'Only a matter of time before someone is killed' as gangs ram patrol cars
Gardaí have warned it is only a matter of time before reckless rural burglary gangs kill someone during high-speed attempts to flee in powerful stolen cars.
The warning came as it emerged different gangs made six attempts to ram or disable marked garda vehicles over the past three months to aid their escape from burglary blitzes in rural areas.
A young garda is now recovering from the latest incident in which a Dublin-based gang driving a powerful Audi saloon deliberately rammed his patrol car outside Lismore on the Waterford-Cork border.
The garda, a Cork native but based in west Waterford, was responding to an alert following several attempted break-ins in the Fermoy area of north Cork on Tuesday evening.
The gangs utilise rural roads to flee areas and then attempt to rejoin motorways to escape back to Dublin, Limerick and Cork.
The young garda sustained back and neck injuries when the gang deliberately rammed his vehicle at Ballyrafter outside Lismore shortly before 10pm on Tuesday night.
Paramedics assessed the injured garda at the scene before he was transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH).
He underwent precautionary scans yesterday but is understood to have narrowly avoided serious injury.
Colleagues warned he could easily have been killed.
"It is only a matter of time before someone loses their life," one garda said.
"The recklessness being shown by these gangs is bordering on insanity. They don't seem to care about risking their own lives, the lives of gardaí or other road users."
The Lismore gang is believed to be responsible for an incident in early March when gardaí had to call off surveillance of a saloon car amid public safety fears after it reached speeds close to 200kmh (124mph).
The increase in ramming incidents is further evidence of the growing frustration of the travelling gangs responsible for a large proportion of burglaries nationwide since the launch of the Garda's new initiative, Operation Thor, last November.
The number of burglaries has dropped by a third over the past four months as a result of Thor.
According to the gardaí, some of the travelling gangs had the capacity to strike at up to 16 targeted houses or business premises in a single night.
Nationwide figures show an overall drop of 36pc in residential burglary while commercial and business hits are down by 30pc.
The biggest falls were in the eastern and south-eastern garda regions where numbers decreased by 35pc.