With threats to 80 post offices, the mooted closure of 30 Ulster Bank branches and the axing of several country bus routes, rural Ireland is at the centre of a storm.

As more and more services are confined to larger towns, including medical services and the presence of the gardaí, it is little wonder that rural dwellers feel they are becoming more isolated.

Shocking incidents such as the murder of 90-year-old Paddy Lyons in Ballysaggart, Co Waterford, bring into focus how vulnerable older people living alone can be.

So too does a recent episode in Limerick in which a 93-year-old retired farm worker fired shots when intruders tried to break into his home.

The intruders used a slash hook to break glass door panels to try to gain entry to his house before the gun was fired and they ran.

Here, we examine new research into agricultural crime, how older people are worried about their safety and whether re-opening rural garda stations is the solution.

The report Agricultural Crime in Ireland was authored by Louise Walsh and Dr Kathleen Moore Walsh of Waterford Insitute of Technology.