Nov 24th 2022
This committee was brought to life by Minister of State, seconded to the Dept. of Justice, James Brown [FF] in August 2022 to examine various issues on firearms legislation in Ireland that are to be included in the Criminal Justice Misc. Provisions act part 2 2022. Currently at White paper and second reading stage in Dail Eireann.
FUNI has had grave reservations about this committee from the start and it seems our fears are becoming a reality. That this operation is nothing more than a Pro Forma charade to give the impression of consultation with the affected parties. Our main concerns are:
- According to the Dept. of Justice, there was an “incredible response” to their tender and 25 to 30 people applied!
- Of these 30 people it seems the Minister chose no one with any experience in fighting court cases, or had any practical knowledge of dealing with the legislation from a gun owner’s perspective.
- One of the gun owner’s representatives, Paul Walsh, comes with some “baggage” in his reputation and involvement in the defunct Sports Collation and was a controversial choice from the word goes.
- Mr Walsh resides in Minister Browne’s constituency, has not been a trading gun dealer for at least a decade, or range operator in the same time period, and is a known Fianna Fail supporter and has Minister Browne as a friend on his social media profile.
- The chairperson is another political appointment who has no practical firearms knowledge whatsoever and seems to have been chosen for her pervious short TV career on RTE on a money advice programme. Going by her social media she is in well with the FG political circles in Cork city.
- There were at least TWO qualified legal counsel applicants. A Junior Counsel and a fully qualified Barrister that applied for the job of Chair. Both with extensive firearms experience as both shooters and from a practical standpoint of dealing with the legislation on a daily basis.
- There is no record or accountability or reports of a job interview taking place by the ministers concerned for these positions. These are paying positions funded by tax payer’s money, and it seems strange that such positions were awarded without even interviewing the applicants?
- Mr Fabian Connolly is the only person who seems to fit any sort of pre requisite for this job. Yet it seems he was chosen to fit a certain niche. Fabien is a well-known gunsmith and target shooter, who specialises in semi auto rifles and shoots both here and abroad with them .Is he been used for a Judas goat and possible lightning rod when this is all over to distract ministerial wrong doings?
- Despite the Dept. of Justice and an Garda Siochana suggesting strongly to the minister, that “grandfathering” the outstanding 38 licenses issued post 2015 would be a very quick fix to this problem. The minister has refused to contemplate this and has included this revocation and future ban in the proposed legislation. Why have a committee on a subject when your own Dept. head and police representative‘s advice is going to be ignored and dismissed?
In short this FEC[aptly named!] committee is nothing more than a useless operation that has cost the taxpayer another 20 thousand plus euros, set up to make a pretence of openness and transparency and stake holders concerns.
FUNI calls for the following:
- Immediate resignation of both Fabian Connolly and Paul Walsh from this committee, as it is nothing more than a charade to disguise an already set and decided agenda. They will achieve nothing further being there, bar possible vilification for participating in this.
- Immediate grandfathering of the 38 outstanding licenses.
- An inquiry into these “sharp practises” by the ministers involved in hiring people with no job interviews and what methods did the minister or the relevant dept. heads decide on the suitability of the candidates?
- The resignation of Minister Brown from his position due to his involvement in this selection as it reeks of cronyism and political favouritism in his selections to this committee.
- Reinstatement of this committee with proper representation for people concerned, namely the 38 semi auto rifle owners.