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Secret British papers reveal secret 1970s interrogation centre in Derry

The Pat Finucane Centre says that the British Government intentionally misled the European Commission over the interrogation centre in Ballykelly.

Ballykelly village in Co Derry
Ballykelly village in Co Derry
Image: Google Street View

DECLASSIFIED BRITISH PAPERS have disclosed the existence of a facility in which Irish prisoners were subject to what the European Commission of Human Rights called ‘torture’.

The treatment of the 12 internees in 1971 led to the Irish government taking a case to the European Commission. It has been claimed that the British government misled two inquiries, as well as the European Court of Human Rights, about the existence of the centre in Ballykelly.

Sarah Duddy of the Pat Finucane Centre, who uncovered the documents, said that the papers showed how closely guarded a secret the interrogation centre was.

“The documents reveal a lot of things,” Duddy told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“They reveal the existence of the centre as well as the lengths that the British Government went to to keep the existence of the centre concealed.

“One document says “it’s very important to keep secure the existence and location of the centre where the 12 detainees were interrogated secret”.

“That document was circulated while an inquiry was taking place. So, even while the inquiry was going on, the British Government were adamant that they had to keep the location and existence of the centre secure.”

The papers reveal that the 12 men, arrested as part of the internment of 350 people on 9 August 1971, were subject to deep interrogation under the five techniques system the European Commission has called ‘torture’. The techniques are wall-standing, sleep deprivation, hooding, starvation and white noise.

Duddy says that there was a “lack of correspondence” between what was said in the report and what was told to the European Commission.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said that it is examining the matter.

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