A letter to the Donegal News from Christy Galligan, retired. Garda Sergeant
“The recent Court cases involving attacks on the elderly shows that we need to adopt a more caring and protective attitude when it comes to our most vulnerable in Society.
“We have seen the attack by a person just released from prison on two elderly brothers with special needs in Mayo in 2013. The Blaine bothers lived a very simple life. They were, as one cousin put it, “slaughtered” in their own home by a fantasist and violent young man. They were beaten mercilessly and scalded. That young thug, who has mental health issues, received life this week.
“We saw the case of Eva Sutton in Bray who was attacked by two thugs in her own home in 2015. She was dragged and punched, suffered broken ribs, punctured lung and broken nose. She has never returned to her home of 50 years. These two thugs were given eight years and will be out in five possibly.
“In 2013 the Arnold sisters, Suzy and Isa, were attacked in their home between without remission or suspended sentences, between Letterkenny and and Lifford,by a gang of brutal cowardly thugs. They both died, some believe as a result of the attack on them. This case is ongoing.
“In 2014 a elderly man in West Clare cycled 30 miles from his home after being terrorised by a group of thugs.One thug was imprisoned for three years while two others received suspended sentences. The elderly man never returned to his home.
“In February 2017 Paddy Lyons, a frail old pensioner who lived on his own in County Waterford, was attacked by a young man. That matter is before the Courts.
“On May the 8th we saw where an elderly couple in the 80s and 90s were attacked in their home in County Tipperary.
“This is only a snippet of the attacks on the elderly over many years but we as a Society must take the reins and start to assist and inform the Gardaí of people acting unusual or suspiciously in our areas.
“We do this through the Community Alert text scheme or Neighbourhood watch schemes. We should also be setting up Community Watch Officers, volunteers who are screened, to patrol areas not frequented by the Gardaí but by the travelling criminals who invade our communities. This could be funded through various community programmes.
“The thugs who perpetrate these crimes should be given very lengthy sentences, without remission or suspended sentences, while participating in compulsory anger management classes before their release back into Society because, unfortunately, they will be released.
“They then should be made, on post release supervision, work with the elderly and vulnerable, as part of their post release rehabilitation. Any deviation and they should be returned to prison on breaching the post Supervision Order.
“The National Council for Ageing released stats that showed in 1984, 432 elderly people were attacked in their homes. This fell to 66 in 1991 and 1992 and again increased to 121 in 1997. This is an indicator of the number of our most vulnerable who are living in fear.
“Those who perpetrate these crimes have no empathy or understanding of the physical, emotional or psychological damage they do. They don’t care. These cowards offer nothing to Society but their own brutal hatred for the vulnerable in order to get a few quick bob.
“Whilst we are concerned for peoples rights and the right to defend themselves before our Courts there is also the right to life and the right to be left alone in ones home without the fear of attack.”
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