Minister Ciaran Cannon has this week hit out at ‘flippant language’ by an Independent TD on the issue of using force against burglars, warning that the use of force by householders in the event of encountering an intruder should always be the very last resort.
Minister Cannon made the statement following comments by Dep Michael Fitzmaurice on local radio this week, which the Minister believes might encourage householders to take the law into their own hands and use firearms to attack burglars.
“I find the reference by Michael Fitzmaurice on Galway Bay FM to intruders getting ‘a bit of lead’ to be an immoderate use of language,” he said. “The Criminal Law (Defence and Dwelling Act ) 2011 takes account of the lawful right of a householder to use reasonable force to protect themselves within the circumstances they believe themselves to be in.
The use of force, however, should always be the very last resort in such a context and I would respectfully suggest that Michael Fitzmaurice be more cautious in using terminology that could actually be perceived as an encouragement for people to ‘shoot first and ask questions later’.
“We should be careful of using flippant language in describing such a frightening reality,” Minister Cannon warned. “Confronting an unlawful intruder is a dreadful experience for any householder to contemplate, and the first point of reference should always be to call An Garda Síochána.
“This Government has been actively engaged in tackling rural crime at all levels from the availability of funding for community text alert schemes and CCTV installations, including the delivery of almost 1,100 personal alarms for senior citizens here in Galway in the past two years. These are initiatives that not only help deal with individual crimes but take a comprehensive approach.
“Making offhand statements about the use of force by householders is all very well, but the reality of confronting an intruder is quite a different matter with too many unknowns in terms of consequences,” he added. “The proper authority for dealing with criminals is An Garda Síochána and it behoves public representatives to temper their language when speaking on this issue and urge members of the public to make the gardaí their first port of call in threatening circumstances,” he concluded.