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Jim Cusack does it again: the case of the wrong video tape

category national | miscellaneous | feature author Wednesday June 29, 2011 18:27author by WC Report this post to the editors

Crude attempt by Sunday Independent to downplay Garda ‘rape tape’ conversation

featured image
Jim Cusack does it again

Sunday Independent journalist Jim Cusack has a consistent track record of writing highly dubious stories, based solely on anonymous Garda sources. In the June 19th edition of the newspaper, he makes a lame but insidious attempt to mitigate the behaviour of the Gardaí in Co Mayo who recorded themselves talking about raping women in their custody last March. He claims to have been shown new video footage, supposedly of the incident on March 31st, and this forms the basis of his article. Unfortunately for him, this footage, if it exists at all, is clearly not a recording of the incident in question.

An Indymedia article ( http://www.indymedia.ie/article/99813 ) published on May 24th revealed how Gardaí tried to use journalists to smear the women at the centre of the rape comments controversy. That article reported how Shell to Sea campaigners revealed that rumours were circulated by Gardaí to crime correspondents within days of the “rape tape” story breaking in early April. These “rumours” were that the circumstances of the arrest were somehow different to those described by the two women. Shell to Sea was able to explain to the journalists who contacted it that the rumours were entirely false. The journalists did not run with the story.

Some 10 weeks later, these false rumours have appeared in an article by Jim Cusack in the Sunday Independent (June 19th, 2011). Cusack’s article claims that the two women who were arrested on March 31st accused the Gardaí of rape during their arrest and that this was the “context” in which the subsequent rape conversation took place among Gardaí in the squad car. Bizarrely, the implication seems to be that if this “context” were true – if one of the women really had mentioned the word “rape” during the arrest – that would somehow make it more acceptable that a Garda sergeant and his colleagues would joke about raping women who were in their custody.

In his article, Cusack claims to have seen video footage of the arrests and claims that a woman’s voice can be heard off camera saying “rape”. He describes in detail the removal of two women by Gardaí from the top of a tractor. Unfortunately for Cusack, the incident he describes in the video recording he claims to have seen differs wildly from the incident leading to the arrests on March 31st.

Although he has not made the footage public, his detailed description of it has allowed the Shell to Sea campaign to issue a list of the major discrepancies between his description and the incident on March 31st. The campaign has published on its website a letter of complaint it has sent to the editor of the Sunday Independent, outlining some of the numerous inaccuracies in Cusack’s article. The letter condemns the article as “a distorted report on a very serious case which is of significant public interest”; it points out that no attempt was made to contact the campaign to verify the claims made in the article; and it accuses the newspaper of showing “extraordinary disrespect for the women involved” and of seeking “to minimise the behaviour of the Gardaí involved”.

Cusack’s crude intervention into the controversy appears timed to soften the public mood in advance of the publication of the report of an inquiry into the Garda rape conversation. The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission’s report, which is due in the coming weeks, is considered unlikely to recommend any serious disciplining of the Gardaí involved.

In summary

At this stage, it is worth summarising the sequence of events arising from the rape comments recording, as outlined above and in the earlier Indymedia article ( http://www.indymedia.ie/article/99813 ):

- On March 31st, 2011, several Gardaí at the Corrib Gas protests accidentally recorded themselves talking about raping women who were in their custody. The recording was made on a camera confiscated from the women in question. They then returned the camera to one of the women.
- When the recording was made public, it provoked condemnation of the Garda behaviour from advocacy groups, politicians and the general public.
- The Garda authorities responded by setting up inquiries and publicly reassuring victims of sexual assault that Gardaí would deal with their cases compassionately and sensitively.
- However, behind the scenes, unnamed Gardaí moved swiftly to exact revenge on the women who made the recording public and to deflect attention from the behaviour of these Gardaí. They did this firstly by leaking the women’s personal details to selected crime correspondents and also by trying to generate rumours about the circumstances of the arrest.
- In April, reporters who contacted Shell to Sea about these rumours were assured that the rumours were entirely false and they did not report them.
- We know now that the rumours in question were that: “the women mentioned rape before the Gardaí did”.
- In the June 19th edition of the Sunday Independent, Jim Cusack, who has a history of making unsubstantiated claims that seek to damage the Shell to Sea campaign, reported these rumours and claimed to have seen video footage that backed them up. His analysis was that this provided a “context” that somehow mitigated the infamous rape conversation in the squad car.
- Shell to Sea has written to the editor of the Sunday Independent, outlining the highly misleading nature of Cusack’s article and seeking a retraction and apology. This letter is on the Shell to Sea website.


Link to letter from Shell to Sea campaign to Sunday Independent:

Jim Cusack’s article in the Sunday Independent, June 19th, 2011:

Indymedia article of May 24th:

author by Taperpublication date Sun Jun 26, 2011 15:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I saw that ridiculous story by Cusack last week. And then I noticed something on YouTube a few days later. A 19-second video clip that is very obviously the video that Cusack describes in his article: one tractor, five gardaí, two women shouting as they are being removed. And it very, very obviously is NOT the video of the arrests on the day of the “rape tape”. (I have seen the footage from the “rape tape” day. There is only one woman on top of the tractor and NO gardaí on the tractor. The other woman is at the side of the road, holding the video camera. The woman on the tractor comes down on her own, unassisted.)

Here is the footage Cusack appears to be talking about:

It was uploaded by “mayoirelandify” on Jun 20, 2011, one day after Cusack’s story in the Sindo.

What has clearly happened is that a Garda or IRMS security person has a piece of footage from a different action on a different day. They have sent this to Cusack and he believes – or is pretending to believe – that it is the incident on the day of the “rape tape”.

Incidentally, aside from being the wrong incident, I don’t think this clip even shows that the women in this incident shouted “rape”. I have listened to it five times and I can’t make out the word “rape”. The two women are shouting something, but you can’t tell what it is. Speech bubbles have been added to the video, saying “Rape! Rape!” This really is scraping the bottom of the barrel, even by Cusack’s standards.

author by Diarmuid Breatnach - Personal Capacitypublication date Sun Jun 26, 2011 21:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The tactic of smearing the complainer or the whistle-blower is an old one. Remember that courageous woman Carla Proetta, who gave evidence about the SAS murders of Farrell, Savage and McCann in Gibraltar? Some of the British media tried to make out she was a prostitute in order to cast suspicion on her evidence. Corporations in such as the tobacco and nuclear industries have tried to assassinate the characters of whistleblowers. That seems to be what is happening now to Assange because of the Wikkileaks. For years journalists sitting in British Army briefings in Belfast accepted the stories they were given, such as civilians fired first, were armed, were caught in a crossfire, were shot by their own side, etc.

This constant attack, misrepresentation and coverup by the mass media here seems to me to call for two things:
1. Vigorous but planned resistance to their misrepresentations such as picketing their offices
2. Founding a viable regular alternative media with publishing deadline and wide circulation.

There has been some discussion of late in some small circles about the second of those propositions.

author by Weakpublication date Mon Jun 27, 2011 15:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That's weak.
Why does the sound suddenly change about 7 seconds into the piece?
You can't tell what is being said. What is claimed to be the word "rape" could be "Wait", "Ray" or a number of other things. The quality of footage is not good enough.
You can't even tell who's saying it. The woman on her back doesn't even look to be speaking and yet she has a speech bubble near her.
And finally, even it the word "rape" was used in this piece of footage, what does this change about what the Gardai did in the other piece of footage?

author by NUJ memberpublication date Thu Jun 30, 2011 00:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Don't know if Cusack is a member of the NUJ but it would be worth entering a complaint if he is. They may possibly hear a complaint even if he's not a member as he appears to be letting the profession down badly. His reporting often seems to rely on unidentified "sources" and unverifiable "facts".
On a quick reckoning, he may have broken up to half the guidelines in the NUJ's code of conduct with regard to this article alone.

Call the NUJ Head Office in Ireland, based out of Spencer House, Spencer Row, Dublin 1.
Ask for Seamus Dooley (head of NUJ here) or Nicola Coleman.
T: 01-8170340.
E: seamusd@nuj.ie

There is also the Press Ombudsman and they're pretty good at getting results. It may take a little paperwork and a few weeks wait, but no editor wants to get a call from the Press Ombudsman. So call them! W: http://www.presscouncil.ie/press-ombudsman-of-ireland.9....html

Calling in the NUJ/PO is worth considering in relation to other journalists/sub-editors who produce biased/unfactual/unfair coverage. Learn the ropes with Cusack. He's a sitting duck.

Related Link: http://www.nuj.org.uk/innerPagenuj.html?docid=174
author by sosumipublication date Thu Jun 30, 2011 03:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A courtcase would highlight what the independent are trying to do and could be used as another avenue of protest.

It seems obvious that the video is false so s2s should win.

If successful, the sindo would have to print a retraction of similar size and emphasis to the original article.

Might be very embarrassing for that rat cusack

author by John Doepublication date Thu Jun 30, 2011 07:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Possibly the laziest right wing journalist around - Jim Cusack cannot even report the bilge he is fed accurately. Known as 'AK46', such is his capacity for getting things wrong. Sticking up for the force ensures a continuing stream of lamebrain tittle-tattle which can be sold to newspapers (well, some newspapers). Quite lucrative.

When he was in the Irish Times, he and it were constantly apologising for the anti-republican propaganda that was his stock in trade then. Doesn't seem to be such a problem in the Sunday Independent as they seem to be more liberal about things like accuracy.

author by Interpreterpublication date Thu Jun 30, 2011 17:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's a good title for him! :-D It says a lot very concisely.
I think they meant by "AK46" that he was not only often factually incorrect in his reporting but that he was always going off half cocked and prematurely, and his material was not good enough to be "state of the Art" journalism and yet his material was still a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.

Complete asshole working for a shitty rag. An enemy of the people.

I'm sick of being betrayed by the media. We have some power here if we could mobilise economically.

What if nobody bought the independent for a week as a protest against it's dodgy reporting?? that would be a great peaceful protest.

What if nobody paid the TV licence for a year? they can't arrest us all? Lets do this

author by MCpublication date Mon Jul 04, 2011 15:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If Cusack is wrong on this and the Sindo have not published the apology requested, there should be a weekly picket on their Head Office in Talbot Street.

That is the very least could be done by the Shell to Sea campaigners. You will get a lot of support for protesting at the lies being printed by the infamous organ which has never been deterred from pushing back progress and denigrating 'ordinary' people while at the same time holding itself out as a people's tribune of truth and light.

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