Outline of a letter to your elected representatives
NARGC STATEMENT - 09 NOVEMBER 2020
PROHIBITION ON RECREATIONAL HUNTING
Immediately on the announcement by the Gardaí of a ban on pheasant shooting on Thursday 29 October 2020, the Association contacted the Garda Commissioner, the Office of the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Health to express its opposition to the alleged ban.
The Association then obtained legal advice, which indicated that any shooter, who engaged in rough shooting on his/her own in order to exercise and complied with current Level 5 restrictions, was not acting in contravention of the current Regulations contained in SI 448/2020.
The Association immediately furnished this advice to the Commissioner and the Ministers. No response was received from them other than to say that shooting did not come within any exemption under the Regulations.
On Saturday 31 October 2020, the Association published a statement, calling on shooters not to engage in rough shooting even though the Association believed that the Commissioner and the Minsters had wrongly interpreted the Regulations.
On Tuesday 3 November 2020, the Association’s Solicitors called on the Commissioner to furnish a clarification that rough shooting carried out on an individual basis, in compliance with Level 5 restrictions, is not prohibited by SI 448/220. Again, the only response was that rough shooting did not come within any exemption under the Regulations.
On Monday 9 November 2020, the Association’s lawyers made an application to the High Court for Leave to apply for a Judicial Review. The application was made in a test case initiated by John Flannery, a member of the Association’s National Executive Committee and was heard by Mr. Justice Charles Meenan. Our Counsel told the Judge that the Association believes that a rough shooter, who complies with Level 5 restrictions and shoots for the purpose of exercise, does not infringe the Regulations, and asked for an early hearing date. Mr. Justice Meenan explained that the application could not be dealt with for a number of weeks and noted that Level 5 restrictions might be lifted in December. Despite the request for an early date, the Judge decided to adjourn the application to 8 December 2020.
The NARGC has at all times been acting in a fair and responsible manner, and we thank our members for their support in these difficult times.
The NARGC will continue to engage with Government Officials and Politicians at the highest level, and we ask all our members to continue to engage with their local Politicians.
A further Statement will issue as soon as further developments arise.
NARGC STATEMENT – 6.11.’20
PROHIBITION ON GAME HUNTING
Further to our Statement issued last Monday, November 2nd, we have been working hard every day meantime to seek to remove the prohibition on rough shooting as currently applies, It is important to emphasise that we are not seeking an exemption in this matter.
We are merely asking Government and An Garda Síochána to recognise/announce on their Website that rough shooting, as carried out on an individual basis for exercise, in compliance with current Level 5 restrictions, i.e. within 5 klms of home, is not prohibited by the S.I. 448 of the 2020 Regulations. All we want is that if a person and their dog wander down the fields, for exercise, (staying within 5 klms of home) and they happen to shoot a pheasant, that that of itself is not breaking the law. It really is that simple.
NARGC has had this matter raised in the Dáil and has been in touch with An Taoiseach, various Government Ministers, and politicians during the week, all to no avail. We have also been working with our Legal Advisors to advance our next significant move and we are firmly proceeding on this course of action.
You will probably be aware that the Courts are operating to a limited capacity and this is proving to be a slight issue. Nevertheless, we are on the cusp of our next move and suffice it to say we will issue a further statement when it is appropriate to do so. We expect you will appreciate the sensitivities associated with this situation.
NARGC STATEMENT – 2.11.’20
PROHIBITION ON GAME HUNTING
November 1st has come and gone, and we hope that tempers have eased somewhat. Despite this, the task of having our game hunting restored remains a challenge to which we are as determined as ever, and we are absolutely focussed on the job in hand.
During today, we wrote once again to An Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice, the Minister for Health, the Garda Commissioner and a number of his key staff in the Firearms Policy Unit and, in addition, to every TD and Senator who forms part of our Oireachtas – in all some 222 contacts. In all cases we detailed to them our deeply held views and also copied them with the advice of our Senior Counsel who unequivocally states that An Garda Siochana and whatever Government Dept. they take advice from – HAVE GOT IT WRONG !
In addition, our National Chairman spoke on Morning Ireland radio just before 8.30 a.m. and he again spoke on Shannonside/Northern Sound Radio at approx. 9.30 a.m. and later then Ciaran Mullooley from RTE1 Television filmed our Chairman and Members at Streete Gun Club (Co. Longford). This was aired on Six One News today. All of this PR work further generates an awareness of the fact that the NARGC profoundly disagrees with the Government assessment of law (S.I. 448 of 2020) as promulgated to the public on the Garda website and which was communicated to front-line Gardai. Put simply, once again, the NARGC submits that this assessment of law is wrong and does not reflect what rough shooting is about in rural Ireland.
We understand that a number of TD’s - who have expressed their incredulity at the current impasse - hope to formally raise this matter in Dáil Eireann tomorrow (Tuesday 3.11.’20) and if Government does not see sense, then the matter of Injunctive relief from the High Court would seem to be the next available approach. We are however giving Government every opportunity to remedy this.
FURTHER NARGC STATEMENT – 31.10.’20
Pheasant Shooting Prohibition
Following on from our Statement of yesterday, the NARGC has, all yesterday evening and again today, been in touch with Government Ministers and a wide array of other politicians, together with the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána and his staff, endeavoring, on your behalf, to regularise what we believe is a false interpretation of SI.448 of 2020 which, it appears, An Garda Síochána is relying upon in issuing the Press Release outlined on its website, dated 29.10.20.
The NARGC is delighted to report that legal opinion sought from Mr. Mark de Blacam, SC has now been delivered to the Association which unambiguously states that the activity of rough pheasant shooting does not fall within the scope of SI.448/2020 as published. The NARGC has already placed this legal Opinion, from this eminent SC, before the Garda Commissioner and his staff with a call to immediately amend or remove the ‘no hunting’ instruction on the Garda website.
It is extremely important that we all respect the rule of law, even in circumstances where we believe the same to be an incorrect interpretation of SI.448/2020. Therefore, unless we have some further development before tomorrow morning, we would advise members not to engage in rough pheasant shooting on November 1st. Of course vermin shooting may be engaged in.
If the Garda Authorities and Government do not act forthwith, then the Association may find it necessary to take this matter before the High Court next week, to seek appropriate Injunctive relief on the subject matter.
When and if further developments arise in the coming hours, we will immediately advise everyone through our website (www.nargc.ie) and our Facebook pages.
NARGC STATEMENT – 31.10.’20
BAN ON RECREATIONAL HUNTING
Following on from our Statement of yesterday, the NARGC is intimately aware of the anguish and distress that has been levied on all hunters by the announcement from the Dept. of Justice, posted on the website of An Garda Siochána on October 29th 2020, to the effect that recreational hunting does not fall under any of the exemptions allowed for exercise or sporting events and does not come under any permissible exemptions for travel outside of the home.
The NARGC considers it as an appalling insult that decent hunting men and women would be treated by any Government Dept. in the way meted out by the Dept. of Justice and with such short notice before, in particular, the commencement of the Pheasant shooting season. The pheasant shooting season is the pinnacle of the year for most NARGC members and so greater is the sense of devastation felt by everyone.
The NARGC has endeavored to remedy matters and has made several representations to Government Ministers, TD’s and Senators, all without any meaningful success. The Association is also pursuing appropriate legal advice which will be followed up on in the coming days.
We are mindful of our collective civic responsibilities in terms of State law and the health and wellbeing of all our citizens. It is therefore incumbent on all Gun Club members to refrain from all hunting pursuits, except for the control of vermin, for the duration of the current period of negotiations.
When further developments ensue, we will of course advise everyone immediately through our website (www.nargc.ie) and our Facebook pages.
NARGC STATEMENT – 30.10.’20
The NARGC has been made aware of the following Press Release on the Garda Website –
“Pheasant shooting season begins on Sunday 1st November. This normally involves shooting club members travelling to pheasant shoots around the country, frequently in groups, and is regarded as sport shooting.
Under the current regulations (SI 448), sporting events must be organised under the structure/ licence of a national governing body, funded by Sport Ireland. As such, sport shooting is prohibited in any other circumstances.
Recreational hunting does not fall under any of the exemptions allowed for exercise or sporting events. It has also been clarified that recreational hunting does not come under any permissible exemptions for travel outside of the home.
Shooting of vermin (rats/foxes/crows) is permissible as an essential support service to the farming and agriculture profession.”
The NARGC is of the view that An Garda Síochána is erring in its interpretation of the activity of pheasant shooting as engaged in by our Members nationally. The Association is also of the view that the activity of rough pheasant shooting, as distinct from driven pheasant shooting, does not fall within the meaning of S.I. 448 of 2020, published by the Minister for Health, Mr. Stephen Donnelly, T.D. on October 21st 2020.
The Association obviously does not wish anyone to act in breach of State law or public safety but notwithstanding, it is seeking legal advice on the situation overall and further clarification will issue shortly and before Sunday next, November 1st.
Covid 19 Guidance for NARGC members
See Link, Covid 19 levels / Restrictions is the HSE guidance on the restrictions at each level.
Going outside / further than the travel restrictions allow are further clarified as follow;
(1) travel to and from work, or for the purposes of work and where that work cannot be done from home
(2) to attend medical appointments and collect medicines and other health products
(3) for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits
(4) for farming purposes, that is, food production or care of animals
No. 4 would allow us to care for Birds and all that entails.
However that would not include travelling for Shooting or Hunting.
Equally it had been clarified for us in the full lockdown last Spring, that we could act as an agent for farmers in controlling predators, provided that we had it in writing from the farmer (Email sufficient), indicating that was the purpose of our trip.
We must comply with the HSE guidelines. We must also be cognizant of the particular circumstances of the area we are going into and exercise common sense in what we do, and ensure our actions do not contribute in any way to the spread of this Virus.
(20.10.20) NARGC STATEMENT ON SHOOTING DURING THE CURRENT
LEVEL 5 OF THE PLAN FOR LIVING WITH COVID-19
The NARGC has sought clear direction from Government on the matter of shooting (and fishing) during the current Level 5 of the Plan for Living with Covid-19 but a response is still awaited.
In the absence of an instruction otherwise, the NARGC directs its Members to read the publication by the Dept. of An Taoiseach issued on 19/10/’20 -
In this, significant to us and our sport, we read:-
1. People will be permitted to exercise within a radius of 5 km of their home.
2. No organised outdoor gatherings should take place
3. No organised indoor gatherings should take place
4. All training activities should be individual only
5. It is possible to meet with 1 other household in an outdoor setting which is not a
home or garden, such as a park, including for exercise.
6. No other social or family gatherings should take place.
On this basis, it would appear that a Member may engage in hunting activity, along with another person, provided the activity occurs within 5 klms from home and that social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitization (as required) are observed. Travel to and from the area of activity, if a vehicle is used, should be based on one person per vehicle.
In these as in all circumstances, please follow HSE Guidelines and Government advice. All Government advice is freely and openly available to all citizens and evolves as the Government’s response to this Pandemic changes. It is accordingly a matter for each Member to familiarise him/herself fully and directly with all relevant advice, directives, and legislative enactments.
We will update this Statement based on the latest advice from Government.
OCTOBER 20th 2020