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‘Rape tape’ report recommends garda be disciplined

Jerrie Ann Sullivan, one of two women protestors who were arrested last Thursday week by Gardai in Mayo and who were the subject of a video recorded conversation by Gardai, speaking at a press conference organised by the Shell to Sea campaign last Thursday. ?
NUI Maynooth postgraduate student Jerrie Ann Sullivan, the subject of the controversial ‘rape tape’ conversation between gardaí. Pic: Alan Betson/THE IRISH TIMES

Watchdog recommends disciplinary proceedings against one ‘rape tape’ garda

Ciara Moynihan

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has today published its report on its investigation into the controversial 'rape tape' incident. The report comes more than one year after the ‘rape tape’ story was first broken by Mayo News reporter, Áine Ryan.
The Garda watchdog said there were no grounds for any criminal case, ‘due to insufficient evidence’, against any of the five officers – four rank-and-file gardaí and one sergeant – involved.
The GSOC has, however, recommended that disciplinary proceedings be taken against one of the gardaí at the centre of the investigation. While the GSOC states that it was of the opinion that ‘there may [also] be a disciplinary case to answer in respect of the Sergeant’, he is not subject to any disciplinary proceedings, as he retired from the force on November 1 last.
The GSOC public interest investigation was started on April 5, 2011, after the release of the ‘rape tape’ – a recording on which a number of gardaí could be heard joking about threatening to rape and deport NUI Maynooth postgraduate student Jerrie Ann Sullivan. Ms Sullivan had been arrested, along with another female protester, on public-order offences near the Corrib Gas Project on March 31, 2011.
The conversation in question took place among five gardaí while they were travelling in a garda jeep, separate to the vehicle transporting the two female protesters to Belmullet Garda station. The conversation was inadvertently recorded on a camcorder that had been confiscated from the protesters and had been left switched on inside the jeep.
By June of last year, all five gardaí under investigation had been interviewed. An interim report issued last July exonerated three of the five and found no evidence of criminal offence by any of them.
The report published this afternoon states that during interviews, “all four gardaí confirmed that the use of the word ‘rape’ during this conversation was, at every stage, by their Sergeant and that it is his voice that can be heard on the recording talking of raping the females.” However, the sergeant exercised his right to silence throughout his questioning and “largely gave a ‘no-comment’ interview,” it was found.
The fourth garda, referred to as Garda B, was found to have had a ‘more active’ role in the taped conversation than the other rank-and-file gardaí involved. Although it allowed that he did not use the word ‘rape’ at any stage, the watchdog has recommended to the Garda Commissioner that disciplinary proceedings be taken against him.
Under Garda discipline regulations, the Garda Commissioner has a number of options available to him, including suspension. The Garda Ombudsman has no powers to impose penalties or sanctions itself.

Click here to download the full text of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission report

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