Research on agricultural crime reveals the extent to which the Government has abandoned farmers and people living in rural Ireland, according to Fianna Fáil Agriculture Spokesperson, Charlie McConalogue.

The National Agriculture Crime Survey found that two-thirds of farmers have been the victims of crime.

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“These statistics will come as no shock to anyone in the farming community or in rural Ireland,” said McConalogue.

“Despite Government spin to the contrary, we are all well aware of incidents in our communities whereby machinery, stock or property has been damaged or stolen. Time and again, I have raised the issue of rising rural crime, but the Government simply isn’t listening.

The closure of Garda stations over the past number of years has made life easier for criminals targeting rural areas.

“A strong Garda presence cannot be overestimated, and unfortunately many towns and villages have lost this essential resource. The much talked about ‘smart policing’ [policy] simply isn’t working,” he said.

“There have been a number of high-profile attacks in rural communities over the past number of months and there is a genuine fear among rural dwellers, especially older people.

“This Government has turned a blind eye towards this problem for too long. The figures in this report are stark and reveal the extent of the problem out there.

“Minister Frances Fitzgerald needs to start engaging with farming and rural organisations, so that she can fully understand the fear that is out there. Rural Ireland is simply not a priority for this Government, and that needs to change.”

National Agriculture Crime Survey

The out-workings of the National Agriculture Crime Survey were revealed yesterday, March 10, by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA). It indicated that two thirds of Irish farming families have been affected by crime relating to their farming enterprise.

The survey and accompanying research were undertaken by the ICSA in conjunction with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). The survey was devised by WIT lecturers Dr. Kathleen Moore Walsh and Louise Walsh. The study examined crimes that occurred solely on farms or relating to farming activities.