Longford councillor says there is an urgent need to tackle gangs and support rural communities

Cllr Joe Flaherty

Cllr Joe Flaherty

Ahead of the Fianna Fail party's public meeting on rural crime in Abbeyshrule on Monday night, Cllr Joe Flaherty has hit out at the Government's record on rural policing.

The Government closed 139 Garda stations across rural Ireland, and according to Cllr Flaherty, this allowed criminals to target it.

He said; "The Government has constantly denied there is a problem with rural crime saying that the statistics are down but this is not the experience of families living in rural Ireland.

“Nowhere is it more obvious than here in Co Longford with gangs of marauding criminals targeting homes, farms,businesses and terrorising the elderly."

The General Election candidate added; "The failure of government to respond to the pressing need for more Gardaí on the ground, improved CCTV together with the greater ability for criminals to access rural Ireland via the improved motorway network have both had a real impact.

“There have been reports of particularly distressing crimes over recent months including violent armed robbery carried out on vulnerable older people living in the midlands and in areas that happen to be without a nearby 24 hour Garda presence."

Cllr Flaherty argues that the recent wave of crime in rural areas is alarming and has left people terrorised in their own communities.
He continued; "There is also a growing drug problem in rural Ireland that is also having an impact on crime.

“While gardaí locally on the ground have been doing their best to respond to this problem, they do not have the adequate resources to respond effectively.

“There is a serious shortage of manpower and equipment to allow for a rapid and effective response when needed."

He urged the public to attend the public meeting in the Rustic Inn Hotel next Monday night, February 26 at 8pm where Jim O'Callaghan TD, the party's spokesperson on Justice, will outline the Fianna Fail party's key policies on tackling crime and these include:
- increase the numbers of Gardaí on the ground in local communities;
- reopen garda stations in rural areas that are vulnerable to criminal activity and without a nearby 24 hour garda presence;
- increase funding and support for Garda controlled CCTV that can be used by an Garda Siochana to detect and deter criminal activity;
- encourage and promote GPS tracking and location devices to help protect against the robbery of farming machinery and equipment;
- amend bail laws to make electronic monitoring a condition of bail where an application for bail is made by a person who has been convicted of a serious offence in the 10 years prior to the application or where the person is alleged to have committed the offence whilst on bail for a separate offence;
- introduce a mechanism whereby the cost of the legal aid granted can be recouped from a person charged and convicted of an offence if that person’s financial means substantially changes.

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