December 11, 2023

Criminals disguised as hunters targeting Kilkenny countryside: Deputy Aylward

THIEVES are targeting private properties throughout rural Kilkenny disguised as hunters to conceal their criminal activities, a Kilkenny TD has claimed.

Fianna Fáil Deputy Bobby Aylward made the claim as he called for an overhaul of Ireland’s trespass laws.

Deputy Aylward said: “At present, anyone who engages in illegal trespassing is dealt with by way of the civil law system. It’s not treated as a criminal issue. Fianna Fáil believes that this needs to be reversed in order to show that trespass, and its consequences, can have a very damaging impact on farmers, landowners and businesses.

“We all know that there are innocent and valid reasons for people to enter onto another person’s land. Hill walking and bird watching are popular pastimes and they are not the focus of my call for changes in legislation.

“However, across rural Ireland and here in Kilkenny, there is a growing issue of people pretending to hunt on private lands with dogs but in reality are using it as a cover for criminal activity.”

The Kilkenny TD also called for more legislative changes to combat what he described as “the scourge of rural crime”.

“Bail laws must be changed to ensure that repeat offenders cannot get bail as easily as they can at present,” he said.

“We all know about people out on bail who commit crimes and then come before the courts. Not alone have they one, two, three or four convictions. We all know of terrible cases in which they have 40 or 50 cases against them and they are out on bail. These people do not mind the recording of another offence against them. It means nothing to them.”

Under legislation brought forward by Fianna Fáil in the Dáil, second and third offenders would not be able to avail of free legal aid or, or would only be eligible for it on a limited basis.

“These people do not care. They should be kept either in jail or under a curfew such that they cannot go out and create havoc in our communities, in particular in rural Ireland,” Deputy Aylward added.

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