:

I really do not have any more to add to what we have already sent.

Pondering whether or not it was understood how large the demographic involved was, this was sent:

Dermot, there are 200,000 licenced firearms holders in the state. We worked before with Labour (both Brendan Howlin in 2006 and Pat Rabbitte in 2009) to good effect, now we’re looking for a committment from Labour to continue that work and fix broken legislation and you basicly haven’t given it — but Fine Gael have. Who would you advise us to vote for?

And this was received:

There is a commitment to work with stakeholders on the issues. I just cannot confirm an outcome at this stage.

At this point I thought there might have been a miscommunication earlier, so I sought to clarify:

Dermot, I didn’t see any commitment in our email exchange – all you sent was that whomever the Minister was would have to take professional advice and Garda advice and you referred me to a two-year-old speech that didn’t cover (and couldn’t cover) recent issues. There was no commitment and you didn’t lay out what Labour’s principles were on firearms policy.

Look, right now what we’ve been given a commitment on by Fine Gael is:

  • to meet with the shooting community (via the Firearms Consultation Panel) and discuss the finer points at length
  • to see the Firearms Consultation Panel made a permanent feature in any future legislation drafting.
  • to fully review the centerfire handgun ban.

And we had a statement that in principle, they would like to see the minor changes we sought to expand Olympic air rifle shooting.

Can Labour give the same committment and can Labour agree to that same statement?

No response was received to this prior to the release of this document from the NARGC, so this was sent to obtain a response on that document:

Dermot, reminding you first of all that there are some 200,000 licenced firearms holders in Ireland and some 600,000 involved in fieldsports in Ireland, could you please respond to the email below and to the attached document (which was released today by the National Association of Regional Game Councils) please?

The responses will go up on and (which is the discussion forum used by target shooters and hunters in Ireland).

Thank you,

And this was the sole response:

We have responded to this before.

Based on this, it seems that on target shooting issues at least, Labour cannot be recommended as a first choice for shooters, and Fine Gael would seem the more logical choice; at least based on election manifestos.

Labour policy on firearms

From Irish Shooting Politics:

Labour policy on firearms

An initial reply was received via Twitter from Labour:

@MarkDennehy Sorry for the delay on this Mark, we should be with you tomorrow.

@MarkDennehy This is our latest statement on Firearms policy. I’ll forward you a link to the relevant debate shortly.

@MarkDennehy And here, is the debate where Pat Rabbitte attempted to exempt sporting guns from the legislation.

This seemed promising so I asked if they could answer some more specific questions.

@MarkDennehy Of course. Could you forward your questions to please? Twitter doesn’t suit detailed answers.

I forwarded on this email:

As discussed on Twitter, I’d like to ask for some further details with respect to your party’s intentions if a Labour TD were appointed as Minister for Justice in the area of the Firearms Act?
For example:

  • Would there be plans to increase the current level of regulation or to roll back the current level in order to harmonise our regulations with other EU states?
  • Would (s)he be willing to remove centerfire target pistols from the Restricted Firearms list, thus allowing them to be licenced again?
  • Would (s)he be willing to deregulate target shooting airguns up to 7.5 Joules of muzzle energy as opposed to the current 1 Joule permitted under the Act in order to promote Olympic target shooting in Ireland?
  • Would they address the issues raised by medical associations regarding the application for a firearms licence and its implicit – but deemed insufficient by the GPs – granting of permission to Gardai to access medical records?
  • Would they be willing to widen the remit of the Firearms Consultation Panel, to make it a permanent body to facilitate access to technical expertise for the Department and to strengthen communications links between the target shooting sports governing bodies and the Department and the Gardai to ensure the smooth working of the Firearms Act?
  • What would they intend to do at a strategic level to alleviate the current problems with licencing which have resulted in nearly 200 cases being taken against Garda Superintendents in the District Courts at great expense to all?

Thank you,

And received this reply today:

Thank you for your message to the Labour Party. Pat Rabbitte our Spokesperson on Justice has asked me to refer you to his Second Stage speech when Bill was going through the Dail.

Whoever is Minister for Justice will have to take professional and Garda advice on the detail of this.

I attach the extract from the Dail Debate on the issue.

Yours sincerely,

Dermot Lacey

This was not a very useful answer, and so I responded:

Thank you for your reply Dermot, but I’m afraid that it doesn’t address or answer any of the questions I posed, and Pat Rabbitte’s speech on the Second Stage of the 2009 Act couldn’t address several of the points I was asking about because they didn’t arise at the time.

For example, the current issues with licencing which have led to nearly 200 cases being taken against Garda Superintendents and Chief Superintendents in the District and High Courts, simply were not arising at the time that Pat Rabbitte made that speech.

Also, several of those points require no consultation with professional groups or the Gardai in order to form an opinion on.

For example, making the Firearms Consultation Panel (a panel of representatives from the various shooting governing bodies as well as the Department of Sport, the Department of Justice, the Gardai and other stakeholders such as the IFA) a permanent panel rather than one which would be dissolved following the final commencement of the last parts of the 2006 Act, does not require outside consultation to form a policy on because the decision to extend it or dissolve it is purely a decision made on the basis of how Labour would intend to consult with professional groups and the Gardai should a Labour TD be appointed Minister for Justice, and surely they would already know how they intended to talk to people.

I understand completely that technical proposals in law would entail the seeking of professional and operational advice from various sources; however overall intentions and strategies are not nearly so complex.

I would appreciate it if you could refer the question back to Pat Rabbitte as the current spokesperson for Justice in Labour, and ask him if he could provide a more considered reply. Given that some 200,000 voters hold firearms licences in Ireland at the moment, it would seem to be worth at few more moments of his time, depsite the enormous pressure he’s under with the election campaign at the moment.

I would also like to extend an invitation to the Labour party to discuss the topic on with a representative cross-section of the 200,000 licenced firearms holders.

Thank you,

And the reply was:


The previous reply is the considered reply from Pat Rabbitte and that is the current position.


I have repeated my request for further consideration to be made; if I receive a response, I’ll post it here.

General Election 2011

From Irish Shooting Politics:

Once again, the country is going to the polls. And once again, some 200,000 shooters aren’t hearing very much on the candidates’ parties’ policies with regards to firearms licencing and so forth.

Thought I’d ask, and see who responded first and fastest and most favourably, so on twitter the following was sent to Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, all at the same time:!/MarkDennehy/status/36816946808754177

@fiannafailparty What is #FiannaFail‘s policy on the Firearms Act, the handgun ban and private firearms ownership?#ge11!/MarkDennehy/status/36815632360017920

@finegael What is #FineGeal‘s policy on the Firearms Act, the handgun ban and private firearms ownership? #ge11!/MarkDennehy/status/36814738566561792

@labour What is #Labour‘s policy on the Firearms Act, the handgun ban and private firearms ownership? #ge11

To give credit where it’s due, Labour did in fact respond in minutes, saying that they’d need to get back with a more complete answer and that wouldn’t happen until Monday; fair enough. No response from Fianna Fail or Fine Gael either, but just in case that they’re not as au fait with twitter as you’d expect, this was sent to their email accounts as well:


As an Olympic target shooter, I’d like to ask for details on Fine Gael’s policies and plans with regards to the Firearms Act, the handgun ban and private firearms ownership in Ireland, and to invite you to engage with the target shooting and hunting community on to discuss these matters. With some 200,000 licenced firearms owners in the state, I think such engagement would be appropriate during the election campaign.


If there’s a response, I’ll post it here, and over on where all three parties will be invited to engage with the shooting community on their firearms policies. The cynic would insist such an effort would be wasted; though experience would tend to weigh the cynic’s viewpoint heavily in this area, the experiment does still seem worthy of an attempt at this time.