Friday 20 September 2019

Authorities a little late facing up to rural crime

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They used to ride stallions and strike in the night as they terrorised the public highway.

But crime and technology have moved apace. Today's thugs still depend on raw horsepower to swoop on their prey - but it's courtesy of the high-powered expensive cars they steal.

No great surprise one might say, but the scale of the criminality and the relative ease with which it is visited on homes within striking distance of the capital is unnerving.

The data revealed today exposes the 'corridors of crime' that our main motorways, and prime roads, have become.

It's hardly astonishing that burglary rates are highest in commuter counties, and lowest in the more inaccessible parts.

But these figures once more underline just how indefensible was the shutting down of Garda stations, and the swingeing cutbacks in overtime and personnel.

Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan's announcement that 600 gardaí are to be recruited in 2016 must be regarded as an indication that the Government has finally woken up to the folly of taking essential resources out of the equation. Gardai have literally been playing catch-up for far too long. Funding for 200 new garda cars has also recently been approved.

And a new 'motorway patrol unit', with faster, more powerful vehicles to take on the gangs targeting rural communities, is also in the pipeline. These steps coupled with CCTV cameras at key positions at motorway entry and exit ramps are welcome indications of a new resolve to combat crime.

The alarming reports of frightened elderly people arming themselves in their own homes have evidently elicited a belated response. The fact that there is an election on the way, with heated exchanges on the hustings on the horizon, will also have concentrated hearts and minds.

Welcome though all these measures may be, they are unlikely to make up for the closure of the 139 Garda stations around the country.

Irish Independent

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