Woman (78) refuses to move after break-ins


A pensioner who lives on her own in Co Donegal says she is refusing to leave her remote home despite being threatened and robbed for a second time in eight weeks.

Phyllis McGee (78), who lives without electricity or running water, was knocked to the floor in her kitchen and robbed of a sum of money by three hooded men last Saturday night.

It was the second break-in at her home following the November theft of about €2,000 which she had hidden in wellingtons. This one happened shortly after she returned to her cottage at Belault, Pettigo, from evening Mass.

Three hooded men, believed to be in their 20s, broke in the door and knocked her to the ground before snatching €300 and £60 in an envelope in her jacket before driving away in a car towards Pettigo village. They had first searched for an alarm pendant but she did not have one.

Alarm raised

Ms McGee raised the alarm when she went out on the road and stopped a passing car. Neighbours said she was extremely shaken after the burglary and a doctor was called.

Efforts have been made to persuade Ms McGee to move into Pettigo village but she has refused. Village community activist Lawrence McManus, vice-president of Pettigo Community Alert and a member of Donegal Joint Policing committee, last night met local Garda Supt Leo McGinn to discuss improved security.

Community reacts

“We feel the whole community of Pettigo has been attacked and we are not going to stand idly by,” Mr McManus said. “We will demand a meeting with the Justice Minister if that is necessary.”

Bundoran Sinn Féin councillor Michael McMahon, a friend who visited her yesterday, said “She has no electricity and no running water. She gets her water from a well nearby and she uses oil lamps for lighting. She was very happy living that way until these two incidents. Now, I think I have been able to persuade her that I should contact the ESB with a view to her getting an electric supply.”

Independent TD Thomas Pringle said: “Whether they are coming across the Border, we are not 100 per cent sure yet. But I think there must have also been some local knowledge used as well. It’s a very worrying thing to think that there may have been some local people involved in these incidents.”