Villagers fight crime with CCTV

Shanahoe village in Co Laois has raised close to €40,000 to install 24 CCTV cameras.
Shanahoe village in Co Laois has raised close to €40,000 to install 24 CCTV cameras.

A Laois village has tackled rising levels of rural crime by blanketing the area in hi-tech CCTV cameras.

Over 200 households and landowners in and around Shanahoe raised close to €40,000 to install 24 cameras on every approach road to the village to monitor traffic 24 hours a day. Signage indicating the presence of CCTV cameras has also been erected.

Beef farmer Jimmy Ryan, and members of Shanahoe Community Alert launched the initiative on Saturday following three years of research and fundraising.

Mr Ryan, who had diesel stolen from his yard, said that there was a "fear" of crime gangs using the local M7 as a highway for easy access and, crucially, escape from the area.

A series of burglaries on St Patrick's Day 2013 galvanised the community into action, with planning permission sought from Laois County Council.

Installation began in October 2015, with electricity from local homes and local tradesmen volunteering to erect the system.

"Everything was done voluntarily. We didn't get a grant and the first camera was up just before Christmas," said another villager, Patrick Kirk.

However, the IFA's rural crime prevention officer, Colin Connolly warned people not to view the development as a replacement for policing.

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"This should rolled out across the country. However, I would strongly advise that these systems should not be seen as a replacement for the gardai, but rather they should be used to support them."

Mr Connolly noted that Shanahoe was following a similar initiative in nearby Dunmore, which was part-funded by the national exchequer.

"I would encourage our elected representatives to look at how more of these projects can be facilitated and supported financially," he said.

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