Upwards of 50 staff and students attended a protest at NUI Maynooth today in a show of solidarity for fellow student Jerrie Ann Sullivan in the wake of the report into the Rossport “rape tape” incident released this week by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. The impromptu protest, organised by the NUIM Politics and Sociology Society, was called to register the “abhorrence” of the rape comments incident and its handling by GSOC and Irish media. Despite the wet and windy conditions, the crowd listened to a range of speakers each of whom condemned GSOC’s handling of this particular case and policing in Corrib more generally.
Criostoir Maccionnaith, one of the event organisers called the case a “gross miscarriage of justice” and demanded that the issue not be allowed to disappear. He called on those present to “become active in challenging the official version of events and the degrading and shameful way in which this matter has been dealt with.”
Criostoir, Politics and Sociology Society
Thomas Connolly from FEMSOC, NUI Maynooth’s newly formed feminist society, stated that the incident highlighted the institutionalized nature of rape culture in Ireland. He questioned how any woman who had experience with rape would feel comfortable going to the gardai after this incident. “How can anyone woman feel comfortable,” he said, “knowing that, for one not just the fact that there has been jokes about it but also in handling the issue through the ombudsman, the gardai have not been portrayed as the perpetrators. They’ve been portrayed as the victims here while Jerrie Ann Sullivan is being portrayed as some kind of criminal.”
Seamus Reynolds, newly elected NUI Maynooth SU President, read out a message from Jerrie Ann which made clear that GSOC’s handling of this investigation is consistent with a broader pattern of how the office has dealt with policing in Corrib. “This particular event that’s causing us to be out here today is a drop in the ocean if we look at Corrib. There is [sic] over 100 cases similar to this that have also been pushed forward to the Ombudsman. 100% of the complaints that have been made about Corrib have received no disciplinary action. So it’s the culture that’s developing around voicing dissent against an institution and an organization that’s primarily established to protect us. It’s not there to protect private interests or it’s not there to protect private capital.”
Reynolds went on to say, “it’s in the state’s interest to make sure that any complaints that are made down there don’t reach disciplinary action because it will bring attention to the farcity that is Corrib in its entirety.”
The protest concluded with a call to activism around both rape culture and policing in Corrib.
WORDS: Theresa OKeefe
28 April 2012