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High price was paid to protect families and homes

Ten years ago, on October 14, 2004, farmer Padraig Nally shot dead a Traveller, John 'Frog' Ward, on his farm in Co Mayo.

Mr Nally was subsequently convicted of manslaughter and received a six-year prison sentence. He appealed his conviction and was later cleared of all charges and released.

It was a hugely controversial case at the time and fuelled a public debate about the rights of householders to defend themselves from intruders.

Mr Nally received huge public support for his actions.

I was reminded of the circumstances of this tragic case last week when I tuned in to Sean O'Rourke's show on RTE radio.

Padraig Nally was his guest and spoke of the horrific events leading up to the shooting of John Ward and his subsequent trial.

Mr Nally remembers the 10,000 letters he received supporting him following the dark days of his imprisonment.

The case caused a sea change in public attitudes and resulted in the enactment of a new law setting out in detail how far a citizen might engage in violent action in defence of himself or his family.

For the first time, the law set out the inalienable right of a citizen to defend himself, his home and his family using force - including lethal force.

As a result of this legislation a man's home is his castle.

The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of John Ward and the subsequent vindication of Padraig Nally were instrumental in the introduction of this much-needed legislation.