Rural independents to push for rural crime task force in Dail

A Private Members Motion on rural crime is set to be brought to the floor of the Dail this evening by the Oireachtas Rural Independent Group.

The group is set to call for the establishment of a dedicated rural crime task force to ensure all relevant departments coordinate with An Garda Siochana to identify and address the specific challenges when dealing with rural crime.

The alliance is also set to call on Government to conduct an immediate review of the operation of the bail laws, specifically with respect to addressing the provision of free legal aid to repeat offenders and identifying possible abuses of the scheme.

Speaking on the group’s behalf, independent TD Mattie McGrath said that the issue of rural crime is now a consistent feature of community life and must be addressed in new and innovative ways where necessary.

“Our motion this evening makes some very specific long-term recommendations with respect to identifying and preventing rural crime and introducing greater fairness to the operation of the justice system.

“We remain convinced, however, that there are simple things that can also be done in the immediate term to create a greater sense of protection in rural Ireland,” the Tipperary TD outlined.

One of the most obvious is the need to increase garda visibility in rural communities. People want to see the local garda on patrol – not just for the protection of property against theft, but also for peace of mind on a day-to-day basis.

Deputy McGrath said that where such patrols are not possible due to cuts or station closures, people feel increasingly isolated and vulnerable.

“That is why we are also calling for a review of the trespass laws aimed at strengthening the rights of farmers and land owners to protect their property and their person.

“What we want to say is that rural communities are very much open to active collaboration with the Gardai and with all the various agencies and departments that can help in reducing the incidence of rural crime.

“That is why we will be pushing for a dedicated rural crime taskforce to be established on a permanent basis where such collaboration can be targeted and focused to achieve the best possible outcomes,” concluded deputy McGrath.

Task force

A dedicated rural crime task force has also been proposed by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in recent times.

Back in November, deputy president of the IFA RIchard Kennedy outlined suggestions made by the organisation to the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris in a meeting on the issue.

“Another issue we put forward was a task force to complement the Gardai in an area where there would be serious criminality and we would have a task force that would go into the areas and help out the local Gardai.

“That would be moving around the country and it would be solving crime as it went. We had seen an example of that in the UK where it worked quite well.

It would consist of four, maybe five, people of Gardai that would be specially designated to go into an area where there is crime happening and it isn’t being solved by the regular number of Gardai.

“So they would go in and obviously they’d be given whatever equipment was required, whether it was more cars or Land Rovers or whatever in order to stay in the area and solve the crime in the area,” Kennedy explained.