Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill, has met with Bronwyn McGahan, MLA to discuss rural crime issues in Fermanagh & south Tyrone.
In recent months the number of reported sheep and cattle thefts in the county has increased resulting in serious financial losses to the affected farmers and an increased sense of fear in the rural community.
Speaking after the meeting Minister O’Neill said: “Livestock theft and associated identification and movement offences are not only criminal activities they also undermine animal traceability and directly threaten the animal health of our livestock. My Department is working closely with the PSNI and rural stakeholders in an effort to tackle these thefts and track down the criminals behind them. This includes DARD enforcement staff delivering training on animal identification and movements requirements to PSNI officers so that they can better recognise suspicious movements; conducting joint exercises and inspections; and developing improved communication channels for reporting crimes and sharing information. This co-operation has been evident in recent operational activities on the ground in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.”
Welcoming today’s meeting Bronwyn McGahan MLA said: “Rural crime has been a particular problem in the Dungannon Borough, especially within the Clogher Valley Area. I recently attended a public meeting in Augher, where the feeling among the farming community was frustration and anger, and calls were made for more to be done by all the agencies involved. Today’s meeting marks the first of a series of discussions I intend to have as I continue to raise these very important issues.”
Minister O’Neill concluded: “I am encouraged by the close working relationships being developed with Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) enforcement staff in the south of Ireland and with an Garda Siochana. I urge all rural dwellers to be vigilant, to look out for their neighbours and their stock, and to report any suspicious activity to the PSNI.”