Garda U-turn after snub to huge meeting on border crime crisis
Garda authorities in a border division snubbed a request for assistance from the organisers of a community-based public meeting on rural crime.
The organisers of the 'Save our Local Communities' event at the Knightbrook Hotel in Trim tomorrow had asked gardaí to inform the users of a text alert system about the meeting.
But they said they were "shocked and disappointed" when senior gardaí turned down the request.
However, the organisers said that this rejection was in sharp contrast to the "excellent support" they had received from the Garda authorities in Louth and Meath.
Malachy Sullivan, the secretary of the committee behind the Trim meeting, said he first made contact with the supervisor of the text alert in the Cavan/Monaghan Division last Monday.
Gardaí administer text alert groups in Cavan and Monaghan for which members of the public pay a yearly subscription.
"Our request was that the gardaí would put out a notification that a meeting on rural crime would be held in Trim on Tuesday November 24," Mr Sullivan said. But he was informed that senior gardaí had refused the request.
"Everyone involved here are shocked and disappointed by this snub," he said.
However, yesterday evening Garda headquarters was forced to intervene and overturn the decision following a query from the Irish Independent.
Within an hour of receiving an email from this newspaper, Mr Sullivan was informed the notification would be sent out.
"It is amazing that it took a media enquiry to force the Garda authorities to help us," he added. "All of us who are involved in this meeting are involved in text alert systems in Meath and Louth and we work very closely with the local gardaí, who are terrific."
The Trim meeting tomorrow night is a continuation of the national debate on rural crime which was launched in Thurles last month and attended by more than 2,000 people.
Fuel laundering, smuggling and cattle rustling being carried out by gangs from South Armagh have become a major problem.
"In this region we have had two brave gardaí murdered in as many years and across the whole border region there is a real sense of fear of the types of gangs operating," said Ronnie Owens who is the chairman of the organising committee.
"Many of the victims in this region are afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals because of a menacing environment."