Farm Ireland

Monday 23 October 2017

Legal limbo over scrap metal is a 'licence to rob'

ICMSA president John Comer
ICMSA president John Comer

Ken Whelan

The lack of legislation to deal with the sale of stolen scrap metal is a 'licence to rob' for the criminal gangs involved in farm and rural crime sprees, a farm leader has claimed.

ICMSA president John Comer described the slow progress on measures to combat illegal sale of scrap metal was a "missed opportunity".

It comes as Eir (formerly Eircom) reported 20 incidents of cable theft so far this year involving 7,000 metres of cabling at a cost of €36,000 being cut down by thieves hunting for copper to sell, while railway tracks, listed buildings and farmyards have all fallen victim.

Mr Comer described as "inexplicable" the failure of the Dail to move on the Scrap and Precious Metal Dealers Bill first proposed by Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath in 2012.

If that Bill had been passed much of the subsequent crime on farms and in rural areas would not have occurred, said Mr Comer.

It comes as Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has launched a consultative process on regulating the trade in precious metals. Mr McGrath said nothing in rural Ireland was safe from these gangs who regularly robbed railway gates, heritage monuments and telephony cables.

Mr McGrath was critical of the announcement of the consultative process as he plans to re-submit his scrap metal Bill in the Dail this week. "It a complete sham and a cynical pre-election gimmick to cover Government candidates from flak in rural constituencies," he said.

"My original Bill is there and can be amended by Minister Fitzgerald and can be enacted by November if she wants to do anything to combat this type of rural crime. The Minister doesn't have to waste taxpayers' money on a consultative process which will take over a year to complete," he added.

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He urged farmers at this week's Ploughing to press the visiting party leaders, especially the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to move to enact the Bill. "Every farmer in Ireland, every Garda and every politician know what these gangs are up to and how to combat this rural crime. There is no need for anymore consultation," he added.

The TD said he was hoping the Bill would help the Gardai identify the criminal gangs who were carrying out raids at farms and throughout rural Ireland by ending the non- traceability of stolen scrap and precious metal transactions.

The Bill, which had cross party support at the time, would have made it mandatory to conduct these scrap metal transactions on an invoice/cheque basis with the metal dealers forced to observe a month's holding period which would give the Gardai time to trace any goods. Gardai will today launch a community campaign focusing on burglary prevention at the Ploughing.

Indo Farming

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