Thursday 27 October 2016

Officers on ground in despair as cuts kill off rural safety

Paul Williams

Published 29/08/2015 | 02:30

Gardaí at the scene in Doon where John O’Donoghue collapsed and died after being confronted by intruders at his home
Gardaí at the scene in Doon where John O’Donoghue collapsed and died after being confronted by intruders at his home

The tragic death of John O'Donoghue is a reminder of why elderly people living in rural Ireland feel fearful, vulnerable and isolated. No one is ever likely to be charged with causing his death because he had a bad heart and had already undergone bypass surgery.

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Nevertheless, no one can deny that his death was connected to the sudden and traumatic realisation that intruders had invaded the sanctity of his home.

Despite the quick and courageous response of a local garda and one of John's neighbours, which led to the apprehension of the culprits, this incident has shattered the peace of mind of the other elderly people living in this otherwise tranquil area.

Gardaí on the ground - the real police officers who know what is happening - say that they simply do not have the resources any longer to adequately cover large areas of rural Ireland.


They admit that right across Ireland there is a continuing rise in crime, as gangs of various hues target areas left vulnerable as a result of an execrable diminution of resources.

In every county, gardaí are telling us how their services to the public have been depleted to such an extent that large areas simply do not have any kind of police cover.

This Government pursued a policy of closing small garda stations with an enthusiasm that could only be matched by the thugs who are terrorising people.

The response from Garda HQ is to placate their political masters by telling us that everything is alright.

There is no explanation forthcoming either of how the new 'victim-centred' policing plan announced by Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan applies to the people being robbed across the country on a daily basis.

This initiative involves writing every crime victim a letter which begins with the words: "I am sorry to learn that you were the victim of a crime recently." In many cases, the victims never hear from the gardaí again.

So the implied purpose of this waste of paper is to reassure the victims that the gardaí feel their pain but there is not much else they can do about it.

Irish Independent

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