ONE OF THE women at the centre of the Garda “rape tape” controversy has said today that the Garda Ombudsman’s investigation into the incident had only been about “protecting Gardaí”.
This afternoon, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) published the final findings of its independent inquiry into an incident involving two arrested female Shell to Sea protesters and five Gardaí.
Last April, a recording in which several gardaí joked about threatening to rape and deport one of the two women arrested for public order offences near the controversial Corrib gas project in Mayo was released. The following public outcry prompted a GSOC investigation.
Today’s report cleared the Gardaí at the centre of the controversy of serious wrongdoing but recommended that disciplinary proceedings be instituted against one.
Jerrie Ann Sullivan said: “I’m not at all surprised at today’s news, considering how An Garda Síochána, the Garda Ombudsman and Alan Shatter have handled this incident and the Corrib project generally.”
“The narrow scope of today’s report does nothing to address the real reasons that Gardaí felt free to talk flippantly about raping campaigners. Possible minor discipline for any one officer is not an appropriate response,” she added.
Sullivan said that whistleblowers in Ireland needed to feel confident about bringing matters to the attention of the authorities or to the public without fear. She added that the “aggressive reactions of the Gardaí and the Garda Ombudsman” after she had brought the incident to light had been “very troubling”.
Caoimhe Kerins of Dublin Shell to Sea said the Garda Ombudsman’s investigation and report sent out several messages:
Firstly, that it is acceptable for serving Gardaí to joke about raping people in their custody.
Also, the treatment of those who brought the recording to public attention sends out the message that people who criticise or embarrass An Garda Síochána can expect repercussions, not only from Gardaí but also from the very body tasked with being an independent watchdog.