'Rape tape' gardai on desk duty until probe finished
Five gardai at the centre of an independent investigation into the Corrib 'rape tape' controversy have been banned from any dealings with the public until it's completed.
Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has issued an order confining the five to indoor administrative duties at Castlebar station in Co Mayo. He has also issued an apology over the remarks.
One of the five was already based in Castlebar and two of the others were transferred there yesterday from Belmullet and the rest from Bangor Erris and Ballina.
The commissioner made the decision after studying the findings of a fact-finding mission, carried out by Supt Gearoid Begley from Tuam, Co Galway.
Copies of the report were sent to Justice Minister Alan Shatter and the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission, which is now carrying out an inquiry into complaints lodged by two female protesters arrested at the Corrib pipeline and who were the subject of remarks on the tape.
The garda authorities will now await the outcome of the commission investigation.
If the commission believes a criminal investigation is warranted, it will send its report to the DPP.
Mr Callinan said he was deeply disappointed by the contents of the Begley report, which indicated that "the conversation" did take place between members of An Garda Siochana and that the words reported were used.
He added: "I am sorry for the offence caused to the community we serve and for the hurt and pain felt, in particular, by victims of sexual crime.
"As I stated earlier this week An Garda Siochana aspires to the highest standards of professionalism in our investigative and operational work but this must be combined with respect, sensitivity and compassion in our dealings with the community.
"Our policies, our training and our actions must always reflect these principles," he added.
Mr Callinan said he believed the incident did not reflect the views of the vast majority of gardai.
"I am conscious, however, that people's trust and confidence in our integrity must always be earned and maintained and as Garda Commissioner my promise is to ensure that we will continually work to protect these vital and important aspects of our relationship with the community."
Earlier yesterday, Mr Callinan discussed the 'rape tape' affair with his deputy and assistant commissioners.
As a result of a High Court judgment, the garda authorities no longer have the power to suspend members of the force for an alleged disciplinary breach, but they can be transferred in the public interest.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter told the Dail that the controversy was being used in some quarters against gardai dealing with the Shell dispute.
He revealed ?14m had been paid out in overtime and allowances alone to police the area.
"It is a matter of regret to me, but not surprise, that some people have used this regrettable and unfortunate incident to bolster a campaign of vilification against the gardai," he said.
"While not in any way minimising the nature of the incident or condoning it, it is in the public interest that I state that the vast majority of the gardai have behaved in an exemplary manner in policing these protests."
Meanwhile, one of the women arrested at the protest, Jerrie Ann Sullivan, yesterday told a press conference in Dublin that she wanted an international and independent inquiry.