Cross-border crime, including sheep smuggling, is a major source of worry among the Donegal the farming community, according to Donegal IFA Chairman, PJ McMonagle.
According to Mr McMonagle the level of smuggling has escalated since the recession, but claims many more farmers are also concerned about theft of machinery.
“There is smuggling going on. But it can’t be widespread because they can’t go to the factory without tags, although in some case tags are to easy got in this part of the world,” he said.
He says the “number on issues” affecting rural dwellers is theft and often thieves are initially parading as crafts men canvassing for employment to scope out items to steal.
“Theft is definitely more prevalent and the number one thing in the countryside. What we are seeing is the amount of people coming around farm yards or house say offering to paint roofs or walls. That’s the ploy to get in and they will have another person with them to see what they can see. They will know what exactly you have in your yard. They have a game plan,” he stated.
He says cut backs in policing are affecting rural security and urges people to check on their elderly neighbours of on vacant houses.
“If they can get into yard and see what is easy lifted. They come in have a look around and when they come back in the dark, they know the score and they know where everything is,” he added.
A number of issues of cross-border crime have been highlighted in recent weeks, including the impact of sheep being smuggled from Northern Ireland ending up on the market in the republic.
Irish Cattle and sheep Farmers’ Association sheep chairman Paul Brady has called for a crackdown on sheep smuggling from Northern Ireland, which, he says, is a problem in border areas.
Not alone does the influx of sheep from the north add to the kill here and depress the price for genuine farmers in the Republic, it also costs the exchequer significant sums in flat rate VAT refunds each year, he stated this week.
“A lamb bought in Northern Ireland, smuggled into the Republic, is worth the additional VAT in the south. At present lamb prices, this amounts to about €5 per lamb,” said Mr Brady.
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