NI fee increase plans revealed

Northern Ireland’s Firearms Consultation has proposed drastic increases fees for firearm certificates and firearms dealers’ certificates, it has emerged.

The exact details and implications of these proposals, which are part of the NI Firearms Consultation, are being examined at Stormont before they are made public.

BASC has discovered that the draft consultation document presently being assessed suggests raising the price of a firearms certificate from £50 to £120 – a 140 per cent increase. The draft legislation also proposes a massive 365 per cent increase in the cost of a registered firearms dealer’s certificate: a rise from £150 to a staggering £697.

This comes at a time when a spike in Great Britain’s licensing fees is also being threatened, as Sporting Rifle reported in February 2012. The proposed increase to £93.80 was enough to draw criticism from groups such as the NGO – but they are not as steep as the fee rises threatened in Northern Ireland.

BASC expressed its opposition to the fee increases, saying it would only support changes to the fee structure if they were preceded by “a full, independent, transparent and public review of the necessary processes within firearms licensing.”

Tommy Mayne, BASC Northern Ireland director, said: “These proposals put more pressure on our firearms dealers, who for many years have struggled to make a living given the long delays within our firearms licensing system. While processing times have improved dramatically over the past 18 months or so, our licensing system is far from perfect and these substantial increases come at a time when there are added difficulties as a result of the economic climate.”

Two MLAs have already come out in opposition to the suggested rise in fees. Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Tom Elliott said that the proposals would provoke understandable hostility: “The fee increases set out would have a negative effect in the current economic climate. I am concerned that the review did not look at how the system and process could be managed more efficiently, instead they took the easy option of proposing higher fees for applicants.”

South Antrim MLA Danny Kinahan said: “These licenses are a vital part of farming life. Farmers will undoubtedly struggle with yet another cost.”

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