Insurance costs 'adding to rural crime crisis'
Soaring insurance costs have emerged as a major factor behind the country's rural crime crisis, gardaí have warned.
A growing number of families whose homes are targeted by burglaries are failing to report the crimes for fear of the impact it will have their premiums, according to the representative body for rank-and-file officers.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) made the stark warning during a private meeting with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald amid growing concern over the effect the crime epidemic is having on Rural Ireland.
Aside from insurance costs, the GRA told Ms Fitzgerald that crime victims are also failing to report incidents because they no longer have immediate access to their local garda as a result of cutbacks.
"The view was expressed to the minister that many people feel a mistrust of gardaí that they do not know and therefore are not willing to travel long distances to the nearest garda station to confide in officers that they do not know," a source told the Irish independent.
The "local knowledge" that gardaí on the ground are equipped with is essential if communities are to feel safe, union officials told Ms Fitzgerald at the meeting in Leinster House.
The meeting was attended by GRA president Dermot O'Brien, vice president Ciaran O'Neill, general secretary PJ Stone and deputy general secretary John Healy.
Sources described the meeting as "amicable" and "open" and said Ms Fitzgerald also expressed concern for members on the ground on the back of the brutal murder of Garda Tony Golden in Dundalk last month.
The young father was shot dead by Adrian Crevan Mackin, who later turned the gun on himself.
The hero garda's murder sent shock waves throughout the country.