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False claims in Sunday Independent article

Shell to Sea

[Shell to Sea] Please be advised that the Sunday Independent is controlled by Tony O Reilly, who also owns oil & gas exploration company Providence Resources.

The Sunday Independent of June 19th, 2011, carried a highly misleading article by Jim Cusack relating to the arrest of two women last March that led to Gardaí inadvertently recording themselves talking about raping the women in their custody. Cusack’s article falsely claims that a video recording he has seen shows that the women used the word “rape” during their arrest and this was the “context” in which the subsequent rape conversation took place among Gardaí. The incident in the video as described by Cusack (a video he has not made public) does not correspond to the incident leading to the arrests on March 31st.

One possible explanation is that Gardaí have given Jim Cusack a video recording of another incident, possibly days or weeks later and that Cusack either believes this is the March 31st incident or is attempting to pass it off as such. There are numerous details which make it clear that the video recording he claims to have seen is of a different incident. These discrepancies are detailed in a letter sent by Shell to Sea to the editor of the newspaper, Aengus Fanning. A copy of this letter is below.

Jim Cusack’s article is here:

You can read some background to this in an Indymedia article:
Business as usual for Gardaí – trying to smear women in ‘rape tape’ controversy


From: Caoimhe Kerins, On behalf of Shell to Sea

To: Aengus Fanning, Editor, Sunday Independent, Independent House, 27 – 32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Re: Article headlined ‘ “Rape” claims were hurled at gardaí by protesters’, Sunday Independent, June 19th, 2011

Dear Mr Fanning,

The article by Jim Cusack in the latest edition of the ‘Sunday Independent’ (June 19th, 2011), headlined, ““Rape” claims were hurled at gardaí by protesters’, relating to the recording on March 31st, 2011 of a conversation about rape among several Gardaí, contains a number of significant inaccuracies and a number of misleading statements. It is untrue in its central claim, and amounts to what could best be described as a distorted report of an incident which is of significant public interest. We expect a front page retraction of the article and an apology.

1.)  The article misleadingly implies that a video recording, which Jim Cusack claims to have seen, is of an incident on March 31st 2011: “The video tape is part of evidence being examined by the Garda Ombudsman regarding the ‘rape tape’ controversy, as it appears to provide a context”. If this supposed video tape exists, it is clearly not of 31st March 2011.

The article states: “On the video clip four male gardaí can be seen trying to move the two women from the top of the tractor cab.” However, during the protest preceding the ‘rape tape’ incident on March 31st, only one woman was on top of a tractor cab (which incidentally was clear from photographs published in most national papers at the time). The second woman was standing by the side of the road.

During the March 31st incident:
- There were only two, not three or more protesters present at the scene;
- Gardaí did not lift anyone down from the tractor: the protester (Jerrie Ann Sullivan) came down voluntarily;
- Ms Sullivan did not come “down into the arms of one of the female officers”, but came down unaided via one of the tractor wheels;

2.)  His article states that Gardaí “had been repeatedly accused of rape as they were handling the women protestors”. This is utterly untrue. It further states that this “background to the remarks and context in which the gardai were jokingly referring to rape was not made public”, which implies again that the women used the word ‘rape’ during the protest preceding their arrest, which they did not.

Ms Sullivan and the other woman arrested on the day of the ‘rape tape’ recording never mentioned the word ‘rape’ before, during or after their arrest. Ms. Sullivan gave a full statement and video evidence to Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) investigators to this effect in April.

The article claims to have received this false information by referring to unnamed “garda sources”. At no stage did Jim Cusack try to contact me, the spokesperson on this issue for the Shell to Sea campaign to verify these accusations.

In conclusion, the article has significant inaccuracies and is a distorted report on a very serious case which is of significant public interest. No attempt was made to contact myself (the Shell to Sea Campaign spokesperson on this issue) or Ms. Sullivan to verify the claims made in the article.

Furthermore, the article demonstrates extraordinary disrespect for the women involved, and all those involved in the protests of the Shell to Sea campaign. It serves to minimise the behaviour of the Gardaí involved by creating a false “context” to their discussion of raping female campaigners in their custody.  

If you have any queries about the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Caoimhe Kerins
On behalf of Shell to Sea

Posted Date: 
22 June 2011