Concerns have been voiced by MEP Matt Carthy over proposed new EU legislation that would “force Irish farmers, hunters and gun-owners to pay millions of euro to replace their shotguns”.

The Midlands North West MEP was speaking after he attended the fifth ICTSF World English Sporting Championship hosted by the Irish Clay Target Shooting Association at Dowth, Co. Meath, last Saturday, July 6.

During his visit Carthy met with representatives of the Clay Target Shooting Association to discuss the proposals. He was disappointed that the Government has failed, thus far, to engage in talks with gun-owners about the proposals.

Commenting, Carthy said: “EU and Irish Government officials are seeking to ban the use of lead in shooting and fishing, making over 100,000 guns in Ireland completely obsolete.

“Consultation with game clubs has been almost non-existent.

We are looking at a situation where 70% to 80% of shotguns in Ireland will be rendered unusable and the cost of replacing these guns could amount to over €150 million.

The MEP noted that farmers account for more than half of gun users in Ireland.

“With the cost of replacing a gun ranging between €750 to €1,000, this is imposing a major financial burden on many hard-pressed individuals,” he said.

“If owners seek to have their guns modified to comply with the new legislation which bans lead shot in favour of steel, they cannot do so in this country as the facilities for doing so simply don’t exist here.

The only option open to gun owners is to send their gun to Britain to be modified at a cost of anything up to €300 per gun.

Accusing both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil of enacting the European proposal which he said has caused “further alienation in rural communities”, the Sinn Féin MEP added:

“The EU proposals, as they currently stand, are unworkable and costly and are essentially tokenistic because they will result in the withdrawal from conservation measures, a key constituency in the delivery of them, namely farmers and game clubs.

“Sinn Féin strongly supports the sustainable pursuit of traditional rural occupations including hunting and fishing, which are vital to the life and economy of rural Ireland.

“I have been engaging with both the commissioner and European Ombudsman on this issue and will continue to work closely with game councils and conservation organisations to ensure that there is a full and robust dialogue process before the enaction of this legislation is further contemplated,” Carthy concluded.