Updated 8.20 pm
A REPORT INTO the Corrib ‘rape tape’ controversy has revealed that a garda who was present at the time heard one of the protesters refer to rape as two women were being arrested.
The controversy surrounds an alleged recording of several gardaí who joked about raping and deporting two women following their arrest during protests against the Corrib gas project on 31 March 2011.
The report, which is based on an interim progress report by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and was published by the Justice Minister Alan Shatter today, details that:
During the course of the investigation with Garda members, it was suggested that another Garda member may have overheard one of the females using the word ‘rape’ during the course of their arrest, and prior to the word bring used by any Garda member.
The report also details that this line of inquiry was pursued and a garda who was present when the women were arrested gave the following statement:
As the prisoners were being brought to the cars to transport them to the station, one of them kept shouting something like ‘she is not safe on her own with ye’ or ‘she is not safe with ye’ and I also heard her shout ‘she could be raped by ye’. I am not sure which protester said this. Both of them were shouting. I did mention this to some of my colleagues after the controversial tapes were released to the media.
According to the report it has not been possible to verify this statement from video recordings made at the time of the arrests.
The garda remarks at the centre of the controversy were recorded on a camcorder seized from one of the women. It had been placed in the pocket of one of the gardaí while it was still recording.
The reports states that although the quality of the recording is poor, a transcript of the comments by the gardaí has been made and appears to support the allegations of comments made about rape and deportation.
The camcorder was not handed over to the GSOC until 14 April, and it was then handed over to the Forensic Science Service of Northern Ireland, which was unable to retrieve a number of files which has been deleted or overwritten.
The report details that files were deleted immediately prior to the GSOC taking possession of the camcorder. It also says that the significance of the deleted files to the investigation is not known.
Shell to Sea spokesperson Caoimhe Kerins has told RTÉ that the recording of the gardaí was not tampered with, and that the entire file for that day was made available. She said that the files that had been removed were ‘academic’.
According to the Irish Times, files containing research material which did not relate to the Corrib incident were removed before the camcorder was given to the GSOC. This has been confirmed by NUI Maynooth.
As reported earlier, no criminal charges will be placed against any of the Gardaí involved. The investigation is ongoing, and disciplinary action may be taken against two of those involved, while the other three have been vindicated.
The report details how all of the gardaí, and one of the women involved, were interviewed. The second woman failed to cooperate. She made no complaint and is now working overseas.
The report details how neither of the women was threatened personally with rape or with being deported, and how they only became aware of the alleged conversation after the event and following their release.
The Shell to Sea group has said that some form of disciplinary action must arise out of the incident, and that a ‘slap on the wrist’ will not be enough.