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Breakthrough in Tulla grave theft investigation provides huge relief

A TULLA grandmother said she cried with relief when Gardaí told her of a major breakthrough in the long-running investigation into a spate of thefts at the local graveyard.
Carol Hoey was one of a number of people contacted by Gardaí after most of the stolen items were discovered during a search, last week, in Ennis.
Last September, the family was devastated when the grave of Carol’s late mother and that of her baby granddaughter were disturbed, and several items of sentimental value taken. The incidents were among more than 20 reported to Gardaí since January of last year.
“I cried when I got the call from the Garda here in Tulla,” Carol told The Champion.
“We can be sure now that our loved ones can rest. It feels great to have some kind of closure. At last, we can go to visit the graves without having a pain in our stomach and holding our breath in fear over what we might find.
“We have been full of anxiety going in there for the last 12 months. We’re not the only ones affected and many people in the area have been very hurt by this awful situation.”
In recent months, several appeals from church and community leaders were made for an end to the distressing thefts.
Despite national publicity, the disturbances continued, ranging from the uprooting of freshly-planted plants to the removal of lamps, ornamental pots and personalised memorial items.
The burial ground is located on the Hill of Tulla and Gardaí had increased patrols in the area. Parish Priest, Fr Brendan Quinlivan appealed to those responsible to stop and the Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District raised the issue several times with the local authority.
Reacting to the breakthrough, Councillor Pat Hayes thanked everyone for their vigilance. “Credit is due to the Gardaí and to the community for keeping the focus on this,” he said.
“It has caused an awful lot of distress. I hope now that people will be able to pay respect to the dead without the fear of disturbance and theft. I have huge sympathy for the heartache so many people have gone through and I’m glad that this is finally over.”
It is understand the breakthrough in the investigation came following an incident at the graveyard on Wednesday, April 14.
Suspicious activity was reported to Gardaí and, on foot of that, a search was conducted at a location in Ennis.
Gardaí are now contacting those who reported thefts and arranging to have stolen goods returned.
“We’re looking forward to getting the items back,” said Carol, “but even if we never got them, it’s great to know that now, hopefully, these thefts are going to stop. I do have an element of pity for those responsible. This is a very sad situation, but the thefts have been very cruel.”
It is understood that Gardaí will also contact people who have reported thefts from other graveyards in Clare.
Clare’s Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Tríona Brooks said a lot of work had been put into the investigation by the local Gardaí in Tulla. She thanked members of the public for their help.
Sergeant Brooks confirmed that Gardaí cautioned and interviewed an individual and that their investigations are ongoing.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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