Rural crime: Could electronic tagging be on the way for repeat offenders?

‘Rural crime is still an issue’: This was the key warning given by Muintir na Tire in its new year message to community groups across Ireland.

Muintir has made a number of recommendations to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice – which are being considered at present, according to the rural group.

These include restrictions on bail for repeat offenders; but, the organisation recognises that prison space is limited.

As a result, “practical” suggestions have been made, including: electronic tagging; restrictions on travel; and curfews.

As the national association for community development, Muintir na Tire administers the Community Alert programme – in partnership with An Garda Siochana.

Muintir na Tire national president, Michael Sweeney, said: “There is much positive happening in the area of community development at present. However, the issue of crime – and particularly the fear of crime – remains a very serious issue throughout rural Ireland.

“Recent high-profile crimes in the midlands and other areas are not acceptable. Rural communities cannot be abandoned and left in fear. Elderly and vulnerable people are leaving their homes because of this fear. We must take a stand against this.

“In our work with An Garda Siochana, and the Department of Justice and Equality, we constantly highlight this issue – and there have been some successes from this.

However, communities must also act for themselves, and an active community alert group is one of the best deterrents possible.

Meanwhile, Muintir na Tire CEO, Niall Garvey, also commented on the issue, stating: “We now work with over 1,400 community alert groups nationwide, and it has been acknowledged where a group is active and progressive, crime in the area decreases.

“There are many supports available to community groups and individuals. These include the very successful Community Text Alert system and the revamped Community CCTV programme.

“We administer the Community Alert Rebate programme on behalf of the Department of Justice and Equality, which contributes towards the costs of this scheme for communities.

“Community alert groups are also the largest providers of socially-monitored panic alarms under the Seniors Alert Scheme and we encourage all people over 65 to avail of this scheme,” Garvey added.

We have also recently launched our new Cairde mobile app, which will change how communities communicate. It includes – among other features – a panic alarm which will be very useful for those under 65, who cannot avail of the Seniors Alert Scheme.

Muintir na Tire was founded in 1937 as the National Association for Community Development. It works directly with over 200 community councils, both rural and urban.