The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has condemned the recent spate of aggravated burglaries on the homes of elderly people living in rural areas.
He was reacting to the latest break-ins in Donegal, which saw: Phyllis McGee (78) of Pettigo burgled for the second time in two months; Manorcunningham brothers Eric (68) and Jim (75) Steele fight off intruders; John Gallagher (65) of Hillside, Buncrana assaulted and locked in his shed; and Bernie Doherty (80) of Ture, Muff also assaulted during a burglary.
In an interview on Highland Radio yesterday, the Minister expressed his revulsion.
“I want to totally condemn the atrocious events of last night.
“I think any individuals who would burglarise the homes of isolated elderly people have absolutely no moral compass of any description whatsoever.
“Individuals who would assault individuals in their homes at any age is unacceptable, but at this age is incomprehensible.
“What happened in Donegal can only be condemned and is inhuman and appalling,” he added.
“But we have had burglaries in other parts of the country. Donegal isn’t a special case.”
He said that the focus now was on putting gardaí out on patrol rather than having them based in stations.
“What’s important isn’t that gardai are sitting in Garda stations, what’s important is that they’re engaged in frontline policing,” he said.
The proof that this approach was working, he continued, was that, in a major crackdown last year, around 3,600 burglars were arrested resulting in nearly 2,000 charges.
He conceded however, that organised gangs have been moving out of Dublin and targeting rural areas because there is a higher garda presence in the capital.
“The odds of them being stopped on the way back from Galway or Donegal are much less than moving around the city.”