Superintendent warns against vigilante activities as locals plan to patrol rural roads

TD proposes locals patrol rural roads at night and should have access to taser guns and pepper spray

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Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A Garda Chief Superintendent strongly warned rural communities not to engage in vigilante type activities as anger and fear continue to mount following a recent attack on a farmer in Offaly.

It comes as Roscommon-East Galway TD, Michael Fitzmaurice calls for local communities around the country to have a van and that it would be manned at night by people just keeping an eye on what was going on.

However, Garda Chief Superintendent John Scanlon speaking to Midlands 103 at a public meeting in Coolderry Co Offaly organised in the wake of the attack on 54-year-old farmer Richie McKelvey warned against any such activities.

“I would strongly suggest that any type of vigilante patrolling would not go on.

“You might get comfort out of doing it. People do it in areas for awhile, and it never lasts.

“Some people get into a tangle with people in error or by misinterpreting what somebody is doing. There could be an awful tragedy,” he said.

The entrance to Richie McKelvey's farm at Coolderry, Co. Offaly today,
The entrance to Richie McKelvey's farm at Coolderry, Co. Offaly today, PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN

Superintendent Scanlon encouraged those who want to make a difference in this area to join the Garda reserve.

However, Deputy Fitzmaurice disagreed with this assessment.

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“It was just people looking out for others in their own area.  But we have to do something. It is wrong that people are prisoners in their own homes afraid to go to sleep at night.

“Then we have the situation where a lot of these thugs are out on bail and are running riot around the country."

"I know that things like pepper spray and taser guns are illegal in this country but people should have access to ways of defending themselves and it is something that we should consider.

“Instead of protecting the elderly people who are living in fear we are concentrating on how we can put people off the road in rural areas. It's time we got our priorities right and protected the most vulnerable people in our society" he concluded.

Fitzmaurice also said he believes when the local community Garda was lost to rural communities we lost contact with people on the ground.

“The community Garda knew what was going on in local areas and people had trust in them. We now have a situation where there might be one patrol car to cover a huge area. Those Gardai are doing their best, but they cannot be everywhere.

“These thugs don't just arrive into a farmyard without some kind of local knowledge being passed on so that's where the local community Guard would be invaluable," he said.

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