Woman at centre of Corrib tape incident demands inquiry

One of two women protesters at the centre of the alleged Garda "rape tape" controversy has gone public to demand an independent inquiry into the policing of the disputed Shell gas project.

Jerrie Ann Sullivan, a postgraduate student from Dublin, said alleged remarks inadvertently recorded on a video camera, believed to be of gardaí joking about raping them, had been deeply traumatic.

"The words used were horrifying and have caused deep distress," she said.

"The context of these words has been causing deep trauma in a community for years and continues today. This is just a glimpse of the reality of the intimidation and the violence the community has been facing for years."

Ms Sullivan and the Shell to Sea campaign have called for the Garda Ombudsman to widen its inquiry into the affair and for a separate independent probe headed up by international experts.

An initial internal Garda investigation into claims officers laughed about carrying out sex attacks on the activists who were in their custody is being reviewed by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

The force chief is expected to consult with senior officers before deciding potential sanctions.

Both women at the centre of the furore - one who wishes to remain anonymous - are to make private statements to the Garda Ombudsman as part of its public interest investigation.

John Monaghan, another protester who lives near the contentious gas pipeline project in north Mayo, released a second tape, alleging a garda made sexual remarks about his wife during a conversation in 2006.

When the Garda Ombudsman was set up the following year he tried to have it investigated but was told it was about four weeks outside the time remit for lodging a complaint.

Mr Monaghan claimed the same garda regularly drove slowly past his and his wife's house in a cul-de-sac for several months after the alleged incident.

"This is systemic and the Ombudsman must widen its scope and that's why I'm putting this into the public domain," he said.

Campaigners also want an independent probe to cover the activities of a private security firm paid for by Shell to police the project.

At least seven TDs attended the Shell to Sea press conference calling for an independent inquiry, including Joe Higgins, Clare Daly and Richard Boyd Barrett of the United Left Alliance, Sinn Féin's Martin Ferris and Independents Mick Wallace, Luke "Ming" Flanagan and Thomas Pringle.

Caoimhe Kerins, a Shell to Sea spokeswoman, said it was a disgrace that no Garda officers had been suspended to date over the controversy.

She also criticised the Garda Ombudsman because no officers had faced disciplinary action for alleged brutality and improper conduct at the pipeline protests despite a large number of complaints in recent years.

"This has to be the end of that impunity that gardaí in north west Mayo have," she said.

Socialist TD Mr Higgins said the actions of the gardaí were like an occupying army against a civilian population in an occupied territory.

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