Irish people living in the countryside should be allowed to apply for a gun license to protest themselves and their property, according to a Kerry TD.

Ireland has some of the most stringent firearm legislation in Europe. Gun ownership is restricted to pest control, game hunting or sports.

Michael Healy-Rae, who holds certificates for three guns, thinks that gun laws in Ireland are very restrictive.

The Kerry South TD said social changes in Ireland mean communities now have to police themselves since cutbacks have resulted in the closure of almost 140 police stations across the country. Earlier this month the Association of Garda Superintendents, warned the strength of the police force in Ireland  is at a ‘critically low level’.

“I am speaking solely in the context of rural Ireland, which is very different to urban areas,” said Mr Healy-Rae.

“I am raising the matter in the Dáil (Irish parliament) and asking that another license category be added to allow for the protection of rural dwellers.”

Deputy Healy-Rae told Radio Kerry that it's time a debate was started on whether a change is needed.

“That is a subject and an issue that… should be aired and discussed,” he said.

“What we are relying on more and more is our community alerts.

“The guards can't be everywhere.”

The Kerry South member of the Irish parliament was at the centre of the Dail Eireann scandal in July 2011 when it emerged that almost $4,000 worth of calls were made from government buildings in support of his bid to win a TV show.