Farmers living in so-called 'wild west' reveal true fear of rural crime
A 67-year-old farmer who has been the victim of crime five times has told how thieves stole €40,000 worth of grain from him.
Brian Carberry from Ardee, Co Louth, said 200 tonnes of grain were taken from his farm on December 13, 2013 at 3.30am.
The cost of the crime was three-fold, he said, because the thief also damaged his farm building, and the farmer also had to buy the same amount of grain again to fulfil a pre-signed contract with a buyer.
"We feel very bitter and hurt about the whole thing," Brian told the Irish Independent's Special Correspondent Paul Williams. "You're living in fear afterwards as well... We want justice."
His son Gavin told a packed audience at the Irish Independent Talks Stage at the National Ploughing Championships that rural Ireland was now like the "wild west". "It's not only the effect of the crime on the farmer; my mother who is there 45 years, she wants to sell the farm," Gavin said.
During the heated and emotional debate, Assistant Garda Commissioner Jack Nolan said the force was "upping" its game against rural crime.
He said: "We need individuals and communities to work together to reduce crime. Criminals are more sophisticated. The community and An Garda Síochána have to adapt."
When heckled by the crowd on the number of officers stationed in rural areas, he said 60pc of 300 new recruits had been employed in rural areas.
"People will see younger and newer members across the country," he added.
But only three people raised their hands when Mr Williams asked who knew a local guard.