An amendment to bail laws and an increase in support for CCTV systems are just some of the issues which were raised at a recent public meeting in Clonown, Athlone in a bid to tackle rural crime.

Fianna Fáil Justice spokesperson Jim O’ Callaghan was the special guest at a public meeting on rural crime in Clonown Community Centre this week.

The meeting was organised by local Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy as part of a current series of public meetings and events.

“Upwards of sixty people turned out for the recent meeting in Clonown and there was great feedback from the floor in terms of highlighting various issues of concern. Lax bail laws, the closure of rural Garda stations and a problem with a lack of Garda visibility in some areas were just some of the points which were raised as many people noted that they did not know their local Garda so perhaps there is room for better communication in that regard,” said Deputy Murphy.
Fianna Fáil Justice spokesperson Jim O’ Callaghan also spoke about the need for an amendment to bail laws and the impact of the closure of Garda stations in local communities. Deputy O’Callaghan also noted that aggravated burglaries needed to be treated more seriously.

“We need to recognise that burglary is not simply a crime against property, that’s how it is defined but burglary is really a crime against the person as well. If for example an elderly person’s house is burgled then that crime has a huge impact on them as a person- We need to treat burglary and aggravated burglary more seriously and recognise the impact it has on local communities,” said Deputy O’ Callaghan.

Malachy Hand, chairman of the South Roscommon Comhairle Ceantair also addressed the meeting while Bernie Kearney of Muintir na Tíre spoke about the importance of Community Alert schemes in local communities.

Deputy Eugene Murphy said that rural Ireland was getting a raw deal on security and people are upset. Deputy Murphy said that it was very difficult for communities to work with Gardai when many of these communities had been raided of Gardai resources.

Deputy Murphy also pointed out that a number of stations across the region had closed in recent years while retired Garda officers were not being replaced.

Deputy Murphy said that rural communities have been hit time and time again. “Fear levels have increased, particularly in areas which have seen Garda numbers drop-A strong Garda presence is an extremely important tool in the fight against crime,” concluded Deputy Murphy.