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“It could put thugs out of action”: TD on legalising pepper spray

Several years ago, Michael Fitzmaurice TD called to legalise stun guns and pepper spray for self-defence in the event of a home invasion. Now, in an exclusive interview with Gript, he has reiterated that call.

Currently, under Irish law, both tasers and pepper spray are considered illegal under the Firearms Act. However, Fitzmaurice has previously argued that they could be useful tools for citizens to protect themselves.

“In rural parts of Ireland there might be one garda squad car in a 40 to 50 mile radius,” he told the Irish Sun in 2018.

“With the best will in the world they might not be able to respond in time if there were scumbags breaking into a house.”

Speaking to the Journal.ie around the same time, he added:

“I am a firm believer that if someone comes into your house in the middle of the night, they are not coming in for a cup of tea, and whatever you have to take them on with, I wouldn’t have any sympathy for them.”

However, the idea was shot down by then-Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan at the time, who said “The Firearms Acts apply to pepper sprays and electroshock weapons. I have no plans to amend these provisions.”

“PUT THUGS OUT OF ACTION”

However, in a new exclusive 2022 interview with Gript about law and order, Fitzmaurice said “I stand by what I said – especially for elderly people, that may be afraid in their homes.”

The new comments come as Ireland has seen a rise in rapes, sex offences, child abductions, assaults, shootings, bank robberies, burglaries, kidnappings, extortion, drug importation, and harrassment since last year, according to the CSO.

“At the end of the day, if you can put some of these thugs that come into your house out of action for a short while, and the Gardaí can come, I don’t see why it should be a problem,” the Roscommon-Galway TD said.

“But unfortunately the State at the moment doesn’t seem to be in the mood for that.”

JUSTICE SYSTEM IS “A REVOLVING DOOR”

Fitzmaurice argued that even crimes like robbery have a profound impact on the victim.

“[The justice system] is clearly a revolving door,” he said.

“And when you hear a story that someone was robbed, it’s a news story on the television or in the newspaper for a day. But it’s them poor divils that have to live with it for the rest of their lives that feel the fear of it. And there aren’t enough backup services for the likes of them.”

He also argued that rural people live in areas that are “more secluded,” and thus police may struggle to respond to crimes in a timely manner.

“In rural Ireland you have a higher percentage of elderly people, who might be living on byroads, and wouldn’t have the facilities of contacting people,” he said, adding: “I think we shouldn’t hold back in any way in making sure we protect them.”

ALERT SYSTEMS NO GOOD AGAINST MOTORWAY GANGS

“We have some community alert systems,” he said.

“But being honest with you, that’s not going to nab a motorway gang, who does a quick hit down the motorway and then go back to the different areas they’re from.”

While he acknowledged that there was a danger in such a weapon being turned on the user by a criminal, Fitzmaurice said it was worth the risk overall.

“If it was me, I’d risk it,” he said.

“[It’s better] than people living in fear in an area that has less Garda resources. Even if only as a comfort to them, we should be prepared to offer it.”

DO DRUG DEALERS PAY TAX?

When asked his thoughts on Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s plan to make drug dealers pay more tax, Fitmaurice smirked, saying: “Do drug dealers pay tax?”

“Most of the drug dealers I would have seen are unemployed according to the papers,” he said.

“So I don’t know how you can tax someone who’s unemployed, but maybe you can. Some of them are on a lot more money that most who are earning a living, that’s for sure.”

 

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