Rural communities live in fear of crime, garda chief admits
GARDA Commissioner Martin Callinan has acknowledged that people in isolated rural communities are living in fear of crime.
"I would be naive in the extreme not to believe that people out there in rural communities and isolated communities are concerned, but crime is something that we have had with us for a long, long time and unfortunately crime is something that will remain with us," he said.
"My job as the Garda Commissioner and the job of my colleagues is to ensure, (while) working with the communities, that we will target the individuals who engage in crime."
The commissioner was responding to a new survey showing 81pc of farmers felt they should have a right to own a gun to protect themselves, a figure widely interpreted as a lack of trust in the gardai.
Mr Callinan said the fear of crime was a difficult issue but they were working with communities to create confidence.
He stressed that the gardai were having real success in targeting criminals engaged in burglary and aggravated burglary, as borne out by the latest statistics.
The new community text alert initiative launched at the Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Co Laois, was a great example of how gardai could work with communities to reduce rural crime, he said.
The scheme will allow local gardai to send text alerts to community leaders from the Irish Farmers Association, Muintir na Tire and neighbourhood watch to warn of potential threats, such as suspicious vehicles in their area.
It is a one-way system as local residents will continue to contact the gardai by telephone or in person to report any suspicious activity they witness.
Mr Callinan said he was very pleased to see that the latest Central Statistics Office figures showed crime was down in 12 of the 14 categories, particularly in burglaries.
"We've had a tremendous campaign over the last 18 months or so to try to deal with the prolific increase in burglaries that have been occurring for many, many years."