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Sinead Ryan: Rape-joke gardai have shamed the force

Just when we think we've entered the 21st-century, dragging our men kicking and screaming into maturity, you realise some of them are still the Neanderthals they'll always be.

That they're guardians of our public order and protection makes it so much worse.

A number of what can only be described as gobshite-gardai -- straight out of an episode of Killinaskully -- who, one truly hopes, are not representative of the force, were recorded discussing two women they had arrested at the Shell To Sea protests in Corrib. A confiscated video camera they couldn't even manage to switch off was in the car as the two or three men laughed and joked about raping the women they had arrested -- who had been carted off in separate cars.

"Give me your name and address and I'll rape you," says one, detailing how he could have arrested her. Cue laughter.

"I'll definitely rape you," says another.

Oh, funny, funny guys.

"Steady on [name]," says the first, "she's living in that crusty camp for f***'s sake -- you never know what you might get".

Debasing

Uproarious laughter from these clever, smart fellas we paid a fortune to train in Templemore. Nobody stops the conversation, or even seems to feel mildly uncomfortable about it.

We may well pay our gardai to protect us from "crusty" warriors protesting at a proposed power plant. What we don't expect is for them to be insulting, demeaning and debasing toward those in their charge -- even in their absence.

It's true that emergency services people are known for their black sense of humour -- they'd go mad otherwise with all the detritus of human behaviour they see.

But rape -- RAPE! C'mon guys. On your worst day that's not even mildly amusing.

Gardai spend enough of their time dealing with women who have actually been raped to know how appalling a violation it is on them. That they should know better is a given. I'm sure these guys, in real life, are normal human beings and probably do a good job, most of the time. But this behaviour, however unintended in its impact, is unacceptable.

I expect now they'll be put on traffic duty after a lengthy and unnecessary investigation. Unnecessary, because there is no denying what happened -- the video is already on the internet -- and it's not pretty to watch -- actually it's mortifying.

It will serve to further enhance our already tattered reputation as a banana republic. It will be chortled over and laughed at by a small segment of society still living in the dark ages. Few women will be among them.

Thanks guys -- you've made us all feel so much safer today. Not.