The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Michael McDowell, T.D., has said that following the conclusion of the Weapons Amnesty today, the toughest penalties for firearms offences ever introduced in the history of the State will come into operation.
While a comprehensive tally will be compiled over the next few days, an update provided this morning An Garda Síochána indicates that 368 weapons have now been handed in.
From tomorrow, 1 November 2006, persons who failed to avail of the amnesty and continue to hold weapons illegally will face very harsh penalties when the mandatory minimum prison sentences provided for in the Criminal Justice Act come into effect.
The new penalties are as follows:
- Possession of firearms with intent to endanger life - maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment;
- Prohibition of use of firearms to resist arrest or aid escape - maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment;
- Possession of firearm while hijacking a vehicle - maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment;
- Possession of firearm or ammunition in suspicious circumstances - maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment;
- Carrying firearm with criminal intent - maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment; and
- Altering a Firearm - maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.
The Tánaiste said, "The Weapons Amnesty has afforded people an opportunity to hand in illegally held firearms and other offensive weapons before the introduction of the new stringent sentences for firearms offences - the toughest ever introduced in the history of the State.
From tomorrow, minimum mandatory sentences will come into operation and I expect the judiciary to implement these new provisions in full. Only in exceptional and specific circumstances, and in the case of a first offence only, can the court exercise discretion to impose less than the minimum sentence.
The limited amnesty followed by the introduction of harsh penalties, combined with the continuing efforts of the Gardí in Operation Anvil, are all part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce the incidence of crime in which weapons are involved. I am determined to ensure that those found in possession of firearms will pay a very serious price for their crimes."
The following is an update on the number of weapons surrendered under the Weapons Amnesty. This tally does not include all weapons surrendered in the past week.
|Weapon Type||Running Total|
The Weapons Amnesty and the new firearms penalties are part of a much larger drive to reduce gun crime in Ireland. Operation Anvil, which is ongoing, commenced in the Garda Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) on 17 May, 2005 and was extended nationwide in 2006.
Operation Anvil is an intelligence led policing initiative which targets active criminals and their associates involved in serious crime by preventing and disrupting criminal activity through extensive additional overt patrolling and static check points by uniform, mobile and foot patrols, supported by armed plain clothes patrols.
Operation Anvil has proved to be very successful in disrupting the criminal activities of a number of key criminal gangs. It has resulted in a number of high-profile arrests and the acquisition of intelligence on the movements of criminals.
The most recent figures available show that since the introduction of Operation Anvil there have been:
In the Dublin Metropolitan Region
- 515 firearms have been seized
- 3,000 arrests for serious crimes, including 53 arrests in connection with murders,
- 38,115 checkpoints performed,
- 16,001 drug searches,
- 6,672 vehicles seized
Rest of the country
- 135 firearms have been seized,
- 1,683 arrests for serious crime.
31 October 2006