A leading community worker in south Donegal has said that professional criminal gangs are on the rampage in the south of the county and are preying on the elderly and vulnerable in isolated areas.
Molly Reynolds of Donegal South Forum has convened a seminar to take place this evening in the Abbey Hotel to highlight this ever increasing problem which is showing a marked increase particularly in the lead up to Christmas.
Molly told the Donegal Democrat/People’s Press, “It is vitally important that people in rural areas look out for themselves - their property, personal safety, belongings and even money that they may have hidden away.
“What is happening today is not petty crime - it is highly organised gangs coming from the larger urban areas most of whom are fuelled by their addiction to substances.
“When they need money for drugs to satisfy their insatiable need, neither man nor beast will stop them and unfortunately they do not rule out violence if they fail to get what they want.
“They are highly organised and have done their research and they know exactly where the vulnerable people are.
“They do a complete sweep of the area and then move on to another part when they have taken everything they can lay their hands on.
“The older people are terrified - they are lying in their beds at nights staying awake and just counting the hours until daylight comes. They feel that there is some semblance of safety in daylight hours.”
Molly stressed that the Gardai are doing their best but just cannot cope with the outbreak particularly in this time of cutbacks and austerity.
“In this parish of Kilbarron, we have only 3 Gardai and if they retire we will have non because of the embargo.
“With the threatened further closures of rural stations the whole situation is very worrying. People will have to be vigilant and keep an eye out for any strange movements and above all, look out for their neighbours.
“Sometimes people are reluctant to report an incident or suspicion because of fear or indeed, embarrassment but the Gardai are only too happy to deal with any suspicion no matter how trivial.
“We will have Sgt. Paul Wallace with us this evening and a number of other accomplished speakers - I would urge as many people to come along and indeed the public representatives.
“There is no political agenda - but this will provide the politicians an opportunity to listen to the real fears of the people who are going through a very tough time.”