By John Drennan, Shane Phelan
A spate of cattle rustling in the midlands, as well as in Tipperary and Galway, has led to calls for a major revamp of garda resources.
With prime beef cattle now worth up to €2,000 a head, cattle thieves are making massive profits stealing stock from isolated farmsteads in the dead of night.
The Fine Gael Party chairman, Charles Flanagan, has called for new Garda mobile units, promised by the Justice Minister Alan Shatter, to be used to combat the growing phenomenon.
Responding to concerns, Mr Flanagan said that the new fleet of mobile units should concentrate on isolated rural areas and prioritise night-time patrols.
Up until now, cattle rustling has mainly been a Border phenomenon, according to IFA sources.
But Deputy Flanagan says that counties further south are also being targeted by criminal gangs.
"Laois is suffering from serious issues in this regard," he said.
"There has been a spate of rustling incidents, midnight stuff. Young farmers are being particularly badly hit. A big loss of cattle can wipe them out financially.''
Mr Flanagan was responding to the theft of an estimated €8,000-worth of cattle from a farm owned by James Conroy at Currans Cross, Mountmellick, in the early hours of a Monday, October 21.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Conroy said the theft "was a serious blow". More....