ANYONE who imagined that the fears around rural crime are a figment of fevered country dwellers’ imagination was disabused of that notion on Thursday night in Thurles when a meeting to discuss the issue was full to the rafters.
More than 1,500 people attended the meeting, called after seven men with more than 300 convictions between them were jailed for the aggravated burglary.
The organisers — Save our Community— said that rural Ireland was no longer prepared to tolerate such harassment, intimidation, and fear. The meeting heard how the victims of these crimes had lost the sense of security that makes a building a home. They spoke of their deep unhappiness at the closure of rural Garda stations — especially as the savings generated by this retreat are so very modest.
Meetings generated by anxiety are often a forum for knee-jerk reactions, but not so in Thurles. Two suggestions — and this is not the first time they have been made — deserve consideration and if Government chooses to ignore them then it must explain its position. That criminals who have accumulated a number of convictions should be electronically tagged and monitored 24/7 was one. Another was that a criminal who has been convicted of a series of crimes foregoes their right to free legal aid. These are not radical suggestions and might just prevent what now seem inevitable deaths when homeowners try to protect their property.
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