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The Irish Times, Dublin, 11 May 2011
Call for 'stripping and whipping' after Laois raid
By Eoghan MacConnell
A FINE Gael councillor is calling for the introduction of corporal punishment following a kidnapping and armed robbery in Co Laois.
Shirley Bergin (50) was accosted by four masked men who forced their way into her home in Cullahill, near Durrow, at 11pm on Monday.
The men, who were armed with crowbars, directed her to open Bergin's Cullahill service station which is adjacent to the house. The raiders, who had Dublin accents, stole a "significant" amount of cash and cigarettes.
They then returned to the family home where Ms Bergin was left tied up in a bathroom. She was badly traumatised but physically unharmed in the raid.
Ms Bergin managed to free herself and alert the Garda.
Gardaí are conducting inquiries and reviewing CCTV footage. They believe the four men escaped in a black Audi A4 in the direction of Abbeyleix at about 11.50pm.
The raiders are thought to have carried out surveillance on the premises prior to the raid.
Ms Bergin's husband, Paschal, was out at the time, and the gang avoided domestic CCTV cameras by approaching from fields to the rear of the house.
The four men cut a neighbour's wire fence before forcibly entering the property through a back patio door.
Although Ms Bergin and her husband declined to comment on the robbery yesterday, staff restocking cigarettes at the service station said "everyone is shaken" by the events.
Cllr John Bonham (FG) of Laois County Council called the culprits "thugs".
He said "times are hard enough without this kind of terrorism being inflicted; maybe it's time to go back to what is done in the Isle of Man, stripping and whipping".
He described Cullahill as a "small local farming community, a great community, a close-knit community of decent people".
Mr Bonham said he would be calling on Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to introduce emergency legislation as there "needs to be an example made of these people".
"The community is in absolute shock because we know there's somewhere else that's going to be the target tonight with these thugs. We introduced emergency legislation back when the subversives threatened the State; it's time again."
He added: "When does it stop, enough is enough, look at the farmer in Co Mayo who was driven to his wits' end week after week."
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