Ireland’s Minister for Justice has moved to reassure victims of sexual violence that all cases will be fully investigated by police as one of the women at the center of the Corrib Gas rig rape jibe case prepares to go public.
A Dublin press conference on Thursday, organized by the Shell To Sea campaign group, will be addressed by one of the two young students at the heart of allegations.
Two investigations, one internal, are already underway after officers were recorded making jokes about threatening to deport and rape one of the two women, both Dublin based environmentalists in their 20s, arrested for protesting at the site of the Shell gas refinery near Belmullet in County Mayo.
The officers were inadvertently recorded on a camera that had been seized from the women who were later released without charge.
Police sources believe internal disciplinary measures will be taken against the officers involved but they are ‘unlikely’ to be dismissed from the force.
Irish Minister for Justice Shatter has reacted to the growing controversy by issuing an assurance that all sexual crime allegations will be fully investigated by the Garda Siochana, the Irish police force.
“It is of huge importance that in all circumstances in which members of the Garda Síochána are interacting with the general community that they’re considered in the approach they take and respectful of all individuals,” said Shatter.
A spokesman for the Association of Garda Superintendents told the Irish Independent that its members never encountered police officers making disparaging remarks about the crime of rape.
“The reported remarks are not reflective of what generally takes place within the organization on a day to day basis,” association president Garda Supt Jim Smith said.
The police officer’s union, the GRA, told the paper that it does: ‘not condone any conduct or discussion that attacks women or women’s rights’.
GRA general secretary PJ Stone added: “Many people will be under the wrong impression that comments were made directly to a woman. They were not.
“If the Gardai are found guilty of wrongdoing, it carries the gravest of consequences. You cannot take from one incident that the entire police force is misogynist.”
“The comments were inappropriate; they should not have been said by anyone.”
President of the Association of Garda Superintendents Jim Smith told the Irish Independent that the remarks were not reflective of the mindset of the police force.
“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 said.
The Irish Independent has also reported that a total of 111 official complaints have been made since 2007 against police officers manning the controversial Corrib gas site but no officer has ever faced a criminal prosecution.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, a Mayo native, has also commented publicly on the controversy for the first time.
“I’ll wait and see the result of the investigation both by the Garda and the ombudsman but I have to say that these remarks, if they are true, are completely inappropriate for any member of the Garda to make about anybody,” Kenny told RTÉ news.
“I am quite sure there will be consequences as a result of the investigations, which I hope will be concluded quickly and effectively.
“The vast majority of our police officers do their job as they are expected to do.”