Irish police dirty tricks and attacks on campaigners in aftermath of release of rape discussion video

Garda in Mayo took revenge for the publication of the Corrib cops rape threat video yesterday (4th April) by attacking Shell to Sea campaigners during another protest near the site where the women were arrested.  Alongside this there are clear indications of a dirty tricks campaign being waged by the Garda Press Office. The fact that Garda from the same division felt confident attacking the friends of the women only hours after the so called investigation had been announced by the Garda Press office demonstrates exactly how serious they expected such an investigation to be.  These actions confirm that the  rape threat as an interrogation method discussion captured on the video is not simply an issue of the Garda directly involved on the video but indicative of the brutal nature of policing in the area where individual Garda continue to expect to have a free hand in attacking campaigners.

 

Yesterday Dublin Shell to Sea broke the story of the horrific Garda discussion of using the threat of rape to force a female Shell to Sea protester to talk. The Garda Press office had ran an intense but ultimately unsuccessful campaign to prevent mainstream media publishing what the Garda are heard saying on the tap.  They had hoped to confine media discussion to the mysterious formulation used by the initial RTE coverage of their press release that the Garda were investigating "alleged derogatory remarks."   If they had succeeded in preventing publication of what the Garda are heard saying on the tape then there would have been no media story as "derogatory remarks" is so vague to be meaningless, no one would have understood the seriousness of what had been said. 
[Listen to the 2 minute audio]

There is a strong suspicion that there is a substantial dirty tricks campaign being run against the campaign including the invention of smear stories by the usual suspects - those 'journalists' who trade such favors with the Garda Press office in return for exclusive crime stories.  Shockingly, according to other journalists, it appears this has even included the Garda Press Office supplying the personal details and home addresses of the two women who were arrested to selected pet crime correspondents despite the very clear wish of the women to remain anonymous.  Again this reaction tells us that the problem is not just with a few Garda but with the entire force that uses  such methods to protect Garda impunity in attacking Shell campaigners.  

Supporters of the women's brave stand are asking people to post the following status update on Facebook "Irish police have been leaking private infomation on the women at center of #CorribCops via crime correspondents. Pls update your status with this info for the next couple of hours and ask your friends the same, as a small act of solidarity against intimidation and violence against women in Ireland."

Despite knowing what the Garda involved had actually said RTE shamefully co-operated with the Garda press office in this attempted cover up for over 24 hours after they first had access to the video and transcripts of what had been said.  RTE tried to impose the condition that those interviewed could not use the word rape before they were willing to allow them on air - a condition the campaign rightly refused.  However other media were more courageous with Newstalk broadcasting the audio in the early morning after the Irish Time had already published a transcript.   Alongside this the full unedited video was 'going viral' online as thousands of people reposted it on Facebook and twitter. [Article that includes transcripts and video]

Around 10pm RTE finally broadcast the audio of the rape threat conversation between the Garda and carried a short pre-recorded interview with one of the attested women where she was permitted to use the word rape to describe what the Garda had been talking about  This was almost 36 hours after RTE had been given access to the video and transcripts -by which time 36,000 people had viewed the online video. Around the same time Vimeo on whose site the video had been placed removed the file.  It is not clear why this happened but after an exchanged of emails with Dublin Shell to Sea Vimeo agreed to restore the video.  

The seriousness of the Garda attack on yesterday's protest resulted in a woman seeking medical attention in Belmullet after a Garda punched her in the stomach outside the Shell compound. Extracts from a Shell to Sea press release explain what happened

The protest began at about 1pm when 8 Shell to Sea campaigners had gathered at the side of a public road to block the haulage of material to newly erected Shell site at Aghoos Co. Mayo. Work on the site stopped and the roadside entrance was chained closed by security personnel. 

Sergeant Murphy ordered the protestors to leave under section 8 of the Public Order Act. In a matter of seconds he and about 20 Gardaí began to move the protest by force. The protestors linked arms and sat down in front of the Shell gate.

The Gardaí pulled the protestors by the arms and legs and dragged or carried them along the road to the ditch.  One protestor ran back along the ditch but was grabbed and thrown to the ground by a Garda, kneeled on, and punched. Another Garda came from behind and kicked him.

Sergeant Murphy issued the order to: “Push them back lads, and push them back hard!” One protestor went around the side of one of the Garda vans to get past the cordon, but Garda MY259 came around the side of the van and punched her in the stomach. The woman screamed and lay on the side of the road badly winded. The assault was reported immediately to Sergeant Murphy but was ignored.

The campaigners continued to try to walk up the road for another half an hour but were met with persistent force from the Gardai. Outnumbered by Gardai and brutalised, the protestors met and decided to end the protest.

Spokeperson for Shell to Sea Terrence Conway stated: The Garda violence today is no aberration: it has been the main tool used by Shell and the state in trying to force this project on a community that has given no consent. Despite years of Garda abuse and harassment this community will never give in.

The violence against campaigners in Corrib has been going on for over five years now, numerous people have been injured, several seriously, in these and other police attacks.  The arrival of the new Fine Gael / Labour Government has made no difference to the policing of the area or the Great Oil & Gas Giveaway in general.  Few campaigners have faith in the Ombudsmen enquiry, it is mostly staffed by ex-Garda and in any Brian Lenihan the former Minister of Justice, blocked the Garda Ombudsman from launching an investigation into the Erris policing operation.  We know at least one staff member has resigned from the Ombudsman in disgust at persistent failure to investigate or be allowed to fully investigate complaints about policing in Erris.

Any proper enquiry needs to be fully independent of the Irish state, including the Garda. MEP Paul Murphy has already gone on record in the aftermath of the release of the video of calling for a "genuinely independent investigation involving residents, community and trade union organisations, into the actions and behaviour of An Garda Síochána in the policing of protests in Rossport."  This is a good starting point but a real enquiry would need to go to also look at the role of the controversal private security firm IRMS which works very closely with the Garda and the entire circumstances of the pipeline project and refinery.  

WORDS: Andrew Flood IMAGE: Rossport Solidarity Camp

by Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

First published on WSM.IE April 5th


Read more on the Struggle against Shell's experimental Gas Pipeline

Read more on the Garda rape threat tape


Short 2 minute audio
The long edited audio (25 mins)
Video of the entire unedited recording
on Vimeo, with explanatory text at the start and subtitles on some segments: 40 minutes

‘Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you’: the reality of Corrib policing from Mayo Policing on Vimeo.

  


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