Michael D. Higgins has seen his popularity soar in recent years being elected as President of Ireland on two occasions, it wasn’t always the case as Cian O Broin outlines.
In 1997, a congregation of Clare gunmen set their targets on the then Minister for Arts and Culture, Michael D. Higgins. The proposal from the Minister outlined a management plan for the Burren region whereby recreational sport shooting would no longer be permitted due to the IUCN World Conservation Union criteria for national parks.
The gunmen of Clare, in the legal sense, quickly accused Minister Higgins of denying what they had deemed to be a traditional right of theirs. The challenge to the Minister was launched by the National Association of Regional Game Councils, a body representing over 22,000 members within Ireland and a total of 1,100 Clare gunmen.
A meeting in Ennis was held in January of 1997 to address the issue, with a collection of public representatives as well as members of Clare gun clubs hoping to stop Minister Michael D. Higgins in his tracks.
NARGC director Des Crofton criticised the Irish government for accepting fees for firearms certificates and hunting fees whilst simultaneously banning the right of hunters to practice their craft. Mr. Crofton also outlined that there were no species listed on the endangered lists in any of the national parks within the state.
Following the meeting at the Auburn Lodge in Ennis, some 1,100 Clare gunmen warned public representatives of the repercussions if the hunting ban in the Burren wasn’t lifted immediately.
Seats at the next election were threatened by Des Crofton in a bid to scare public representatives and demonstrate the power held by the densely populated gun clubs and enthusiasts within the county.
Clare TD Tony Killeen was in support of the Clare gunmen admonishing that it was people like them that paid for public lands through taxes.
The meeting was adjourned following the unanimous acceptance that gross negligence and incompetency was shown by Minister Higgins in understanding the rights of hunters and the application of taxpayer’s contribution to the government.