Tuesday 27 September 2016

Rural crime and a call to action

Published 04/10/2015 | 02:30

In the 12 months from June 2014 to June 2015, there have been 28,830 burglaries in the country, or an average of approximately 80 a day. In itself that is a cause for outcry.
In the 12 months from June 2014 to June 2015, there have been 28,830 burglaries in the country, or an average of approximately 80 a day. In itself that is a cause for outcry.

The issue of rural crime is not new, but the extent of the problem has long been concealed behind lies, damned lies and statistics until the anger abates before the next time an individual or family is viciously attacked in what should be the sanctuary of their own home.

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The time for obfuscation is over, nuanced arguments about so-called modern policing methods at an end, projections of other ways to deal with marauding gangs of thugs long passed. In short, it is time to get real and deal with the realities on the ground as widely reported by this media company and others.

For decades, the people of rural Ireland have felt under siege in more ways than one, but never more pronounced than since the onset of this recession just passed. In truth, little more than lip-service has ever been paid down through the generations to the wilful neglect, the slow death of our rural communities.

At a basic minimum, people are entitled to feel safe when they close behind them the door of their homes. That is not a profound statement, but an expectation - a basic right of hundreds of thousands of decent families the length and breadth of the country who have contributed greatly and will continue to enhance, indeed adorn the society we all share, in which we all live and strive to improve, rich man and poor, young and old, urban and rural.

In the 12 months from June 2014 to June 2015, there have been 28,830 burglaries in the country, or an average of approximately 80 a day. In itself that is a cause for outcry. But as truly shocking as those figures are, it is not the true version of events. The Central Statistics Office has recently admitted that many crimes have gone unreported, in itself a damning indictment of the state of policing and the criminal justice system in this country.

Indeed, farmer David Thompson (75), who has been burgled three times in the past two years, but did not report the crimes, is a case in point. He has said there is no point as there is no Garda presence.

The Taoiseach has said he hopes a plan can be drafted to deal with the criminal gangs burgling houses and attacking homeowners throughout the country. "Obviously, the situation is not as satisfactory as we would wish,'' he has said, with remarkable understatement.

The Government has argued that it has reopened the Garda training college in Templemore, with 500 new recruits; introduced consecutive sentencing laws and allocated €27 million for Garda vehicles in recent years.

The Taoiseach has also said that a small number of gangs are responsible for carrying out the majority of burglaries and that it appeared that many of them were high on illegal substances as they created fearsome damage.

Mr Kenny makes the case against his own Government. If a small number of gangs are responsible, then An Garda Siochana should be provided with the manpower, overtime and vital resources to put an end to those gangs, and put their would-be successors out of business, no matter what it takes. No amount of 'ifs' and 'buts' will tell us otherwise. This is not the time for another forlorn cry of "stop". This is a demand to act, a call to action.

Sunday Independent

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