Republic of Ireland moves to level 3 restrictions

On the 1st December 2020 the Republic of Ireland moved to level 3 COVID-19 restrictions allowing non contact sports including hunting to restart in pods of 15 people and allow people to travel freely within their county.

Below we have set out the main parts of the restrictions that members should take into consideration.

 

Sports

Training

Outdoors: Non contact training only in pods of up to 15 (for example: golf, tennis, horse riding, hunting, Gaelic games, soccer, outdoor basketball).

 

No-one should partake in any form of Country Sports if they have any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19 and should immediately self isolate and follow current government advice

Shooting

While it is down to the individual groups to organise their events, shoots for example may consider splitting into beaters and guns in separate pods of 15 they must however ensure the pods do not and cannot mix throughout the day.

We understand most clubs have reduced the number of birds released this year but due to the lockdown restrictions imposed numbers may still be higher than normal for this time of year. We would suggest where possible shoots try and reschedule their calendars allowing more days if required. Where shoots still feel they will have surplus birds they can request a short extension to the shooting season until 15th February by applying to the National Parks and Wildlife Service normally around the end of December the application form and details can be found here

Hunting

Hunting can restart in line with the Irish Masters of Foxhounds Associations guidance.

 

Domestic travel

Stay in your county apart from work, education, medical and other essential purposes, if appropriate.

With this in place those wishing to travel to Republic from Northern Ireland can only do so with a reasonable excuse as listed below and may be turned back.

 

Travel restrictions

While Ireland is at Level 3, you should not travel outside your county unless you have a reasonable excuse. The following list gives examples of reasonable excuses for leaving your home, as set out in Statutory Instrument 560 of 2020 (pdf):

  • Traveling to work if you cannot work from home
  • Providing care to a vulnerable person or attending to other vital family matters
  • Farming and other agricultural activities
  • Going to school or bringing your child to school
  • Going to college where it is necessary to attend in person
  • Accessing childcare services
  • Travelling to visit your children as part of an access arrangement, or travelling to allow access to children
  • Attending a medical or dental appointment, or going to a medical or dental appointment with a vulnerable person or someone you live with
  • Going to another person’s house if you are in a support bubble with them
  • Seeking essential medical assistance for yourself, someone you live with or for a vulnerable person
  • Donating blood
  • Going to the vet
  • Going to a wedding or funeral
  • Going to court, obeying your bail instructions, attending court offices to initiate emergency legal proceedings
  • Moving accommodation where it is necessary
  • Travel to the airport or port to leave Ireland if you normally live in another country
  • Fleeing domestic abuse or escaping danger

A Garda can give you a fixed charge notice of €100 for travelling without a reasonable excuse.

 

Fines and fixed penalty notices

For certain offences, you can be fined a fixed amount. A Garda can give you a fixed penalty notice. If you do not pay it within 28 days, you can be prosecuted in court.

A Garda can issue the following fixed penalties under the Health Act 1947 (Fixed Payment Notice and Dwelling Event Provisions) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020, as amended:

 
Offence Fixed charge
Not wearing a face covering on public transport €80
Not wearing a face covering in a retail outlet €80
Travelling without a reasonable excuse, when one is required €100
Attending a social or recreational gathering in a home €150
Organising a social or recreational gathering in a home €500
Organising a prohibited event that is not in a home €500

CAI understand that we must all do our part to help in the fight against this terrible disease and inline with current advise we should:

  • try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with or anyone not in your support bubble
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • wear something that covers your nose and mouth when it’s hard to stay away from people, such as in shops or on public transport
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Countryside Alliance Ireland (CAI) is once again delighted to be the biggest all Ireland country sports organisation in attendance at the Galway Game Fair Clay Shoot at the Irish Country Lifestyle Festival.  The event which takes place on Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 June 2019.

We are very excited to announce that RADAR NI (Risk Avoidance Danger Awareness Resource) will be on our stand; RADAR is Northern Ireland’s first and only interactive safety and life skills education Centre.  RADAR brings safety and life skills education for children and vulnerable people crashing into the 21st century, offering a high standard of preventative training that has the capability to save lives.

Our marquee will also be playing host to other exhibitors including the British Deer Society (NI), PAW, PSNI FEB, PSNI Wildlife liaison and the ever popular Sunnylands Beagles which always prove popular with everyone young and old.

 

 

Since 1978 the Great Game Fairs of Ireland objectives included promoting the importance of country sports, farming and conservation interests working together for the preservation of the Irish countryside and the rural way of life.

Over the past forty year on that objective, if anything more relevant, as the whole rural way of life if not threatened with government legislation or interference with tradition, is threatened with habitat destruction. There is the need for a strong unified voice to promote balance within the countryside amongst land users such as farming, building, country sports, conservation and tourism interests.

Clay Shooting at the Game Fair

Gamefair shooting (003)

 

 

COUNTRY SPORTS SHOOT OR GUNDOG CLUB OF THE YEAR

IRELAND’S MOST STYLISH GUNDOG EVENT!
organised by Gundog Rescue and Rehoming at the Great Game Fairs of Ireland at the Irish Country Lifestyle Festival, Galway Racecourse 15/16 June and the Irish Game Fair, Shanes Castle, Antrim 29/30 June.
This is an event designed to let country sports enthusiasts show off their style and their dog and give the public a little cameo of a shooting day and a chance to see well turned out sports people and a good range of gundogs.
Based on a three person shoot, estate or club team dressed in country or club clothing with at least three well behaved gundogs one of which must carry out a simple gundog task – a retrieve, a demonstration of quartering or even pointing/setting. Teams will be judged on the smartness of the handlers’ dress, the turnout of the dogs and the competence of one dog at a gundog test.
There will be heats at Galway and Shanes and the final will also take place at Shanes Castle.
The members of each winning team in the heats will win a Crystal Clock, a year’s subscription to Irish Country Sports and Country Life magazine and a quality tweed dog bed from https://thesheepishdog.com/
The overall winners will be presented with the ‘Shoot of the Year Perpetual Trophy’. Other ‘spot prizes will be announced later.

Entry Fee will be £30 per team going to GR&RH with each team member getting two FREE tickets to the relevant fair

 

 

 

We are very much looking forward to the Fair as it gives us the opportunity to meet and engage face to face with our members and supporters.  The Fair offers something for all of the family and we are delighted to have a significant presence and look forward to seeing you there.

MEDIAWATCH: Countryside Alliance animal welfare consultant, Jim Barrington, will be on Michael Portillo’s show “Portillo’s State Secrets” from 6.30pm on BBC2 this evening, 1st April. Jim will be talking about animal welfare and hunting and reports that he thoroughly enjoyed filming with Portillo.

Following the full public consultation earlier this year for taking pest birds brought about by the legal challenge from Wild Justice. DEARA have now taken the decision to extend the interim General Licenses until October 2022

This decision to extend the current temporary General License CAI understand is to allow time for the responses of the public consultation to be fully considered and allow for any additional information or legal advice to be sought before briefs are submitted to the Minister for consideration.

Full details of the extensions can be found below 👇

Please remember you can still apply for an individual license to take pest species not listed on the General Licenses from the Wildlife Team Here

Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, a self-declared “animal rights activist” has made the following statement in respect of a consultation to determine the future of open season orders.

The Open Season for wild bird hunting will open on 1 September 2022.

Considerable work has been undertaken by National Parks & Wildlife Service to set out a range of options available for future Open Season Orders, and a wide ranging consultation with stakeholders and interest groups in relation to future orders will be undertaken over the coming months. While there is no doubt that this will be a challenging process, I am keen to listen to the views of all of the interested parties.

I would also remind the public that only certain species may be hunted, and only at certain times, as set out below. The hunting of deer species may only be done with a rifle and still requires a specific Deer Hunting Licence which may be applied for online at npws.ie

The species, and dates between which hunting may take place is in keeping with previous orders. Based on the information available, the number of species under conservation threat, and our legal obligations under the Birds Directive, changes in the ambit of the 2023/2024 order are very likely. In effect, this will mean the likely removal of certain species from the order. I do, however, intend consulting with the sector on these changes in advance of their application.

It is known that the conservation status of some of the species that may be hunted in Ireland is declining. In order to continue to protect and preserve the conservation status of these species, and to support sustainable hunting practices, a new way forward is required. This must be collaborative, and based on scientific evidence.”

Full details are available on the NPWS Website.

Gary McCartney, Director of Countryside Alliance Ireland said: The statement from Minister Noonan along with his self declared position as an animal rights activist is very concerning. It already points to loaded consultation with a likely predetermined outcomes. This statement only acts to disenfranchise and serve as a slap in the face for the many who engage in country pursuits that do so much throughout the year for conservation and rural economy.”

HUNTING SEASONS FOR WILD BIRDS & HARES

Red Grouse

1 September to 30 September

Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Scaup, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goldeneye, Golden Plover, Snipe, Jack Snipe.

1 September to 31 January

Red-Legged Partridge, Cock Pheasant, Woodcock, Woodpigeon

1 November to 31 January

Canada Geese

Countrywide: 1 September to 15 October

The counties of Cavan (exclusive of the townlands of Eonish Island, Rinn, Deramfield) and Leitrim (exclusive of the River Shannon): 16 October to 31 January

Greylag Geese

Countrywide: 1 September to 15 October

Lady’s Island Lake, Co. Wexford and Gearagh East, Gearagh West in Co. Cork only: 16 October to 31 January

Ruddy Duck

1 September to 31 January

Hares (excluding the following townlands in Co. Wexford: North East Slob, North West Slob, Big Island, Beggerin Island and the Raven).

26 September to 28 February

HUNTING SEASONS FOR DEER SPECIES

Red Male (Throughout the State Excluding Co. Kerry)

1 September to 31 December

Red Female & Antlerless Deer ** (Throughout the State Excluding Co. Kerry)

1 November to 28 February

Sika Male (Throughout the State)

1 September to 31 December

Sika Female & Antlerless Deer ** (Throughout the State)

1 November to 28 February

Fallow Male (Throughout the State)

1 September to 31 December

Fallow Female & Antlerless Deer ** (Throughout the State)

1 November to 28 February

Muntjac Deer (Throughout the State)

1 September to 31 August

** Antlerless deer will be construed as including any male deer without antlers, of less than one year, i.e. a calf.

The Countryside Alliance Ireland is concerned about the impact of excess rubbish generated as strike action at Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Brough Council continues. This will have adverse effects on rural areas, which are likely to fall victim to fly-tippers as households have no means to dispose of their rubbish.

The rural campaigning group are asking the public to remember that fly-tipping is not a victimless crime and has a significant impact on rural areas and wildlife.

If you are having a clear out, please:

Keep your waste at home until you are able to dispose of it legally; or
Use a registered waste carrier; and
Remember, you can be prosecuted for fly-tipping.

With the abundance of rubbish starting to gather we are already hearing reports of rats openly rummaging through bins in Lurgan as public bins have not been emptied for some days. As in the towns fly tipping in the countryside could lead to an increased numbers of vermin.

CAI advise the public to check with other Local authorities if they will permit those from ABC brough council to use their recycling centres.

Gary McCartney, Director of Countryside Alliance Ireland said: “It shouldn’t need saying that driving to dump rubbish at the side of the road or in the countryside will damage rural communities and wildlife. We must also mention are you committing an offence by littering and may face prosecution from the PSNI. The images of fly-tipping, though horrendous, are an all too familiar sight. Please, plan out any household activity that could generate excess amounts of rubbish.

“With no near end to the strike in sight, other local authorities should assess the feasibility of opening recycling centres to help residents to stop infestations of vermin and spread of disease. This approach does seem like the most obvious answer to stopping fly-tipping or a public health disaster, We also can’t risk people filling up a car with rubbish and being turned away only for it to then be dumped elsewhere, illegally because centres refuse those from outside their council area.

He added: “If you need to hire a private refuse collection service, please ensure they are a registered waste collector first. We are fully aware that rogue operators profit from charging cheap fees, who then dump the rubbish in the countryside. They often advertise on social media and offer deals that some find tempting. In reality, this comes at a massive cost to both the environment and tax-payer, while farmers have to pay even more to have the rubbish on their land removed privately. There can never be an excuse for fly-tipping, please help us stop it”.

The cost of rural crime has continued to decrease in Northern Ireland following a sharp drop at the beginning of the pandemic.

The 2022 Rural Crime Report revealed rural theft cost Northern Ireland an estimated £1.7m in 2021, down from £2.1m in 2021. The Northern Ireland reduction is greater than the UK average drop of 9.3% in 2021 and signs so far this year look like Northern Ireland is curbing countryside crime.

We must not become complacent and reports from across the water suggest the first quarter of 2022 has seen thieves in England, Scotland and Wales making up for time lost over the pandemic, but in Northern Ireland the reduction in rural theft continued.

However, shipping delays and the effects of Covid and Brexit have contributed to low supply and a rise in demand for quad bikes and other machinery. Knowing that thieves were keen to capitalise on growing waiting lists and soaring market values, Countryside Alliance Ireland would encourage in rural communities to take part in the various security marking schemes across Northern Ireland to reduce the risk of theft.

Countryside Alliance Ireland Director Gary McCartney said: “It is encouraging to see that the cost of rural crime continues to fall across Northern Ireland, however, farms and rural communities are still being targeted. Rural crime is not a victimless crime causing emotional and financial stress  to those involved especially at this difficult time as they face unprecedent challenges.”

“We remind rural communities to remain vigilant as we move into the colder, darker nights of Autumn and as the cost of living crisis really starts to bite, we call on those who live in the countryside to ensure possessions are locked away, out of sight, especially those of high value. Take photos of any valuable items and record any details including serial numbers or any identifying features and report any suspicious activity in your area to the PSNI.”

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has declared a “critical incident” due to protracted backlogs of applications within its firearms licensing department.   A critical incident is defined as “Any incident where the effectiveness of the police response is likely to have a significant impact on the confidence of the victim, their family or the community”.

The announcement was made during a recent meeting between PSNI Chief Superintendent Sam Donaldson, Dr Jonathan Howarth, Head of PSNI Firearms and Explosives Branch (FEB) and members of the Northern Ireland Firearms Representative Group (NIFRG).

Formed in May 2021, the NIFRG is an umbrella group which brings together all the national and local shooting and countryside organisations.

The meeting took place at PSNI Headquarters in Belfast, during which the PSNI advised that the backlog was sitting at roughly 3,000 applications and rising.

The influencing factors for the backlog given by PSNI, include a lack of resources and a requirement for IT system upgrades.  As a result, the PSNI has introduced a Gold Command strategy to deal with the situation.

Speaking after the meeting, an NIFRG spokesperson said:

“The NIFRG took the opportunity to convey our deep dissatisfaction with the current situation within firearms licensing and we committed to work with PSNI to effect immediate and sustained improvements in performance.

“The introduction of a Gold Command strategy is good news, as it means the crisis has been highlighted at Chief Constable level, and that a strategy has been introduced to resolve the situation.

“Processing timescales of up to a year are wholly unacceptable. However, this meeting offered a glimmer of hope, in what is a desperate situation.  The current crisis not only reflects badly on PSNI FEB, but in the wider context, it has also damaged public confidence in the police service generally.   

“This direct Intervention by PSNI is a much-needed move and the NIFRG will be assisting FEB with a review of its current processes in a bid to make them more efficient.  We will also be providing feedback to PSNI on its new complaints procedure which will help monitor performance and ensure the accountability of FEB staff.”

FIREARMS USERS REPRESENTATIVE GROUP (FURG) OPPOSE STRUCTURE AND MAKE-UP OF NEW FIREARMS EXPERT COMMITTEE 

 

FURG Member Organisations consist of: National Association of Regional Game Councils, FACE Ireland (representing 14 fieldsports organisations), Irish Deer Society, Irish Deer Commission, Wild Deer Association of Ireland, Deer Alliance HCAP, Countryside Alliance (Ireland), Country Sports Ireland, Midlands National Shooting Centre of Ireland, Irish Firearms Dealers Association, Irish Clay Target Shooting Association, National Association of Sporting Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Irish Country Sports Association, Precision Rifles Ireland. Have come together to oppose the structure and make up of new Firearms Expert Committee announced by the Department of Justice on behalf of Minister James Brown TD.

 

BACKGROUND

The establishment of a five-person “Firearms Expert Committee” was announced by the Department of Justice on 24th June 2022 on behalf of James Browne TD, Minister of State at the Department of Justice.

The establishment of such a body was first proposed in media interviews by Minister Browne in September 2021 and confirmed in the document, Justice Plan 2022, published in March 2022 (paragraph 35, page 15 of that document).

The terms of reference for the Committee were later stated as:

  • To carry out an assessment of all types of firearms which are currently licenced in the State
  • To determine their use under the existing licensing system.
  • To make recommendations based on this assessment on which types of firearms should be licensable in the State and for what purposes.
  • To consider whether firearms certificates should be conditioned to specify the locations where the firearm may be used.
  • To consider whether firearms certificates should be conditioned to limit the use of the firearm to the purpose for which the firearms certificate was sought.
  • To consider whether there should be a limit on the number and type of firearms a person may hold.
  • To make recommendation on other matters that might be examined in the future.
  • To provide a report or reports containing recommendations on these matters to the Minister.
  • To examine any other firearms licensing matter or carry out any other relevant task the Minister considers appropriate during the Committee’s term.

Expressions of Interest in appointment to the Committee were invited early in April 2022, with a closing date of 29th April 2022. Two places on the Committee were allocated in advance to representatives of An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice respectively, with expressions of interests invited in respect of the position of Chairperson and two individual members. According to the Department of Justice, in total, fourteen applications were received for the position of Chairperson and thirty-four for the position of Ordinary Member.

Having regard for the make-up of the Committee as announced on 24th June, the Firearms Users Representative Group, on behalf of its participating member groups, are deeply concerned at the fact that the community of shooting and hunting enthusiasts which their participating members represent is largely unrepresented.

There is no doubt that firearms legislation in Ireland is overdue for review and consolidation. There are eleven Acts of the Oireachtas, thirty-one Statutory Instruments and three EU Directives governing the possession, user and carriage of firearms in Ireland. Firearms legislation in Ireland is widely regarded by many as the most restrictive in Europe and differs significantly from the procedures and protocols applicable in other Member States of the European Union. According to available sources, with an estimated 235000 legally-held firearms in use across an estimated 150000 to 175000 individual owners, while gun ownership in Ireland is less than one-third of the average level of ownership across the majority of EU Member States. Meanwhile, gun crime is largely restricted to a criminal underworld, which will remain unaffected by firearms legislation, current or proposed. Gun crime involving licensed firearms owners is limited to a very small number of isolated cases with specific surrounding circumstances. Criminals will always have access to firearms, with none of the restrictions applicable to the law-abiding sporting shooter.

OUR CONCERNS

The deep concern felt by the Firearms Users Representative Group relates to the complete lack of representation of sporting shooters on the new Committee, and the fact that the wide-ranging terms of reference of the Committee are likely to have implications for owners of sporting firearms across a range of shooting disciplines. There is no provision for consultation with sporting shooters, no provision for access to Minutes of meetings of the Committee, or to review or comment on any recommendations of the Committee.

By his action in establishing the FEC in the form proposed and without open consultation with all stakeholders, the Minister has done something unique here, he has united all users of firearms into a cohesive grouping, which never has never happened to this level before. The Firearms Users Representative Group is a fully inclusive and a fully representative voice for firearms users across the widest range of shooting disciplines.

CALL ON MINISTER TO RECONSIDER MAKE-UP OF FIREARMS EXPERT COMMITTEE AND TO ENSURE PROPER REPRESENTATION OF FIREARMS USERS

In these circumstances, the Firearms Users Representative Group and its participating organisations have at best a limited confidence in the Committee and at worst, a highly guarded response to its establishment. We now call on Minister of State James Browne TD to reconsider the make-up of the Committee, to enlarge its base and to ensure full and proper representation of sporting shooters across the range of shooting disciplines embodied by the Firearms Users Representative Group, or alternatively put a system in place where this Group is fully consulted at all stages of this process, and nothing is produced for implementation without consultation and agreement with the Firearms Users Representative Group.

Spokespersons for the Firearms Users Representative Group:

Dan Curley, 086 2328356, Email: chairman@nargc.ie

Liam Nolan, 0861927845, Email: lmnolanbl@gmail.com

 

Member Organisations: National Association of Regional Game Councils, FACE Ireland
(representing 14 fieldsports organisations), Irish Deer Society, Irish Deer Commission, Wild Deer
Association of Ireland, Deer Alliance HCAP, Countryside Alliance (Ireland), Country Sports Ireland,
Midlands National Shooting Centre of Ireland, Irish Firearms Dealers Association, Irish Clay Target
Shooting Association, National Association of Sporting Rifle & Pistol Clubs, Irish Country Sports
Association, Precision Rifles Ireland.
(A few other organisations are considering joining, and are awaiting the approval of their respective
organisations)

 

Thank you so much to everyone who joined, renewed or visited us even for a chat or just to say hello at the Game Fair over the weekend.
It was once again our privilege to sponsor Gundog Rescue and Rehoming, to present Jonathan Buckley MLA with a CAI walking stick for his support during the Hunting Bill and to catch up with Jim Shannon, true friends of the countryside.
The Game Fair is what provides us a platform for us not only to catch up with old friend’s, celebrate and showcase our activities but also to interact with those who may not know the importance our chosen pursuits are to the up-keep and maintenance of our beautiful countryside.
A Big Thank You to Jon Lees and Dylan from NIEA and to Merlin Becker and the team from the Irish Red Grouse Association – Conservation Trust.

A Massive Thank You To Albert Titterington and his team they are always a pleasure to work with.

It was a great to see so many gravating towards the main arena to see the hounds parade and what a sight to see so many childern from all arround the arena running in to give them a cuddle.
While the weather wasn’t kind at times to us today there were still queues to get in on both days showing the continued popularity of the Fair and CAI look forward to seeing you all again in the near future.
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