No time for writing - the Garda rape tape story

Given that I wrote four articles, edited two bits of audio, shot one video and published 60 or so pictures online it seems odd to see the Garda rape tape controversy as an example of not having the time to write something up.  Yet that is the reality.  Outside of what was written I could probably write four times that amount on aspects of the story, the way it was covered and the way we and others dealt with it.  I'll probably never get around to it but here at least I'm linking to some of the pictures and video I shot at the protest on Friday.

Most of this blogs readers regular must have some awareness of the decade long struggle against Shell at Rossport in the west of Ireland and a good few of you have been there. On the last day of March, during ongoing protests, the Irish police arrested two women and in an unbelievable act of stupidity brought the camera one of the women had been using on the drive back to the station without turning it off. The conversation it recorded included the police discussing in a 'jokey' but not at all funny way how they might try and get one of the women to talk by threatening to rape her.

I became aware of the existence of the recording that Sunday when I was called to an emergency meeting during the Gluaiseacht skill share weekend in Seomra Spraoi.  That was the start of a week on insane activity as we sought to get out a story that had to heard against the attempts by the Garda Press Office to kill it. The cops were doing all sorts of mad shit to kill the story, a story that will perhaps be told in the detail it deserves some day.  Some of it is explained and other aspects hinted at in the article Irish police dirty tricks and attacks on campaigners in aftermath of release of rape discussion video.  Yes I expected the Garda to behave in this manner but all the same being close to the reality of it was shocking, in particular the bizarre bullying behaviour of the Garda Ombusdmen (GSOC).  That was part of the reason why on the Thursday we held a press conference arguing that Irish police behavior at Shell protests needs a independent international inquiry not internal investigation.

My role in breaking to story was minor, apart from the articles I wrote I was involved in the editing & backroom tech issues of getting the recordings online and trying to keep them online. I did the edits for the Short 2 minute audio and The long edited audio (25 mins).

I also used the WSM twitter account to counter the spin that was being put out by the cops and to put pressure on the state broadcaster to actually broadcast what had been said.  Twitter has really turned into a seriously useful resource since the rising in Cairo.  Mind you having to deal with the crass stupidity of other commentators so infuriated me that by the end of the week I had to write a commentary on Not getting the context of the Corrib police rape tape remarks just to move on.

Another aspect of the story that I feel unqualified to write on is the personal impact it had on everyone involved - in particular the two women at the center of the recording who had been in the Garda's power and who discovered what was said when they were in that position.  We had a debrief some time afterwards and when chatting after that we discovered that pretty much all of us had gone out on the Saturday that ended the week and got completely hammered.  A traditional reaction to stress in this country but probably not a healthy one.

The state broadcaster initially followed the Garda line, refusing to even allow use of the word rape in describing what the Garda were talking about.  But with transcripts of the audio appearing in a major paper and then being broadcast by non-state radio the pressure built until eventually even RTE had to broadcast the recorded conversation some 30 hours after it had first been supplied to them.  We expected such reluctance so as well as supplying the video to selected journalists in the mainstream media we had uploaded both the full video and edited audio extracts onto the web.  

In 20 hours 37,000 people viewed the online video and 7,000 people read the article I wrote for the WSM news site. 13,000 have now read Garda - "Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you" and 72,000 have viewed the video.  This despite the fact that on the first day just as RTE finally broadcast the audio Vimeo, where the video was hosted, suddenly removed it.  We challenged this and after an hour of emails going back and forth they restored the video - it would be fascinating to know what was said to the New York based company to panic them into pulling the video in the first place but like other aspects of this story this will probably remain untold.

Towards the end of the week a protest was called at the Dail by an ad hoc group of organisations and individuals concerned with justice, equality, and women's and human rights under the heading 'Say no to the trivialisation of rape'.  The main purpose of this blog is to archive the photos and video I took at this which are below. There are some more photos including a number of the press coverage in the WSM Facebook album


So, you favour freedom of

So, you favour freedom of speech except when it upsets you? Poor little thing. Hopefully the big bad gardai have learned the approved words by now. Anarchist? Yet all you do is scream blue murder for your liberated ideas to be imposed on others. Stick it to RTE, you show them. Yeah.


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