Church painting thieves 'knew garda station had closed down'
THE village where six priceless paintings were stolen from a church last week lost its garda station earlier this year.
Residents of Kiltullagh, Co Galway, said they believed the raid on the Church of St Peter and St Paul may not have occurred if the station had remained open.
And they now want more garda patrols in the area.
Christy Corcoran, chairman of the Kiltullagh Community Alert Scheme, said he believed the gang knew the local garda station had closed.
"The (garda) barracks was only three minutes from the church, it was definitely a deterrent," said Mr Corcoran. "We were told there would be an increase in patrols in the area when the barracks closed but we seldom see them."
Mr Corcoran said locals were worried that their homes could be next.
Six of the church's 14 Stations of the Cross were stolen on Saturday. The works, by famous Irish artist Evie Hone, were worth around €500,000 as a complete set, according to parish priest Fr Martin McNamara. Each of the oil paintings is about three feet by four feet and held in a wooden frame.
Gardai have renewed their appeal for information and have asked that anyone who attended an under-10s camogie blitz in the area on the day of the theft, between 10am and midday, to contact them if they saw anything suspicious.