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24/07/2021

New EU laws to hit Donegal gun owners

Concern: Thousands of farmers will be affected by change

New EU laws to hit Donegal gun owners

New laws will cause problems claim farmers

Thousands of farmers across Donegal are worried that new EU legislation passed yesterday will force them into decommissioning their guns ...and as a result pose potential risks to their livestock.

The decision to ban the use of lead ammunition in and around wetlands has been backed by the European Parliament but according to the IFA chief in Donegal, Brendan McLaughlin, this will also affect huge areas of the county and impose huge costs on farmers who will be forced to comply with the new regulations.

Farmers in particular have been very critical of the idea of this ban for some time now, highlighting the cost of replacing guns that are not suitable for firing steel ammunition, the most readily available replacement for lead.

The proposal centres around birds that inhabit wetland areas ingesting lead ammunition and being poisoned. It will also affect hunters, sports’ shooters and competitive clay shooters here too.

Mr McLaughlin, who is chairman of the Donegal IFA county executive committee, said the decision would affect thousands of farmers here.
"The majority of farmers in Donegal have a gun. These will now have to be decommissioned because most are not suited to the new steel ammunition that will replace the lead ones."

He added while those who purchased guns over the past two or three years or so might be okay, there was still going to be a big outlay for those who needed to get new guns now that the lead ammunition was illegal.

"We will be looking for a grant aid if we have to decommission what we have before we purchase any new firearm. Will will have to consider seeking compensation from the Government for gun-owning farmers.

Mr McLaughlin explained a firearm was very important on any farm adding farmers had shown a responsible attitude to them here for years.

"A farmer would need a gun to protect his livestock and deal with vermin. It's unreal when you hear the stories of our animals being attacked. It can leave a serious mess, a trail of destruction.

“We are very conscious of protected wildlife and we don't touch them but there are vermin that also attack crops,” he said.

He added a gun was only used to protect a farmer's livestock and livelihood and it also gave him added security, particularly individuals that lived in isolated areas.

"A lot of members here in Donegal and particularly Inishowen, have expressed their concerns about the new EU decision. At the moment I understand our only option is to buy a new gun and dispose of the old one and the ammunition too."

The IFA chairman added there were a lot of wetlands in Donegal and protection of environment measures which they had to respect but this had to be matched by consideration for the farmers outlay because of the new regulations.

"You can't clap your hands and tell whatever is worrying your livestock to just go away - that's why they need a gun. Realistically this is another outlay farmers could be doing without.

“Indeed I'd say a lot of farmers may not purchase a replacement gun.

"If a farmer brings in his gun to be decommissioned, he will have to be grant aided to purchase a new one. The danger is, and we will be highlighting this, if a farmer uses steel ammunition in his old gun, it could bust the gun and would be highly dangerous," he said.

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