Frail pensioner Margaret ‘Greta’ Lilly is recovering at Letterkenny General Hospital in Co Donegal after being punched and gagged by two attackers.
Her home at Aghilly, Buncrana, was broken into in the early hours of Saturday. Ms Lilly was punched in the ribs before her handbag was stolen.
The terrified woman, who was alone in the house, managed to raise the alarm by pressing a 24-hour panic button.
The thugs, it emerged, managed to get away with a “four figure sum” which Ms Lilly had saved for new aluminum windows.
“Greta is very house- proud and she was so looking forward to having her old windows replaced.
“Her house is spotless and she had been planning for ages to get the new windows in. I doubt if she’ll be able to get them now,” a source said.
Ms Lilly remained in hospital yesterday where she was described as being in good form but “shook-up”. Her injuries are not understood to be serious. Ms Lilly does not have relatives living locally in Co Donegal but receives daily home help visits from the HSE.
Local Sinn Féin TD Pádraig MacLochlainn, who lives just 100 yards from the victim, said the local community will look after Ms Lilly when she finally gets out of hospital.
“There is a great community spirit in Buncrana and we will make sure she is looked after when she gets out of hospital.
“We will assist her and her family in any way to ensure security at her home is stepped up and that people call in to see her,” he said.
Gardaí have been conducting door-to-door enquiries since Saturday’s raid as part of their overall investigation.
Yesterday, a Garda spokesman appealed to those who may have noticed anybody near Ms Lilly’s house on Friday evening or early Saturday, to contact them.
It is understood the men spoke with local accents and wore dark clothing but no other descriptions have been released.
A statement yesterday from gardaí said there was “nothing new at this point” in regard to the investigation.
Donegal TD, Charlie McConalogue, partially blamed the dismantling of Garda resources for the attack.
He said: “While the circumstances of this burglary are particularly upsetting, unfortunately too many people in this region have themselves been victims of burglaries in recent months.
“It is clear that in many cases, criminal gangs are targeting vulnerable communities and waiting for the right time to make their move.
“The recent spate of burglaries in Donegal and across the North West region is causing real anxiety and fear for many people, particularly those living alone,” the Fianna Fáil TD said.
“Many communities in Donegal have been left exposed by cuts to Garda stations, patrol cars, and Garda personnel last year.
“And this year, Minister [Alan] Shatter plans to shut down five more stations in Donegal including Malin, Annagry, Glencolumcille, Brockagh, and Churchill.”