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Keith Barry

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

We speak to Keith Barry about the death of his grandfather, Paddy Barry, who died in September of last year after his home was burgled. Paddy Barry resided alone in the Mount sion area of Waterford.

It is estimated (according to the CSO) that there are currently over 273,000 people over the age of 65 in Ireland at the moment. And with burglaries and related offence on the increase, we speak to Keith Barry about the impact of the death of his grandfather Paddy Barry. Paddy died a number of days after his home was burgled.

Keith Barry, magician

Can you describe what happened to you grandad?

Paddy was attacked in the front room of his house in the Mount Sion area of Waterford (where he has lived for 60 years) on Sept 16 2009. The attack happened between 8: pm and 10 pm at night. He sustained bleeding to the brain, severe facial injuries and a broken arm during the attack. The autopsy report has said that this happened as a result of a fall after he was burgled. But he (Paddy) dialled 999 in a clear and steady voice when he reported the burglary.

You feel there is a need for mandatory sentencing for burglary?

I really think that there should be mandatory sentencing. If these guys or the friends of these guys knew that they would get a mandatory sentence of 10 year plus for burglary, then they might stop it. The laws are there but the justice system is not being enforced properly.
What do you think of the recommendations of the law reform commission ( which would allow householders to use lethal force)?

I think that the idea of people being able to use force will not really help protect older people. If someone is breaking into your house, and you are an elderly person, you're going to be petrified and maybe the last thing that you will think about is 'taking on' that person. It will not help the elderly at all I don't think...

You have spoke to Dermott Ahern about this?

I spoke to Dermott Ahern before Christmas about what could be done in relation to protecting the elderly and he was basically saying to me, look what can I do about it, I can only look at the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission, and take it from there.

How proactive have the Government been in relation to protecting the elderly or are they failing to protect the elderly?

I don't think he has been proactive in relation to safety issues to do with the elderly. Even after Paddy was attacked, an elderly woman in Waterford was taken from her house, beaten and tied to a fence. I would say that there is many more incidents of elderly people being attacked that go unreported.

Do you think that our level of respect for older people has lessened?

I don't really know if that is true to be honest. I think that many people have respect for the elderly, but there is a minority who have been attacking the elderly.

What are the practical precautions that people should be talking to protect themselves?

Well as in happened in Paddy's case, he had all the locks and the alarm in his apartment, and yet they still broke in. I know that services are there to help older people and there are groups like Irish Rural Link, which can offer advice to older people, but I really think it is the laws that we should be looking at.

Any additional information

Figures below from the CSO
It is estimated according to the CSO that there are currently over 273,000 people over the age of 65 in Ireland at the moment.
Position of the Minister for Justice Dermott Ahern
Dermott Ahern, the Minister for Justice, has said (Jan 21st 2010) that he is 'considering' introducing mandatory sentences of attacks on the elderly.
He also said he and the Garda Commissioner are concerned by the increase in property theft and particularly the fears of elderly people, many of whom live alone.

The Minister also said he is awaiting a review of the legislation relating to the introduction of mandatory sentencing of those convicted of such crimes against the most vulnerable in society.