Attentive audience: IFA national treasurer Tim Cullinan from Toomevara, right, at the IFA meeting on crime where a call was made to change the law Picture: Bridget Delaney
Rural Tipperary is being terrorised by gangs roaming farmland with lurcher dogs, an IFA organised meeting on the issue was told this week.
And the gathering heard that the fight against crime is being hampered by new laws around data protection and archaic rules on trespassing.
Cameras installed in Littleton over 12 months ago have yet to be switched on over a dispute about who should control the data.
The meeting, attended by close to 100 people, was told by six-time crime victim Clive Clarke from Dunkerrin that he had farm machinery stolen, his butchering business had been broken into and a dog had been beaten to death by raiders who left his other dog with horrific injuries.
The meeting called on the Government to change the laws around trespassing to halt roaming gangs coming on to farmland with lurcher dogs and committing crimes.
The IFA met new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris this week, and its deputy president Richard Kennedy told this Monday's meeting in Nenagh that they were seeking a higher Garda presence, a better resourced force and a special Garda taskforce to tackle rural crime.
“Commissioner Harris has taken this on board,” he said.
The meeting was organised in response to an incident in Toomevara in October when a farmer was threatened by a gang hunting hares with lurcher dogs.
“We have people coming on to land with lurchers who when challenged will intimidate and issue threats,” said Mr Kennedy. "Attacks by people walking on land without permission has to stop.”
He knew of one farmer who shot a dog but was now afraid to sleep in case his property was set on fire.
Mr Kennedy said the Commissioner was also going to look at issues surrounding Garda boundary divisions.
The meeting heard that there were major concerns around CCTV and data protection, with Littleton left without CCTV coverage for over 12 months because of issues around who should control the data.
“The legislation won't allow the Gardai to be the guardians of data,” revealed Tipperary crime prevention officer Tom O'Dwyer. “It has to be the local authority.”
He said the Gardai were willing to house it in the local station .
Many speakers called for changes to the law on trespass, with one woman saying they had come across five people with 14 lurchers on their land in the past two weeks.
Last week four people from Cork were caught on land in the Ballymackey / Kilkeary area, and, said Sgt Declan O'Carroll, hopefully they would be prosecuted.
He revealed the Gardai can't seize dogs without the dog warden being present.
Sgt O'Carroll also said the trespass law needed to be changed to a more simple format.
The meeting heard calls for a march on Dublin to highlight the problem with North Tipperary IFA chair Imelda Walsh saying: “The message needs to go out that rural Ireland needs to be safe and the fear and intimidatIon has to stop.”