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IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy has welcomed the publication today by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality of its Report on Community Policing and Rural Crime.

Richard Kennedy said IFA has taken a proactive role in the area of crime prevention, but that more can and must be done by the Government, as evidenced by this report.

He highlighted how over the last year, several serious incidents have occurred on farms. Many farmers and rural dwellers live in real fear for their safety, which is compounded by geographic and service isolation. Theft of valuables from rural homes and of livestock and machinery from farms is also a major concern.

Richard Kennedy said, “IFA has said many times that there is a need for greater patrolling of rural Ireland. Farm families need to see a much greater Garda presence on the road. The JOC has agreed with us and included it as one of its key recommendations”.

A proposal to establish a dedicated Rural Crime Task Force in crime blackspots was suggested by the IFA in its presentation to the JOC last October. At the time, IFA highlighted how a similar UK Task Force has been successful in tackling rural crime. This has also been included in the list of recommendations.

“The Committee has done good work and produced a sensible, workable report. However, it will be a fruitless exercise if left on a shelf gathering dust. The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan and his officials must set out a clear timetable for implementation and IFA will be seeking a meeting with him to discuss this as soon as possible,” said Richard Kennedy.

Local Gardaí together with input from Wicklow IFA have launched a new rural liaison initiative. The initiative is the result of ongoing engagement between the IFA and Gardaí in Wicklow following incidents of rural crime in the county. The aim of the initiative is to build personal links between rural communities and the local Gardaí.

Detective Sergeant Barry Turner has appointed three rural liaison officers, one for each district in the county. These officers will be the point of regular contact for all IFA members and local communities.

Speaking at the launch, IFA’s Wicklow Chairman Chris Hill said, “The IFA has been proactive in the fight against rural crime but, as we have said many times, this needs to be a combined effort. This initiative is all about working together so that we can better tackle this scourge.”

“I’d like to thank Detective Sergeant Turner for his commitment to getting this pilot up and running and we look forward to building strong, open lines of communication between our members and the nominated liaison officers” said Chris Hill.

Following a number of criminal incidents targeting farmers and the wider rural community in north County Dublin, Dublin IFA is holding a public meeting next Wednesday to discuss how best to tackle this serious issue.

In September, a farmer suffered a violent and unprovoked attack when he confronted a number of men who were trespassing on his land. It followed other incidents where a farmer in St. Margaret’s discovered men illegally dumping on his land went to ring the Gardai, but was run over by the van as they struck the gate.  In the same area, another farmer approached men with dogs on his land and he was also assaulted and threatened at knifepoint.

Local public representatives, Fingal County Council and the Joint Policing Committee are invited to attend the meeting. An Garda Siochána and Barry Carey, IFA’s Crime Prevention Officer will also be present.

IFA’s Deputy President Richard Kennedy said, “We have seen a worrying increase in the hunting of hares (illegal under the Wildlife Act) and gangs with their dogs are trespassing on farmlands.  When approached by farmers and land owners, they are hostile, and in some cases, are violent.  They worry livestock, damage fences and leave gates open and animals distressed. This problem needs to be addressed urgently”.

In an address to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality this week, IFA called for the establishment of a dedicated Rural Crime Task Force. A similar UK task force has been successful in tackling rural crime.

Urging people to attend next week’s meeting, Dublin IFA Chairman Philip Maguire said, “IFA has been proactive in the fight against rural crime. But this needs to be a combined effort. We believe that if we work together we can better tackle this scourge. We encourage anyone from the community who is concerned about this problem to come along to next Wednesday’s meeting.”

Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality this morning, IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy called for the establishment of a dedicated Rural Crime Task Force.

He highlighted how a similar UK task force has been successful in tackling rural crime. “Over the last year, several serious incidents have occurred on farms. Many farmers and rural dwellers live in real fear for their safety, which is compounded by geographic and service isolation. Theft of valuables from rural homes and of livestock and machinery from farms is also a major concern.”

The IFA Deputy President said there is a serious problem with cross-border crime.  “A more streamlined crime reporting system, immediate sharing of intelligence, and information exchange would increase the level of visibility and awareness, particularly where crime has been reported in border areas.”

Richard Kennedy said IFA has taken a proactive role in the area of crime prevention. He highlighted the many joint initiatives it has engaged with An Garda Síochána on, including; Crimestoppers, Community Text Alerts and Theftstop.

However, he said more needs to be done, “There is a need for greater patrolling of rural Ireland. Farm families need to see a much greater Garda presence on the road.”

Don’t forget about home and farm security during the good weather, IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy has advised.

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