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Shell to Sea says every effort was made to co-operate with ‘aggressive, confrontational’ commission
Shell to Sea has reacted angrily to claims that it did not co-operate with the ‘rape tape’ investigation. The organisation was responding to the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commision (GSOC) interim report on the controversy at Corrib, which was released last week.
Speaking to The Mayo News Shell to Sea spokesperson Caoimhe Kerins said she is very disappointed that both the Minister for Justice and the GSOC seem to be trying to minimise and downplay what the gardaí did in ‘a case of a sexual-violence nature’.
“I’ve lost any respect I had for the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commision. They treated us in an aggressive, confrontational manner. The protesters were treated as if they were the perpetrators as opposed to the victims.”
After the release of the interim report last week all five gardaí will escape criminal prosecution, while two gardaí are still under investigation by the ombudsman and may face disciplinary action.
Ms Kerins explained that Shell to Sea never expected that criminal charges would be brought. “We never expected criminal charges – I think that has been somewhat misunderstood by some national media outlets. They [the gardaí] did not break any legislation. What they did was horrifying, but we always thought it would be dealt with by appropriate disciplinary action.”
Commenting on Minister for Justice Alan Shatter’s comments after the publication of the report Ms Kerins said, “It is deeply disappointing to hear Mr Shatter trying to side-step the real issue of the fact that Gardaí were caught talking of raping prisoners in their custody, and instead trying to cloud the issues with talk of tampering with tapes.”
The GSOC stated in the report that they were concerned that files were deleted from the camcorder prior to the device being handed over, and that there had been a lack of cooperation.
The camcorder which was the property of NUI Maynooth was loaned to postgraduate student Jerri Ann Sullivan. Ms Sullivan was one of two women in the patrol car when the sexually related comments were made by the gardaí at a Corrib gas protest on March 31 last.
Ms Kerins said she has spoken to Jerri Ann O’Sullivan and she stated that she is also disappointed and upset by how the report is written and its findings.
On April 13 or 14, prior to the camera being given to the ombudsman, six files were deleted by academics at NUI Maynooth who, Ms Kerins explained, said they were of the “genuine belief that the particular material deleted was not relevant to the inquiry.”
Ms Kerins continued: “The second woman who GSOC stated ‘has failed to cooperate with the GSOC investigation thus far’, has cooperated with the GSOC through her solicitor. She has in fact invested significant time and energy into preparing a detailed complaint, which reflects the seriousness of the incident.”
Ms Kerins added: “The woman has emigrated, and the time frame for the submission of a complaint is some time away, so it’s very hard to understand the rationale of the Garda Ombudsman. The deadline for submission of this complaint is September 2011.”