Gardaí defend replica guns sale

Gardaí are selling replica guns at a sale of lost and stolen goods in Dublin, it emerged today.

Despite calls from a senior opposition politician for the silver and black-coloured mock pistols to be pulled from the auction the force insist they are harmless toys.

A box of around 27 of the fake firearms, complete with plastic ammunition and two training targets, are part of a lot being auctioned off tomorrow at Kevin Street Garda Station.

Opposition Justice spokesman Jim O’Keeffe demanded they be taken off the sale insisting they were entirely inappropriate.

The senior Fine Gael TD said gardaí were sending out the wrong message at a time when the country is in the grip of a surging gun culture.

Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that there were 353 robberies and aggravated burglaries involving firearms in 2005.

“I think it’s inappropriate that the Garda Síochána should even get into the area of involvement with items that could in certain circumstances pass as imitation guns,” said Mr O’Keeffe.

“There are two problems here: One is the increase in firearms offences in recent years and, secondly, in a number of crimes imitation guns are used.

“I think it’s really sending out the wrong signal to have a Garda sale with guns, imitation or toy guns. I think it’s inappropriate and is sending out the wrong message.”

Mr O’Keeffe called for the toy firearms to be excluded from the auction and disposed of in a suitable manner.

However, Garda Headquarters, who had the items temporarily removed for inspection after Mr O’Keeffe’s complaint, insisted they are harmless.

“We are happy that these are obviously toys,” said Sergeant Jim Molloy.

“There is a procedure to be followed with property that comes into our possession

“Having said that if we thought that these were in anyway a firearm or replica firearm we would destroy them but we are happy they are toys in this case and look like toys.”

The ’BB’ pistols are presented in individual boxes with a jar of 500 pellet bullets each and two training targets.

The manufacturer warns on the packaging that the guns should not be aimed at eyes or faces and should not be discharged at point blank range.

They are part of Lot 59 which includes a baseball bat, kiteboards, a Rodger Federer tennis racket and a DJ record bag brimful of floor-filling dance, soul and rap classics.

Other items to go under the hammer are four wheelchairs, prams, pogo sticks, a radiator but mostly construction tools.

It is the last year the sale of all goods lost and recovered in the capital is expected to take place at Kevin Street Garda Station.

The outbuildings are to be demolished to make way for a new station while the main house, formerly the Archbishop of Dublin’s palace, is to pass over to the heritage service Duchas.

It is planned that each garda division in the greater Dublin area will take responsibility for goods recovered and lost in that division once the Kevin Street overhaul is completed.

Organisers believe the auction, attended mostly by dealers and traders, will raise between €15,000 and €20,000 for the state coffers.

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