Corrib Gas Rape Comments.

On Tuesday I promised a post on what is being called by some the “Rape Tape”, which surfaced after two protesters were given back their video camera earlier this week, and here it is.  The facts are still very much unchanged.  Two women, one of them a foreign national, were arrested for public order offenses.  They had a video camera with them, this camera was seized and put into a different police car.  When they were later released the video camera was returned.  Later, when going through the recordings, they found a conversation between the two Garda had been accidentally recorded.  During the course of this conversation between the two men, “jokes”, about the foreign national being raped were made.  Since then the Garda Ombudsman and the Irish police force themselves, have both launched unconnected investigations.

So what is there to say about this sorry affair?

Well firstly let’s get one thing out-of-the-way.  Despite what many people seem to think, I don’t see how this can be seen as a criminal act.  The two police officers making the comments were in a different car to the two women, so there were no direct threats, nor would any rational person believe that these two foolish men actually intended to rape the woman in question.  There is however definitely, a view-point that this is ripe territory for a disciplinary case.

The simple fact that police officers were acting as guardians of the nations peace while making these comments would seem grounds enough for disciplinary actions to be taken.  After all being a police officer is not like any other job, when a police officer pulls on their uniform they take on a special responsibility to protect anyone inhabiting this small island, regardless of their nationality.  It is not out-of-order to then expect, Caesars wife to be above reproach.  Put simply if you choose to become a police officer, in any country, you should and indeed must be held to a higher standard. Otherwise how can the inhabitants of any nation trust, that when they go to the police for help they will actually receive help and not ridicule?

That being the case there is simply no allowing for the excuse that the two Garda were just being “a couple of lads messing around”.  Nor is there any allowance to be made that they are in a stressful job, while they wear a uniform that represents all the citizens of a nation their individual stress levels don’t come into it.   If they’re stressed then they should deal with it while off duty, not by making inappropriate jokes.

Though I have to point out that the idea of the police in Belmullet having a stressful job is rather comical to begin with.  I lived in that area for a few years and let me tell you something.  To call Belmullet a one horse town would be a profound insult to genuine one horse towns, seeing as in Belmullet they probably shot the poor horse out of boredom.  If there is one place in Ireland where policing would be low stress, west Mayo, so far west that the next parish is New York, is that place.

So yes the two men who acted like complete idiots, who brought the uniform they wear and the oaths they both took into disrepute absolutely should face a hearing.  They should be censured, they should face grade reductions, fines and if they are not removed from the Force, exile to somewhere even less desirable than Belmullet.  But the greatest effects of this affair should be felt within the structure of the Irish police.  Though what those effects should be I will leave to other greater minds to work out.

The other side of this issue is the fact that the two women who were arrested, must also face the consequences for their own actions.  They did breach the peace, they did trespass, they are most likely guilty of several public order offenses.  What those two officers said does not wipe that slate clean.  And while yes in this country you have the right to protest, you do not have the right to break the law while doing so.  This seems to be an issue which has escaped the notice of many commentators on this topic over the last few days.  Two wrongs do not cancel each other out, only justice, real justice not mob justice nor justice by whoever shouts the loudest, in each individual case leaves us with a correctly balanced outcome and fairness for all.

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