A decent man dies outside his door
Published 29/08/2015 | 02:30
You don't have to go back too many generations to remember a time when a key could be left in a village hall door or when an elderly person could expect a modicum of respect in the street. As the tragedy of John O'Donoghue will attest, even a locked door can be an invitation - and an elderly person an added inducement - to burgle and terrorise.
Mr O' Donoghue, who was described by villagers as "a very decent man", died just yards from his hall door, collapsing in the footsteps of the fleeing thieves, who had just ransacked the home he shared with his sister. He had a heart attack and the locals believe he died from shock. His traumatised sister Christina tried to revive him.
Local parish priest Fr Tony Ryan gave him the Last Rites. Fr Ryan did not mince his words. He spoke of the fear that people live in since the garda station in Doon was closed, along with so many others around the country. The nearest station now is 32km away.
Mr O'Donoghue was 62. In that time, there is little doubt that he watched his country become a colder and more lawless place. Fr Ryan feels that their village has been let down by politicians. Life, both rural and urban, has become more impersonal. It has been ruefully suggested that while we may be relatives in the village, we invariably become strangers in the city. There is a truth in that.
Yet the pace of that change has been dangerously accelerated by short-sighted centralised decision makers who do not have to suffer the consequence of their actions.
Garda stations, post offices, local banks and schools are all vanishing, rendering village and small-town life all the harder. It also makes it easier for the thugs to strike. They now don't even wait until night falls, so emboldened have they become, thanks to the lack of gardaí.
If the forces of law and order are not given the resources, the criminals will exact a very heavy price.