An obsession with cutbacks and increasingly centralised control over local and regional administration are having disastrous repercussions on the lives of tens of thousands in rural Ireland.
Following a rash of bank, post office and Garda station closures, a thinly scattered population feel they are being treated like second-class citizens.
Having closed nearly 40 Garda stations, the authorities have announced that 100 more will get the axe but deny this is caused by financial pressure. Arrant nonsense.
The end result is that rural residents now fear it will be open season for criminals.
Already, their fears seem justified as Bord na Móna is being forced to dye its diesel in a bid to combat the widespread theft of fuel from vehicles and depots.
Home heating fuel theft and burglaries are also on the increase. With fewer gardaí on the beat, the big danger is that people will no longer be safe in their homes.
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