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Question

123. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if legislation will be introduced to permit the use of pepper spray for civil protection; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7265/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Pepper spray is considered a prohibited weapon under the Firearms Act 1925, as amended. A prohibited weapon is defined as a firearm under the same Act, and accordingly the restrictions that apply to firearms in the Firearms Acts apply to pepper spray.
In considering whether or not to grant licences for the possession, use or carriage of firearms, An Garda Síochána take into account a number of factors provided for in the relevant legislation. In this context, in September, 2009 the Garda Commissioner issued revised guidelines in relation to the operation of the firearms legislation which are designed to be of benefit to both members of the Gardaí and members of the public.
These guidelines specifically state that: “ The protection of life and property is a function of the Garda Síochána and civilians are only entitled to use reasonable force to protect themselves and their property. The combined effect of this means that there is no justification for seeking to possess a firearm for purposes of personal protection or protection of property. When assessing an application for a firearm certificate, a superintendent or chief superintendent should not take into account as part of a 'Good Reason' a reference to personal protection." As personal protection is the only reason for a person to acquire pepper spray, it follows that a firearm certificate is unlikely to be granted for pepper spray.
I do not envisage amending the legislation to permit the use of pepper spray for civil protection.