Farmers in eight rural parishes straddling the Limerick-Tipperary border are to pioneer a community-based crime prevention system for the protection of elderly in their own homes over the course of the coming months.
The scheme, which will be run in conjunction with the gardai, has taken three months to draft and is intended as a blueprint for a national scheme involving farmers and rural dwellers.
Spearheading the innovation, Limerick IFA's vice-chairman David Thompson said that the scheme is a community reaction to bring more peace of mind to the elderly in rural areas "who are living in a state of fear in their own homes".
"We have examined every neighbourhood watch scheme in the country and worked with Muintir na Tire, and the Garda Commissioner to devise a basis for a national scheme," he said.
Mr Thompson explained that one of the main motivations for the initiative was the huge community reaction to a spate of attacks in east Limerick earlier this year.
"Our objective is to minimise crime in the area. We know that this can be done by us, the people fully co-operating in an effective, efficient scheme which is based on quick communication and a speedy response," he added.
The scheme, which is also supported by Ballyhoura LEADER, will be outlined at a meeting at Pallasgreen, Co Limerick on Thursday night.
It involves compiling a register of all residents over 65 years in the coverage area, logging of precise directions to each residence, the provision of communication equipment for all senior citizens and the appointment of key volunteer leaders in each local area who are familiar with the elderly in their area.
The scheme hinges on an assurance from the local gardai of immediate response to any calls.
JOINT EFFORT: Garda aid