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Plans to put human rights staff at gas site

HUMAN rights monitors are to oversee future protests at the controversial Corrib Gas project in north Mayo.

The move follows revelations of an accidentally taped conversation in a patrol car, during which a number of gardai are alleged to have made jocose remarks about raping a woman.

The incident followed the arrest of two women following a protest last Thursday at Aughoose, not far from the proposed pipeline route to the Corrib Gas terminal.

Amnesty International yesterday described the language used in the reported recording as "deeply worrying". If verified, it suggests that some gardai do not take sexual violence seriously.

"It would also call into question the professional service that women can expect from the police," the executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, said.

Mr O'Gorman said: "We expect GSOC [Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission] to investigate this aspect of the recording as well, in order to determine if procedures and tools employed in the policing of the Corrib protests comply with garda policy and human rights standards.

"Amnesty International Ireland and Front Line [an Irish-based human rights body] intend to proceed with our plan to deploy human rights monitors in the coming weeks", Mr O'Gorman added.

The Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) also welcomed the garda inquiry.

Executive director of RCNI, Fiona Neary said: "It is critical that someone speaking to the gardai about rape feels confident that they will be treated with dignity and respect."

The One in Four organisation said it was "astonished and disappointed" at the alleged comments made by gardai.

"Listening to the tape ... is chilling and can only be construed as a total abuse of power," executive director Maeve Lewis said.

She added: "We expect that this incident will be treated with the utmost seriousness by the garda commissioner and that people ... will never again be subjected to such a degrading and frightening experience".

Irish Independent