Research shows that two thirds of farmers are now victims of crime

People in rural Ireland are outraged at the lenient approach to agricultural crime, according to the ICSA Rural Development Chairman, Seamus Sherlock.

Sherlock was speaking after a National Agriculture Crime Survey by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) indicated that two thirds of Irish farming families have been affected by crime relating to their farming enterprise.

Undertaken in conjunction with Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), the survey was devised by WIT lecturers Dr. Kathleen Moore Walsh and Louise Walsh.

The study examines crimes that occur solely on farms or relating to farming activities.

The results of the survey came as no surprise to Sherlock, as they were “in-keeping with the feedback he has been getting back from farmers all around the country”.

The ordinary decent people of rural Ireland are outraged that criminals seem to be acting with impunity.

“Even where insurance is in place, premiums are always at risk of rising significantly as a result of this type of crime,” he said.

“Worse still is that farmers are expected to fund expensive deterrents, such as electric gates and security cameras.

“Meanwhile, rural communities feel under siege due to a lack of Garda resources.

“Even where the Gardai are successful in catching criminals the perception is that they get off lightly in the courts and are given every benefit of the doubt,” he said.

However, no such flexibility is being shown to law-abiding citizens, he added.

At a recent meeting I was told a story about a frightened farmer who confronted intruders with his shotgun and within hours his shotgun was seized by Gardai.

“We also had a report recently from a farmer who was warned, by Gardai after a break-in, that if a gate fell on the thieves they might possibly sue him for compensation.

“These cases are adding to the sense of outrage and the ICSA is committed to bringing the issue of rural crime to the top of the political agenda,” Sherlock said.

‘Agricultural crime a bigger issue than Garda statistics suggest’

The results of the agricultural crime survey were startling, according to ICSA National President Patrick Kent.

The results of the survey reveal that the issue of agricultural crime is a far bigger issue than official Garda statistics would suggest.

“They would also suggest that the courts have adopted a far too lenient approach to offenders, particularly to repeat offenders.

“The rural community believes that the judicial system provides virtually no deterrent to this type of crime,” he said.