The organisation representing gun owners has said it has written to Taoiseach Micheál Martin asking him to remove Minister of State for heritage and electoral reform, Malcolm Noonan, from the latter’s role in overseeing the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) claimed in the letter that Minister Noonan “is not a fit or proper person to hold this portfolio”, due to his identifying as an animal rights activist.

The letter to the Taoiseach says: “The minister [Noonan] describes himself as an animal rights activist, which is very different from a person who may love nature and animals.”

The NARGC claimed: “[The minister’s] views are in the ‘extreme zone’ and would directly conflict with many of the norms and well-established practices which the NPWS would oversee, licence and regulate on a daily basis”.

The letter then goes on to list what the NARGC believes are examples of this “conflict”, which partially relate (among other issues) to a recently adopted plan at EU level for a future ban on lead ammunition in and around wetlands.

The NARGC goes on to say: “Minister Noonan’s role as minister [in charge of] the NPWS places responsibility on him to deal with many wildlife issues that would be the polar opposite of his beliefs as an animal rights activist.

[The NARGC] submits that unless he abandons all his beliefs, he cannot fulfil his role in this department in a balanced and appropriate manner.

The gun owners’ association’s letter says: “You [the Taoiseach] have the responsibility to ensure that your ministers deal with their portfolios and remits in a fair and impartial way and leave their own personal agendas outside the doors of their ministerial offices.

“Since this minister [Noonan] took up his role, we resolutely believe he has not done this,” the NARGC claimed.