Tougher sentencing for burglars gains support


THE FAMILY of 82-year-old pensioner Paddy Barry who was beaten up by a gang in Waterford last week say they have received substantial public support for tougher sentencing for burglars.

His son Ken Barry, said society should show its abhorrence to attacks on elderly people by imposing mandatory sentences, without remission, on those who carried them out.

Mr Barry and his son, the magician Keith Barry, went on RTÉ Radio One’s The Marian Finucane Show, on Saturday, to vent their anger at what they perceive is the lack of protection for elderly people in Ireland.

Paddy Barry, a retired post office worker, was attacked in the front room of his house in the Mount Sion area of Waterford on Wednesday night. He was left unconscious by his attackers.

Gardaí have renewed their appeal for information and are keen to speak to two girls, aged approximately 16 years, who were playing in the vicinity on Wednesday night.

His son said today will be critical if his father is to survive the attack as the fifth day after a serious head injury is often the most important. Mr Barry snr, has not regained consciousness since the attack.

He will undergo a Cat scan to see if last Wednesday’s attack has caused permanent brain damage.

Ken Barry said he and Keith had received an “unreal” response from the public over their call for mandatory sentencing for those who attack old-age pensioners in their home.

Mr Barry said he was disappointed with Fine Gael for “playing politics” with the issue and he criticised its justice spokesman Charles Flanagan.

Mr Flanagan said the response to the attack on Mr Barry showed that the public wanted more powers for homeowners to defend themselves against intruders and he accused Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern of cynically refusing to implement Fine Gael’s Home Defence Bill.

Speaking on the Marion Finucane show, Mr Ahern said he agreed with the Barry family’s belief that there should be mandatory sentencing for those who attack the elderly and that three years may be too little “in a case as serious as that which happened his grandfather”.

“I don’t disagree with what he (Keith Barry) is saying that there should be a very strong signal sent out to people,” he said.

“That is the very point I adopted during the gangland legislation for the summer that the Oireachtas had to, on behalf of the people, send out a very strong signal that if they continued on that vein, they would go before a non-jury trial and there would be increased sentences. I’m not adverse to doing that in these circumstances,” he said.