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Sunday 31 August 2014

Town endures crime spree after losing its local barracks

Caroline Crawford

Published 10/03/2014 | 02:30

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Sean Duane, Christy Corcoran and Fr Martin McNamara outside Kiltullagh Garda station, Athenry, Co Galway.
Sean Duane, Christy Corcoran and Fr Martin McNamara outside Kiltullagh Garda station, Athenry, Co Galway.

A GALWAY village that lost its garda station last year has seen a significant increase in crime since the closure.

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Kiltullagh garda station in Co Galway was one of 100 stations that closed last year. At the time, local businesses and parish priest Fr Martin McNamara raised concerns about the move.

Since the closure, a local business owner, his wife and their son have been violently assaulted at their home – and six rare and valuable paintings have been stolen from the local church.

Christy Corcoran of the Kiltullagh Community Scheme said the recent spate of crime had left locals on edge.

"We can't say if the barracks had been here it wouldn't have happened, but the reality is it didn't happen so often when they were here.

"It was a deterrent – the church is right beside them.

"If we got the barracks back, we don't know if it would stop, but at least there would be a guard around the place. At the minute we are under the jurisdiction of Athenry, but it is not open 24/7," he added.

Mr Corcoran added that locals were now terrified.

"People are angry about this. Everyone, especially the older people, are frightened they will be next," he added.

In June of last year, six paintings were stolen from St Peter and Paul Church. Painted by Irish artist Evie Hone, they were of significant value. They have not been recovered.

Local businessman Frank Duane, who spoke out against the barracks closure last year, is the latest victim of crime in the area.

He, his wife Mary and his son Anthony sustained serious injuries when three intruders burst into their home last month.

Mrs Duane was forced to open the safe by one of the intruders, who brandished a shotgun they had taken from the house. The couple's son Anthony came in halfway through the ordeal.

"Anthony got the worst of it. He was hit across the head with an iron bar and a hammer. They could have killed him," Mr Duane told the Irish Independent.

The raiders made off with up to €10,000 from the safe.

This was the third time the family have been targeted.

"We've no way of saying this wouldn't have happened with the barracks open, but it might have been a deterrent if they knew the garda was right there.

"These types all know the station has been closed," he added.

Irish Independent

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