A Shot In The Dark


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Mark Dennehy writes:

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice is speaking with the new Garda Commissioner about the Policing Plan 2015. TD Finian McGrath interrupts to hold up a photo of a road sign that’s been shot at close range with a shotgun, says it’s been shot with a legally held firearm and the photo was sent to him by a constituent in Fingal and does the Commissioner think this is a serious problem? Problem is, it’s a UK road sign. The Irish road sign is a different shape, colour and design. And neither the TD, nor the Garda Commissioner, nor anyone else in the Committee notices.


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50 thoughts on “A Shot In The Dark

  1. Spartacus

    In the face of overwhelming evidence, I really shouldn’t continue be surprised at the utter incompetence of the people we elect and and those we appoint, and yet I am. Depressing.

      1. Spartacus

        Such a remarkable display of reasoning skills. You must be part of our valued political machine yourself, Paolo. I’m very sorry, I didn’t realise.

      2. Mark Dennehy

        Paolo, there are no proposals from any group anywhere to do that. And there never have been any serious ones to do that. The european culture surrounding gun ownership (which is the one we have) is very, very, very different to the US one. Ours is based on the use of firearms for target shooting sports and hunting, it’s based on clubs and training and competition, and licencing has been a core part of it for a few centuries.

    1. Barry Burke

      people are bad, Guns are tools.
      No different than knives. The can be used to stab people , but mostly used to butter toast

  2. Soundings

    Person uses legally held firearm to shoot at British road sign.

    Pro-gun restrictions TD uses incident to highlight abuse of gun rights.

    Gets location of road sign wrong.

    So, what? Point is even if licensed by authorities, British or Irish, some licensed gun owners abuse their privilege.

    And who knows, maybe it was an Irish person who went over to Britain and shot up their road sign.

    What practical difference does it make to the point being made by Deputy McGrath? Are gun licensing standards lower in the UK (I don’t think they are, and speaking from personal experience, their police do come around to your home to check on your gun cabinet security)?

    1. Spartacus

      Good plan. Person unknown in country ‘x’ is alleged to have committed a crime. There is a possibility that the person may be Irish (equally possible that he/she is any other nationality). The Irish justice system should enact legislation on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations from anonymous and unverified sources.

      Did I understand you correctly there?

    2. Mark Dennehy

      Okay, to be serious for a second so Soundings:

      Firstly, yes, I’ve seen this done to Irish road signs. Usually way out in the middle of nowhere and mostly over in the west. I’ve never, ever seen it done to a road sign in Dublin county, let alone Dublin city or Fingal, which is McGrath’s constituency. But yes, it’s an incredibly dangerous and stupid thing to do, and if anyone was ever caught doing it, they’d be for the high jump on at least six seperate offences.

      But McGrath was holding up that sign as evidence that this happens and that that’s a reason to back the Garda proposals for altering the Firearms Act, and there are two main problems with that. Firstly, there’s the fact that it’s a UK road sign, which means he’s paying more attention to his mustache than he is to actual evidence (and the PrimeTime story from a few days ago shows that too). And secondly, the Garda proposals would have no impact on this because they have nothing to do with it. They don’t introduce any new offence for roadsign shooting because they don’t have to – there are already at least six seperate offences covering that (vandalism, destruction of public property, reckless discharge of a firearm, target shooting outside of an authorised range, shooting while less than 60 feet from a road, and breaching the terms of your licence), some of which have been on the Irish lawbooks since 1851. The proposals don’t introduce any measure that would stop this kind of thing, nor do they put more Gardai on patrol to catch someone doing it.

      On top of that, the meeting was to discuss the Policing Plan 2015. The committee’s had other meetings with the Gardai to discuss firearms legislation, both in the Dail and in Garda HQ and McGrath didn’t even show up to half of those, let alone raise this issue at them. And then he hijacked this meeting on a more important topic to get in a bit of sensationalist shouting to get into the papers.

      Oh, and yes, licencing in the UK is less restrictive than here (they can’t have pistols, but their bar to getting a firearm is both lower and more well-defined than it is in Ireland). And our police do come around to your home to check on your secure storage (the local Crime Prevention Officer does it here when you apply for a firearms cert, and the minimum security standards are defined in law and include gun safes and alarms and general security and if the Gardai want you to have more than the minimums, they’re allowed demand it under the law, and yes, that’s stricter than in the UK as well).

      1. Paolo

        You just said that you have seen it happen. QED.

        The laws on gun control are not strict enough

        1. Mark Dennehy

          No Paolo, what I wrote was that I’d seen signs that had been shot. I’ve never seen it happen. If I had, I’d have reported the moron doing it and his firearms would have been taken off him, he would have been charged with six seperate offences and he’d not only be facing hefty jail sentences for a few of those (reckless discharge of a firearm not being a terribly trivial thing in Irish law), but he’d be banned from owning a firearm again.

          In other words the laws on gun control are more than strict enough; but you have to have Gardai out there enforcing them and we’ve been cutting back on their funding and numbers too much. You want to stop this kind of thing? Fund the Gardai. It’s the only thing we know of that actually does affect gun crime. Writing new laws while the old ones go unenforced for lack of resources does absolutely nothing other than let TDs say in the press that they’re doing something. It’s legislative masturbation – lots of fun for the TD involved, but it doesn’t really do anything for anyone else.

      2. Small Wonder

        So if it’s something that does happen, even if it is way out west, doesn’t his point still stand? Does it really matter where he got the picture to illustrate his point?

        1. Mark Dennehy

          Yeah, it matters, because it shows that he has no interest in the point at all, he’s just trying to get in the papers.

          If it actually mattered to him, he’d know how illegal it was, how unnecessary new law is to address it, and how funding the Gardai is what’s required to prevent it in future. But it’s easy to call for new law and hard to call for new money.

        2. Kolmo

          No, If a gobplop with a spray can and an anti-social inclination sees a pristine white wall in the middle of nowhere – the gobplop will probably tag the white wall with his illegible initials – because he is a anti-social gobplop…no amount of adding to existing legislation will prevent this or the above. There already exists plenty of laws for this.

    3. parky mark

      Maybe it’s more got to do with gun security. When I was a teenager we used to sneak my friends dad’s gun out of the house, take it down the fields and then shoot at dumped cars. Yeah, it was stupid, but we were kids. Parents should have a better reign on securing their guns at home. Just because a sign was shot at doesn’t mean it was by someone who legally held a firearm.

      1. Mark Dennehy

        Again, the Gardai have made no proposals to increase the legally mandatory minimums for secure storage of firearms (they don’t need to, they can always ask for more than the minimums if they want to). And yes, leaving your firearm unsecured is an offence and if one of your kids got to it and used it illegally, you’d be legally liable. That’s the normal state of affairs in Europe.

  3. Anomanomanom

    So if i get this post right, We should give all gun owners British signs because they will shoot them and not each other hence lowering gun crime. See the committee’s do work.

  4. Nigel McHugh

    Finian is a curious chap in many respects. He works hard to improve the conditions for children with intellectual problems here, and at the same time champions the Cuban government and State. A country where, for example, any person with an intellectual impairment is explicitly denied the right to vote. Very much a case of tunnel vision, as his one man crusade against sporting guns and shooters demonstrates.

    1. Paolo

      Perhaps he champions the Cuban Government’s long running fight against U.S. imperialism and not their policy on voting rights?

      1. Nigel McHugh

        He never mentions the US and their illogical stance re Cuba (which they use as a handy off shore prison location when it suits). Perhaps he latches onto an idea, or ideal, and blindly pursues that point, ignoring all and any evidence to the contrary?
        As with most politicians, his media outings and sound-bites are ultimately self serving.

    2. Mayor Quimby

      He wants the smoking ban reversed.
      He thinks “No Junk Mail” signs destroy jobs.

      not curious, just a self serving person

  5. Gee-Sock

    In fairness, there’s a road sign up at the Sally Gap that has more holes in it than 50 Cent’s car.

    1. Paolo

      Nope, that can’t be true. We have laws in Ireland and anyone using a gun is 110% responsible. The sign must have gone on holidays to the UK.

  6. Yea, Ok

    In fairness, if you’ve spent much time in the countryside you’d see that this is very, very common. Especially in places like Donegal and the bogs around the midlands (i.e all of the midlands :P).

  7. Barry Burke

    finian is a man who just wants his name in the papers. Nothing else.

    Only in Ireland who you get away with this crap.
    just one more year of this crap, he will be unemployed soon enough

  8. Nigel Norris

    Two things.

    Firstly, Finian is on a Committee that is making recommendations to the Minister for Justice regarding the future of target shooting here in Ireland.

    Here is a man, on that Committee, giving incorrect information to the Garda Commissioner. The sign he used was clearly from another jurisdiction. It’s a UK road sign.

    Secondly, even if the sign was from Ireland, how in the name of God can he tell from the sign that the holes were made by a licensed firearm holder?

    Forensics couldn’t even tell that.

    I would expect more from an elected representative than to be going around giving out false information about licenced firearm owners.

    1. Spartacus

      With you all the way until this: “I would expect more from an elected representative…”

    1. Mani

      I believe ‘no thanks, Finian’ was my response. He still asked for my number one preference. ‘Clampers Ma’ I said wistfully, as I clenched my buttocks, sucked in my gut and continued my ramble down the canal.

  9. ReproBertie

    “McGrath has repeatedly called for greater regulation in firearms licensing. He said, as a result, “the gun lobby have been after me for the last three months”.”
    Three months? No wonder we don’t win medals in Olympic shooting.

    1. Mark Dennehy

      “McGrath has repeatedly called for greater regulation in firearms licensing.”

      He’d be able to call for them more often if he showed up at all the Committee meetings instead of skipping them…

      Not to mention that we already have the tightest firearms laws in Europe, and that he’s never actually said what regulations he had in mind…

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