Garda strike: Farmer ‘may have to use force’ for protection

Former IFA official and gun owner says he may be forced to defend himself if farm targeted

Limerick farmer David Thompson: “In rural Ireland we are scared. It’s bad enough when the gardaí aren’t on strike because the criminals know there aren’t enough gardaí on the beat anyway.” Photograph: Brian Gavin

Limerick farmer David Thompson: “In rural Ireland we are scared. It’s bad enough when the gardaí aren’t on strike because the criminals know there aren’t enough gardaí on the beat anyway.” Photograph: Brian Gavin

 

Limerick farmer David Thompson, who holds a licensed firearm, has said he may have to use force to protect himself if his farm is targeted by criminals and gardaí are not able to respond.

The former Limerick Irish Farmers’ Association vice chairman’s home has been burgled three times and his car was broken into by thieves on a recent visit to the city.

“I might have to to take appropriate measures to defend myself should the occasion arise,” he said.

Laying the blame for the Garda strike threat firmly at the door of the Government and Garda management, Mr Thompson said: “All the gardaí can do for poor victims, with their under-resourced numbers, is send a sympathy letter. I’m pissed off getting sympathy letters.”

“The gardaí should be given full support for their work because they are subjected to threats from criminals and the criminals are getting away with it. It’s sad to think this is way the country is going.”

Mr Thompson, from Cappamore, added: “In rural Ireland we are scared. It’s bad enough when the gardaí aren’t on strike because the criminals know there aren’t enough gardaí on the beat anyway.

“The criminals are doing what they like, and when they like, and it’s leading towards anarchy in rural Ireland.

Tit-for-tat shootings

Senior gardaí locally, who have successfully led the battle against Limerick’s gangland criminal past which caused tit-for-tat shootings and murders in the early 2000s, did not disclose their contingency plans ahead of the strike threat by its members.

More than 550 GRA members in the Limerick division balloted for strike action.

Frank Thornton, Limerick GRA spokesman, said a “skeletal” force would be left to deal with crime in the city: “We have 14 probationers in Limerick and we have a number of reserves but I’m not so sure about their availability.”

“The RSU [Regional Support Unit] will be available and the probationers will be available; they’re still in training,” he added.

He described Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan’s cancellation of all garda annual leave for Friday as “bully boy” tactics and said the morale in the force locally was “absolutely in the gutter”.

Bookmakers, shopkeepers, publicans and retail stores have planned contingency plans for providing extra security at their premises.

Huge concern

A spokesperson for Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association, representing more than 4,000 independent family opened grocery shops, convenience stores, forecourt shops and supermarkets said: “We have checked with our members and they’re very concerned, but they are not disclosing the details of their contingency plans for obvious reasons. They will be putting plans in place though as there is huge concern.”

Fr Tony O’Riordan, the parish priest of Moyross, where lawlessness was out of control prior to gardaí toppling criminal gangs, said he was “not concerned there will be major civil unrest as the armed [Garda] units will seemingly respond to any serious crime”.

“I would be concerned at the response of gardaí to any suicides or any discoveries of bodies in any non-suspicious circumstances, as for the trauma it could have on families if it were to happen. The gardaí have great training and skills when it comes to dealing sympathetically with those families.”

“I would probably side with the gardaí on this [strike action]. They have a difficult job to do,” Fr O’Riordan said.