Fearing a future without a Garda station nearby
DAY 3: RURAL CRIMEAs the Government finalises the next round of Garda station closures, a community in north Wexford is concerned with crime levels and fearful of losing Garda personnel
IN THE small hours of a Tuesday morning late last month Pat Lambert got a phone call. The alarm on his petrol station shop had been activated. Another robbery was under way.
He glanced at the clock in the house: 1.45am. Then he jumped into his car and sped an anxious few minutes to his business in the usually quiet north Wexford village of Camolin.
The pensioner pulled up on the forecourt of his garage. Shining his headlights full beam into the shop and sounding the car horn, he expected the raiders to make a run for it.
Instead, gang members who had kicked and hammered their way into the storeroom and had been helping themselves to cartons of cigarettes valued at €15,000 came out and fired fire extinguishers, shopping trolleys and hammers at his car.
“I had to back out of there,” he says.
He drove off and parked discreetly just a few hundred yards up the road. A few minutes later, after loading his stock into their stolen VW Golf, the gang sped past.
“I phoned the guards and told them they were driving off towards Bunclody and Enniscorthy – if they could get out the squad car. Of course: no squad cars available.”
Gardaí at the local station in Gorey, some 12km away, had been called away.
“A domestic disturbance up country,” says Lambert.
It left the gang free to get out of the area, stop off at the Supervalu in Bunclody and relieve it of cigarettes worth about €25,000.
Lambert says his Londis shop – attached to his service station, pub and nightclub on the northern side of Camolin – has been robbed three times in as many years.
“I’m getting big steel shutters in tomorrow. They’ll give me a bit of peace of mind.”
Lambert’s family owned the pub across the road from his current business for more than a century. “I did everything in business: 5,000 laying hens here when I was a teenager,” he says. “Bought a small farm in the 1970s and had 800 pigs. Got an oil tanker and ran that. And then had the nightclub and the pub here, the petrol pumps and the shop the past few years. Built all of that from a green sod.”
Now in his 60s, he says Wexford has changed in the years since “I was in my heyday in the ballrooms”.