Farmers 'will take law into own hands' if gardaí don’t act –

Farmers in north Co Dublin have warned they will take the law into their own hands if rural crime continues to go under the radar.

Farm representatives met with gardaí and local representatives at a public meeting hosted by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) last week in Swords.

The meeting was held in response to the growing number of criminal incidents targeting farmers and the wider rural community in north Co Dublin.

Many of those who spoke, including former Health Minister James Reilly, agreed that intimidation by criminals who trespass on their land is rampant.

These individuals are known to use the exercising lurcher dogs as a excuse to monitor a property before a theft.

“There was a time when a farmer could talk to these guys and they’d leave,” said north Dublin resident Seamus McGrath.

“But you can’t do that any more because they’re dangerous and there’s usually four or five of them.

“Seven years ago we had a robbery shortly after seeing lurchers on my farm.

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“They came through the back of the yard and broke the locks off my gates, making off with a quad bike and some other personal property.”

In September, a local farmer suffered a violent and attack when he confronted a number of men who were trespassing on his land.

Father-of-three Pat Walsh (47), from Lispopple, Swords, suffered four cracked ribs, a dislocated shoulder and needed stitches to his face after he was kicked repeatedly on the ground about 150 metres from his home.

It followed another incident in which a farmer in St Margaret’s, who found men illegally dumping on his land, went to ring the gardaí, 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.

Farmer John Smith told the senior gardaí in attendance that if they don’t take efficient measures to combat rural crime then someone will take the law into their own hands, referencing the Padraig Nally-John ‘Frog’ Ward case in 2004.

“If you don’t take some sort of action, you’re going to have what happened in the west of Ireland,” he said.

“Somebody is going to lose the head and then you will have to deal with the guy that took action. If you don’t nip this thing in the bud, that’s what’s going to happen.”

Superintendent Tony Twomey, who polices north Dublin, said a multi-agency approach will soon begin in an effort to tackle rural crime and will monitor how other jurisdictions have dealt with criminal use of lurchers.

Mr Reilly, who has had negative experiences on his own land, agreed that farmers will not tolerate unpunished intimation.

“If a farmer feels intimidated on his ground he’s going to react, especially when we all know what happened to Pat Walsh,” he told the Irish Independent.

“We’re not going to take that. I make no apology for saying that a man or woman is entitled to protect themselves, their family and their property by using reasonable force. I would hate that to be the outcome, but an older person who is faced with a number of individuals coming at him, being threatened before, is obviously at risk of releasing a shot.”

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