Pheasant shooting season lockdown in Laois/Offaly is 'OTT' claims Sinn Féin TD who calls for 'common sense'

Conor Ganly & Justin Kelly

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Conor Ganly & Justin Kelly

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Pheasant shooting season lockdown in Laois/Offaly is 'OTT' claims Sinn Féin TD who calls for 'common sense'

Common sense is needed to relax the ban on pheasant shooting which is completely over the top and defies logic according to Laois Offaly Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley.

He said the season is due to start this Sunday but the Regional Games Council (RGC) executives in the midlands have been told that it can’t go ahead as normal due to Corvid level 5 restrictions.

"The ban on the pheasant shooting season as completely over the top. This defies reason and logic. This activity is typically carried out in pairs, who in any case, have to social distance and can only be in rural settings. Often, it’s in isolated locations such as remote farmland, marshes or woodlands. Surely anyone with an ounce of common sense would know that these are the least likely place that covid would exist or spread," he said.

The TD said the Regional Games Council sought guidance from two government departments over a fortnight ago.

"The latest information I have is that they still await a response. They have also sought information from the Departments of Justice, Health and Agriculture in the past few days and have not received a response. This is unacceptable," he said.

Dep Stanley said the National RGC have issued their own guidelines to county affiliates which he said take a very responsible approach. He said this includes only hunting within 5 km of home, travelling separately, no gathering of more than two people either indoor or outdoor, social distancing and sanitising.

"I’m calling here for a bit of common sense and for the Government to allow this season to go ahead as normal," said Dep Stanley.

In a statement on the issue, An Garda Síochana said: "Pheasant shooting season begins on Sunday, November 1. This normally involves shooting club members travelling to pheasant shoots around the country, frequently in groups, and is regarded as sport shooting.
 
"Under the current regulations SI 448 [Level 5], sporting events must be organised under the structure/licence of a national governing body, funded by Sport Ireland. As such, sport shooting is prohibited in any other circumstances.
 
"Recreational hunting does not fall under any of the exemptions allowed for exercise or sporting events. It has also been clarified that recreational hunting does not come under any permissible exemptions for travel outside of the home," they said. 

The one exception is the shooting of vermin such as rats, foxes and crows, which is permissible as an essential support service to the farming and agriculture profession.

 The National Association of Regional Game Councils has said in a statement that it is seeking "legal advice on the situation" and will give further clarification before Sunday. Association chairman Dan Curley disagreed with the Gardaí.

"An Garda Síochana is erring in its interpretation of the activity of pheasant shooting," he said.

The said so-called 'rough pheasant shooting, as distinct from driven pheasant shooting' does not fall within restrictions under SI 448 announced by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and referenced by gardaí in their statement.