"Rural communities have been failed by the state" - IFA rural crime executive

It has emerged that some rural dwellers have been conducting armed night patrols

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Crime continues to blight many rural communities, leaving many isolated residents living in a constant state of fear.

In an interview with Newstalk Breakfast yesterday, Clive Clarke, whose farm has been robbed six times, said farmers are conducting armed night patrols to protect themselves and their property.

When asked about the possibility of farmers defending themselves, he said: "It's not a question of if, it's a question of how soon."

Rural Crime Prevention Executive for the Irish Farmers Association Colin Connolly said this is evidence that "rural communities have been failed by the state."

He said the Gardaí and the Department of Justice have let rural communities down, and that is why they have taken to patrolling their communities at night.

Connolly said the law was clear that a person can only defend themselves when there is an immediate threat on their life, and that anyone who used a weapon would face serious charges.

He said the IFA is trying to find a solution, and trying to explain to authorities the trauma many of its members have to endure.

Though it may be easy to dismiss the necessity for armed patrols, Connolly said the reality is very different for those living in fear:

But John Tully, organiser of the 'Save Our Community' group says that people will become no better than criminals if they turn into 'vigilantes':

"These people are professional. They'll have absolutely no mercy," he said of the criminal gangs targeting isolated residents, warning that confrontation could lead to needless injuries.

"We have got to be very vigilant in what we do," he added. He urged community members to be aware of strange cars and log their number plates, and to bring the issue to the fore in the media.