Filter

Question

121. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality regarding the proposed new legislation restricting certain licensed firearms, the current efforts to tackle the high number of illegal firearms, which is estimated to be more than 100,000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7585/15]

122. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the protection local businesses affected by the proposed new firearms legislation will be offered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7587/15]

125. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the compensation to be provided to persons affected by the proposed new firearms legislation, who will have to surrender or destroy their weapons and recreational equipment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7636/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 121, 122 and 125 together.
I should say initially that my Department is not aware of any reliable basis for the figure quoted in the Deputy's question as representing the number of illegal firearms here.
In light of public safety concerns highlighted by An Garda Síochána, a joint Department of Justice and Equality/An Garda Síochána Working Group was established by the Department of Justice and Equality to review firearms licensing. The report of this Working Group was published on 13 November 2014 and submissions on the report were sought from stakeholders and the public by 31 January 2015. The consultation process gave individuals and groups an opportunity to contribute to the development of firearms policy and legislation and will enable consideration to be given to the future direction of such legislation.
The submissions received are currently being examined and incorporated into a report for me. The Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has also sought submissions and held hearings with interested parties in relation to the Working Party report. It is expected that their report on the issue will be available in a number of weeks.
I understand the Deputy's Question No 122 relates to what effects, if any, proposed changes to firearms licensing will have on firearms dealers. I wish to advise that the majority of licensed and licensable shotguns and rifles in this State will not be affected by the proposals to amend the firearms licensing system.
The issue of compensation which the Deputy raises is dealt with at Section 13 of the Working Group Report. The report states that the Courts have held that the possession of a firearm is not a right but a privilege. The Courts have in the past taken the view that what is in the State's gift cannot be required to be compensated if it is withdrawn.
I have already given a commitment that I will not make any final decisions until I have considered all the submissions which have been made and have met the key stakeholders, including the organisations who represent those who use firearms for sporting purposes. These meetings will take place following receipt and consideration of both my Department's and the Oireachtas Committee reports.
I have asked the Garda Commissioner for a report in relation to specific measures being taken to tackle illegal firearms. I will reply further to the Deputy when that information becomes available.