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Elderly Farmers Who Are Living Alone 

'Live In Fear of Their Lives'

By Michael O'regan, The Irish Times 

October 21, 2010



Many decent and law-abiding elderly people living alone faced the nightly terror of the fear of aggravated assault, Labour justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte told the Dáil.

“People such as elderly farmers living alone literally live in fear of their lives as a result of the spates of attacks that take off from time to time. There have been some terrible examples.”

Mr Rabbitte questioned if introducing more criminal law was the way to “correct the malaise”. It was not many years since one could leave the door off the latch in rural Ireland and the question of personal safety never arose.

“However, those days are gone and the question arises now,” he added. “It is a challenge for wider society and needs more considered strategies in terms of encouraging or reassuring those people they can be more safe in their homes.”

Mr Rabbitte was responding to the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Bill, which was introduced by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern.

Mr Ahern said that it was intended to strike the correct balance between the rights of the home-occupier and those of a trespasser.

It set out, among other matters, the rights of those who were required to exercise self-defence in the face of attack on themselves, others or on property.

It permitted the use of reasonable force in applying that kind of defence, said Mr Ahern.

“I think we all realise the importance of the home as a place of refuge and safety,” he added.

“We are entitled to feel safe there and to have the freedom to defend that safety if it is under threat.”

Mr Ahern said he recognised and shared the very understandable public concern that existed regarding attacks on the home.

“There has been a number of high profile and very serious cases involving intruders entering homes with criminal intent in recent years

“Fatalities have occurred and subsequent public comment has indicated the need for people to be certain of the legal position and to be reassured that there are laws in place to protect them.”

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