‘We sleep with loaded shotguns..it’s not a question of if they’ll be used it’s how soon’

Farmers in parts of rural Ireland are sleeping with loaded shotguns and it’s not a question of if they’ll be used it’s how soon, Clive Clarke, a Tipperary farmer has said.

Clarke, speaking on Newstalk radio, was burgled two nights ago making it the sixth time he’s been targeted.

“A group of men cut their way through the security fence into our farm and removed a tractor from where it’s parked in front of my shed.

“They burst open steel doors and proceeded then to steal a quad, trailers and other equipment from the shed.”

Clarke said that not alone did they do that but they broke into his butchers business on the same night.

They stole knives, money they took meat. We might as well be prisoners now at this stage.

The Tipperary farmer said that the Gardai are excellent, but the laws are not in place to let the Gardai do their job properly.

“If the Gardai suspect somebody, they have to have an air-tight case to be able to obtain a search warrant.

“We’re trying to farm with the threat every day of the environmental people, the Department of Agriculture…every one of them can walk into our farm at any time to do any inspection.

“So not alone are they coming at night to rob you they’re coming during the day with a shirt and tie.”

Clarke said that there’s two families living on the farm and they have strong reason to believe that both houses were being watched.

“If we had heard anything and come out [we have reason to believe that] we would have been attacked personally.

It’s gone to the stage now where they’re wondering how we’re going to help people who are under so much pressure that they’re committing suicide – they need to address this situation.

“There’s nobody actually out there, there’s no TDs no nothing. They’re all telling you ‘oh we’ll get more Gardai’. They won’t. They’ll take pay rises and line their own pockets.

“In our area and in several other areas farmers are now patrolling at night, armed patrols.

“There’s licensed firearms holders patrolling areas of the countryside at night because they’re in such fear.

Clarke said it’s not a question of if the firearms are used it’s a question of how soon. It’s gone to the stage where people are so terrified, he said.

He said that after one of the robberies last year, he spent months sleeping in a shed [waiting to be attacked again].