Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox
Elizabeth McLoughlin, and Ollie Keane from Cloghan, Co Offaly, are vets and were burgled twice in the space of five weeks, last December and January.
Ironically, on both
On the first occasion the thieves popped the door open, and were in and out swiftly after searching for cash; it took them just over five seconds.
This was a professional hit, carried out by guys who had done their research. The second time, the partners weren’t so lucky.
The video showed the thieves targeting the house next door, then coming to the
Five guys this time.
Again the video showed all five of them, one of whom was clearly identifiable.
Elizabeth posted the images on Facebook. Although it was as clear as day the identity of one male who was responsible, no arrests were
Elizabeth was distraught and upset.
“It was five males the second time,” said McLoughlin. “We had a clear CCTV image of them. They even turned on all the lights in the clinic.”
In frustration, she had posted video footage of the thieves on Facebook seeking information and even though 30 comments were posted, each identifying the same man out of the five, nobody has been arrested or charged.
She was even warned that she could be sued for posting the image of one of them online.
“They came in and destroyed our clinic and caused so much damage and they can sue us. It is just madness,” she said. “Five weeks after the first one, I was so angry. It is soul-destroying.”
The targeting of the couple’s clinic is among the many recent instances of larceny and violent incidents in rural areas which have alarmed rural communities.
Crime statistics show that burglaries have declined sharply in the past few years but this is cold comfort to those who have suffered loss or injury.
Richard McKelvey, a Co Offaly farmer, was beaten and robbed by a gang of four men on his farm near Birr, seventeen days ago.
This was the second time in six weeks that Richie has been robbed. The most recent time he suffered facial injuries and was locked in a shed. He is now terrified .....a
Elizabeth McLoughlin says “I am terrified of our house being burgled and have been ever since the clinic was burgled. I would never have batted an eyelid before but there have been so many burglaries since then. Every day the phone is going off with a burglary around or suspicious activity.”
Locals feel that the loss of a Garda presence, as a result of the closure of rural stations, means the criminals feel ever freer to come to rural areas and rob any place that takes their fancy.
As a result, local people have no option but to police their own areas, and sooner or later a criminal will be shot, without a doubt.
“I am only 31,” said McLoughlin. “I cannot imagine what it is like for older people on their own. One older person said to me: ‘It is grand for
Local politicians are concerned that anxiety could escalate an already bad situation if someone overreacts (?) at the sight of an unfamiliar car pulling into a farmyard or a knock on the door at night.
“I know for a fact that farmers in my constituency are now carrying shotguns and talking about carrying shotguns,” said Offaly county councillor John Leahy, leader of Renua Ireland. “We are not
Leahy goes further citing Operation Thor, the government initiative started two years ago, “helped at first”, but in
There is one obvious outcome to all this outrage. The farmers and local people will begin to fight back.
Leahy describes the M4/M6 motorway as “a runway” through the
Fear in one local politician's area, Carol Nolan of Sinn Féin, TD for Offaly and Tipperary North is so great that she heard callers to a local radio station talking about bringing shotguns to bed with them at night.
Ms Nolan is in no doubt that more Garda
“They are being dragged across a wide area which is leaving small, rural communities vulnerable to criminal gangs and the gangs are aware of that.”
We appreciate that the Gardai, those who are out and about, are doing their best. But there is no doubt about the fact, that farmers and others are quite seriously considering taking the
I believe that people have openly discussed taking arms, and using them. That’s how grave it is.
I don’t think the government quite realises how serious it has become.
Read more from Mattie Fox: An alarm makes it safer for older people to remain independent