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Irish government to appeal 'Hooded Men' torture ruling in Europe

The 14 Hooded Men were interned in the North in 1971.

Seven of the Hooded Men, who were kept in hoods interned in Northern Ireland in 1971, (from left) Jim Auld, Patrick McNally, Liam Shannon, Francie McGuigan, Davy Rodgers, Brian Turley and Joe Clarke, following a press conference at KRW Law in Belfast.
Seven of the Hooded Men, who were kept in hoods interned in Northern Ireland in 1971, (from left) Jim Auld, Patrick McNally, Liam Shannon, Francie McGuigan, Davy Rodgers, Brian Turley and Joe Clarke, following a press conference at KRW Law in Belfast.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

CABINET DECIDED TODAY to lodge an appeal to the European Council of Human Rights against the ruling that the group known as The Hooded Men were not subjected to torture.

Today’s decision followed consultation with the group and their legal representatives and is the maintaining of the consistent government position in relation to this case, according to a spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Minister and Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

In April, the men had a meeting with Coveney to convince him to appeal the court’s decision which rejected a request by Ireland to revise its judgement in the case involving the alleged torture and ill-treatment of the 14 men who were interned in the North in 1971.

The court dismissed by six votes to one the request to look at its judgment into whether or not the treatment of the men amounted to torture.

The men, ten of whom are still alive today (aged between 66 and 85) claim members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) – the precursor of the PSNI -  caused them long-term psychological damage because of the techniques they used on them over seven days in 1971.

Although the techniques were initially found to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in 1976, that finding was reversed by the European Court of Human Rights two years later.

'Hooded men' torture case Francie McGuigan (second left), one of the 14 'Hooded' men, who were kept in hoods interned in Northern Ireland in 1971. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Five techniques

The five techniques used on the men were hooding, wall-standing in stress positions for hours, white noise, sleep deprivation, and food and water deprivation.

Briefing politicians in April, one of the men detailed his experience, stating:

When they came along in the line, they actually passed me by. I sort of thought, ‘what’s the matter with me?’ They came back around… and said ‘we have something special in mind for you’. I was stripped by the commanding officer, and he himself photographed me standing in the nude with him holding me by the hair.

The government confirmed today that it will now seek a referral of the case to the Court’s Grand Chamber, which 17 judges sit on.

Darragh Mackin, solicitor for The Hooded Men said they warmly welcome the position adopted by the Irish government.

“We now look forward to an expeditious hearing in the Grand Chamber,” he said.

Kevin Hannaway, one of the Hooded Men who underwent the treatment said:

Today’s ruling is not only a mammoth step for us, but for many other torture survivors all around the world. We always knew the judgment was flawed, and that we had strong grounds of appeal, we are delighted the Irish Government has accepted our submissions and an appeal will now be lodged. We all intend on fighting this case to the very end on behalf or ourselves and those who have passed away since the treatment we underwent.

The decision has also been welcomed by Belfast solicitors, Madden and Finucane, which represents a daughter of one of the men.

'Hooded men' torture case Senator Niall O'Donnghaile (left) with Liam Shannon, one of the Hooded Men outside Leinster House in April. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Speaking in Dublin this afternoon, Sinn Féin senators Niall Ó Donnghaile and Rose Conway-Walsh also welcomed news of the appeal.

“The judgement in the Hooded Men case has live, global implications and it is only right that those who have committed, are committing or would seek to commit the kind of torture inflicted on these fourteen Irishmen, are exposed and held to account on the international stage,” said Ó Donnghaile.

“The Hooded Men have been campaigning for truth and justice for almost fifty years now, their steadfast courage and dignity is renowned the world over; we know that what these men endured was systematic and calculated torture, it is long passed time that reality was held firm on the international stage,” said the Sinn Féin senator.

The appeal will be lodged before the 20 June deadline.

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