Mayo: Inquiry Launched Into Alleged Threats By Suggestion Of The Rape Of Women – By Gardai

5 Apr

An investigation has been launched into allegations that remarks of a sexually threatening nature were made by gardaí after the arrest of two women involved in a Corrib protest.

Clip of conversation between gardaí

Transcripts of audio recording

 Corrib - Shell to Sea campaigners arrested
Corrib – Shell to Sea campaigners arrested
 
 Gardaí - Inquiry after allegations of sexually threatening remarks
 GardaíInquiry after allegations of sexually threatening remarks
 

A garda investigation has been launched in Co Mayo following allegations that remarks of a sexually threatening and disturbing nature were made by gardaí after the arrest of two women involved in an anti-Corrib gas protest last week.

A senior garda officer from outside the Mayo region has been appointed to carry out the investigation.

The two women had travelled to Mayo to support the Shell to Sea protest.

One of them had climbed onto a tractor; the other was filming her with a video camera.

Gardaí arrested both of them, put them in a patrol car and took them to Belmullet Garda Station.

The camera was placed in a second patrol car.

Last night, Shell to Sea said the gardaí did not realise it was still recording and when it was handed back to the two women – it contained details of a conversation between the gardaí in the second patrol car.

A Shell to Sea spokesperson said the alleged remarks made by the gardaí were shocking and disturbing.

The group plans to release details of the recording later today.

NEWS UPDATE:

A senior officer from outside the Mayo region has been appointed to examine remarks alleged to have been made by two Gardaí about two women who were arrested in Co Mayo last week.

The women were arrested for public order offences during a protest near the controversial Corrib gas pipeline route last Thursday.

It has been alleged that the gardaí were heard joking about threatening to deport and rape one of the women who had refused to give her name to officers.

The alleged remarks were recorded on a video camera which had been taken from the women and which was left running while the gardaí travelled to Belmullet garda station.

Dublin Shell to Sea spokesperson Caoimhe Kerrins said: “This is shocking and extremely serious. It is very frightening for those of us involved in the campaign.

“Gardaí are the people that women are supposed to trust when they need to report a rape. Gardaí are supposed to be responsible for bringing rapists to justice.”

NEWS UPDATE:

A senior Garda officer has been appointed to investigate the treatment of two women who were arrested during protests over the Corrib gas project late last week.

Members of the force were inadvertently recorded on a video camera they had earlier confiscated joking about threatening to deport and rape one of the women who had refused to give her name to officers.

The video camera was not fully switched off after it was seized by gardaí and it recorded exchanges between several gardaí in the vehicle in which they were travelling.

The two women were arrested on a public road last Thursday about 30 minutes after one of them had been taken down from the roof of a tractor hired for Shell’s preparatory work on the Corrib gas pipeline at Aughoose.

Both women were released without charge.

They are upset about the exchanges that were recorded and say they were manhandled by several officers during their arrest near the Shell compound for the new Corrib gas pipeline route in north Mayo.

The woman who was carrying the video camera says she had her arms forced until she dropped the camera, and sustained bruising. Her colleague says she was treated in an “unnecessarily physical fashion”.

Both women said they wished not to be named, and neither wanted to comment on the record on the incident.

Supt Pat Diskin of Belmullet Garda station said a senior garda from outside the division had been appointed to “establish the facts and report on the matter”.

The women were arrested for public order-related offences, and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

An academic at NUI Maynooth, where one of the women is studying, has condemned as “outrageous” the content of some recorded conversation.

The camera on which the exchanges were recorded is believed to have been the property of the college.

It was some hours after their release that the women discovered their camera, which was returned to them, had not been switched off.

It was in the possession of gardaí leaving the scene in a separate car, and during the journey it had recorded exchanges between several gardaí.

One garda can be heard on the tape saying that one of the women “sounds like a Yank or Canadian”. Another garda said: “well, whoever, we’ll get immigration f***ing on her.”

A more senior garda picked up the conversation, saying “she refused to give her name and address and [was] told she would be arrested”.

“And deported,” his colleague continued. “And raped,” the more senior garda said.

The conversation continued in jocular fashion, with the more senior garda saying: “Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you.”

Amid some laughter, another garda said: “Hold it there, give me your name and address there, I’ll rape you.”

“Or I’ll definitely rape you,” the more senior garda responded.

The 37-minute recording also features differences of opinion between the gardaí in the car over use of equipment and training to deal with protests.

One garda expressed concern about responsibility in court proceedings if a protester was injured during removal, and it transpired that there was insufficient equipment or training. His senior disagreed, and said it was a matter of “common sense”.

Dr Bríd Connolly, lecturer in NUI Maynooth’s adult and community education department, confirmed that one of the women arrested was a student at the college.

“This recording is an affront to women, an affront to freedom to protest, and rape is not a joking matter,” Dr Connolly said.

“How can women who have been assaulted have any confidence in the Garda if this is the sort of attitude that prevails?

“It undermines the work done with the Garda by rape crisis centres and Women’s Aid, and takes us back 40 to 50 years,” Dr Connolly added.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre today said the alleged comments made about the protesters were “unacceptable.”

“Making suggestive comments about rape and sexual assault is not funny whatever the situation or circumstances,” said chief executive Ellen O’Malley-Dunlop. “Comments of this nature are totally unacceptable in any context but are much more serious when made by people in authority and who are supposed to be the guardians of our society.”

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