Belfast Telegraph

Women voice anger over rape remarks

Dozens of women have demonstrated outside the Dail over the "rape tape" scandal in which garda officers joked about raping two female protesters.

Protesters expressed anger at the comments, with some demanding the officers be suspended from the force while the Garda Ombudsman carried out its investigation.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan apologised on Thursday for the hurt felt by victims of sexual crime after the controversy, but Cathleen O'Neill, of the Kilbarrack Community Development Project in north Dublin, dismissed Mr Callinan's statement.

"I'm here to make a stand," she said. "I think the trivialisation of rape is really what happened on Monday. I think it's an absolute disgrace that misogyny and power go hand in hand. The people that are paid to protect us actually end up threatening us."

Members of the National Women's Council, the Feminist Open Forum, the Irish Feminist Network, Siptu, Rape Crisis Centre and the Migrant Rights Centre took part in the protest, holding banners stating rape was not a joke and calling for no more threats of sexual violence.

Garda Commissioner Callinan said five members of his force had been confined to desk-bound duties while police watchdog the Garda Ombudsman investigates. Four of the officers at the centre of the controversy have also been transferred out of their own bases to their divisional headquarters in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

The apology came just hours after one of two women protesters involved went public to demand an independent inquiry into the policing of oil giant Shell's contentious gas pipeline project, on the north Mayo coastline.

Jerrie Ann Sullivan, a postgraduate student from Dublin, said the remarks, unwittingly recorded on a video camera, of gardai joking about raping them had been deeply traumatic. Neither of the women were at the Dail protest.

Ms Sullivan and the Shell to Sea campaign have called for the Garda Ombudsman to widen its inquiry and for a separate independent probe headed up by international experts.

A protest is to be held outside Belmullet Garda Station in Co Mayo on Saturday in support of people who allege they have been mistreated by gardai policing the Corrib gas project.

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