Garda success a boost for alienated rural Ireland
Published 02/08/2016 | 02:30
These have not been the best of times for the gardaí: years of station closures, reductions in overtime and a lengthy embargo on recruitment have all taken their toll on morale.
Given such adverse circumstances, the news of a possible major breakthrough in the investigation of a sophisticated criminal operation targeting farmers is all the more welcome.
The investigation seems to have exposed just how elaborate and detailed these targeted raids on farmers appear to be.
Hopefully, the operation will help dissipate some of the anxiety that has built up in remote communities.
The sense of alienation and abandonment in parts of the country has been palpable. The gardaí have once more shown to their credit that, given the resources, they are second to none.
It was never in the national interest to deplete rural areas of vital infrastructure and resources.
Some 42pc of the population still live rurally, compared with an EU average of 27pc. Irish agriculture has been experiencing one of its most difficult periods in recent memory. Farm incomes have been under attack, with prices plummeting. The flooding also took an unprecedented toll on communities.
Any notion that they might be preyed upon by criminal gangs or that they may have been left unprotected needs to be dispelled once and for all.