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'Spineless thugs kicked me in the head until I was unconscious,' says farmer

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 11/09/2018 Tom Brady

'Spineless thugs kicked me in the head until I was unconscious,' says farmer © Independent.ie 'Spineless thugs kicked me in the head until I was unconscious,' says farmer A farmer who was kicked unconscious after he confronted trespassers on his land is the latest victim of a gang using lurcher dogs as a cover while carrying out surveillance for a crime spree.

Father-of-three Patrick Walsh (47), from Lispopple, Swords, Co Dublin, was brutally set on when he challenged four men on his land on the evening of September 2. 

Mr Walsh suffered four cracked ribs, a dislocated shoulder and needed stitches to his face after he was kicked repeatedly on the ground about 150 metres from his home.

He became the latest victim of criminals who pretend they are using the lurchers to hunt hares while "sussing out" properties before a theft.

Gardaí say several crime gangs are involved and they intimidate farmers to stop them reporting incidents.

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One gang is highly active in north Co Dublin but has also been involved in intimidation in Meath, Kildare and Wicklow. Others have been concentrating on the farming community in Munster.

Now the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) is launching a fresh campaign to fight back and is seeking the help of gardaí, councillors and community groups.

Mr Walsh told how on the evening in question his mother rang and said she had seen men on his land. He saw two men sitting in a car but they denied they had been on the farm.

He returned home and was watching TV with his wife and children, aged two, four and six, when he spotted two men with lurchers walking through his herd of suckler cows.

He told the Irish Independent: "I jumped into the Jeep and I was confronted by one of the men. I told him they were trespassing and one of them attacked me.

"I tried to defend myself and then the second [man] and the two who had earlier been sitting in a car joined in and kicked me to the ground."

Mr Walsh added: "They had a field day with me while I was lying on the ground and kept kicking me in the head and body until I became unconscious.

"When I woke up 15 minutes later, I didn't know where I was and then a neighbour arrived on the scene and I was taken to Connolly Hospital, where a doctor told me I was lucky my injuries were not more serious."

Mr Walsh said three of the attackers were aged in their 20s and the fourth in his late 30s or early 40s.

"I am sick of it," he said. "I am not afraid of them but I am very worried about my children, who have been very upset."

Mr Walsh said the gang were running a campaign of intimidation throughout north county Dublin and many farmers were too frightened to report the threats to gardaí.

"I have never come across such violence," he said.

"They are spineless b******s but I will not be intimidated. My family are the centre of my life and I will protect them. I have put in CCTV cameras and have had great support from the IFA and my neighbours and friends, but we need more action from the authorities."

The chairman of the Dublin branch of the IFA, Philip Maguire, noted that the attack on Mr Walsh was one of a series of incidents in recent months. And in August last year, a farmer in the St Margaret's area of north county Dublin was pinned to the ground when a gang he had confronted on his land rammed a gate with their vehicle.

"We are in regular contact with the gardaí but the incidents are still continuing," Mr Maguire added.

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