Gilmore tells Dáil he was 'shocked' by contents of Corrib audio tape

 

TÁNAISTE EAMON Gilmore was “shocked” by the contents of the Corrib audio tape recording, he told the Dáil.

“Rape is a heinous crime and it is not something that should be threatened, trivialised or laughed at by anybody,” Mr Gilmore said.

He was responding to Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins who asked him if he would “condemn outright the sick jokes made by members of the Garda Síochána in regard to the infliction of sexual violence on the women in their custody”.

Mr Higgins said: “The sinister remarks by certain sections of the Garda about sexual violence against women are reminiscent of a hostile occupation force against a civilian population.”

He was referring to the recording of offensive comments allegedly made by gardaí about women arrested last week during protests at the Corrib gas project in north Mayo.

During Leaders’ Questions, Mr Gilmore said he had heard the tape recording on television and was “shocked by the serious comments made”.

“I do not know whose voice is recorded on the tape. The matter is being investigated by the Garda Commissioner and the Garda Ombudsman Commission. We must await conclusion of these investigations before making any further comment.”

The Tánaiste said Minister for Justice Alan Shatter had made clear on radio his views on the contents of the tape.

“He also made it clear that an investigation is taking place and those who are victims of rape or sexual assault should report and that they will get a fair and sympathetic hearing and attention from the gardaí”.

Mr Higgins had criticised comments by Mr Shatter who he claimed “spoke about the economic benefits of Corrib gas and could only find words of condemnation for those who object to giving our natural resources for nothing to multinational corporations”.

He added: “There are no more economic benefits from Corrib gas than if it were coming from Norway because Fianna Fáil gave it away to Shell Oil for not one cent” when it was worth €10 billion.

The Dublin West TD criticised the “persistent and heavy-handed repression by certain sections of the Garda over years in Erris and by a private security firm paid for by Shell, which has acted like an army occupation”.

He asked if the Government would “slavishly follow Fianna Fáil policy” and highlighted the Labour Party’s involvement 30 years ago in the resources protection campaign, when “it believed those resources should be in the ownership of the people of Ireland only”.

Mr Higgins also criticised the “outrageous” decision of former minister Pat Carey on the day of the election to “sign consents for the routing of the Corrib gas pipeline through Sruwaddacon special area of conversation”.

Mr Gilmore told him that “none of us know who spoke the words on the tape and nobody should jump to any conclusions about that matter until the investigation is completed”.

He added: “We should not prejudice the outcome of the investigation. Given the seriousness of the content of the tape, we should not use it to widen the agenda with regard to whatever point of view we may have about the way in which the Corrib gas project is proceeding or the licensing arrangements.”

The Tánaiste said future development of gas was a matter for the Minister for Natural Resources “who will consider it in the course of time”.