Press Release, 7th April 2011
Justice and human rights group Action from Ireland (Afri) has backed the call for an independent international inquiry into policing of protests around the Corrib Gas project in the wake of the revelation that Gardaí joked and laughed about raping a protestor in their custody, and had previously engaged in verbal sexual abuse of a local woman.
“This dispute has long been characterised by heavy handed and inappropriate policing”, said Afri coordinator Joe Murray. “The Gardaí have regularly attacked and abused peaceful protestors and they have not been held to account by their superiors or by the Garda Ombudsman”, Mr Murray continued. Mr Murray said that serious assaults on local men Willie Corduff and Pat O’Donnell in 2009 had not been properly investigated by the Gardaí.
Afri says that a human rights monitor it deployed in the area himself witnessed and experienced Garda abuses, and that his complaints were not properly acted upon. A report from the human rights group Front Line in 2010 called for a review of policies and practices by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). The report – Breakdown of Trust: a Report on the Corrib Gas Dispute – written by barrister Brian Barrington also raised concerns about the police response to the assault on Willie Corduff and the vetting of private security personnel.
The most recent controversy concerns Gardaí in a car, unaware that they were being taped, laughing at threats to rape a protestor whom they had just arrested. The content and tone of the comments has shocked all who have heard them. Another tape has now come to light that features earlier, and equally shocking, verbal sexual abuse of a local woman by a Garda.
“The behaviour of the Gardaí is out of control in a manner reminiscent of Garda behaviour in Donegal as documented by the Morris Tribunal – accountability urgently needs to be reasserted and Gardaí who abuse their powers need to be seriously disciplined; this can only be done through an independent, international inquiry”, Mr Murray concluded.
NOTE TO EDITORS
The full text of the Front Line report is available here: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/files/en/corrib_gas_report.pdf