Garda warning for ‘vulnerable’ clergy after latest attack

The clergy in rural County Galway have been asked to step up their own security in the wake of a second attack on a parish priest since the beginning of the year.

And the Gardaí have said that they are willing to provide advice on an individual or a group basis to priests when it comes to improving their home security.

Last weekend the home of Caherlistrane PP Fr. Pat O’Brien was forced by four intruders who tied him up and made off with a paltry amount of money.

But now the clergy in general have been advised to take additional steps to secure their parochial houses in the wake of this attack and one which occurred in early January in Fohenagh during which a priest was assaulted.

The Gardaí say that there may be a perception within the criminal element that there are large amounts of cash stored in priests’ houses and have urged that better security measures be put in place.

Detective Sergeant Mick O’Driscoll of Tuam Garda Station said that traditionally the priests of any parish receive callers on a daily basis but in the wake of these attacks, it was now time to be alert to the threat of roaming gangs of criminals.

He said that priests now had to look at their own security and urged them not to keep large sums of money in their parochial houses in the aftermath of weekend Masses.

Detective Sergeant O’Driscoll then confirmed that the Gardaí were following a number of lines of inquiry into the incident during which a gang of raiders ransacked Fr. Pat O’Brien’s house which left him shaken and traumatised.

One of the gang members repeatedly called him a paedophile and Fr. O’Brien revealed that he was particularly frightened of this individual.

The PP was watching the Ireland v Sweden soccer match on television when he answered a knock to the door on Friday night last. He had previously been with one of his parishioners whose sister had died. It is understood that the gang are from the Limerick or Cork area and had carried out the raid in the hope of finding money that they could use to pay for drugs.

The four men, dressed in balaclavas forced the door in on top of the priest and then tied him up as they ransacked the house.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.