CATTLE THEFT A SHAMEFUL CRIME

19 September 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The organised theft of livestock from farms in Co Monaghan and the wider Border region rivals the production of illegal diesel as a major blight on economic prosperity and community welfare.

The fact that this shameful form of crime appears to have escalated in recent weeks after a period of relative abatement presents as a matter of grave concern for our rural communities, agricultural organisations and the forces of law and order.

The topic received due prominence at Tuesday’s meeting of Co Monaghan Joint Policing Committee and has prompted leading figures in the executive of the IFA in the county to advocate strongly for increased vigilance from its members and an enhancement of the policing measures deployed to counteract the activities of the modern rustler.

Stealing a farmer’s cattle has traditionally been one of the most despised of offences. It strikes a blow to the victim that transcends even the potentially devastating financial loss that can be suffered, and the injurious psychological consequences that can arise from theft – it wounds something essential to the dignity of the human person and their presumption of trust and decency in others. It offends the soul.

The profound connection between rural Irish people and the land on which they live has been well mythologized by now in our own and kindred literatures. The archetype created can sometimes veer into caricature but there is an essential truth underpinning it, a truth violated by the crime of cattle theft.

The potential for divisiveness and mistrust to cleave the close bond of rural communities asunder if this blight is not arrested and eventually obliterated from our midst is self-evident – and should form a strong motivation not alone for the concentration of policing resources upon the problem, but for public co-operation with the law and order measures that are devised to address it.

The need for enhanced security measures and common sense precaution to be deployed on farms, particularly those in the vicinity of the Border and isolated from population centres, has been well disseminated by our farming organisations and the crime prevention officers of the Gardaí.

While there can be few if any farmers in our circulation area who are not by now acutely aware of the threat to their livelihoods, not all of them will have the financial wherewithal to satisfactorily secure their holdings.

It would seem a necessary response by our Minister of Agriculture to a problem that threatens to enfeeble important aspects of our farm productivity – and indeed, reputation – to put in place as a matter of urgency a scheme of funding assistance that would enable farmers to enhance the protection of their animals and their properties.

At local level, the cattle theft problem is surely the incentive needed for the admirable community alert system which operates in some but by no means all of our countryside communities to be extended countywide. There is an important role here for our local authority and the newly created Public Participation Networks to ensure that the community alert net is spread across the entirety of Co Monaghan and that its mesh is tight.

As will illegal diesel production, a strong financial motive animates the stealthy and organised actions of the criminals who prey on the livestock and livelihoods of our farmers – and the rustlers, like the fuel gangsters, are driven by a greed for gain that counts the damage to the environmental fabric of life their actions risk as an outcome of no great consequence.

The likelihood that at least a sizeable proportion of the stolen animals are intended for slaughter in illegal abattoirs opens up a terrible vista of contamination of the food chain, imperilling not only the hard-won and harder-protected status of the Irish food product but the lives of our citizens.

For the greater common good as well as the preservation of our rural way of life, this is a crime that must be stamped out.

ART FOR EXPORT

It was a patently proud Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht that presided at the launch in Monaghan’s Garage Theatre on Monday night of the Splitting The Stones CD produced by the Monaghan Arts Network.

Heather Humphreys spoke with enthusiastic conviction of how she delights in opportunities to promote the rich and diverse cultural talents of her native county when she fulfils engagements both at home and abroad.

She was a very willing recipient of the encouragements by Arts Network Chairperson Dara MacGabhann to public representatives to use the CD, and similar home-produced cultural products, as “an exportation tool” in engagements with visiting delegations and on trips to the burgeoning list of communities abroad with which our county is forging twinning associations.

Ms MacGabhann’s idea, and the willingness of our Government Minister to put it into active practice, should not escape the notice of those in our local authority currently evolving a distinctive Co Monaghan “brand” for tourism and promotional purposes.

We are a county of conspicuous music, literary and artistic achievement but, despite the entrepreneurial instincts that have brought us equal success in industry and business, we have been somewhat slow and haphazard in our exploration of the export potential of what we creatively do.

And we can be remarkably diffident about our talents, with practitioners often hesitant about seeking a wider audience, and sometimes an audience at all, to appreciate their gifts.

Through the monthly showcase events they have been organising in Monaghan’s Market House since May of last year, the Arts Network has rendered a great service to musicians, comedians, poets, writers and visual artists in giving them a stage, and in many cases we suspect, the confidence to perform before a sizeable and appreciative audience.

The benefits to the development of the participating artists of all genres have in some cases been enormous, enabling them to hone their gifts and achieve a confidence in expression that can bring them to the next level of attainment.

The Arts Network showcase example is one worthy of being followed at cultural venues throughout our county – and their exhortation that Co Monaghan art in all its forms is worthy of export for both economic and cultural purposes should also not fall on deaf ears.

 

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