Farmers 'living in fear' of young offenders
Farmers in north Co Dublin are "living in fear" following a spate of incidents at the State's youth detention centre at Oberstown.
In recent weeks inmates have caused over €2m of damage and five escaped for six hours, during which the garda helicopter and tracker dogs were used to track down the escapees.
"Families were told to lock themselves in their homes, and close all the windows," said local farmer and food processor Michael Hoey. "It's only a matter of time before lads out cutting cabbages or counting sheep get caught up in this."
Local residents met last week to air their fears and demand prison-warden staff to be introduced to the facility to control the youths.
"Since they shut down St Pat's, there's a lot of serious crime fellas have been moved to Oberstown. These guys spend all day working out in the gym, so even a fit young farmer would be no match for them," said Mr Hoey.
Residents in the rural area are also worried about the inmates' visitors scoping out their homes as they come and go.
"There's a lot of older people living on their own, and the next time these young lads escape they will target a getaway car or a jeep," said local cereal farmer, Cyril Sheridan.
There were over 100 violent incidents reported at the centre last year, resulting in over 3,000 sick days for the 65 staff.