Rural crime to be debated in Dáil

The issue of rural crime is to be debated in the Dáil today, with Fianna Fáil calling for tighter bail laws to tackle the issue.

The party also want to introduce mandatory electronic tagging for those who have previous convictions and have been granted bail.

It comes after Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice suggested that elderly people living in rural areas should be allowed to arm themselves with pepper spray and tasers.

Fianna Fáil is to bring a private member’s motion on crime in rural areas which seeks to introduce further restrictions around bail.

The party’s justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, said: “There are towns and villages in rural areas in this country that are living in fear because of the fact that they believe there isn’t sufficient protection for them.”

He said that, in 2011, 11% of crimes were committed by people on bail, but now that figure has gone up to 13%.

At present the court has the discretion to refuse bail where it believes it is necessary to prevent further crimes, however, Fianna Fáil want to have this changed to a mandatory requirement.

“It’s unacceptable for Government, it’s unacceptable for legislators like myself to ignore the statistical evidence,” said Mr O’Callaghan. “If a person is charged with burglary of a dwelling and if that person has already got a conviction for a serious offence in the previous five years then they should be refused bail.

“Or if they are being granted bail, bail should only be granted if they are subjected to electronic tagging.

He said the use of electronic tagging is not used enough adding: “We need to use technology to fight crime in the same way that criminals are using technology to advance crime.”

Meanwhile, Mr Fitzmaurice has said people living in rural Ireland should be allowed tasers and pepper spray to protect themselves in their homes.

The Independent TD said people are living in fear in their homes and in conjunction with the gardaí should be shown how to properly use pepper spray or tasers.

“If someone comes into your home at one or two or three o’clock in the morning they are not coming in for a cup of tea or they are not coming in to see how you are and I believe that these people, for the comfort of themselves in their own bedroom, should be allowed to have either to protect themselves,” he told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke.

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