Sunday 25 September 2016

Former IFA boss warns 'someone will be shot' if farmers are not protected

Ken Whelan

Published 17/06/2015 | 02:30

Warning: Former IFA boss Padraig Walsh
Warning: Former IFA boss Padraig Walsh

Former IFA president Padraig Walshe - a victim of rural crime at his farm in Durrow, Co Laois - says somebody will be shot unless there is a crackdown on the latest round of rural raids.

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"It is very disheartening for farmers to see their hard earned farm equipment being stolen by these gangs of criminals.

"And there is always the fear that someone will be injured during the course of these raids," Mr Walshe told the Farming Independent.

"A few weeks ago at a farm six miles up the road from me raiders discharged their shotguns into the air when they could not get into the farmhouse they intended to rob. Some night someone will be shot defending their property," said Mr Walshe.

Only last Friday at his home farm in Durrow intruders drove through the wooden fences surrounding the property and attempted to break into the farmyard through a cow path.

However they were foiled by the new security installed at the farm and were forced to make a early and empty-handed getaway.

He felt on that Friday luck and the security system was on his side. Five weeks earlier another gang managed to break into a shed on his farm and robbed a quad bike and cow trailer.

Mr Walshe believes the raiders loaded the quad onto the trailer and then just drove away.

Three years ago there was a major raid at the farm when criminals got away with €20,000 worth of farm equipment including a quad, trailer and power washers.

Mr Walshe believes there is a pattern emerging with this type of rural criminality.

"Usually trailers, quads, power equipment and even self-drive lawnmowers are being targeted by these criminals and after a series of raids in any given area the criminals simply load up a container full of these various types of this equipment and pass it on to a ready-made market.

Border

The robbed equipment is moved around the country, across the border or simply loaded onto a ferry and out of the country, said Mr Walshe.

And the increasingly light Garda presence in rural Ireland is not also helping matters.

"I know the gardai have their own difficulties at the moment but all they seem to do is record crime rather than prevent it.

"In my area in South Laois there is only one squad car on duty at any time and the car has to cover an area from Abbeyleix across to Roscrea and sometimes up to Athy," said Mr Walshe.

"At the same time the amount of Gardai stationed in places like Portlaoise has been cut.

"Really it has got to a stage when the only contact the farmers have with the gardai is when they report a crime and get their report stamped for insurance purposes."

A concerted crackdown on the rural criminality which is plaguing the farming community has to be put in place, added Mr Walshe.

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