Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary, Jackie Cahill has said that Ireland’s trespass laws must be overhauled and brought under the criminal justice system to protect business and land owners.

“At present, anyone who engages in illegal trespassing is dealt with by way of the civil law system. It’s not treated as a criminal issue. Fianna Fáil believes that this needs to be reversed in order to show that trespass, and its consequences, can have a very damaging impact on farmers, landowners and businesses.

“There are of course many valid reasons for citizens to walk on land such hill walking, and this isn’t the focus of my call for changes in legislation.

“However, in Tipperary, there is a growing issue of people pretending to hunt on private lands with dogs but in reality are using it as a cover for criminal activity.

“Additionally, to deal with the scourge of rural crime, other changes are needed. Bail laws must be changed to ensure that repeat offenders cannot get bail as easily as they can at present.

“Rural Garda stations, closed by the last Fine Gael and Labour government, but deemed integral to reducing rural crime must be reopened, and we need to see more Gardaí working in the hearts of communities.

“How legal aid is approved and awarded must also be looked at. At present, applications are made on an oral basis, and no documentary evidence of a person’s financial position is requested. This makes no sense and allows for waste in the legal aid system.

“What many people are deeply frustrated with is the failure to properly roll out Garda-controlled CCTV schemes. There are eight locations in the county where footage is not being recorded due to a failure of the Government to amend legislation to allow the Gardaí act as data controllers in place of the local authority. This needs to change to give rural dwellers more confidence.

“We need to see root and branch reform in order to dampen the rise in rural crime. Fianna Fáil has consistently put forward common sense proposals, and will continue to do so to make living, working and farming in rural communities safer for everyone,” concluded Cahill.