Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

IFA rural crime officer steps down

Colin Connolly
Colin Connolly

The IFA's rural crime-prevention expert has stepped down from the role.

Colin Connolly, a former garda with 11 years experience, vacated the position last December - just 13 months after his appointment in November 2015.

Speaking to the Farming Independent, Mr Connolly said he left the role for "personal reasons".

However, the IFA has declined to say whether it intends to fill the vacant position.

"I moved away from the position for personal reasons," said Mr Connolly. "The issue of rural crime is something I'm very passionate about and I'm now studying counselling and psychotherapy that deals with the victim.

"I believe there is a massive job of work to be done with regards isolation and mental health and loneliness," he said.

The IFA appointed a rural crime-prevention executive - the first position of its kind in Ireland - to support the development of its crime-prevention policy. This included an extension of TheftStop: a joint crime-prevention initiative with the Gardaí.

Although a spokesperson for the IFA confirmed that TheftStop is still operating, Mr Connolly has called on the organisation to appoint someone to the crime-prevention role as a matter of urgency.

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"The IFA need to fill the position or to re-examine their overall position with regards to rural crime," he said. "There is a commitment made to farmers in terms of Theft Stop and rural crime in the last few years, and IFA need to continue to work in that space."

Despite stepping down, Mr Connolly said he is still getting calls from worried farmers who fear they will be targeted.

"I know families that don't go on holidays now - they take turns going to mass so the house is not left empty.

"I'm not sure if the trust is there in the Gardaí for people to feel safe anymore," he said, adding that isolation can have a devastating impact on communities. "Fear of crime is real. When somebody hears of a robbery or a crime in the area, they are afraid."

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