Farmers pushed to the brink by thieves and cattle rustlers
A sharp rise in livestock rustling and machinery theft is pushing farmers in border counties to the brink of bankruptcy.
Well-organised crime gangs with local knowledge and assistance have been taking cattle and sheep from farmyards on both sides of the border on an almost weekly basis.
Some farmers in Cavan, Monaghan and Louth are so afraid of encountering the thieves that they take shotguns with them when checking on their farms.
The issue is one of the topics to be discussed tonight at a public meeting focusing on rural crime in the north-east, which is being held in the Knightbrook Hotel in Trim.
"The counties in the north-east have a more serious problem than most other regions in the country, with gangs coming across the border to steal at will, robbing houses, farms and business premises," said Ronnie Owens, chairman of the organising committee for the 'Save Our Communities' meeting. "These gangs are very dangerous, as shown by the murders of two of our gardai, and we have been told how some farmers are arming themselves to protect their property.
"There is also an element of fear among people in the border counties that if they speak out they will be targeted by these gangs again," he said.
In the Ballybay area of Monaghan, several members of the extended Moffett family and their neighbours have had more than 100 animals stolen in the past decade.
On September 11, eight bulls worth up to €12,000 were stolen from a shed owned by James Moffett. A nephew had six cattle stolen last year and a niece lost seven.