Sullivan: Ombudsman investigation 'about protecting Gardaí'

Jerrie Ann Sullivan, one of the women who made a recording public in the Garda "rape tape" controversy, has said that the Garda Ombudsman investigation into the incident has been "about protecting An Garda Síochána".

Ms Sullivan released a statement through the Dublin Shell to Sea group reacting to the Garda Ombudsman's recommendation of disciplinary action against one Garda over the incident.

But James Gill, the sergeant found to have made remarks about two female protesters arrested at a controversial Shell gas project at Erris, Co Mayo will escape any action because he recently retired.

The Garda Ombudsman said there were no grounds for any criminal case, based on the available evidence, against any of the five officers involved in the incident on March 31 last year.

The group has said that not one Garda has been disciplined over policing of the protests over the the Corrib Gas project, despite "more than six years of well-documented abuses of power by Gardaí in Mayo and more than 100 complaints to the Garda Ombudsman".

The five Gardaí were investigated for potential criminal offences, under misconduct in public office laws, after a pocket video camera seized from one of two arrested female demonstrators inadvertently recorded the sergeant afterwards in a patrol car joking about raping them.

The remarks were made public by one of the protesters, Jerrie Ann Sullivan, who was handed back the digital camera after her release. The second woman, believed to be a US citizen, did not wish to be named.

The Dublin Shell to Sea group also claim that Ms Sullivan, her NUI Maynooth lecturers and Shell to Sea published a document which "revealed a campaign of spin and misinformation" by the Garda Ombudsman that misled the public over the ‘rape’ recording incident and undermined the case against Gardaí.

The group said: "The document showed how the Garda Ombudsman served the interests of An Garda Síochána by undermining the women who made the recording public, by falsely implying that the 'rape' recording had been tampered with."

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. No Garda has ever been disciplined over policing of Corrib, as Corrib Gardaí are politically protected."

"With a police force under the direct control of government ministers, this report is predictable – just as it was predictable from the start that the Ombudsman investigation would protect the Gardaí. This is the same reason that people campaigning against Corrib have stopped making official complaints about Gardaí."

"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 to the Corrib policing culture of violence and disrespect that has been institutionalised by the State as a whole. This culture has been established and nurtured by politicians who have publicly sanctioned the use of violent force against the community affected by the Corrib gas project."

"We need a culture in Ireland where people - including whistleblowers within the Gardaí - can bring matters to public attention without fear. The aggressive reactions of the Gardaí and the Ombudsman after I brought this incident to light were very troubling for me, my family and my academic supervisors, all of which my lecturers and I have set out in a briefing document explaining our concerns."

"While this incident is over, people living the area continue to face the same dangerous, state-sanctioned police culture which it spotlighted, as described in a seven-page complaint issued last month by 112 local residents about how the Corrib project is affecting daily life in North West Mayo

."

Caoimhe Kerins of Dublin Shell to Sea said: "The Garda Ombudsman's investigation and report sends 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."

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