We hear so much these days about high-tech Ireland, the booming economy, the unprecedented affluence, the record unemployment rate. All of it good news. But for more than a decade, many of rural Ireland’s elderly have been living without one basic right: the right to feel safe in their own home.
According to the organization Victim Support, 126 elderly people were assaulted at home during robberies last year. Last week, Paddy Logan, who lived with his brother on their small farm near Castlejordan, on the Meath-Offaly border, died of a heart attack during a break-in. His brother Peter was taken to Tullamore General Hospital with head and facial injuries.
Only last January, an intruder fled when Paddy Logan grabbed his gun and fired shots over the young man’s head as he ran off.
These attacks are not new. The victims are often elderly people living a simple lifestyle in rural areas. Some, fearful of financial institutions or worried about losing welfare payments, keep their life savings stashed at home. This fact is not lost on criminals.
The Logan brothers lived in their two-bedroom cottage complete with old-style open fire and black kettle dangling on a crane over the flame. They were, by all accounts, a friendly, welcoming pair.
"They were so harmless and lived such a simple lifestyle that they trusted everybody," a heartbroken niece, Doreen McGuinness, told a reporter. "They could never see any harm in anyone."
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Such attacks should be of concern to all Irish immigrants who have elderly relatives living alone in rural Ireland. Now more than ever they need to support in any way they can efforts to give local police the resources necessary to bring the thugs responsible for such cowardly attacks to justice. The ubiquitous neighborhood watch programs, although useful, clearly are no deterrent to the perpetrators of violent crime.
These attacks, of course, are also symptomatic of a changing countryside. Close-knit rural communities are disappearing. In some places, even police stations are being closed, effectively offering an invitation to marauding thugs to prey.
Surely, Ireland’s elderly deserve to live out their twilight years in peace and in their own homes.