ICMSA meet Department of Justice, Gardai and NPWS and call for “specific data” on trespass-hunting on farms.
Speaking after a meeting with the Department of Justice, An Garda Siochana, and the National Parks and Wildlife, the Deputy President of ICMSA, Denis Drennan, said that many matters needed to be clarified if what he called the “endemic problem” of farm trespass by organised illegal hunting gangs is to be addressed and dealt with. Mr. Drennan said that while any such meeting was useful, there did seem to be a confusion on the part of the State on the exact powers that responding guards had to deploy.
“We asked the ‘State’ side of the meeting what powers Guards responding to calls from farmers regarding threatening trespassers had to deal with these individuals and whether the Guards themselves were aware of those powers and procedures. ICMSA has heard from several farmers -who had been in this situation – and who told us that they had the impression that the Guards arriving to the scene of a trespass or standoff did not themselves seem to know what to do beyond asking these gangs to move on. This is really the nub of the problem: is there any sanction or consequence for the trespassers beyond that? Because if there isn’t, the farmer is usually in a worse position for having contacted the Guards then if he or she had done nothing and just continued to allow himself or herself to be threatened and bullied by these gangs”, said Mr. Drennan.
“The Guards need to have a meaningful response procedure and the trespass and threats must have consequences for these gangs or there’s really no point in the Guards coming out”, continued the ICMSA Deputy President.
The ICMSA Deputy President said that there were practical steps towards getting a better and more rapid response system and he specified extending the Eircode system to land holdings and the publication of Divisional or District Crime Prevention Officers who could be reached by farmers on a 24/7 basis via mobile. The major area identified by ICMSA, however, was the compilation of relevant specific data that went past general complaint statistics.
“We need a much more comprehensive record of this problem above and beyond other instances of rural reporting. How many complaints did the Guards receive about this kind of trespass-hunting and whereabouts? What was the response – if any? Was there a report by the Guards concerned and if there was, was there any follow-up? Are the same individuals or groups of individuals being noted at these incidents and is there a recurring pattern of abuse and intimidation on their part? The state agencies and An Garda Siochana are going to have to get serious about this and we are going to need a much more detailed and coherent account of what ICMSA believes to be a really insidious and nationwide problem”, said Mr. Drennan.
Ends 14 February 2023
Denis Drennan, 086-8389401
Deputy President, ICMSA.
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
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