Firstly, I assume the Deputy is primarily referring to official foreign security personnel who accompany certain persons, such as visiting dignitaries and others, when travelling to this State. The general legal position is that under Section 2(2)(b) of the Firearms (Firearms Certificate for Non-Residents) Act 2000, the Minister for Justice and Equality has a power to grant firearms certificates, including to official foreign security personnel, where it is deemed necessary to do so. This is a normal and established feature of international relations between states.
Decisions in relation to the grant of certificates to official foreign security personnel are made following consultation with An Garda Síochána. As the House will appreciate, for obvious reasons, it is long standing practice not to comment in detail on matters relating to security in such circumstances.
Firearms certificates were granted in respect of a total of 131 such personnel in 2017 and a total of 134 in 2018.
In addition, a number of firearms certificates were issued to State personnel from other jurisdictions in different circumstances. These included certificates granted for ceremonial purposes; to a veterinary team; and foreign defence personnel who were participating in target shooting competitions or target shooting training courses in the State. Separately, firearms certificates for non-residents who wish to shoot in the State for hunting and sporting purposes are issued by An Garda Síochána.