Little enough sympathy - Fighting crime in rural areas

THERE will be very little sympathy for the seven men who were given sentences ranging from 12 to 20 years yesterday for their part in an aggravated burglary on a young family living in the countryside.

Indeed, and it would be dishonest to suggest otherwise, the sentencing probably provoked a silent cheer right across rural Ireland where communities and especially older people living alone feel threatened by roving criminal gangs. Only one of the men jailed yesterday did not have a litany of previous convictions.

Earlier this week, crime figures from the Central Statistics Office showed that the number of burglaries was increasing so those fears, even if exaggerated, are entirely justified. Earlier this week, we also reported that only €4,000 a year was saved each year by closing a rural Garda station — 159 were closed. Surely those facts combine to suggest that rather than culling Garda stations the Government should be reopening them? That the seven men jailed were arrested on their way home from committing their violent and cowardly crime adds weight to the argument an enhanced police presence is the very best deterrent to criminals.

Prison must offer inmates a chance at redemption, but in the first instance it is there to protect society from those who ignore its laws and are happy to use violence to achieve their ends. Hopefully yesterday’s sentences will dissuade others from behaving in such a savage and unacceptable fashion.

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