Wednesday 21 March 2018

Man wins right to gun back in spite of children's protests

Greg Harkin

A RETIRED Army lieutenant colonel has won the right to have his shotgun returned after a legal battle involving his own children.

Vincent Blighe (77) once commanded 700 Irish troops in Lebanon and was head of the 28th Battalion, which worked along the Border during the Troubles.

But his shotgun was taken off him by Garda Supt Mary Murray in July last year after claims from his three children that he had a violent temper.

Mr Blighe, a graduate in conflict resolution, had lived in the ancestral home of poet WB Yeats, the Old Rectory, in Drumcliffe, Co Sligo, with his wife Eileen until 2000 when they separated. He has been living in a converted stable at the rear of the home since.

His son Dermot, a freelance film props provider, has been living in the main house since his mother moved into a nursing home two years ago.

At Sligo District Court, Judge Kevin Kilrane overturned the garda's decision to remove his right to hold a shotgun.


However, it's understood Mr Blighe, who has had a firearms licence for 50 years, doesn't plan to ask for his shotgun to be returned.

"This was a matter of principle," said one friend last night, "he felt that as someone who had commanded battalions in the Irish Army, he was being unfairly treated and wanted the right to keep the weapon."

His son Dermot had told the District Court hearing that he had been living "on edge" since moving back into the family home because his father had "an uncontrollable temper".

Mr Blighe's daughter Catherine claimed she did not feel safe visiting her brother because of her father's possession of a shotgun. Another son, Alan, also objected to the gun's return.

But Judge Kilrane ruled in Mr Blighe's favour.

"If Mrs Blighe returns to live in the house again, and that creates an atmosphere of potential danger, that may well lead to the superintendent revoking the certificate. But for the moment, I'm going to allow the appeal," he said.

Irish Independent

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