Rural crime ‘a growing problem for Meath after cut in Gardai numbers’

The weaker Garda presence in Co. Meath in recent years has coincided with a spike in crime and rural thefts, according to Meath West TD Peadar Toibin.

In 2013, Gardai numbers were cut by 25 with the closure of Garda stations in the rural towns of Kilmessan and Crossakiel, despite a persistent rise in the county’s population.

As such, the Sinn Fein TD is holding a public meeting on Tuesday, July 11, at 8:00pm in the Newgrange Hotel, Navan, to pull in experts to address the issue.

Speaking to AgriLand, Toibin said: “The cause is the displacement of crime out of Dublin due to the big increase in [policing] over the Hutch-Kinahan crime war. There are a number of criminals who find it difficult to operate in Dublin coming to Meath.

“There is also organised crime. This involves taking tools from farms including lawnmowers, generators, power tools, and so on. They are being collected and shipped off to other countries.

We’re in a strange place; while Meath has a lot of rural areas, it also has a big population. But Meath and Kildare are at the bottom in terms of Garda per capita.

“In 2011, the number of Gardai in Meath stood at 302 – this figure was just 277 in 2015 so it’s down 8% over that period. However, the Meath population is increasing quite radically. It had one of the biggest growths in population between the last two censuses.”

Figures from the Central Statics Office (CSO) showed Co. Meath’s rural and urban population grew by almost 11,000 between 2011 and 2016, with Navan among the most populated areas in the country.

Cattle thefts

Meanwhile, previous figures – released in March of this year – from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine showed Leinster was the worst-affected region for cattle thefts in 2016, mainly due to the high numbers reported in counties Kildare and Wexford.

However, there had been no reports of stolen cattle in counties Carlow, Longford, Cavan, Leitrim and Tipperary from the beginning of 2015 right up until March of this year, according to the department.