Special Garda task force set up after burglaries in Laois-Offaly area

Sergeant and eight gardaí assigned following recent attacks on farms

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said there was ‘no place to hide’ for criminals.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said there was ‘no place to hide’ for criminals.

 

A special Garda task force has been set up to tackle crime in the Laois-Offaly area after a number of burglaries in recent weeks.

More than 200 people turned out at a public meeting in Offaly this week to show support for a local family whose farm was attacked 10 days ago.

Farmer Richie McKelvey (54) was beaten and robbed by a gang of four men on his farm near Birr. It was the second time in six weeks he had been robbed and he suffered facial injuries when he was beaten with a bar and locked in a shed.

A Garda spokesman confirmed one sergeant and eight gardaí have been assigned to a temporary divisional task force which commenced its operation last Friday.

“The operation will initially run for a three week period conducting targeted operations in both Laois and Offaly under the direction of the Divisional Detective Inspector, after which a review will take place,” he said.

Laois TD and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said last week there was “no place to hide” for criminals.

“Gardaí have the resources and the skills to prevent crime and to ensure offenders pay the price,” he said. “There may be a perception that rural towns, villages and townlands are soft touches for thieves and burglars - that perception is wrong. I am confident that a new Garda task force to tackle crime in the Laois-Offaly division will be highly effective.”

Mr Flanagan said he was confident that measures such as armed checkpoints would “send the message to the crime gangs that Laois-Offaly is no safe harbour for them.

“Our motorway network may be seen as an advantage by criminals but Garda intelligence and investment in new top-of-the-range vehicles will stop criminals from exploiting our infrastructure. Over 720 new Garda vehicles have come on stream since the start of 2015,” the Minister added.