IFA says gangs targeting rural areas


People are living in “increasing fear” in rural Ireland because of reduced Garda patrols and closed Garda stations, Irish Farmers’ Association president John Bryan said yesterday.

He said criminal gangs that had been operating in Dublin were now targeting rural areas because of the strong Garda presence in the city. “The odds of them being stopped on the way back from Galway or Donegal are much less than moving around the city.”

Garda car

Mr Bryan said it was quite possible to travel from Dublin to Donegal and not see a Garda car, whereas you frequently met Garda cars in the Dublin area at night. He said he knew many farmers who had gates, machinery and fuel stolen.

“Minister Alan Shatter appears to have no interest whatsoever in combating rural crime. At a time of Government cutbacks, rural dwellers will not tolerate being treated as second-class citizens in respect of rural services, such as local road maintenance, rural security, local schools and postal services.”

There has been a spate of burglaries and attacks on older people in the northwest in recent weeks. While most of them involved incidents in Donegal, a number of burglaries have also been reported in the Sligo area in recent days. The latest one involved a 94-year-old woman in Sligo town.

Meanwhile, yesterday Phyllis McGee (78) from Pettigo, Co Donegal, told Ocean FM radio station that she had no plans to leave her home, after being the victim of two burglaries in recent months.

“I was born here, and I plan to stay here. I am not frightened to stay here,” she said.

Ms McGee said the three burglars who robbed her of €300 and £60 on Saturday night were “very cheeky and had no manners at all...They knocked me to the ground and I fell down on the ground.

“Every time I stood up they knocked me back again. I grabbed the arm of a chair and I pulled myself up and they threw me back into the seat of the chair saying ‘where’s the money? I told them I had no money and they said they were going to burn the house. They went on ransacking the house.”

Shooting an intruder

Fine Gael Galway city councillor and former mayor of Galway Padraig Conneely told a joint policing committee in Galway that if he owned a gun he believed he would have no hesitation in shooting an intruder in his home.

He said the recent spate of robberies had left people at their wits’ end and they were traumatised.

Mr Bryan said the IFA would meet Mr Shatter in the coming weeks to discuss the concerns of rural dwellers.

He was speaking at the farm organisation’s agm in Dublin which was attended by more than 120 delegates.