The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) is the largest voluntary organisation in Ireland involved in game hunting and conservation. The Association has 24,000 members in 965 Clubs spread throughout the country – one Club in almost every parish. It has enjoyed an increasing membership year on year for the past ten years with an average increase of 500 per annum. It is also a Seanad Nominating Body. The Association co-ordinates the activities of its members and clubs through a regional structure comprising 28 regions. The NARCC also represents the interests of all its members at both a national and international level.
Since its establishment in 1968, the Association has been instrumental in the development of significant beneficial legislation since that time. Of particular note was The Wildlife Act 1976, The Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, The Firearms Non-Residents Act 2000 etc. The NARGC has been to the forefront in leading challenges through the Courts against misuse and abuses of Ireland’s environmental and shooting legislation. In all cases to date, the Association has been successful and this has resulted in the development of new and more beneficial legislation.
The NARGC does not receive any grant aid from the State and is funded entirely by subscription from its members. Currently the Association’s members contribute some €22 million to the Irish economy annually. In addition, NARGC members spend almost €1 million per annum at club level on non-shooting conservation projects. The Association also provides a fund-raising scheme for conservation through the Irish Habitat Trust, which it established in 1997.
Hunting and shooting is an important activity in Ireland for both urban/city and country dwellers. It is a sport which has deep social community relevance for those who participate. The friendships and social interaction between members of the shooting community goes far beyond the day spent shooting together. In many parishes in rural Ireland, the game/gun club is at the centre of all that happens in the locality. In many areas, the rule of thumb is that if you want something done for the community, you talk to the local gun club members. Hunting also instils in those who participate, a lasting love of the countryside and the outdoor life. This relationship between the hunter and the countryside engenders a real concern for conservation issues and a clean environment.
Shooting people have a vested interest in investing in conservation and ensuring that the game species which they hunt are cared for and that their populations are not threatened. This means that shooting people spend more on non-hunting conservation work than any other environmental groups and all of this money comes from their own pockets. It is because of the activities of shooting people, together with farmers and anglers that the landscape which we enjoy today in Ireland exists at all. That is why far too often the ill-conceived and ill-informed actions of Governments meet with such fierce resistance from country dwellers.