A local TD has raised concerns over rural crime in Kilkenny where communities feel “isolated and forgotten”.
Speaking in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil's Bobby Aylward said: “We must ramp up our response to rural crime.
“The national statistics which show a reduction in burglaries and related offences do not reflect the situation on the ground in rural Ireland.
“People in rural Ireland are not reporting crime because they know that An Garda Síochána does not have the personnel to respond in a timely manner.
“Furthermore, the high cost of insurance and the potential increase in insurance premiums if they make a claim means that people are ignoring crime or putting up with it and moving on with their lives.
“That is why the statistics are showing a drop crime levels. The people of these communities feel isolated and forgotten. It is only a matter of time before we begin to see serious incidents of vigilantism occurring around the country.
“This is not an exaggeration. We must act urgently to put deterrents in place to immediately halt these criminal gangs in their cake walk around the country."
He called for a tougher response to repeat offenders in communities nationwide, including electronic monitoring being made a condition of bail for repeat offenders.
Deputy Aylward added: “Tougher amendments to current legislation are required to tackle the level of organised crime which is so damaging to communities all over the country.
“We have seen the success of An Garda Síochána in fighting certain types of crime, provided they are given political priority by the Government. It is time for the Government to prioritise rural crime.
“I also want to discuss the failure by the Government to honour the commitment in the programme for Government to erect CCTV cameras at all major junctions on our motorways.
“I am talking about the roll out of a CCTV based crime fighting system on our motorways, which are being used by criminal gangs to get in and out of the communities that they are terrorising.
“We have two motorways going through my constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny, the M9 and the M7. Organised gangs are coming from Dublin and other urban areas, including Limerick in particular, targeting businesses and robbing them.
“What is the status of this commitment in the programme for Government? What is the timescale for the erection of these cameras?
“In a little village in north Kilkenny called Urlingford, a gang came down from Dublin. They came off the motorway, robbed a premises and were back on the motorway within 20 minutes.
“This is what CCTV cameras will stop. Vigilantism will happen, especially in the context of incidents like the one that took place in Offaly last week.
“The Sunday newspapers last weekend reported that people are going to bed armed with whatever they have including hurleys, billhooks, slashers and knives.
“This is what is happening and there will be serious consequences. If An Garda Síochána and the Government are not going to protect the people, they will fight back themselves and the only way to do that is to protect themselves through their own means.”
He called on the Government to take all of this on board, particularly the issue of the CCTV cameras on the motorways.