ANGRY residents who have lost their garda station through government cutbacks are mobilising to tackle rural crime.
The station in Churchill, Co Donegal, closed 10 days ago. It is one of five stations in the county to be shut down this week – in the same month which saw a wave of violent burglaries at the homes of elderly people.
"There used to be four gardai here between Kilmacrennan and Churchill," said independent councillor Michael McBride. "Now we have just one, stationed in Kilmacrennan, and he's looking after twice the population over a wide rural area."
More than 80 residents of Kilmacrennan and Churchill met in a parish hall on Tuesday night to mobilise a new community-alert area, following a number of recent violent crimes.
Cllr McBride believes that the Government will have to invest in CCTV on the Border and at major roads to fight crime.
Malin, Brockagh and Annagry stations have already closed. But the closures of the Glencolmcille and Churchill stations are causing most concern among local people.
The former, in the south-west Donegal Gaeltacht, has become increasingly popular with tourists in recent years.
The nearest station is now 11km away in Carrick.
Liam O Cuinnegain, a former chair of Udaras na Gaeltachta, said: "You can argue about it during the winter but no account is made for the massive increase in the population here during the summer."