Garda Commissioner says rural residents not ‘alone’

Death of man in Co Limerick sparked debate about closure of rural stations

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said people living in rural communities in Ireland should not feel as if they are “alone”. Photograph; Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said people living in rural communities in Ireland should not feel as if they are “alone”. Photograph; Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times.

 

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said people living in rural communities in Ireland should not feel as if they are “alone”.

The recent death in Co Limerick of John O’Donoghue (62), who suffered a heart attack after finding intruders in his home in Doon last month, sparked a fresh debate about the closure of rural garda staions.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships in Co Laois, Ms O’Sullivan said it was a “very tragic case” and extended sympathy to Mr O’Donoghue’s family and friends.

She did not say if any of the 140 garda stations which have closed in recent years would be reopened.

“Certainly we have seen pinches right across a range of activities in Garda Siochana in terms of resources,” she said. “I’m delighted that by the end of this year we will have 550 people in training. I’m also delighted there is a commitment of a minimum of 500 people next year.”

She said 60 per cent of the 300 people who graduated from the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary had been deployed to rural communities.

She said a number of gardaí were attending the National Ploughing Championships and would be available to speak to people about the issues they have.

Meanwhile, farming organisations at the event called on the Government to address low dairy prices and high rents.

With a general election on the way, farmers will be keen to express their concerns to the many politicians expected to attend during the week.

“Income is the major one,” said Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association president John Comer. “Since this time last year the price of meat has fallen by 35 per cent and that is playing on the minds of our members.”

He said the average price this year was not that bad but farmers are worried the price could collapse again before they can meet their repayment commitments to banks. “There’s a political deficit in terms of mitigating against this dreadful volatility that we’re all facing in our daily lives as farmers.”

Irish Farmers Association president Eddie Downey said there was a problem with all commodities at the moment because world prices are very low.

He said tillage farmers were “under severe pressure” to break even after three bad years, price wise. He also said significant increases in land rents have put farmers under strain.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the medium term future for tillage and dairy farming was very strong as global consumption and population size increased.

He said each year tends to bring new challenges. “Last year it was beef and we had to set up a beef forum to help farmers,” he said. “This year it’s dairy.”