Garda behavior at Shell protests needs a independent international inquiry not internal investigation


Shell to Sea held a well attended press conference today at which it was highlighted that the video recording of Garda discussing using rape threats as part of an interrogation was symptomatic of the policing of the entire Shell Corrib project. Local resident John Monaghan revealed that another Garda sergeant made abusive sexual remarks to him at a previous protest. ULA TD Joe Higgins added his support to the Shell to Sea demand for an independent international inquiry into both the behavior of Garda and of the controversial private security company IRMS at the Corrib protests over the last decade.

Upwards of 80 people were present at the press conference including around 8 TD's in addition to Joe Higgins. [You can read about the rape threat video and listen to the audio here]

John Monaghan, the spokesperson for the Pobal Chill Chomain community group revealed that on October 13, 2006 between 8am and 9am as he marched behind Gardai on the road during a protest he recorded the following exchange on his video camera.  He played the tape at the press conference, a partial transcript is below.  As with other speakers John underlined that this was not a one off incident but indicative of the policing methods used throughout the project.

John Monaghan: “Do you see the XL on the thing — that’s his mouth.”(talking to another protester and referring to a garda wearing a high-visibility jacket immediately in front of him)

Garda: “It’s my cock and your fucking wife will know all about it. I hope you’re recording all that now, John.”

John also revealed that when the Garda Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) was set up he went to them inMay 2007 but that they had refused to investigate this complaint saying that it was "out of time." The failure of the GSOC to investigate this and other complaints along with the refusal of the then Minister of Justice to allow the GSOC to investigate the policing of the Corrib project in general mean that none of the campaigners have any faith in its ability to carry out the needed investigation. Yesterday the Ombudsman revealed that Seven complaints resulted in files being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who then decided that none of the gardai involved should not be prosecuted! The seven detailed allegations of assault and maltreatment by Gardai.  Despite this citizens have registered 120 complaints with the GSOC in relation to Garda policing of the Shell project to ensure that at least some of the sheer number of incidences are on the record.  Many others have been left unreported.

JS, one of the two women who was arrested last Thursday by Gardai, also spoke at the press conference. She said she was shocked by the whole incident. She had wished to remain anonymous but the actions of the Garda Press Office in releasing her name and address to favored 'Crime Correspondents' - who rely on the press office for exclusive stories to build their reputation - has denied her that right. She felt she thus felt she had no choice but to speak on the record. This action in which the press office was looking for smear stories to be published on the individual women demonstrates how the problems within the Garda are not restricted to Corrib but endemic through the entire force.  As with John Monghan she emphasised that what happened to her was not a one off incident and nothing would be addressed by sacking one or two Garda.  She said the Garda attack on protesters that took place on Tuesday underline this.

Our understanding is that one 'journalist' with a record of taking favors from Shell as well as the Garda press office is trying to scrape together such a story for a Sunday Paper. We don't intend to name him or the paper here as we don't want to give publicity to such a scumbag in advance of whatever he can cobble together being published. Our members have previously being the target of similar smears and with that experience all our solidarity is with the women being targeted by the Garda in this manner.  Fin reported from the press conference that a section of the media seemed very hostile to the women, and were making a big deal out of the fact they had only made contact with the Ombudsman so far rather than going in to fill out the forms etc.  Of course the reality is the women were aware that smear journalists were trying to find them and that the Ombudsman office was an obvious location to stake out.  With so little belief in the Ombudsman's ability to conduct a real investigation it made far more sense to do media work to overcome the Garda Press Offices attempts to suppress the facts of the story and to only complete the Ombudsman process when this had been achieved.

In response to the ongoing Garda attacks (which included physical attacks on campaigners on Tuesday morning, after the so called internal Garda investigation had started) the local community has called a protest for Belmullet Garda station this Saturday at 2pm. They are "inviting people to join this demonstration in support of all the women and men who have been harassed, threatened and intimidated by Gardaí, especially in light of the recently documented comments about the deportation and rape of two female Shell to Sea campaigners" pointing out that "the recording is a glimpse of the reality of intimidation and violence that has dominated community life since Shell's arrival in Co. Mayo. "

The call out for the protest from the community also included the call for "a full independent investigation into the policing of the Corrib Gas Project by both the Gardaí and Shell's private security IRMS. " 

WORDS: Andrew Flood with on the ground reporting from Fin IMAGES: Rossport Solidarity Camp via

 [You can read about the rape threat video and listen to the audio here]

More on the ongoing struggle against Shell's experimental gas pipeline and refinery

Read more on the Garda rape threat tape