I propose to take Questions Nos. 453 to 455, inclusive, together.
As the Deputy is aware, in light of public safety concerns highlighted by the Garda Síochána and difficulties in the interpretation of the legislation expressed by members of the Judiciary, my Department is currently examining key policy, legislative, administrative and other issues relating to firearms licensing in conjunction with the Garda Síochána. I expect to receive and consider a report in relation to these matters in the near future. When I have considered that report I will consider what further action is necessary in relation to the firearms licensing system, including the proposal from interest groups for an examination of relevant administrative issues by the Garda Inspectorate.
Officials of my Department met key interest groups in late 2013 and early 2014 who set out their concerns in relation to a range of issues regarding firearms licensing at that time. These interest groups have also communicated their views directly to me, as well as to all Oireachtas members. Further consultation with relevant stakeholders will take place when I have considered the report and before any decisions are finalised in relation to proposals for change to the firearms licensing system. I will decide on the nature of the consultation and what meetings are appropriate at the time I am considering the report.
In so far as a risk assessment is concerned, I am advised that the draft report has regard to recent relevant EU Commission reports and developments in other jurisdictions in relation to public safety. However, I should say that it is difficult to see how any risk assessment could foresee the tragic events in Dunblane, Scotland in 2006, Utoya, Norway in 2011, Sandy Hook, Connecticut in 2012 or Santa Barbara, California in May 2014. Mass shootings are happening with increasing frequency and a common theme is that the firearms used are legally owned. I think it is only right that we consider options now, rather than endure a similar tragedy here, when people will rightly ask why we as legislators did nothing to prevent it.