Irish Republican News · April 9, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Villiers silent on British cabinet support for torture


The British Direct Ruler in the north of Ireland, Theresa Villiers, has been accused of withholding information in the case of a group of Irish torture victims known as the ‘Hooded Men’.

The men were interrogated by the British Army in 1971 and subjected to a number of torture techniques. They were hooded, forced to listen to constant loud static noise, deprived of sleep, food and water, forced to stand in a stress position, and beaten if they fell.

They were hooded and thrown to the ground from helicopters -- after being told they were hundreds of feet in the air. It is thought mind-altering drugs were also given to them while in detention.

They now believe Theresa Villiers has withheld information on briefings given to government ministers before they were subjected to the abuses. The men want to know what British ministers were told in advance about their interrogation. They believe their prolonged torture was sanctioned by that government.

Their lawyer, Darragh Mackin, said it was essential for the men to know precisely what British ministers knew before they were arrested and interrogated.

He said information provided by Villiers made it clear that some documents about briefings of ministers had not been disclosed to their legal team.

“The one issue that is not clear at present is what the content of the briefings were, and therefore it’s important to determine what actually was authorised, what they actually knew when they did authorise the techniques,” he said.

“Because it’s clear that what they did authorise was torture.”

The legal team have been given two weeks to write to Villiers, setting out what material they say has not been disclosed, and why it is relevant to their case. If they are not happy with her response, they will go back to court to seek an order instructing her to hand the material over.

Four members of the group have already died, one has had a heart attack and another has been diagnosed with dementia.

Francis McGuigan, spokesman for the Hooded Men, said he believed the British authorities were waiting for the group to die so they would not have to investigate their torture claims.

“We have been 45 and a half years waiting to get the full truth out,” Mr McGuigan told the BBC recently.

Speaking at an event in Lurgan a fortnight ago, one of the victims, Liam Shannon, described the use of ‘white noise’ by his interrogators as “excruciating” and designed to ‘drive them insane’.

Mr Shannon said that when the hood he was forced to wear was eventually removed from his head it was the most “scary experience of my life”. “I didn’t recognise myself,” he said. “The face starring back at me was not me.”

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© 2016 Irish Republican News