Tuesday 6 December 2016

'We were shocked and horrified by comments'

Young women tell of terror during arrest

Edel O'Connell and Brian McDonald

Published 06/04/2011 | 05:00

THE female protesters at the centre of the garda rape tape controversy last night spoke of their "shock and horror" at the remarks allegedly made by gardai.

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The two young women -- both graduates in their early 20s -- also revealed that they were "terrified" of being hurt when they were arrested while protesting against the Corrib gas pipeline in Co Mayo.

Both women live in Dublin and had travelled to north Mayo last week where they joined up with the Rossport Solidarity Camp.

There a video camera carried by one of the women inadvertently captured a conversation, apparently between a group of gardai joking about deportation and rape.

The women have asked not to be named to protect their anonymity as investigations continue, but last night they told of their "horror" at the incident.

One of the young women, a 26-year-old science graduate from UCD, told the Irish Independent yesterday that she and her fellow protester were not just terrified for themselves, but also for other people living in the community as a result of what happened.

The woman confirmed that she and her colleague had been in touch with the Garda Ombudsman Commission and would be making a formal complaint later this week.

"I was just horrified -- in complete shock. I couldn't believe it," she said.

"When the gardai arrived, the protest ended quite quickly and we walked away and the gardai walked away," the woman said.

Half an hour later the women were on the road, some distance away from the site when eight or nine gardai arrived in a number of patrol cars.

"We didn't expect them to pounce on us and we just managed to switch on the camera," she said.

"They pulled my hands apart and the camera dropped to the ground. The other person picked it up but they pulled her hands apart too. We were put into separate garda cars. We were terrified of being hurt. All the physical force was completely unnecessary," she added.

The two women were processed at Belmullet garda station and released without charge within an hour. They were given the camera back.

"Just hearing them say, 'give me your name and address and I'll rape you . . . I'll definitely rape you'. We were both horrified," she said.

She added that she believed people needed to hear the recording to properly take in the entire content.

The 26-year-old woman is an active green campaigner and community worker who has travelled to Denmark to campaign at the UN Climate Change Conference.

She is a member of the Irish division of Young Friends of the Earth, with deep environmental beliefs. She refuses to take planes because of the level of carbon emissions they produce and travels abroad by ferry.

Student

Grocery shopping means visiting the Dublin Food Co-op market in the Liberties, where she stocks up on organic fruit and vegetables. The notion of relying on her local convenience store is anathema to her. She is a vegetarian, but admits she never liked the taste of meat.

The other woman is 25 and a student at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth. It is understood that she was born in the US to a family of Irish emigrants before herself coming to Ireland.

She chose to travel to Mayo with her friend last week to make a protest against the construction of the pipeline to the Corrib gas terminal at Bellanaboy.

They were protesting by attempting to stop tractors delivering material to the site at Aughoose. One of them had climbed on to a tractor and the other was filming her with a video camera.

The father of the 26-year-old woman said he was both "shocked and angered" by the taped comments which he described as "abhorrent".

However, he said the family were not "out for revenge" and didn't care whether the men were severely reprimanded or not.

"Our primary concern now is for our daughter. We have always enjoyed a good relationship with the gardai, but I am absolutely shocked that this kind of behaviour is still going on," he said.

Irish Independent

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