Rural crime top of the agenda as farmers’ group meets Justice Minister

Rural people want more resources in community policing, stiffer sentences for repeat offenders and closer consultation between rural stakeholders, local authorities and An Garda Siochana.

This was the message ICSA president Patrick Kent had for the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charles Flanagan, during the minister’s meeting with the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) to discuss the ICSA agricultural crime survey.

“The ICSA’s National Agricultural Crime Survey, undertaken in conjunction with WIT, revealed alarmingly that 45% of agricultural crime goes unreported for a variety of reasons.

These include little faith that the Gardaí have adequate resources to recover goods or catch the perpetrators and a sense that the justice system is not penalising these criminals sufficiently. We need to see these issues addressed urgently.

ICSA rural development chair Seamus Sherlock said he was acutely aware of many in rural areas who are afraid in their own homes.

Sherlock informed the minister it was essential that much more be done on ensuring that community policing was at the heart of the Garda strategy.

He stressed: “We need the local Garda to know the people, to know what’s going on and to be living close to the rural community.

This is not necessarily about Garda stations; it is about every citizen in rural Ireland knowing their local guard and having a sense that the Gardai are never far away.

ICSA is supportive of the CCTV initiative announced by Minister Flanagan which is making €3 million available to help install CCTV cameras.

“We need to use this funding as a first step in strategic rural areas where crime has been a problem to demonstrate that further funding will yield a positive dividend to the state in the fight against crime.

Crime is costing farmers an average of €4,328 and it is adding to insurance costs for everybody. The ICSA is urging community groups to apply for this funding.

“The ICSA believes that ongoing state help with maintenance of cameras will also be necessary and outlined this to the minister.”