Dáil Éireann - Volume 584 - 27 April, 2004
Written Answers. - Explosives Orders.
Mr. Costello Mr. Costello
692. Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will consider banning the importation of ammonia nitrate-based fertiliser which is a major ingredient in the construction of bombs and which was banned in Northern Ireland in 1996; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11276/04]
Mr. Rabbitte Mr. Rabbitte
748. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has received a report from officials of his Department on their consultations with all relevant State agencies and the industry to examine the potential use in explosive devices of enriched ammonium nitrates blends of fertilisers; if in particular he has received the results of trails to see how easily the fertiliser could be separated into an explosive compound; when he expects to be able to make a decision on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11832/04]
Mr. McDowell Mr. McDowell
Mr. McDowell: I propose to take Questions Nos. 692 and 748 together.
 Ammonium nitrate and ammonium nitrate-based fertilisers have been used by terrorists to manufacture improvised explosive devices in this jurisdiction, and in Northern Ireland, for many years. For that reason, regulations were introduced in 1972 in both parts of the island declaring ammonium nitrate and some ammonium nitrate-based fertilisers to be explosives.
In particular, Statutory Instrument 191 of 1972, Explosives (Ammonium Nitrate and Sodium Chlorate) Order 1972, declares that the substances specified in the schedule to the order shall be deemed to be explosives within the meaning of the Explosives Act 1875. The schedule to the order includes, inter alia, ammonium nitrate and certain fertilisers, which contain ammonium nitrate in excess of 79% by weight. Under the terms of the order, these substances are deemed to be explosives within the meaning of the Act and are, therefore, subject to the same security controls for licensing, importation and storage as conventional explosives.
The Northern Ireland order was amended in 1996 to state in essence that no one particle in a blended fertiliser may contain more than 79% by weight of ammonium nitrate. This means that if a blend contains a single granule or “prill” of ammonium nitrate it would fall within the remit of the order and would be declared an explosive.
The question of amending the relevant order in this jurisdiction in line with the amended order in Northern Ireland was considered in 2000 but, following consultation with all relevant agencies, including the forensic science laboratory, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and the State Laboratory, it was decided that such an amendment was not necessary.
However, in the light of recent events and the concerns expressed over certain imports, officials of my Department, together with representatives of the Garda Síochána, the Defence Forces, the Department of Agriculture and Food, the State Laboratory, and the Forensic Science Laboratory, examined examples of these substances recently with the specific view to assessing the ease of segregation of ammonium nitrate from the blended fertiliser.
Following this examination, further discussions amongst the relevant agencies are planned, and recommendations on control of the substances will be made to the relevant Ministers as soon as possible.
Dáil Éireann 584 Written Answers. Explosives Orders.