Age Action Ireland yesterday called for a government-funded personal alarm scheme to be reinstated after a "cowardly" attack on an 80-year-old woman in her Galway home.
The call came as gardai sought the public's help in finding her attacker, a man in his early 20s who assaulted the woman during a burglary at her home in Shantalla Road in the city.
The incident, described by gardai as an aggravated burglary, happened at around 12.30am on New Year's Day when a man entered the house where the woman was living.
During the course of the burglary the woman was assaulted by the young man before she managed to raise the alarm.
Gardai declined to reveal the nature of the assault on the woman but said the culprit fled the scene on foot.
They described him as tall, around 6ft in height, clean shaven, with short dark hair and aged in his 20s.
Gardai appealed to anyone who was in the vicinity of Shantalla Road between 11pm and 2am to contact them.
They asked anyone with information to contact them at Mill Street station on 091 538000, the Garda Confidential Line at 1800 666 111 or any garda station.
A spokesman for Age Action Ireland, who said they did not comment on specific cases, said they were horrified and disappointed that the new year had begun with such an incident for old people.
"These sort of attacks are particularly cowardly and nasty," said Gerard Scully.
The spokesman called on neighbours to look out for elderly people and keep an eye on strangers in the area.
He also called for a personal alarm scheme, which was under review, to be reinstated. The Government provides 95pc of the cost of such an alarm under the scheme.
A local city councillor for the area, Colette Connolly (Labour) said the attack "beggared belief".