Belfast Telegraph

Rape remarks case warning from GRA

Gardai found guilty of any wrongdoing in an alleged rape remarks controversy face the gravest of consequences, rank-and-file leaders have warned.

But the Garda Representative Association (GRA), which speaks for the force grassroots, insisted "due process" must be allowed in two inquiries into the incident at the Corrib gas project in Co Mayo.

PJ Stone, the GRA general secretary, also stressed allegations that officers joked about raping protesters were no reflection on the force as a whole.

"This incident should be viewed in isolation; it is to be dealt with in a disciplinary context," he said. "If the gardai are found guilty of any wrongdoing it carries the gravest of consequences."

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan appointed Superintendent Gearoid Begley, based in Tuam, Co Galway, to investigate claims that officers were inadvertently taped joking about sex attacks on two women demonstrators opposed to the Shell gas scheme.

The conversation was apparently recorded after a video camera seized from the activists was left recording in the back of a patrol car.

It is understood Supt Begley questioned five officers at the centre of the controversy on Tuesday.

A Garda source said an initial investigation would take days, not weeks, and the outcome of the findings would be made known.

The force watchdog, the Garda Ombudsman, has also taken the unusual step of launching its own inquiry in the public interest. It will interview the two women on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore told the Dail: "Rape is a heinous crime and it is not something that should be threatened, trivialised, or laughed at by anybody."

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