A Dublin healthcare worker is facing a €4,000 bill for security improvements to her home after being informed by gardaí she is under threat from organised criminals.
Gardaí told Jan Morgan that criminals wrongly believe a prison officer lives at her address and that her house may be under threat from arson or pipe bombs as a result.
She was given extensive advice on improving her personal and home security but told no State funds are available to help her meet the costs.
Ms Morgan is calling on the Garda and the Department of Justice to make funding available to people under threat through no fault of their own.
Members of her local community in Clarehall, north Dublin, have since provided her with help in securing her home.
Cllr Tom Brabazon is also lobbying the department on her behalf.
On Tuesday several private security companies also pledged to assist Ms Morgan following her appearance on the RTÉ programme Liveline.
On March 22nd, a detective sergeant from Coolock Garda station called to Ms Morgan’s home and informed her a criminal gang was targeting a prison officer which they wrongly believe lives at her address.
“They said this information came from Garda intelligence,” Ms Morgan told The Irish Times.
She was told she needed to take various measures to avoid being targeted, including taking different routes to work, making note of suspicious cars and planning what she would do if she was kidnapped.
“They told me to cut down the hedges in front of the house in case I was ambushed. It was like something out of a movie.”
She said she was told her number would be highlighted in the local Garda station and that extra gardaí would be patrolling the area.
Ms Morgan objected, and said her son suffers from a spinal injury which currently renders him largely immobile.
The garda said he would arrange for a crime-prevention officer to visit and offer further advice.
The crime-prevention officer later told Ms Morgan to immediately move her son out of the house, buy two fire extinguishers, block up her letter box and plan a night-time escape route from the house.
He also gave her a list of items to purchase including video doorbells, outdoor lights, alarms and extra locks for the doors and windows.
“I said ‘That’s all great but who is paying for all this,’” Ms Morgan said. “He was a very nice man but he just shrugged his shoulders and said it wasn’t the Garda’s responsibility.”
‘High and dry’
Ms Morgan said she has not heard from the Garda since. “I’ve kind of been left high and dry.”
She has since received a quote from a security company for €4,000 for the “bare minimum” of required work, a sum she could not afford.
Mr Brabazon later nailed down Ms Morgan’s letter box himself and provided her with two fire extinguishers and a video doorbell, while her neighbour cut down some of the surrounding hedges to provide better visibility.
“There should be protocols put in place for people who are completely innocent and are dragged into these underworld situations. There should be somebody you can go to. If I was actually in the Prison Service I would no doubt get all this assistance.”
“It’s like [the Garda] dropped a bomb in my living room two weeks ago and then walked out the door.”
Ms Morgan said her worry “is more for when I’m not here. Because [my son] wouldn’t be able to defend himself.” She said she had recently been working 12-hour days in her clinic due to the pandemic.
Ms Morgan said she was “very grateful” to the security companies who offered to assist her but that “they shouldn’t have to give their services away for free”.
Mr Brabazon said Ms Morgan has been very distressed by the situation. He said he was not aware of any public supports for people in her position.
“There needs to be something there. It’s something that needs fast action. We can’t wait on bureaucracy to deal with it,” the Fianna Fáil councillor said.