Irish Republican News · May 16, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Clooneys to back torture case
Clooneys to back torture case

clooneys.jpg

In a development which has electrified news coverage of their plight, top barrister Amal Clooney is set to take on the European court case of the ‘hooded men’. Her husband, famous Hollywood movie actor George Clooney, is also set to travel to Belfast.

Mrs Clooney is set to accuse former British Prime Minister Ted Heath of agreeing to the torture of fourteen Catholic men at a British army base in County Derry in 1971.

The men were forced to wear hoods, deprived of sleep, food and water, brutalised, terrorised, and made to listen to white noise and stand in an impossible position -- then being beaten if they fell.

The men now hope a case at the European Court of Human Rights will be the culmination of a four-decade campaign for justice. Lawyers succeeded last year in forcing the Dublin government to refer their treatment back to judges in Europe.

They are also set to take legal action against the British Direct Ruler, the PSNI police chief and the local ‘Minister for Justice’ to demand an independent investigation into the use of torture by British forces in Ireland during internment.

It comes as the newly elected Tory government in London is planning to repeal human rights legislation which provides access to the Strasbourg court. Supporters of the torture victims admitted their concern that, although Mrs Clooney is an excellent lawyer, her presence could “turn the case into a circus”.

NIGHTMARE RECOUNTED

The glitz and glamour of Hollywood is a long way from the Clan na Gael GAA sports clubroom, where members of the ‘Hooded Men’ recently came together to speak publicly for the first time about their experiences.

The event was held to remember one of the group -- heartfelt tributes were paid to Lurgan man Gerry McKerr, who died in March after a bout of ill health. Tributes were also paid to other ‘Hooded Men’ who have passed away, including Sean McKenna, Pat Shivers and Michael Montgomery.

Historian and spokesman Jim McIlmurray, who helped organise the event, said he believes the four deceased men had been “murdered” due to their treatment.

The night began with one of the men, Joe Clarke, giving a vivid account of his time in custody.

He recalled how some of the men were thrown out of a British army helicopter they were told was hundreds of feet in the air even though it was close to the ground.

After being brought to Ballykelly British Army base he was put in overalls and interrogated for a week.

“We were put into a room and we were spread eagled,” he said. “We were beaten and if you moved position you were beaten again and this went on for quite a while.”

He gave a harrowing account of suffering hallucinations as the beatings became more severe.

Belfast man Francie McGuigan also described the use of white noise in an area dubbed the ‘Music Room’.

“This noise was just constant, it went through the brain, it went in through the top of your head and out through your toe nails. It affected every nerve and sinew in your body.

“We were against the wall, we don’t know how long. I never at any stage remember being taken off the wall, but I remember being dragged along corridors, set down in front of interrogators with the bright lights shining in your face.

“Two boys in front of you and two behind you screaming questions at you, putting their head to your head and screaming at you.

“When they didn’t get the answers they wanted you were just told ‘Take him back to the Music Room’.”

TORTURE ON TAPE

It recently emerged that the British army authorities made secret recordings of the interrogations. The files, marked ‘Secret - UK eyes only” reveal that 400 hours of recordings were held at the British army’s Intelligence Centre in Ashford in Kent, and it appears the then RUC police was given transcripts.

The existence of the tapes is documented in secret British army files recently discovered by the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC).

Jim McIlmurray said they are keen for the tapes to be made available to their legal representatives.

“We would welcome the disclosure of any tapes and would hope that at some stage our legal team will have a chance to review them. If they provide evidence of the torture of the men they can then be forwarded to the European Court of Human Rights.”

He had also indicated that documents have now been discovered which demonstrate that the British Prime Minister at the time was fully aware that torture was being used on prisoners.

“These documents show that torture was discussed at the highest level with the knowledge of Heath,” he said.

“Because of this documentation the case is very much black and white. The UK Government had lied about its knowledge and six months prior to internment had ordered a special unit to carry out torture.”

© 2015 Irish Republican News