Shell to Sea campaigner Naoise Ó Mongáin asking Garda to stop videotaping his grand daughter during a protest at Shell's refinery on Saturday.
Yesterday (27 June) five people were arrested by the Garda as violence was used to break up protests against the continued imposition of an experimental gas pipeline on the community by Shell. In the morning 30 Garda blocked the entrance of Rossport Solidarity Camp and then arrested 2 Shell to Sea campaigners who were trying to access the public road. During these arrests Garda behaviour was described as "very violent" by an eyewitness we talked to.
Over 150 people gathered at the Central Bank last night in the aftermath of the eviction of Occupy Dame Street (ODS). They then marched to Pearse street Garda station to demand the return of confiscated property but for unknown reasons the Garda prevented them for reaching the station, knocking many to the ground while doing so. Following on from the violence used during the 4am eviction that morning this represents a radical departure from the 'softly-softly' policing that has characterized the interactions of the state with ODS to date.
A large force of Garda and council workers were deployed at 3.30am today, International Women's Day, to clear Occupy Dame Street (ODS) camp. The camp was completely demolished in the course of the eviction, campers intimidated and their personal property stolen. This was a level of force way out of proportion with the numbers in the camp (about 15 people) and stands in contrast with the lack of resources put into investigating what happened at Anglo, the collapse of which has left a debt of 26,000 Euro on every single person in the country. [Italian translation]
Thursday July 28 the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission released an interim report on the Garda rape-threat tape recordings that were revealed last April. GSOC is the official state body to investigate complaints against the police force of southern Ireland (Garda). The GSOC report contains a major error that suggests GSOC are the source of repeated attempts to spin the story in the media as somehow being the fault of the women the Garda were recorded discussing threatening to rape. The timing of the release of the report was also suspect, coming in the week Shell resumed construction and the day before a national day of action in Erris durig which four Shell to Sea campaigners were injured by Garda and/or private security violence. Such was the level of spin applied that some media made the mistake of leading with the news that the Garda had been cleared of something no-one had ever accused them of - directly threatening the two women with rape.
About 250 people took part in the éirígí organised march on the banquet for the British Queen staged in Dublin castle Wedensday night. WSM members joined the demonstration but Garda had intercepted the person transporting our flags and banner to the protest leaving us somewhat invisible. This was part of a pattern of suppression of visible protest that occurred throughout the visit of the British Queen despite Garda claims that they would "facilitate protest" in advance of the visit. [Italian translation of this article]
The May bank holiday saw the annual Rossport Solidarity Camp gathering, this year across the road from the new Shell compound at Arghoos in Erris. As has become traditional the gathering combined a direct action with workshops and socializing. On the Sunday most of those present went to the launch of fisherman's Pat O'Donnell's new boat. There was a constant Garda presence around the camp throughout the weekend but despite the destruction of some 60m of Shell's bog road no arrests were made.
An editorial in Thursday's (April 7th) Irish Times titled "Loose talk or malice?" accepted the interpretation that the Gardai recorded on the Corrib video were simply making a private joke about rape. The editorial found that unacceptable but less serious then previous "corrupt and illegal actions by a small number of its members." The attitude of the Irish Times that all that is at issue is some off colour joking has been reflected by other commentators. Some like Kevin Myers can be dismissed as pro-Shell loons but others who have taken this line seem genuine and therefore must not have given much thought to the context these remarks were made in. The context being both the circumstances these particular women found themselves in (in the power of the Garda concerned) and the general pattern of Garda repression of protest around the Corrib project.
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.
Give me your name and address or I’ll rape you” - the words of a Garda Sgt as he discussed with at least two other Gardai how they were going to interrogate one of two female Shell to Sea campaigners they had arrested and who were being brought to Belmullet Garda station. Just second earlier while they were discussing how to interrogate the women one Garda suggested they threaten her with deportation. The Sgt responds with the addition of the rape threat which he repeats before another so far unidentified Garda chimes in with “hold it there, give me your name and address there, I’ll rape you” prompting the Sgt to repeat it one last time as “or I’ll definitely rape you.” [Listen to the 2 minute audio] [Spanish translation]