SIR – As media reports continue to tell us that rural Ireland has entered a state of lawlessness, it is time for a radical approach to rural policing which will only involve realigning of existing personnel and resources rather than the need for government expenditure. Namely switching the Irish Army to a rural policing role.
As a country, our need for an army is of dubious merit. But since we have an army, we might put it to use rather than its present role as an overseas police force.
The rural policing role would see army units patrolling the roads on a 24-hour basis with powers to stop, search and, if required, exercise reasonable force. In effect, this would give the army the on-the-ground training they require in respect of patrolling duties, navigating rural roads devoid of any road signage, dealing with the general public, etc.
Of course for the soldiers, patrolling the rural roads of, say, North West Leitrim, won’t attract the macho cred of patrolling the roads of the Golan Heights but in relative terms it will be safer.
Rural crime operating under legal and illegal cover is endemic in rural Ireland. Criminals know that rural Ireland is devoid of immediate policing cover and that the chances of meeting a Garda are slim. Even more so when late at night when unarmed Gardaí prefer not to be within the vicinity of potentially armed individuals.
Having the Irish Army operating a rural policing role in conjunction with the Gardaí would add the iron hand needed to police rural Ireland, while giving rural dwellers a sense of security and a belief that they live in a society that is actually policed regardless of your postal code.
Association of Hunt
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