News Update July - August 2012
All we Ask for is a Fair Deal will meet all the necessary checks and administration work by the PSNI. The licensing regime needs to be efficient and represent value for money, while delivering a high standard of public service to meet customer expectation. Other proposals the Minister is seeking views on relate to enabling a firearms dealer to substitute one firearm for another within specific bands and provisions concerning non Northern Ireland residents visiting Northern Ireland with firearms for sporting purposes. Proposals include:Dear Member and Supporter I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that the Justice Minister, David Ford, has published for consultation a number of proposals relating to firearms licensing in Northern Ireland. Responses are invited on proposals to vary the firearms licensing fees and reduce the age at which young people can use shotguns and airguns. The PSNI are responsible for managing the firearms licensing regime in Northern Ireland and currently it costs the PSNI more to run the scheme than they recover in fees. According to the Department it is estimated that based on the current licensing fees, the PSNI only recover on average 36% of the costs of administering the regime.
• Reducing the age at which young people can use shotguns and airguns, with a kinetic energy in excess of 1 joule, to 12 years of age in certain circumstances. The young person must be supervised at all times by a person who is at least 21 and who holds and has held a Firearm Certificate (FAC) for the type of firearm in question for at least 3 years. • The fee structure will change to a fee for an application for a FAC from a fee for the granting of a FAC. Currently there is no charge to the applicant if they are not granted a firearm certificate. The proposed new fees are designed to enable the recovery of the full cost of the firearms licensing service delivered by the PSNI.
• All applicants will be charged £120 when submitting a licence application. If successful, the applicant will be The Justice Minister considers this granted a FAC and this is would be to be unsustainable in the long term. covered by the cost of the application. While he understands that no-one The cost of granting of a firearms would welcome an increase in fees, certificate would therefore in effect he believes the proposals represent a increase from £50 to £120. A firearms realistic cost for the administration of dealer’s certificate would increase from such an important service. £150 to £697. The proposals in the consultation include setting the fees at a level that
• Extending the current provision introduced by Section 103 of the Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, which allows a firearms dealer to vary any firearm for that of the same calibre and type. We would propose to introduce a ‘banded system’ that would allow dealers to vary firearms within specific bands. • Remove the need for the Chief Constable to issue certificates of approval for a holder of a firearms certificate or shotgun certificate in Great Britain, who wishes to travel to Northern Ireland with their firearm(s). It is the aim of Countryside Alliance Ireland to extend this proposal to include R of I firearm certificate holders too. As your representative we will be vigoursly fighting these increases and challenging the criteria and methodology used in arriving at the proposed new fees. Indeed, we will be working closely with BASC NI, the Gun Trade Guild (N.I.), and other groups to formulate a comprehensive and detailed response that will stand up to scruitny. CAI has already had meetings with members of the Justice Committee who welcome and value our input. The consultation will run until 20th September 2012. Email your thoughts to jenny@caireland. org by Friday 7 September 2012.
Unforgettable Memories Now for the crème de la crème: On our last night, with conditions not exactly the way we wanted, we decided to have a cup of coffee and pulled up on Lynch’s Point. There were plenty of ‘Spents’ on the water but no fish moving. As we were about to get into the boat a fish of about 3lb. surfaced at the point. We covered him in a drift but he wasn’t interested and we were tossing up whether to head in when I decided to phone Bill and Philip, my other son, to see how they were progressing.
It was late May when the Mallusk Angling Society descended on the quiet village of Finea in County Westmeath for their annual Mayfly visit, something which they have been doing for the last twenty-five-plus years, staying in the Innyside Lodge and being, as usual, made more than welcome and looked after by Mary, Stephen, Aine and Noel. Of course, there was a little imbibing at the end of the day in Watty’s Rock, a named island on Lough Sheelin and a named bar run by Mary and Tony in the village. A regular with the party was our President, Sam Mills, who was instrumental in forming our Society, and was accompanied by his son Ian, all the way from Earlysville, Virginia. Our club has been coming through all the lean times and now, thank goodness, things are beginning to look up on the Lough. Let’s hope the Government doesn’t let things deteriorate and recognises how valuable this place is for all who benefit from, and appreciate, this gem. We had never experienced Mediterranean weather like this before; a dilemma, as we tried to wear as little as possible, yet cover up to prevent sunburn which can be severe as anyone out on water can testify if they haven’t taken proper precautions. For the first two days fishing was difficult although there was plenty of insect life including Spent Gnats, artificials of which we employ to tempt the trout which can grow to enormous proportions in this limestone lough. On the Monday morning, travelling up the river, we watched shoals of coarse fish (I think they were roach) and enjoyed the many species of wildfowl,
a healthy sign on any river. Emerging on to the lough, Michael (my son and ghillie) and I were met with what I call a corduroy ripple, a small wave, which I prefer. Undecided as to where to go, he suggested just taking our time, looking to see if anything was moving, and we headed round to Sally’s Island for an exploratory drift. As we came round the lee of the island a fish leaped out of the water. Michael said it was sporting itself and wasn’t feeding. The wind died as we drifted, then came back forming a calm for about twenty yards. I cast into the edge of the ripple and a moment or two later there was an explosion at my floating fly. I struck, and to my amazement the tail of a big trout broke the surface as he turned down. With nerves jangling, and afraid he might come off, I put as much pressure on as I dared. After about twenty minutes he came to the net, a beautiful Sheelin trout of 5lb.9oz., up to then the biggest fish I had got there. A number of years back, in the same bay, I caught another of just under 4lb., so I’ve been extremely fortunate in this area. We fished for the rest of the week, with no rain but the wind awkward at times, and there were a number of fish up to around 5lb. caught. At this stage there were around ten of us, as some had to go home earlier, and every day, before going out, we called at the local farm shop for provisions for a barbecue in the afternoon. What with the good food, craic and odd bottle of wine we had a ‘ball’, leaving the evenings free for, hopefully, the fall of the Spent Gnat for which conditions have to be right.
They informed us they were on a drift out from Chambers and had seen a number of fish moving. It took us about ten minutes to get round and we started a drift from Plunketts, further down from them, and saw a number of fish in the ‘slicks’; calm areas between the waves where insects tend to gather. We then went back to where we had started the original drift and after about five minutes noticed a ‘rise’. There were two ‘slicks’ running roughly parallel, Michael taking the one to the left. I cast to the one on right, noticed a rise below my flies, and then the fish taking my own. I heard Michael shouting ‘strike’ but at the same instant I tightened into the fish, and what a fish. He took off like a torpedo, taking my fly-line and a lot of my backing before I managed somehow to slow him up. What excitement we experienced as he would run toward the boat, with me frantically trying to hand-line to keep contact, and then him going on run after run. Eventually, after about twenty-five minutes, we netted him, a beautiful Sheelin trout of just under 8lb. After photographs were taken he was returned. I couldn’t have had the success I had without all the help from my son Michael, especially with the netting and returning of this specimen. At breakfast the following morning Andrew, a veteran angler on Sheelin, came down and shook my hand, saying: ‘Welcome to the Sheelin Over-7lb. Club’. Nearly into my seventh decade, I thought it was a lovely tribute and a fitting end to an unforgettable Lough Sheelin trip. by one of our esteemed members, known as ‘Ould Hand’
Launch of IRGA ‘All About Us’ Leaflet in starting grouse projects throughout Ireland. Representatives from existing projects were in attendance to share information, experiences and tips on new methods of conservation.
The Irish Red Grouse Association (IRGA) officially launched their new ‘All About Us’ Leaflet last weekend in Attanagh, County Laois.
The speakers present all provided an informative and useful presentation and many valid points of action were raised throughout the course of the day. These tips will prove useful as a CAI Perpetual Trophy will be presented annually,
The event was kindly hosted by Walter Phelan at his Irish Fly Fishing and Game Shooting Museum and the opportunity to view the popular museum can only have assisted in the large crowd that attended the event. The leaflet will be readily available for distribution and can be found on the CAI stand at the remaining game and country fairs. It is very informative reading, especially for those interested
Lord Meath and Jim Fitzharris, on behalf of CAI, had the pleasure of presenting a collection of rare books on grouse to Walter Phelan for the museum. Walter commented that his involvement with the IRGA was a pleasure and reminded everyone that the library in the museum is open to anybody for research purposes. The day was a great success and one thought everyone left with is that no grouse project is an island unto itself, but rather is part of an enlarging archipelago that will succeed in restoring grouse to their rightful place as the most plentiful game species in the country.
together with a cheque for €500, to the project which has achieved most in grouse conservation.
Lobby Your MEP on Lead Shot
Countryside Alliance Ireland Chief Executive, Lyall Plant, urges you to get active on lead shot and lobby your MEP. The debate over lead ammunition has been running for many years now. Domestically, those that oppose its use have consistently failed to produce any proven scientific evidence to support a ban. Moreover, faced such a lack of evidence, opponents continually switch between environmental and health issues in their vain attempt at gaining public support. A further threat comes from the European
Union. The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) started to look into the issues of all uses of lead. As part of their research, they instructed a company to collect evidence as to the level of use of lead ammunition around Europe. This was responded to jointly by all the shooting organisations through FACE.
Our shooting is too important to the environment and the rural economy to be decided by Brussels.
Countryside Alliance Ireland believes that these threats on lead are unjustified. As far as the shooting community are concerned, those that want it completely banned have consistently failed to produce evidence that would support a ban. Granted, if someone finds and proves incontrovertibly that lead causes serious damage to health or wildlife then we are willing to discuss. Until that point the status quo must remain.
Our members in the Republic of Ireland can email their MEP.
We further believe this threat from Europe could be greater than the one we face domestically. Shooting throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland would be disproportionately affected if there were a blanket ban on lead use across Europe.
Our members in Northern Ireland can log on to the Countryside Alliance GB website at www.countryside-alliance. org and use the e-lobby facility.
Our Irish MEP’s are Liam Alyward, Marian Harkin, Mairead McGuinness and Phil Prendergast and their email addresses are below. firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org. eu email@example.com Lobby your MEP on the issue of lead shot now!
Your Help is Needed The Ulster Wildlife Trust are attempting to address the issues causing the decline of barn owls by working with organisations and private landowners to help make small, inexpensive and potentially profitable changes in the management of their land to help the barn owl thrive. John Woolsey, the Ulster Wildlife Trust Barn Owl Officer, will also be raising awareness about barn owls with landowners and schools and along with a dedicated team of volunteers, he will be undertaking surveys to establish barn owl nest locations. If you have any information on barn owl nesting sites or would like to report a barn owl sighting, please contact John on 028 4483 3977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, so that we can help this wonderful species. Any reports will be treated with the upmost confidence.
Sightings of Barn Owl Required The barn owl is one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic species, but unfortunately one of the most endangered, with less than 30 to 55 breeding pairs estimated to be left in Northern Ireland. The main reason for the bird’s decline is loss of suitable feeding and nesting sites. Without adequate rough grassland, there are fewer small mammals such as wood mouse and pygmy shrew for the barn owl to feed on. Rough grassland also encourages small mammals to break cover from the hedgerows and woodlands where they are concentrated, into areas where barn owls can hunt.
Another Call for Sightings of Curlew As a proactive conservation force, the Irish Red Grouse Association (IRGA) is assisting Birdwatch Ireland and calling for all country sports enthusiasts to be vigilant and to report any sightings of curlew to them in order that they may gauge and monitor the populations in each county. At present the IRGA are focussing mainly on the Monaghan, Cavan and Leitrim areas. If you would like to be a part of the survey, please forward any useful information or sightings to Vincent Flannelly at email@example.com or contact Vincent on +353 (0) 87 612 2568.
Bits and Pieces MLA Launches Horse Consultation
Discounted Country Fair Tickets
Sandra Overend, an MLA for MidUlster has launched a consultation on her Private Members’ Bill which aims to reclassify the horse from a domestic to an agricultural animal. The reasons behind this move are cited as ‘rates, welfare and traceability’.
CAI is once again pleased to be able to offer our members discounted tickets for the National Country Fair, to be held at Borris House, County Carlow on the 4th and 5th August 2012. We are offering two tickets for the price of one – two tickets for €15.
The consultation period runs until 3rd August 2012, and a copy can be accessed from Ms Overend’s website. CAI will be submitting a response and we would appreciate any opinions or reservations our members may have regarding this proposal. Please email your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 20 July 2012.
To avail of this offer please contact one of our offices: the Courtlough office on 01 690 3610 or the Lisburn office on 028 9263 9911. Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012 in Seanad The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2012 has completed all stages through the Seanad. The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Wildlife Acts to make provision for an extension of the current hunting licence provisions of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010, which allow a hunter who is in possession of a firearm certificate for a shotgun to shoot wild birds and
hares during the open seasons. The amendment provides for the removal of the specified end date for the applicability of the current hunting licence provisions included in the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010. Thus, any firearm certificates issued for shotguns after 1 August 2009 will be valid to be used by hunters to lawfully hunt wild birds and hares within the appropriate open seasons. Game & Country Fairs Calendar for 2012 CAI will also be in attendance at the following events this summer: Date and Event Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 August 2012 - National Country Fair, Borris House, County Carlow Saturday 25 & Sunday 26 August 2012 - Irish Game & Country Fair, Birr Castle, County Offaly Come along and enjoy the best Ireland has to offer!