TD Finian McGrath has denied claims that he used a UK road sign damaged by a shotgun to call for the tightening of Irish gun laws.
The Dublin North–Central deputy has been on the receiving end of some serious social media flak after he interrupted a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice on Wednesday to hold up a photo of a road sign that, he said, had been shot at close range with “a legally held firearm”.
“There are a lot of shotguns and rifles lying around in sheds, and there’s been a couple of instances were legally owned firearms have been used in crimes,” he told Independent.ie.
“The background to this was that a concern member of the public sent me in these signs from around the country, showing where high powered rifles had been used to destroy road signs.”
“Now people are saying these photos weren’t taken in the country at all… [but] I’ve look at the photos and as far as I’m concerned they are.”
Dismissing suggestions that he might have been setup, deputy McGrath said he had “total confidence” in the individual who had asked him to present the photos to new Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.
“I’ve been calling for a tighten of regulation for Irish firearms as a lot of people have been lobbying me for stronger gun control,” he said.
“The gun lobby gets very upset about this and more or less likes to give out about me whenever I speak out about poor gun ownership.”
“Some of the areas where the signs were attacked are down in Wicklow and Carlow; areas that are very popular with the public. If someone had been out walking, we could have had a very tragic accident.”
Mr McGrath told Independent.ie that he was only interested in stopping “irresponsible gun ownership”, adding that he wanted to stop any drive towards “US style legalisation”.
“I make no apologies for my stance. There are 200,000 legally owned firearms in Ireland and I want to see strong regulation to ensure we don’t see what’s happened in other countries.”
“I don’t want to go down the US route… and have some kid see daddy’s gun and decided to bring it in to the playground or to school to show off."
“I’ve no problem with those that lock up their guns and have proper security… [but] there’s a rump within the Irish society that are happy to leave their rifles and shotguns just laying about in barns and sheds in front of children.”