Belfast Telegraph

Top garda to decide if charges should be brought over 'rape tape'

By Tom Brady and Brian McDonald

An initial report on the Corrib "rape tape" affair is expected to be on the desk of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan today.

The commissioner will study the findings before deciding if either a criminal or disciplinary investigation should be set up.

The report has been compiled by Superintendent Gearoid Begley, of Tuam, Co Galway, who was appointed on Monday to carry out a fact-finding mission to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident.

He has interviewed the sergeant and gardai who were in the patrol car with the video camera that had inadvertently been left on.

Three of them were recorded discussing the arrest of two female protesters at the Corrib Oil pipeline on Thursday last week.

They were on their way back to Belmullet station after the detention of the two women, both third-level students in their 20s, and were unaware that the video recorder that had been confiscated was taping their remarks -- including a comment about rape.

The commissioner could opt for an investigation, or decide to leave the task to the Garda Ombudsman Commission, which has already launched a public interest investigation.

In the short term, he could decide to transfer some of the gardai to other stations, pending the outcome of whatever investigation goes ahead.

The two women are to make a formal complaint to the commission in Dublin today. Both women live in south county Dublin.

Three of the four garda representative groups yesterday distanced themselves from the reported remarks.

The head of the Association of Garda Chief Superintendents Kieran McGann described it as an isolated incident and said it was not indicative of the work of An Garda Siochana.

President of the Association of Garda Superintendents Jim Smith said the remarks were not reflective of the mindset of the garda force.

He said gardai dealt with rape or murder investigations in a very professional and compassionate manner.

"If a rape affected your own family, you would expect it to be treated in that way -- and we are very sensitive in the way we carry out our investigations", he added.

PJ Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association said the incident should be viewed in isolation and dealt with in a disciplinary context.

"If the gardai are found guilty of wrongdoing, it carries the gravest of consequences," he added, and said those under investigation were entitled to due process.

"You cannot take from one incident that the entire garda force is misogynist."

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said it was not appropriate to comment while an investigation was under way.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore admitted yesterday that he was shocked when he heard the contents of the recording.

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