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Garda to examine findings of report

Lorna Siggins - Irish Times

REACTION: THE GARDA Síochána has said it will “examine” the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s final report on recorded comments made by members about two female Corrib gas protesters, and will “consider its findings”.

The report recommends that disciplinary proceedings be taken against one of the gardaí who was investigated.

A second garda who was central to the conversation recorded on a camcorder on March 31st, 2011, has retired, while three other gardaí were cleared in the interim report published last July.

However, Jerrie Ann Sullivan, one of two women arrested at the time of the incident last year, has said the report’s “narrow scope . . . does nothing to address the real reasons that gardaí felt free to talk flippantly about raping campaigners”.

Ms Sullivan, who was not party to the actual exchange between the five gardaí as she was being taken to Belmullet Garda station in a separate vehicle, said that “possible minor discipline for any one officer” was “not an appropriate response to the Corrib policing culture of violence and disrespect that has been institutionalised by the State as a whole”.

“No garda has ever been disciplined for Corrib policing,” she said, and “if any disciplinary recommendation is enforced in this case it would be the very first instance of discipline after over six years of well documented abuses of power by gardaí in Mayo”.

The report was “predictable” and it was for this reason that “people campaigning against Corrib have stopped making official complaints about gardaí”.

NUI Maynooth, which owned the camcorder on which the recording was made, said it “prioritises the safety and welfare of its staff and students”.

The college “abides by the law at all times, it upholds and supports the process of statutory bodies, and complied fully with its obligations in relation to this investigation”.

NUIM lecturer Dr Laurence Cox, who was commenting in a personal capacity, said he and six colleagues at the college were still concerned about the handling of the Garda Ombudsman inquiry.

NUIM academics had taken the decision at the time of the investigation to delete unrelated material from the camcorder in line with the university’s research ethics principles before handing it to the ombudsman.

They say they had invited the Garda Ombudsman to supervise this – but it declined.

Two of the college staff were threatened with possible criminal prosecutions, and Ms Sullivan was subjected to “lengthy and aggressive questioning”, and was forced to take on “substantial legal costs”.

The ombudsman said it would respond to these concerns in the final report.

However, Dr Cox said yesterday that the body “still seemed not to understand the concept of confidentiality”.

Dublin Shell to Sea spokeswoman Caoimhe Kerins said the report sent out several messages – that it was “acceptable for serving gardaí to joke about raping people in their custody”, and that people who criticised or embarrassed the Garda could “expect repercussions”.

Posted Date: 
25 April 2012