Game councils go to High Court to challenge lockdown shooting ban

An application has been made to the High Court for leave to apply for judicial review in relation to the ban on individual pheasant shooting during Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions, according to the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC).

However, hearing dates have proved to be an issue in the effort.

In a statement on the matter on Monday (November 9) providing a timeline of events outlining its opposition to the blanket ban on shooting, the NARGC provided an update on proceedings.

The association said that, upon announcement of the ban on pheasant shooting at the end of October, it obtained legal advice.

This, it said, “indicated that any shooter, who engaged in rough shooting on his/her own in order to exercise and complied with current Level 5 restrictions, was not acting in contravention of the current Regulations contained in SI 448/2020”.

The NARGC said it passed this advice on to the Garda Commissioner and relevant ministers but got no response other than “to say that shooting did not come within any exemption under the regulations”.

It said that, on Tuesday, November 3, “the association’s solicitors called on the commissioner to furnish a clarification that rough shooting carried out on an individual basis, in compliance with Level 5 restrictions, is not prohibited by SI 448/220”.

“Again, the only response was that rough shooting did not come within any exemption under the regulations.

On Monday, November 9, the association’s lawyers made an application to the High Court for leave to apply for a judicial review.

Continuing, the NARGC said:

“The application was made in a test case initiated by John Flannery, a member of the Association’s National Executive Committee, and was heard by Mr. Justice Charles Meenan.

“Our counsel told the judge that the association believes that a rough shooter, who complies with Level 5 restrictions and shoots for the purpose of exercise, does not infringe the regulations, and asked for an early hearing date.

Mr. Justice Meenan explained that the application could not be dealt with for a number of weeks and noted that Level 5 restrictions might be lifted in December. Despite the request for an early date, the judge decided to adjourn the application to December 8, 2020.

“The NARGC will continue to engage with government officials and politicians at the highest level, and we ask all our members to continue to engage with their local politicians.

“A further statement will issue as soon as further developments arise,” the association concluded.