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?
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:
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 http://guns.ie and http://shooting.boards.ie (which is the discussion forum used by target shooters and hunters in Ireland).
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.