Farming special - Day 2: 46% back death penalty for child rape

The death penalty should be introduced for the crime of raping a child, according to a national opinion poll.
Farming special - Day 2: 46% back death penalty for child rape

The Irish Examiner/ICMSA survey found that 46% of farmers felt the ultimate sanction should be introduced for child rape. The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland said it was encouraging that the problem of sexual violence in Ireland was being taken seriously by all sectors of society.

Men are more in favour of bringing in the death penalty for the offence — with some 48% in favour of the provision as opposed to 39% of women.

The findings come as farmers show increasing concern about law and order. The survey found more than a third of farmers (34%) now cite crime, law and order, and vandalism as key concerns that are likely to influence how they vote at the next general election — up from 22% last year

Last year’s survey also found that more than 80% of farmers said they should be allowed to own a gun to protect themselves and their property. In terms of introducing the death penalty for child rape, farmers over the age of 65 were most in favour (55%). Farmers aged between 45 and 64 were the least supportive of such a measure.

Tillage, livestock, and dairy farmers were most supportive of introducing the death penalty for the rape of a child, with 58% in favour, followed by those in livestock and dairy at 46%.

There was a large degree of variation in terms of support for the death penalty in terms of geography.

Farmers surveyed in Cappamore in Limerick felt most strongly about the introduction of the sanction, with 69% of those surveyed saying it should be introduced for the crime of raping a minor. It was followed by farmers in Athenry (56%); those surveyed at the National Open Day in Leitrim (46%), and those in Tullamore in Offaly (44%).

However, farmers in other areas were far less enthusiastic about the introduction of such a harsh form of punishment. For example, in Tinahely in Wicklow, just over a quarter of farmers supported the measure, while 37% in Carbery in Cork did.

A spokeswoman for the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland said it was encouraging that sexual violence was a key concern among all sectors of Irish society, including rural Ireland.

“It’s important the issue of sexual violence is taken seriously by all sectors of Irish society,” she said. “In terms of getting justice for survivors and what form that should take, the important thing is that it always starts with the community taking the issue seriously.”

President of the ICMSA John Comer said it was unlikely that the findings would be any different for any other sector of Irish society.

“I can’t imagine that this kind of a breakdown would be radically different in any other sector of Irish society,” said Mr Comer. “There was a marked increase in support for the ultimate sanction among those surveyed older than 65 and, again, I don’t think that’s particularly remarkable: older people tend to have harder stances on law and order issues.”

Mr Comer said that he was not personally in favour of the introduction of the death penalty as punishment for any crime, but acknowledged that, given the “heinous” nature of child rape, it was not surprising that many would call for the death penalty as punishment.

“Any kind of crime against a child is heinous and society deservedly reserves its worst condemnation for those guilty of this most atrocious and unforgivable act,” he said. “I cannot say that I support the death penalty in any circumstances but, in common with everyone, I would consider any measure that effectively deters crimes against children or minors.”

Over-65s ‘more reactionary’ over crimes against minors

By Conall Ó Fátharta

Almost half of farmers think the death penalty should be introduced for those found guilty of raping a child.

The Irish Examiner/ICMSA survey on farming attitudes found that farmers were virtually evenly divided on whether the most extreme sanction should be introduced for those guilty of raping a minor.

The survey found that 46% of farmers either agreed or strongly agreed that the death penalty should be introduced for committing such a crime, with 44% disagreeing.

Older farmers, aged 65 and over, were by some distance the most reactionary, with 55% feeling that a death sentence was the requisite punishment for the crime of child rape. Farmers aged between 45 and 64 were the least supportive of such a measure.

Those farmers working in sectors other than tillage, livestock and dairy were — at 58% — most supportive of introducing the death penalty for such a crime, followed by those in livestock and dairy at 46%.

Farmers working in the tillage sector were least supportive of introducing such a harsh form of punishment, with just 39% in favour of bringing in the death penalty for such a crime.

Geographically, there was a large difference of opinion on the matter.

Farmers surveyed in Cappamore in Limerick felt most strongly about the introduction of the death penalty, with 69% of those surveyed saying it should be introduced for the crime of raping a minor. It was followed by farmers in Athenry (56%); those surveyed at the National Open Day in Leitrim (46%); and those in Tullamore in Offaly (44%).

However, farmers in other areas were very much against the introduction of such a measure. For example, in Tinahely in Wicklow, just over a quarter of farmers supported the measure, followed by just 33% in Tinahely in Wicklow and 37% in Carbery in Cork.

Commenting on the findings, president of the ICMSA John Comer said: “I can’t imagine that this kind of a breakdown would be radically different in any other sector of Irish society. There was a marked increase in support for the ultimate sanction amongst those surveyed older than 65 and, again, I don’t think that’s particularly remarkable: older people tend to [have] harder stances on law and order issues,” he said.

Mr Comer said although he was not in favour of the death penalty personally, given that the rape of a minor was such an unforgivable act, it was not surprising that so many people were.

“But, in common with everyone, I would consider any measure that effectively deters crimes against children or minors,” he said.

No pensions

Two thirds of farmers have no private pension and are dependant on a State payouts when they retire.

The Irish Examiner/ICMSA survey found a greater number of tillage and dairy farmers (34%) had a private pension compared to livestock/cattle farmers (28%) and other farmers (16%).

Those working in other types of farming are most reliant on a State pension (84%) when they retire.

Unsurprisingly, a large proportion of farmers under the age of 35 (84%) are entirely reliant on a State pension when they retire.

“The simple truth is that 66% of farmers surveyed just wouldn’t have the income that would permit them to make private pension contributions,” said ICMSA president John Comer. “Even if they could afford to make private pension arrangements, the reality of year-on-year income volatility makes planning a pension very difficult.”

Mr Comer called on the Government to look at the issue of retirement provision with reference to farming in light of the survey findings.

“Some official recognition of the retirement provision difficulties particular to farming would be welcome and hopefully the Agri-Taxation Review due to be published before the upcoming Budget will make some reference to this area,” he said. “It needs to be looked at and some specific measures introduced.”

Conall Ó Fátharta

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