Thailand farms

Gardaí stretches out to stop gangs looting Christmas tree farms

Gardaí carried out night air patrols and high-visibility checkpoints to prevent gang raids on Christmas tree farms.

Operation Hurdle – a seasonal initiative involving Garda’s Air Support Unit – will run through the week before Christmas in Co Wicklow.

Growers across the county, which has the highest concentration of festive fir plantations in Ireland, welcomed confirmation that it has been given the green light for the tenth consecutive year.

Gardaí carried out night air patrols and high-visibility checkpoints to prevent gang raids on Christmas tree farms. Photo: Shutterstock

Gardaí said flights had dropped significantly last year due to COVID-related travel restrictions that were in place.

However, they said every effort will be made to repeat the success of last year’s operation by focusing on crime prevention rather than detection.

District Superintendent Declan McCarthy said, “The operation was a success and the activities of criminals were severely curtailed. We want to do this again in 2021.

Gardaí Christmas tree farms
Operation Hurdle – a seasonal initiative involving Garda’s Air Support Unit – will run through the week before Christmas in Co Wicklow. Photo: Shutterstock

“Although detection is very difficult, prevention is the key with a joint effort of local producers and their security personnel as well as improved security procedures, combined with a targeted Garda activity targeting suspects and vehicles. involved persons. “

Farmer Christy Kavanagh, of Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow, said he would “sleep better” after learning Operation Hurdle had been relaunched.

Mr Kavanagh, former chairman of the Christmas Tree Growers Association, said he plans to supply around 10,000 trees to the domestic and overseas market.

Gardaí Christmas tree farms
Growers in Wicklow, which has the highest concentration of festive fir plantations in Ireland, welcomed confirmation that it had been given the green light for the tenth consecutive year. Photo: Shutterstock

“Our harvest looks very good this year and the trees have done very well. There is an additional demand for real trees and part of that is because people are more environmentally conscious and don’t want plastic trees.

“Operation Hurdle is a great initiative and it is very important to all producers. “

However, a shortage of artificial trees from Asia and the recent mild weather that caused real trees to lose their needles too soon are causing headaches for some growers. John Brennan, of IrishChristmasTrees.com, said shipping costs from China and Thailand are pushing up the prices of artificial Christmas trees.

Gardaí said flights had dropped significantly last year due to COVID-related travel restrictions that were in place. Photo: Shutterstock

He explained: “The reason prices have skyrocketed is due to a number of factors, congestion in ports around the world resulting in missed loading and unloading points, and the consequences of the blockage of the ‘Ever Given in the Suez Canal last March.

Mr. Brennan, who has been in business for more than 40 years, said “no business can handle this huge price hike.” The first cousin of famous hospitality brothers John and Francis Brennan said: “An artificial tree that cost € 103 last Christmas now costs € 150 due to the shortage, but I could not in good conscience pass all of that on. increase on my clients.

“I know many large retailers such as Woodies, Homebase and Homestore & More are expecting a big shipment on December 1, but it looks like there may be delays due to port congestion and it could slow their arrival.

Gardaí said every effort will be made to repeat the success of last year’s operation by focusing on crime prevention rather than detection. Photo: Shutterstock

“Large retailers and garden centers are already facing limited inventory levels. It would normally take four weeks for a shipment to arrive and now it takes seven.

“I’m lucky to have a stock. I have been doing business with the same family in Asia for years and have been doing business with the freight company CH Robinson who managed to deliver my supplies. ‘

Speaking from his store in Dundrum, south Dublin, Mr Brennan said the recent mild weather was also causing problems with the trees.

Farmer Christy Kavanagh, of Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow, said he would “sleep better” after learning Operation Hurdle had been relaunched. Photo: Shutterstock

“It hasn’t been very cold in the last few weeks, which is a problem. Trees will not keep their needles for very long and they will start to drop after ten days because they don’t like heat.

“Companies that buy real trees for public places could face the problem of falling trees too quickly and perhaps the headache of having to replace them.

“The later real trees are planted in homes and businesses across the country, the better.”


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