Kenny accused of being 'out of touch' over rural crime fears
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has clashed with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in the Dáil over the crime epidemic in rural Ireland.
Mr Martin said people in rural Ireland felt neglected and were living in fear.
He accused Mr Kenny of being "out of touch" with the issues in rural Ireland and of "speaking like a commentator".
Mr Kenny said a plan was to be developed to tackle criminal gangs burgling houses and attacking homeowners across the countryside.
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Kenny said the plan would be drafted by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in consultation with Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan.
"Obviously, the situation is not as satisfactory as we would wish," he said.
The Taoiseach said An Garda Síochána could make the valid point that there were an extra 61,000 community hours now available for policing.
Mr Kenny, who is from the largely rural constituency of Mayo, said a small number of gangs were responsible for carrying out the majority of burglaries. It appeared that many of them were high on illegal substances as they created fearsome damage.
Mr Kenny said the burglaries and the attacks on people were deplorable and he condemned them without reservation.
"I am glad that many of those, not all of them to date, have been brought before the courts and the law," he added.
He said it was most unfortunate that deaths had occurred in some cases.
However, Mr Martin said that the Taoiseach's response was weak.
"You are speaking like a commentator who is helpless to do anything about it," he said.
"You got it wrong in terms of the closure of garda stations and you are out of touch with rural Ireland and the people on the ground."