It’s a toss-up as to whether the transcript or the audio recording of the Belmullet Garda Station incident is the more ghastly. Ghastlier still, however, has been the reaction elicited from the media and certain elements of the public at large.
Let us be clear about the content of the recording. It involves a group of Gardaí Síochána broaching, elucidating upon and deriving considerable amusement from the prospect of sexually violating a female in their custody for corrective purposes, in a remote part of the country where the rights nominally accorded citizens are already in effective abeyance.
If that strikes you as a keeper for the Boys Will Be Boys album, then all I can say is that you’ve got the police force you deserve. Note also the vulgar disparagement of the woman in question, and the pejorative reference to her possibly foreign provenance, both frequently identified factors in the psychology and methodology of rape.
If you walked into a staff-room and overheard a group of teachers discussing the notion of physically abusing your son or daughter to general merriment, exactly how inclined would you be to airily disregard it as a spot of confraternal hijinks?
The response of much of our national media to this development has been an outright scandal. This is how RTÉ are headlining their take on the story, the facts of which are fairly unambiguous:
…which leads one to ponder what further circomlocutory evasions they might have employed throughout the ages…
RTÉ’s approach, of course, suggests that the fetid morals of Belmullet Garda Station are consistent throughout our ruling class, but it also suggests something equally troubling.
For if the story is to be scrutinised in any detail, the question of why these women were in Mayo, why they were arrested, how the conduct of the Gardaí tallies with a long-established pattern of behaviour in this operation, and at whose behest this operation functions, would be impossible to avoid. And that, more than all other manifestations of political dissidence in contemporary Ireland, is a forbidden topic. Far better to obfuscate, evade and dissemble, even if it means buttressing attitudes which devastate hundreds of Irish lives annually.