Farmers are living in fear of trespassers who are becoming 'more and more prevalent' on farms across the country.
Farming groups are warning that there is “very little” gardaí can do to stop people trespassing on farms and are calling for stricter penalties for those caught doing so.
On Lunchtime Live Limerick farmer Louise Crowley said a trespasser once threatened to break her neck on her own farm.
She said she was home alone when she spotted four men with dogs approaching her farmyard.
“I asked them nicely if they would please leave the property and I was immediately met with very aggressive abuse,” she said.
“I was told not to anger them, I didn’t want to make an enemy of them, that they’d come back and they'd snip the wires and they’d come back and they'd break my neck.
Ms Crowley said the men never even attempted to explain why they were on her property.
“They weren’t coming here to chase rabbits anyway; they’re coming to scout items and see if there was anything of value here,” she said.
The young farmer said trespassing is very common and she often doesn’t feel safe at work.
“Farming is an isolated job these days; there’s a few of us farming here, but there are times where I’d be on my own,” said Ms Crowley.
“As a female, I’m probably more at risk of being overpowered but there’s farmers everywhere that feel unsafe when these people are coming in.
“In the winter times when the evenings are dark it’s always in the back of my mind when I hear a noise – could there be anyone around here? You just don’t know.”
She added that Government intervention is needed to change laws to allow for trespassers to be more easily prosecuted.
“Unless there’s proper penalisation for these people, it’s not going to stop,” said Ms Crowley.
Macra na Feirme spokesman Rob Lally said trespassing on farms is “unfortunately becoming more and more prevalent” in Ireland.
“We had a case in Wicklow where a man had allowed hill walkers to travel through his land and he was attacked after asking someone to put their dog on a lead,” he said.
“It is catastrophic for people’s self-esteem and sense of safety. The Guards can do very little to combat this in rural Ireland.
“They are getting frustrated themselves because there are no repercussions for the people committing these crimes.”
Mr Lally is calling for harsher penalties to be imposed on farm intruders.
“There is up to 12 months imprisonment for trespassers but I don’t know if that law was ever even used in this county,” he said.
“We need examples to be made out of these people. It is absolutely and unequivocally unacceptable.
“What is it going to take for the laws to change, what is it going to take for the judicial system to pull it's weight here?”
Mr Lally added that a “fit and adequate punishment” is needed to stop intruders.
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