herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Machete bought for just €50, no questions asked

Machetes and other weapons in the window of Hands Hardware on Dorset Street
Machetes and other weapons in the window of Hands Hardware on Dorset Street

A shop in the north inner city has defended the illegal sale of a machete similar to the ones used in the London Bridge terror attack in June.

It was sold to an undercover Herald reporter only two months after the London atrocity.

Eight people were cut down on the bridge and in nearby Borough Market by Islamic State militants on June 3. Forty-eight people were injured in the late-night attack.

The sale of machetes in Ireland is an offence under section 12 of The Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990.

hatchets

Our reporter was not asked for any identification, proof of age or reason for wanting to buy the machete from Hands Hardware store on Dorset Street.

The only condition of sale was that "you didn't buy it here".

The machete cost €50 and was presented in a black sheath.

Other large knives, hatchets and switch blades were displayed around the shop.

The assistant also presented our reporter with a fake pistol, claiming it was "perfectly legal to sell".

When our man identified himself and questioned the legality of selling the machete, the assistant claimed the store was not breaking any laws.

"They're only memorabilia," he said. "They're not the real McCoy. Everything we sell is legal. We don't sell anything like that."

However, he went on to acknowledge that the machete could present a risk to the community.

"Yes, I agree, they shouldn't be sold," he said.

The machete's blade was 34cm long and could be deadly if put in the wrong hands, said a self-defence expert.

Army Sergeant Mick O'Brien, of Self-Protection, a self-defence organisation set up by the Irish Defence Forces and An Garda Siochana, explained how dangerous the weapon was.

"If I'm not mistaken, the machete is known as a Jungle King. I used something similar in East Timor. Its primary use is for slicing through thick bushes and bamboo," he said.

Damage

"A machete could cause a lot of damage. Its length would make defending yourself difficult."

Sgt O'Brien, who has been in the Army for 28 years, has completed tours in Lebanon, East Timor, Liberia and Kosovo.

"During the recent London attacks, similar weapons were used by the terrorists who taped them to their hands to avoid disarming," he said.

"This weapon could easily kill or maim anyone who was on the receiving end."

Among the people who put their lives at risk to help others during the London attack were a baker who wielded a bread crate at the attackers.

Another was an amateur rugby player who was injured after rushing to the aid of a police officer who faced the terrorists with only a baton.

A Spanish man who used his skateboard to try to defend a woman who was being stabbed was among the eight people killed.

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