Samurai swords banned in the Republic of Ireland


A ban on Samurai swords comes into effect from today.

Those caught with the weapons could face up to seven years in prison.

In a bid to cater for collectors, those made before 1954 or at another time by traditional hand-made methods will be exempt.

Irish Times



Talks about potential sword ban started in December 2007 after another high profile attack involving a 'samurai sword'. It is known that Department of Justice had been in contact with local martial arts organisations (Iaido Association of Ireland is particular) is order to avoid unnecessary restrictions for martial arts practitioneers and authentic sword collectors. In the light of recent global trends to regulate possession and transportation of 'samurai' swords (which sometimes comes in quite narrow-minded forms) the new Irish legislation appears to be reasonable, especially taking into account the (more than modest) size of the local sword scene. Mirroring the UK sword ban which was introduced in April 2008 as one of the questionable measures to fight 'knife crime', authentic hand-made Japanese swords (Nihonto) are exempt (however I couldn't yet find any reference to whether sports equipment such as iaito and shinken is to be banned or not).

The real concern is the practical side of the legislation and the way it's going to be implemented. There's been numerous occasions in UK since introduction of the sword ban when law-abiding collectors had trouble importing antique swords. It's perfectly understandable due to the fact that in order for Customs to make sure that it's legal to import a sword, some sort of cerfificate required proving its age and provenance. And the most common cert of this kind (if any) is the NBTHK paper hand-written in Japanese. No wonder Customs officers, sorting office workers and law enforcement authorities would not be able to take it as a supportive documentation without difficult (and costly) translation.And this is the neigbouring UK which is much more accustomed to importing/exporting Japanese collectible weapons than Irish. How many Customs officers and An Post employees were instructed about differences between replica and authentic Japanese swords or even have seen ones? Will they be collector-friendly or take an eBay approach and stop any import of 'illegal samurai-like swords' unless (with immense trouble) proven otherwise? If temporarily or permanently seized, will real Nihonto be given a proper care?

There is no doubt that curculation of cheap and dangerous replica had to be stopped, even with the level or crime involving samurai swords being ridiculously low in comparison to the usage of widely available home utensils.But will the fair treatment of martial arts practitioneers and sword collectors be guaranteed? Time will tell.

OK so what about the folks

OK so what about the folks who already have them in their personal collection? Is the govt. going to take them?

The tiger is great, but it is the ant who picks his bones.


The tiger is great, but it is the ant who picks his bones.

Good question

That's a good question. I presume people will be free to hand it over to the Gardai voluntarily. Otherwise, if caught, be charged.

I wonder if they are going hire consultants (as in UK) to be able to conclude whether the seized sword is hand-made (and therefore exempt) or not. I'm afraid they won't.

7,000 swords seized in Dublin raids

We can see the ban in action now.

RTE News