Rural CCTV systems face two-year delay for approval

Stock picture
Stock picture
IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.

Martin Ryan

Red tape is delaying the installation of CCTV cameras in rural locations by up to two years, farm leaders have claimed.

Communities throughout the country have stepped up the campaign for increased garda visibility and expansion of rural CCTV after the recent attack on Richie McKelvey, a 54-year-old farmer, who was assaulted in his home in Brosna, on the Tipperary/Offaly border.

Gardai attended IFA meetings in Tipperary and Limerick last week and heard farmers express "real fear" for their safety.

IFA spokesman Jer Bergin (Laois) told the meeting in Tipperary that the time-frame for installing CCTV cameras at motorway exits and other locations needed to be speeded up "because two years is too long".

He also supported a plea from gardai for farmers to ID-mark their equipment.

"We are going to make ID-marking an issue to be raised at branch meetings, which are now commencing," he said.

"We will see if it is possible that a service to mark and photograph equipment for farmers can be organised at local level in each branch area."

Sergeant Tom O'Dwyer, Crime Prevention Officer, Thurles said that the installation of cameras to monitor public roads has to be a "community-based" undertaking and requires the approval of the Garda Commissioner.

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The lengthy delays in the process are due to issues under Data Protection Act and rights to privacy.

He added that while farmers are entitled to install cameras within their own farmyards and lands, these cameras cannot be used to monitor public roads without procedural approval.

Three CCTV schemes at M8/M7 motorway junctions in Littleton, Burgess and Birdhill which were initiated in early 2016 have yet to be completed.

Meanwhile, farmers at an IFA meeting in Adare, Co Limerick also heard a garda plea for more ID-marking.

"We have recovered tons of farm equipment, but tracing the owners of the property is the trouble," said Garda Inspector Alan Cullen, Newcastlewest.

"We cannot bring a prosecution without proof of ownership - that is a big problem for us," he said.

"A quad with a tracking devise was taken in the area and abandoned a short distance away because they knew that there was nothing that they could do with it. If the equipment is marked, it cannot be sold on."

He also warned farmers that they should "stay away from intruders if you find them on your property - stay at a distance and call the gardai".

IFA deputy president Richard Kennedy told the meeting that greater garda presence and visibility is required to tackle rural crime.

"I have travelled over 100,000km since May last year at all hours of the day and night and I have been stopped by gardai not more than three times. There is no visibility of gardai on the ground," said Mr Kennedy.

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