You may remember the ‘garda tapes’ case in April 2011. The final report from Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) into this incident is due to be released today, Monday, 23rd April.
The ‘garda tape’ was a recording which captured a number of Gardaí mockingly threatening to use rape as an interrogation method, against one of two women, who were at the time of the conversation, in their forced custody. The women had been arrested for peaceful protesting with the Shell to Sea campaign in Mayo.
The Gardaí returned a camera, with these comments recorded, to the two women on their release. The Gardaí involved claim (and this does seem to be the case) that they did not intend for the women to hear those comments. However, this does not, in any way, minimise the impact of hearing them for the two women involved. Rape is never a joke. There is no excusing any tone of conversation about raping any woman, in particular when this conversation is held by members of police or security forces.
The Shell to Sea campaign highlighted this case at the time in the national media and GSOC launched a public interest investigation into the incident. We are again highlighting the case, as we are deeply concerned about the nature of the GSOC investigation and the lack of justice for the women at the centre of this case. In particular, GSOC released an “Interim Report” in July 2012, which:
• Falsely implied that the recording was in some way tampered with or altered. The recording was completely intact.
• Included a quote (the only quote in the entire report) from an unidentified detective falsely stating that one of the women used the word ‘rape’ while being arrested, evoking strong patriarchal attitudes that in some way the women invited or asked for it. Neither woman, at any stage, used the word ‘rape’ in any of their interactions with Gardaí.
• Jerrie Ann Sullivan, one the two women arrested, the spokeswoman for Dublin Shell to Sea, Caoimhe Kerins, and a number of academics in Jerrie Ann’s department in NUI Maynooth have all, on separate occasions, been groundlessly threatened with criminal prosecution by GSOC.
We feel that there has been a concerted effort to delegitimise and intimidate the women and their supporters, who brought this recording to the public attention. The misleading implications contained in the Interim Report were covered in many of the media outlets after its release.
The independence of GSOC has been shown to be undermined through this case. We feel this raises very serious questions about how GSOC can effectively protect and uphold human rights in Ireland in cases involving abuses of Garda power.
Unfortunately, human rights abuses, and refusal of justice when official complaints are made, have become common place for those involved in the campaign against Shell’s Corrib Gas Project. For example, since the release of the ‘garda tapes’ recording, Gardaí have begun strip searches of Shell to Sea campaigners in Belmullet Garda Station when arrested under minor public order charges, such as those associated with sit down blockade protests.
We are asking you to please share this letter with your member organisations, and if today, the GSOC final report repeats the patriarchal perspective and the lack of regard for women’s human rights that characterised its Interim Report, to please take action through, for example, contacting your local TDs, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, writing letters to media outlets etc.
If you would like more information, Dublin Shell to Sea, in conjunction with Jerrie Ann Sullivan and seven academics from NUI Maynooth, prepared a detailed briefing document on our concerns about GSOC’s handling of this case. You can download the briefing document at: http://www.shelltosea.com/sites/default/files/images/GSOC_Corrib2012.pdf
There are also links to a number of media articles at the end of this email.
Yours in solidarity,
BRIEFING DOCUMENT (5 April 2012):
Includes overview; account by Jerrie Ann Sullivan; statement by 7 NUI Maynooth academics; copy of GSOC interim report:
PRESS RELEASE (5 April 2012):
Final Corrib tape report due to be published
Irish Times (Today, 23 April 2012)
Masterclass in spin by Garda Ombudsman
Village Magazine (April 2012):
Handling of ‘Rape Tape’ criticised
Mayo News (17 April 2012):
RTÉ report on Corrib tape breached ‘fairness
Irish Times (3 December 2012)