We need more gardaí to tackle gang, say locals

ANGRY businesspeople in the mid-Cork region are to write to Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy demanding more Garda manpower following a spate of robberies perpetrated by a violent gang.

Businesspeople estimate there have been 14 robberies in the Ballyvourney/ Clondrohid area in the past eight weeks, costing them in the region of €100,000 in stolen goods and damage.

Concerns were heightened last weekend when a security guard at the Ballyvourney industrial estate was attacked when he disturbed two of the gang.

They threatened him with sledgehammers and smashed his car windscreen while he was in the vehicle. The man had to reverse at high speed to escape.

A number of businesspeople attended a meeting in the Abbey Hotel, Ballyvourney, last Wednesday evening to discuss the situation.

Sean Lehane, managing director of Mid-Cork Pallets, said his premises had been hit twice by the gang.

“There is no Garda presence worth talking about. Criminals know the area is a soft target. Following the violence used last Sunday night we believe that somebody is going to be seriously injured, or worse, unless something is done,” Mr Lehane said.

He said businesspeople had decided to write to senior garda officers, including the commissioner to highlight the situation.

“A number of companies are having to employ their own security, which is very costly,” he said.

Micheál Creedon, who runs the Abbey Hotel said the parish had developed significantly in recent years, both in terms of businesses and population, yet the garda cover hadn’t expanded in the same manner.

“We have a sergeant, who’s currently on leave, and a garda. We are also on a national primary route, the N22. Businesspeople are frightened out of their wits and elderly people are also very concerned about their safety. Garda activity in the area is low, especially after dark,” Mr Creedon said.

It is believed that the gang are from the Limerick region and have also carried out a number of robberies in the north and west Cork areas.

Superintendent Vincent Duggan said gardaí are running operations with other Garda divisions in an effort to catch the gang.

“Extra resources are being utilised, both uniformed and plainclothes patrols. An incident room has also been set up at Crookstown Garda Station where the investigation is being co-ordinated from,” Supt Duggan said.

The superintendent said he was always available to discuss any security fears that people in the mid Cork area might have.

He appealed to anybody with information about the movements of the gang to contact Macroom Garda Station at (026) 20590 or Bandon Garda Station at (023) 52200.

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