Offaly TD says Minister needs to do more to protect rural communities from crime
Sinn Féin Rural Affairs spokesperson Carol Nolan TD has called on Minister Flanagan to ensure that rural communities are protected from serious crime by providing sufficient numbers of Gardaí to these communities.
Teachta Nolan, who attended the large public meeting in County Offaly last night, said the announcement of an eight person Garda Task Force for the area, while welcome, will not solve the bigger problem of crime in rural areas and that the Minister must take bring forward an ambitious plan to increase garda numbers across the board.
Nolan said; “The potential for an escalation of violence in the wake of the vicious assault on Richie McKelvey from Co. Offaly in recent days, has been brought to the fore with revelations from citizens of Rural Ireland, that they are willing to take firearms into their bedrooms at night as a result of the nightmare that they have been left to live with due to the lack of Gardaí within rural communities."
“While Minister Flanagan’s implementation of a Garda Task Force is welcomed, it is far from what is needed as too many towns and villages in rural Ireland have seen their Garda stations either closed or downgraded."
“A survey published by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association last week found that 45% of people did not report instances of rural crime to the Gardaí," Carol added.
“A prime example of this, is the town of Clara in Co. Offaly which has a population of 3,242 people and once had a permanent Sergeant and four permanent Gardaí, has now been reduced to a part-time Garda who works between Tullamore and Clara."
“This is simply unacceptable and people in rural Ireland are no longer going to stand for it. Minister Flanagan must ensure that rural communities are protected from serious crime. I am calling on him to bring forward an ambitious plan to increase Garda numbers across rural Ireland," Nolan concluded.