‘People have reached breaking point with rural crime – we want Operation Cure’

People in rural Ireland have reached breaking point and they want something that works, an ‘Operation Cure’, according to Ronnie Owens, a Co.Meath farmer.

Owens was speaking on Newstalk about an upcoming rural crime meeting in Trim; a follow on from the meeting earlier this year in Thurles.

“Now is the time to speak up. People feel threatened in their own homes. People have had enough,” he said.

Owens told Newstalk how a gang came onto his property and attempted to steal tools in his workshop at 4am.

“They were interrupted by a German chap that was living with us on the farm. He went out with a flashlight and roared at them and they scampered like thieves do,” he said.

They had found an empty wheelbarrow and had some of the tools in it and were ready to make off with them

Also speaking on Newstalk was Malachy Sullivan, who’s not a farmer but works in installing and repairing sewage systems.

“At the height of the Celtic Tiger, we had a lot of equipment and a few employees.

“They cleaned out our tool shed, they were caught eventually after great work by dedicated Gardai. I had stickers and had the stuff identifiable; they were convicted,” he said.

Speaking about the Gardai’s Operation Thor, he said it was a joke.

It was a knee-jerk reaction to the rural crime meeting in Thurles to kick the can down the road for another six months or so.

“The reality is that if you drill through the figures we have a 1970s police force, the Gardai are under- resourced continuously.

“In Slane, in 1940 there was one sergeant and seven guards when there was 300 in the area.

“Now, we only got a sergeant back in recent times and a couple of guards and there’s about 3,000 in the village,” he said.

Sullivan said that the Gardai are grossly underequipped and to look along the border; that there isn’t enough of them there.

Speaking about the upcoming meeting in Trim, Owens said that crime is so bad in the area at that they are expecting a record crowd.

“I went to the Thurles Save Our Community meeting and I was astonished to see the hotel jammed an hour before the meeting began.

“It’s exactly the same in the northwest; there’s not a household in the country that hasn’t been targeted; it’s the continuity of it and the out of control nature.

“Before the election there should be a proper policy to do with this,” he said.

The Save Our Community rural crime meeting in Trim, takes place at the Knightsbrook Hotel on November 24.

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