The Dublin government is to appeal the European Court of Human Right’s finding that 14 Irishmen were not tortured by the British Army in 1971.
The announcement of the appeal to the ECHR’s Grand Chamber of a ruling made last March comes the day after a daughter of one of the men brought legal proceedings against the 26 County State.
Mary McKenna’s late father Sean McKenna was one of the detainees known as “the Hooded Nen”. Along with others, he was subjected to various torture techniques and sensory deprivation practices by the British Army during their ‘interrogation’. He was released into a psychiatric hospital and died in 1975.
Supported by medical evidence, Ms McKenna (pictured) believes her fathers’ death was directly attributable to the treatment he suffered while imprisoned.
Ms McKenna sought an order from the High Court forcing the Dublin government to tell her if it intended to appeal the ECHR’s finding to the ‘Grand Chamber’ of the court as the deadline neared.
On Tuesday, her lawyer Michael Halleron said the decision was “significant”.
“A referral to the Grand Chamber allows Ms McKenna on behalf of her father, as well as the other applicants, another opportunity for the judgement made in 1978 to be revised, insofar as the five techniques on persons interned in Northern Ireland in 1971 constituted inhuman and degrading treatment but not torture,” he added.
The ECHR in 1978 found the men’s treatment, while inhuman and degrading, did not constitute torture.
In 2014, after new information was disclosed that showed that British authorities knew of the long-term effects the torture techniques used on the men would have, the Dublin government requested a revision of the 1978 decision. Last March the ECHR refused that request. The Dublin government had until June 20th to seek to have the ECHR’s refusal referred to the Grand Chamber, which is the ultimate court of the European Court of Human Rights.
Ms McKenna was forced to bring High Court proceedings after being informed by the Minister for Justice that any decision by to appeal the decision would be made on June 19th, the day before the deadline. Ms McKenna said this was insufficient time to allow her to consider and if necessary challenge any decision not to pursue an appeal.
She said she was “absolutely delighted and relieved at this decision as it is another step forward on the long road in order to get justice for my father, and for the other men who suffered such terrible mistreatment.”
Kevin Hannaway, one of those interned, 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 of ourselves and those who have passed away since the treatment we underwent.”
Mr Hannaway’s lawyer Darragh Mackin also welcomed the position adopted by the Dublin government.
“From the day on which the judgment was handed down, we have engaged with the Irish Government in calling for an urgent appeal to be lodged.
“The international significance of this case is duly reflected by the fact that this case will now be referred to the highest court in Europe. The grounds were self-evident. We now look forward to an expeditious hearing in the Grand Chamber.”