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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
Shutterstock/Max Earey
# rural crime
"There's only one law in this country and that's the law of the jungle" - Irish farmers using guns to protect themselves
Farmers are reporting widespread intimidation and crime in their areas.

FARMERS IN THE border regions have spoken about how they are prepared to take the law into their own hands to protect themselves against cattle rustlers and other rural criminals.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend a Save our Local Communities meeting in Trim tonight to address the growing issue of rural crime in Ireland.

Ahead of the meeting, Newstalk’s Richard Chambers spoke to a number of farmers who said they were living in fear on their properties, and that the gardaí weren’t doing enough to tackle the issue.

One farmer in his 50s, Mick, said that he had eight cattle stolen from him by rustlers and that he was prepared to defend his livelihood himself if he couldn’t rely on the gardaí.

Cow Ireland Mark Stedman / Farmers in border regions are reporting high-activity of cattle rustlers Mark Stedman / /

“You need the guns for dogs and vermin.  It’s a tool around a farm but we don’t expect to use this tool in law enforcement,” he said.

Mick claimed that farmers he knew had confronted the rustlers and had gotten results by taking the law into their own hands.

“The man back this way went to a house and some man made a smart comment to him out the window,” he said.

“He grabbed him and pulled him out the window, pinned him to the ground by the throat with a pitchfork and told him to leave them back. Well, lo and behold the cattle [were] walking around the roads the next morning.”

Mick also said that rural communities couldn’t rely on law enforcement to help them.

“Those people got results by stepping outside the law… Is that what I’m paying my taxes for?… Is that what the people in this community has [sic] to do?”

Rural crime

There were just over 200,000 licensed firearms in Ireland at the end of 2014.

Drugs seized in Ireland PA Archive / Press Association Images Illegal firearms that were seized by gardaí PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

It is more difficult now to get a gun license than it was in the past, with applicants having to fill out a number of forms, provide a good reason and meet with a garda in order to qualify.

Farmers in rural communities have talked about being intimidated by rustlers after their cattle had been stolen.

Newstalk’s reporter described incidents of gates being opened and left swinging, messages being left on people’s property and jeeps driving slowly around in the days following a raid.

John and Bernadette Burns, a couple living in Co Monaghan, spoke to Newstalk about how they were living in fear.

“You’re always watching… everything has to be locked up before you leave,” said Bernadette.

“It’s an awful stress and you would be wondering again the next morning are the gates broken down… It’s an awful worry.

The way cattle prices and milk prices have dropped so much, you need every penny to live and that’s just the long and the short of it.”

Law of the Jungle

In response to increasing crime, gardaí launched Operation Thor this month, with Commissioner O’Sullivan promising to recruit more members to the force over the next two years and to crack down on serial burglars.

garda fleet Sam Boal / Part of a garda fleet used to tackle rural crime Sam Boal / /

However, with the meeting in Trim this evening, it appears that some farmers in rural communities are losing faith in the law.

“There’s only one law in this country and that’s the law of the jungle,” one farmer said.

“The fit will survive and if you have to use a shotgun to do it – so be it.”

 Read: Gardaí are cracking down on Ireland’s most prolific burglars

Read: Man describes son being punched in the face during home invasion