A record of hate
A record of hate

A recording of Gardai police laughingly planning to rape two environmental protestors, including a US citizen, has renewed attention on the policing operation to secure the construction of a hugely controversial onshore gas refinery in County Mayo.

Two women arrested during a protest at the construction of a high-pressure gas pipeline by Shell EP have told of their horror at hearing the Gardai, including a sergeant, discuss a plan to rape them.

The Gardai were en route to Belmullet Garda Station, while the two women whom they had arrested for public order offences were traveling in two other separate garda cars. The Gardai were not aware that a camcorder they had confiscated from the women was still recording.

“Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you,” the sergeant said.

To much laughter another garda repeated: “Hold it there. Give me your name and address there... I’ll rape you.”

After more laughter, the sergeant repeated: “I’ll definitely rape you.”

One of the Gardai also discussed a threat to deport one of the women, an American academic at Maynooth University:

Garda A: “She’s some Yank. I don’t know who the f**k she is.”
Unidentified garda: “Is she a Yank?
Garda A: “It sounds like it, it sounds like it, the accent anyway.
Unidentified garda: “Sounds like a Yank or Canadian.”
Garda A: “Well whoever, we’ll get Immigration f**king on her.”
Garda B: “She refused to give her name and address and told she would be arrested.”
Garda A: “.......and deported”
Garda B: “And raped.”
Garda A: “I wouldn’t go that far ye.... She was living down at that crusty camp, f**k sake, you never know what you might get.”

‘Crusty camp’ is a derogatory reference to the Rossport Solidarity Camp, where activists have mounted a five-year campaign to prevent the construction of a potentially dangerous onshore pipeline through a protected environmental area.

Jerrie Ann Sullivan, a post-graduate student, said she and her companion, who does not wish to be named, were appalled at the conversation.

Ms Sullivan called for an inquiry into the policing at the protest, which campaigners have long warned has spun out of control.

“It was deeply chilling to hear the gardai in the car laughing at the prospect of raping the other woman,” she said.

Campaigners want an independent international inquiry established to examine policing around the Shell Corrib gas pipeline.

Gardai and a private security firm hired by Shell EP have been routinely accused of acting with impunity and brutality towards the protestors. Complaints of heavy-handedness have been brushed off by the authorities in Dublin.

Local residents who are opposed to the pipeline have been subject to years of harassment and sexual innuendo, including “drive-by” incidents, where Garda vehicles stopped or hovered outside the gates of homes.

So-called ‘security’ teams are said to be operating illegal checkpoints in the area, while alleged criminal acts over the years have included the deliberate sinking of a fishing vessel used by the protestors.

One of the last outstanding permits for the gas project was granted recently when Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan granted the foreshore licence to Shell. Last week, campaigners held two ‘days of action’ in protest, during which the two women were arrested.

Sinn Fein Justice Spokesperson Jonathan O’Brien and Energy and Natural Resources Spokesperson Martin Ferris have called on the Garda Ombudsman to begin a full investigation into the incident.

Deputy O’Brien said: “It is extremely disturbing that members of the Gardai in whom women are expected to place their trust would speak in such a manner about raping persons who they are taking into custody,” he said,

“Apart from the appalling nature of this incident, there are huge questions surrounding the policing of the Corrib project.

“Not alone are there legitimate local concerns but it is also obscene that well over 20 million euro has been spent on Garda policing of the protests in recent years. We are at a time of unprecedented economic and financial crisis and yet this Government is presiding over the surrender of a natural resource potentially worth many billions of Euro.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News