Rural Crime: Two held after family robbed at knife-point
A rural community has been left reeling after a family was held at knife-point when their house was broken into.
A number of armed men entered the family's home the Cloverwell estate in Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, and threatened the six people inside at around 1.30am yesterday.
Two men have since been arrested by gardaí, and all stolen property has been recovered. A car has also been seized as part of the operation.
It is believed that four adults and two children were in the house at the time, but it is not known if the children woke up during the incident.
The occupants managed to raise the alarm before the perpetrators left the scene. A 41-year-old man was apprehended following a foot pursuit shortly after gardaí arrived.
Meanwhile, a 34-year-old man was arrested as part of a follow-up operation involving gardai from Granard and Longford garda stations.
He is due to appear before Longford District Court this morning charged in connection with the incident.
The 41-year-old man remains in custody in Granard Garda Station under Section 4 of The Criminal Justice Act 1984.
The aggravated burglary has sparked shock in the area, where locals say that violent crime is uncommon.
Fine Gael Councillor Paul Ross said that the incident had shaken the "close-knit community", adding that crime figures for Granard Garda Station had fallen in the last quarter.
"There had been a number of burglaries in the past six months, like machines being taken at night, but nothing violent," he said.
"It's a relatively quiet area," he added. "There are a lot of young families and younger children in the estate. It's a shocking crime, and I would like to compliment the gardaí on their actions."
However, he added that he would like to see more gardaí on the beat in rural areas.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Mike Cahill told the Irish Independent that rural crime was a "huge concern" for both Longford and the island of Ireland, but said that his area was unaccustomed to violent break-ins. He added that he suspected there could be some local involvement in robberies in his community.
"I definitely believe there's local knowledge being used," he said. "You don't just arrive down in a car from Dublin without knowing the area. These people know where they're going."
Meanwhile, Longford Fine Gael Councillor Micheál Carrigy said incidents like this highlighted a need to re-examine the closure of rural garda stations.
"It is something that I do feel strongly about," he said. "My local garda station was closed and it gave a sense of some vulnerability to people. I don't think there are huge cost savings in closing the stations."
Cllr Carrigy also referred to the case of seven Dublin men who were given prison terms of 12 to 20 years after engaging in an aggravated burglary in a family home in Co Tipperary. The men had stolen a car in Co Kilkenny before breaking into the home of a couple and their three young children.
Mr Carrigy said he hoped that the two men arrested by gardaí in Longford would receive similarly strong sentences if found guilty.
"I do hope that the family would receive whatever support they need," he added.
"Especially coming into the winter months, and it's getting darker in the evenings, I would urge people to be very vigilant."
The incident came as more than 1,500 people attended a public meeting in Thurles, Co Tipperary, last week to discuss rural crime and the Government's response to it.