WATCH: 'He's destroyed' - Sister of farmer dragged from bed and beaten by gang 'will never return home'
The sister of a farmer who was attacked at the weekend wants more gardai based in rural communities, CCTV cameras at motorway exits and ample resources allocated to fight rural crime.
Nurse Annette Meacle's 54-year-old brother Richard McKelvey was dragged from his bed and beaten by a gang of four men at his home in Glassderry beg, Brosna near Birr, Co Offaly in the early hours of Saturday morning. She doesn't believe her brother will ever return to the family home.
Mr McKelvey, a bachelor farmer who lived alone with his dog, fell victim to criminals six weeks ago when all of his elderly mother's jewellery was stolen from the same house. Mrs Meacle said her brother had upped his security after the incident.
However, in the early hours of Saturday morning four men burst into his bedroom and savagely beat him and his sheepdog. They continued to attack him and demand money before tying him up and locking him in a barn. He managed to escape and raise the alarm at a neighbours house before being taken to hospital with head injuries.
Mrs Meacle believes motorway access has allowed rural areas in the centre of Ireland to become a "feeding ground" for roving criminals. She said rural Ireland is the backbone of urban Ireland and Gardai should be resourced to protect its residents.
"Put the local community guards back into the community, back into their garda station," she told RTE. "Give them a presence so that they know the local knowledge and they know the people," she said. Mrs Meacle also called for CCTV to cover motorway exits to help identify roving criminals.
Mrs Meacle expressed her thanks to the community for their support in the wake of the attack. She was particularly thankful to the farming community for all of their support and assistance.
Gardai at Birr have appealed to farmers, residents and landowners in the Shinrone area to keep a look out for clothing possibly discarded in fields or hedges.