'Gangs are going to have a field day' - rural crime victims slam cut to garda overtime
Garda budget up by €60m to allow for recruitment of more officers, but concerns still raised over cuts to overtime
Rural crime victims fear cuts to garda overtime will lead to an increase in robberies and attacks, despite the Government announcing the recruitment of 800 gardaí in Budget 2019.
Farmer and butcher Clive Clarke, whose Offaly farm has been burgled six times in 13 years, believes "gangs will have a field day" with a reduction in the overtime allocation.
"We're going to be hit with a spate of crime on top of a bad summer and a bad winter," Mr Clarke told Independent.ie.
"They increased the number of checkpoints here after we experienced three years of non-stop robberies and the same gangs carrying them out, but now they're going to probably have less gardai patrolling so we're back to square one.
"We're coming into the winter, the long nights and it'll be open season. We might as well leave the gates open as it's a waste of time locking them. The guards on the ground do the best they can but if they don't have the time and equipment and means of doing their jobs, then there's nothing we can do to stop them [criminals]."
Mr Clarke said the hiring of more gardaí is welcome, but raised concerns about the safety of people in rural Ireland in the mean time as it will take time for them to be trained.
In 2016, €13,000 worth of equipment - including quad bikes, trailers, money, a tractor, road diesel, meat and butcher's knives - were taken from his premises in Barna near Moneygall.
"At what stage do they want us to go extinct? Things had improved recently but now people in rural Ireland will be living in fear again," Mr Clarke said.