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Saturday 23 February 2019

TD calls for elderly to have the right to arm themselves with tasers and pepper spray

Raised the possibility of allowing those over the age of 60 living in rural areas to arm themselves

Michael Fitzmaurice wants firearms in bedrooms Picture: Tom Burke
Michael Fitzmaurice wants firearms in bedrooms Picture: Tom Burke

Caroline Crawford

A rural TD is seeking exemptions for elderly people to keep pepper spray and taser guns in their bedrooms.

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice raised the possibility of allowing those over the age of 60 living in rural areas to arm themselves in this way.

Mr Fitzmaurice tabled his question last Tuesday and said he is eager to see the response from the Justice Minister this week. He insisted that action was needed to ensure people feel safe in their own homes.

"In light of the spate of robberies and elderly people being fearful in their own homes, I've asked the minister would he consent that people over 60 years of age, in liaison with their local gardaí, be given the opportunity to have pepper spray or taser guns in their own bedrooms, which may alleviate their worries and may help prevent them being injured or hurt," he said.

However, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice said these items were "prohibited weapons" and there were no plans to change this.

Asked about the concern that such items could be taken from the homeowner by raiders and used against them, Mr Fitzmaurice replied: "I would say if a person had pepper spray or a taser they are at a better chance of fighting raiders off.

"It would be a deterrent to criminals. If I knew there was pepper spray or a stunner in the house, I might not be as fond of going in."

He also called for homeowners to be given the right to store legally held firearms in their bedrooms.

"Instead of having a gun locked down in the kitchen, it should be locked in the bedroom. They would have a better chance to defending themselves," he said.

The TD for Roscommon-South Leitrim said he held out little hope after a previous proposal he made to allow people to patrol their areas in a van was labelled vigilantism.

"I brought it up with the superintendents about getting two or three parishes together to run a van around. I'm not saying we'd go around with pickaxes or anything like that, but straight away they said we would be vigilantes," he said.

Irish Independent

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