Soldier must prove his good character to get a gun licence

A SOLDIER who provides armed escort on cash deliveries but who was refused a shot-gun licence because of former drug and alcohol issues will have to wait a further four months to prove his good character to the court.

A SOLDIER who provides armed escort on cash deliveries but who was refused a shot-gun licence because of former drug and alcohol issues will have to wait a further four months to prove his good character to the court.

Alan Kirwan (25), Jamestown, Ballybrittas was refused the licence in 2010 because Garda Superintendent Philip Lyons’ inquiries indicated that he had a severe alcohol problem and in an interview with the senior garda, he admitted he’d taken cocaine.

But now, as a three star private in the Defence Forces, who is armed while on public duty with cash-in-transit vans, Kirwan was before Portlaoise District Court appealing Supt Lyons’ decision.

Retired Supt Lyons told the court that he’d considered the application when it came in on June 1 2010, but because of Kirwan’s “intemperate habits” felt he was not fit to hold a shotgun.

He said there were reports on file of Kirwan being drunk and disorderly in Monasterevin and Portarlington, though these did not lead to prosecutions, and he’d been told by a professional source that Kirwan was an alcoholic.

-When Kirwan came to see the superintendent about the refusal, he admitted he’d used cocaine but denied he was an alcoholic.

Dr Denis O’Dwyer said he had been aware of the firearms application and had given verbal information to gardai but told the court his patient was not being treated for alcohol addiction.

He said Kirwan came to him because of a rapid heart rate, which it emerged had arisen from cocaine use over two months.

He said Kirwan came off cocaine but had been drinking more than he should because of anxiety. He did not have an alcohol problem, he was just young and foolish, the doctor said.

He is now satisfied Kirwan is drug free and said he hasn’t taken alcohol in a number of months.

Kirwan agreed with this, saying the cocaine incident had “terrified” him, and that he knows he can’t drink.

Under cross examination by Inspector Harrington, he admitted he faces a drink driving prosecution and was also involved in two separate public order incidents in Kildare and Carlow this year.

Kirwan, represented by solicitor Ann Manning, also said he’s been involved in shooting since he was a boy with his father and would be devastated if he couldn’t get a licence.

He has done several courses with guns in the army and represents the Curragh’s rifle team, but he can only be an official rather than participant at his local clay pigeon shooting club.

“Shooting is my only hobby, that’s what I do,” he said, adding that it is more important than drinking and that’s why he has given up alcohol.

Judge Early said the superintendent’s original decision was entirely justified and that someone who drinks to excess on a regular basis to the extent that he is involved in public order and drink driving incidents, should not hold a gun licence.

However, he adjourned the case for four months to March 21 to allow Kirwan attend an alcohol awareness course and prove his sobriety.

If there is evidence of that, the judge said he will look favourably on the application.