A solution to rural crime: what about following the money?
Last week the government made further noises about tackling the current epidemic of rural crime, with news that a fresh Garda operation will be announced shortly after today's budget. But unless this brings something totally unexpected and off the Richter scale, I fear there still really isn't the serious political will to address crime in this country.
It is likely this latest garda operation will see more resources freed up for gardaí working in rural areas and make them more visible.
This follows the introduction of the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill that gives judges greater powers to refuse bail for repeat offenders and the announcement of a pilot scheme for the introduction of CCTV cameras on motorway exits. We are also being repeatedly told about an impending 550 new Garda recruits.
All of these are pieces of the jigsaw but there are many other missing pieces and, while some of these would require additional financial support and commitment, what many others need more than anything is political resolve.
Without doubt, we need to "follow the money".
However, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has repeatedly said it does not have the resources to pursue criminal gangs. This should be a priority and its potential payback would be much more than financial. Then, when gang leaders are identified, they should face sentences of meaningful length.
The path of the stolen goods also needs to be followed. Paddy Byrne, president of Muintir na Tíre points out elsewhere in these pages that they have been lobbying for years for legislation covering the scrap metal sector.