Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Justice Niall Collins has said the community in Doon, County Limerick is in shock after a man in his 60s died after discovery burglars in his home yesterday afternoon.
Deputy Collins said the incident will cause enormous anxiety in many rural communities concerned about an increase in burglaries and fears of isolation.
Deputy Collins said: “This is a very shocking and saddening incident that has affected the community in Doon. I want to express my condolences to John O’Donoghue’s family and friends at this difficult time for them.
“The number of burglaries affecting rural communities is a major problem and many communities are living in fear, they feel isolated and vulnerable to criminals. Unfortunately our current laws are not a deterrent and Fianna Fáil wants to see tougher sentences in place in a bid to crack down on the surge in burglaries in both urban and rural areas. The government’s deeply flawed policy of closing rural garda stations, such as in Doon, has been disastrous.
“Fianna Fáil produced the Burglary Bill 2015 earlier this year which would introduce a mandatory three years in jail for criminals convicted of burglary and a minimum of seven years on the third burglary conviction. The simple fact of the matter is that some criminals convicted of burglary are regularly walking free after receiving suspended sentences.
“At the moment far too many criminals who are convicted of burglary are going before the courts and being put right back on the streets with suspended sentences. The issue of people committing crimes while on bail is also a major issue that has to be addressed. The penalties just aren’t tough enough to deter criminals and discourage repeat offences. It is unacceptable that we are allowing these criminals to walk free at a time when many older people living alone have said they are afraid in their own homes.
“Under our proposals, there would be a minimum of three years in jail for anyone convicted of burglary and a minimum of seven years jail time for those convicted of a third burglary offence. Anyone who is convicted of using a vehicle during a burglary will be disqualified from driving for two years.
“The government needs to seriously look at its policing policies. We need to ramp-up garda recruitment, increase the presence and visibility of gardaí in rural communities and strengthen legislation. The spate of burglaries has got significantly worse under this government and we now need a radical and comprehensive response from the Minister for Justice.”