Concerns grow that lead shot ban will be backed by EU Parliament

Concerns are growing among gun owners that a proposal to ban the use of lead ammunition in and around wetlands will be backed by the European Parliament.

The Environment Committee of the parliament will vote on the European Commission’s proposal next week, most likely on October 28 or 29. It is expected that the full parliament will vote along the same lines as the committee.

Of the 80 MEPs on the committee, two are Irish, while there are also two substitute members from Ireland.

The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) has been heavily critical of the ban proposal, highlighting the cost of replacing guns that are not suitable for firing steel shot, the most readily available replacement for lead shot.

The NARGC have also argued that (citing research on the matter), that the commission’s “alleged problem is non-existent in Ireland”.

The proposal centers around birds that inhabit wetland areas ingesting lead pellets and being poisoned.

The NARGC have also highlighted what it views as an excessively broad definition of “wetland”, and what it calls a “presumption of guilt” against those carrying a gun around these areas.

In a statement today (Thursday, October 22), NARGC chairperson Dan Curley accused the European Commission of breeching the EU’s own regulations to “pursue a path to get this over the line irrespective of the consequences”, labelling the process “undemocratic”.

The two full Irish members of the Environment Committee are Grace O’Sullivan from the Green Party, and independent Mick Wallace. The substitute members are Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher and Fine Gael’s Colm Markey (originally Mairead McGuinness, who was replaced by Markey in the parliament when she was appointed to the commission).

The two substitute members, Markey and Kelleher, have both indicated that they are opposed to the proposed ban.

However, the two voting MEPs have not indicated this, and in fact O’Sullivan has indicated that she would vote in favour of it, while Wallace is understood to be undecided as of yet.

Referring to O’Sullivan, Curley said: “We hope she explains the rationale for her decision to the people who voted for her in the Ireland South constituency.”

Regarding Wallace, the NARGC chairperson said: “Mick has exposed bad governance in the past when a TD in the Dáil, and we hope he keeps those principles to the fore.

“All our MEPs should be rejecting this and doing all in their power with their European party colleagues to see that this is rejected,” Curley added.