Weapons amnesty may prevent knife deaths, says 'Boxer'
A weapons amnesty should be introduced as part of a crackdown on gun and knife crime, a minister has said.
Independent Alliance Junior Minister Kevin 'Boxer' Moran wants people to be able to dispose of weapons without the risk of prosecution for a limited time.
He claims there is a growing trend of young people carrying knives "for protection".
A similar amnesty was set up 13 years ago to coincide with the introduction of tough penalties for possession of weapons.
Over a two-month period, it yielded more than 900 weapons, including more than 500 guns and 100 knives.
Mr Moran, who also owns a taxi business in Athlone, told the Herald he sees a need for a greater focus on knife crime. The issue has been high on the political agenda in the UK, but has not featured heavily here.
"Young people are carrying knives. Carrying knives for what? They say it's for protection. Protection from what?" Mr Moran asked.
"Knife crime since 2006 has now jumped considerably.
"I'll be talking to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and calling on him to set up an amnesty where people can hand in knives to garda stations all over the country and see if we can clean up that element of things.
"I think taking any knife off the street could save lives," the Westmeath TD added.
Gardai have recorded a 60pc increase in the number of knives seized between 2016 and 2019, up from 1,197 to 1,936.
The number of hospital admissions due to stabbings has declined - but last year, 164 people were treated for injuries as a result of "assault by knife".
"I'm not frightening people. I think people need to be aware. Everybody has a responsibility around knives," Mr Moran said.
He also wants gardai to begin talking about knife crime as part of their work with schools.
"We all talk about different things that can happen in schools. I'm not saying the kids are carrying knives, but the fear is that young people are," the Junior Office for Public Works Minister said.
He said gardai gave talks in schools about drugs and other elements of crime, "but I think it's time to educate young people that a knife slash can destroy a person for life".