By Sean Ryan
The people of County Tipperary have vowed to save their local community after nearly 2,000 people attended a meeting in the Anner, Thurles, last night to protest at the huge increase in rural crime.
Mary Morrissey was speaking at the meeting on rural crime in Tipperary last night.
Mrs Morrissey is a widow, whose rural home was burgled, and has said she now sleeps with a shotgun beside her bed.
Mary Morrissey told Tipp FM and those gathered at the meeting that her life has changed since she was robbed
“I never thought I would be going to bed at night with a gun in one corner and cartages in the room next door. What they took was only material things a couple thousand euros worth,” Mrs Morrissey said.
“They were items which were of sentimental value, they belonged to my late husband.
“I live on my own now, I know all the soaps on at night-time because I stay up at night-time and I might go to bed around 4am.”
I saw ministers here tonight and I would love to send a letter with them: Dear Enda and Ms Fitzgerald, you have failed us.”
In recent months a number of rural farms have been hit as well as well as elderly people been attacked in their homes.
The meeting which was chaired by crime journalist Paul Williams heard that thousands of euros of expensive tools and equipment have been stolen from farmers who live within a five mile radius of Thurles town.
There were several contributions from the floor on the impact of rural crime.
Speaking at the meeting which lasted for almost three hours Barry O'Gorman, a dairy farmer from Athnid in Thurles who has been a victim of crime on several occasions, said: "Dangerous criminals are taking advantage of the lack of rural policing.
"Local communities are now determined to organise a united front to tackle this growing crime wave."
He described how many families are taking “drastic measures” to protect both themselves and their property, something that has impacted heavily on the fabric of country life.
"For example a lot of people are getting automatic gates - it’s suddenly like everybody is living in a prison,” he said.
“Sometimes the gates into a farmyard are closed at all times - and are only opened when a family knows exactly who wants to enter.
"Neighbours can’t come to visit casually; they have to ring in advance and almost have to make an appointment in the interests of everybody's safety."
Locals have now set up a new organisation in conjunction with the Gardai called ‘Save Our Local Community’ which it hopes will combat local crime.