I am sure the Taoiseach is aware of the harrowing accounts in today's newspapers of the incredible trauma that Mark and Emma Corcoran had to endure at the hands of seven criminals who travelled from Dublin to burgle the Corcoran family home in Tipperary. Their daughters spoke of how they thought their Daddy was going to die at the hands of these criminals. The criminals wore balaclavas and had handguns and knives. It was only due to Mrs. Corcoran ringing 999, as she was upstairs, that the gardaí in Monasterevin were in a position to apprehend the gang. There was also the case of John O'Donoghue in Doon, who collapsed and died when he came across intruders in his home.
In the 12 months from June 2014 to June 2015, there were 28,830 burglaries in the country. That is an average of approximately 80 reported burglaries per day. It is a truly shocking figure. Furthermore, that is not the real figure. The Central Statistics Office, CSO, has admitted that many of these crimes go unreported. Indeed, farmer David Thompson, aged 75, has been burgled three times in the past two years, but he has not reported the incidents. He said there is no point as there is no Garda presence. The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, AGSI, has specifically linked the surge in crime to the human impact of the closure of a total of 139 Garda stations across the country, which saved only €0.5 million. Anybody who has a finger on the pulse of rural Ireland says that was the wrong decision. Tim O'Leary, chairman of the Irish Farmers' Association, IFA, countryside division, said his organisation is deeply concerned and says it is happening because of the absence of gardaí in localities. When the nearest Garda station is 30 miles away one will not get a response. John Comer of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, ICMSA, says rural people feel the neglect due to the lack of a Garda presence.
There is real fear among people across the country, in both urban and rural areas. Due to the lack of a Garda presence it is particularly acute in rural areas, and all of the organisations involved tell us this. Will the Taoiseach accept that he got it wrong in terms of the closure of Garda stations across the country, that the strategy of removing presence in favour of mobility was wrong and that there are dire consequences as a result?