September 23, 2022

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Una Farrell (93) was “shaken but not stirred” after she and her two sons were subjected to an hour-long ordeal during a burglary at their shop and home in rural Co Roscommon, one of her sons said on Wednesday.

Richie Farrell said one of his brothers had been “rushed” at by the gang as he locked up the family shop in Ballintubber, Co Roscommon, at about midnight on Sunday. It appeared the attackers had been watching him and once they got inside the premises they set about threatening Mrs Farrell and her sons John and Seamus, said Mr Farrell, who was not present at the time.

“My mother is undaunted, refuses to be intimidated and is back at her ‘yard of conquer’, as she calls it,” he said of his mother re-opening the shop some 24 hours after the aggravated break-in. “She’s probably of that generation that get up, dust themselves off and go again.

“The violation of a public house, as such, fills her with a lot of sadness. She has little time for the people who behave like that. She calls them filth and cowards. They have no business doing what they have, but she doesn’t bear any grudges. She just wants to have her customers come in and talk to her.”

Mr Farrell said one of his brothers was locking up when the gang involved managed to get inside the premises.

“They pushed and kicked and dragged him through the house. And they rounded up my (other) brother – who was down visiting from Dublin – from his room and brought them into my mother’s room. My mother was in bed at the time. One or two of them then proceeded to tie them up and the language was foul, they were hyper.

“My brother said they were looking for the cash and the cigarettes and stuff that was on the premises. And the other two were ransacking the house as well,” he said, adding the attackers had screwdrivers and other implements and took clothing from the drawers to tie up the family.

He said the attack was “very violent, a physical attack”. He told Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 the gang members wanted to know where the alarms were and where the cash was, threatening his mother and brothers “we’ll give it to you if you don’t give is the money”.

“It went on for an hour until they got what they wanted and then they were gone,” he said. During the ordeal when his mother asked to used the bathroom, as she was ‘in shock’, she locked herself in and refused to come out. One of the men “wrenched the door open and took her out again”.

“It’s a traumatic thing to happen, criminality and violence has always been around,” he said. “But aggravated burglary is a different thing entirely and there are a lot of these gangs and robberies taking place around the country. The shop would be isolated. It is at a crossroads, but you wouldn’t be any further away than 10 minutes from the main [road] arteries going to Dublin, going to Westport.”

He believed the gangs were “mobile and organised and fairly professional” and that they knew how far the nearest Garda stations were located from the places they planned to target. Mr Farrell while the attack may have been planned based on “local information”, this was speculation.

He said his mother was a “formidable individual” and would not regard herself as a victim, adding she planned to continue with her life and to continue running her shop. While the property was “messed up” there was no serious damage.

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