Rise in burglaries not just rural issue, says Coppinger

Socialist TD claims politicians jumping on rural crime ‘bandwagon’ as electioneering ploy

Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger, who lives in Blanchardstown, said: “My car was broken into before Christmas. That’s a regular feature and people don’t even report it.” File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger, who lives in Blanchardstown, said: “My car was broken into before Christmas. That’s a regular feature and people don’t even report it.” File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Politicians in some rural areas had “jumped on the bandwagon” with claims that rural crime was worsening faster than urban crime as an electioneering ploy, Socialist Party TD Ruth Coppinger has said.

Speaking after her home in west Dublin was burgled, Ms Coppinger said the deliberate creation of fear around crime was being used to drive a wedge between urban and rural areas. This was taking place more frequently ahead of the general election.

The Garda division of Dublin west where Ms Coppinger lives has witnessed the largest increase in burglaries of any division in the State; 69 per cent since 2007.

The home she shares with her husband and young daughter, in Blanchardstown, was broken into as she was making her way to RTÉ to appear on a radio programme on Thursday night.

She told The Irish Times she had been speaking at a meeting earlier in the evening in the Navan Road area of north Dublin and had then gone to RTÉ without returning to her home.

However, when her husband and daughter entered the property at about 9pm, they made the discovery.

“The drawers were all open upstairs and downstairs; they must have been looking for cash or valuables,” she said.

“And the hot press was disturbed as well. But there was a small sum of sterling there and things like my daughter’s iPad and that wasn’t touched.”

She first mentioned the burglary on a panel discussion on RTÉ Radio 1 earlier on Thursday when the conversation turned to crime and specifically whether progress was being made in the fight against rural crime.

“There’s obviously issues in rural areas; the Garda stations being closed down and post offices. People are feeling isolated,” Ms Coppinger said.

“But I’m a bit concerned with the way [rising burglary rates] are being raised as rural burglaries.

“I think it’s political coming up to the elections . . . [politicians] from conservative parties have nothing else to say on economic issues so they’re jumping on this bandwagon of crime. But it effects urban and rural and let’s stop dividing people.

“In big urban areas we don’t see the guards either. This idea that because you’re in an urban area you’re somehow shielded from crime; it’s wrong.

“My car was broken into before Christmas. That’s a regular feature and people don’t even report it.”

Crime data

Her contention that the increase in burglary rates was not just a rural issue is fully supported by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) crime data.

It shows burglary rates have increased by nearly a fifth across the State since a 2007 low. But more than three-quarters of the increase has come in Dublin.

The six Garda divisions in the capital, according to an analysis of Central Statistic Office figures, together account for 82 per cent of the increase in burglaries nationally in the eight-year period to the end of last year.

Burglary rates have fallen in the last eight years in 10 of the 28 Garda divisions across the country. Mayo enjoyed the largest reduction, with numbers dropping by a third.

In the Clare division – also one of the most rural and remote areas – the burglary rate fell by 20 per cent during the same period. Incidence of the crime also declined in Cavan-Monaghan, by 21 per cent.

On the opposite end of the scale, the highest rate of increase was 69 per cent in the Dublin Metropolitan Region West division, where 1,360 crimes were recorded in 2007, increasing to 2,297 last year. The Garda’s east Dublin district reported a 60 per cent jump.

The Laois-Offaly division had the second highest increase since 2007, at 63 per cent.

Ms Coppinger said while she had reported the burglary on her home in Thursday night, she had not reported the car break-in.

“It was just for the formality, I knew nothing was going to happen,” she said of reporting the burglary.

“We’ve one Garda station [in Blanchardstown]. You ring and there’s never a car for serious crime that effects ordinary people; they’re off doing other things obviously.