Torture victims receive PSNI apology
Torture victims receive PSNI apology


The Hooded Men have received an apology from the PSNI over their treatment after they were interned more than 50 years ago.

Joe Clarke, who passed away on Monday afternoon, received his apology on his death-bed last Thursday.

The remaining members of the group received theirs during a meeting with senior PSNI figures in east Belfast on Tuesday morning.

None of the Hooded Men, who were subjected to a number of torture techniques by the Crown Forces, were ever convicted of any offence.

Following their detention in 1971, the 14 men were airlifted to the British Army’s main base in County Derry, Shackleton Barracks in Ballykelly.

On arrival at Ballykelly the men were thrown from still-flying helicopters, thinking they were falling to their death only to find they were just feet from the ground.

After running a gauntlet of attack dogs and baton-wielding troops, they were stripped and interrogated.

The ‘five techniques’ then used against the 14 men included being hooded, made to stand in stress positions, forced to listen to loud static noise and being deprived of sleep, food and water.

In 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that the methods used “would be characterised today” as torture.

The PSNI apology recognised its role in the abuse to which the men were subjected.

The apology said: “The Police Service of Northern Ireland acknowledges the finding of the United Kingdom Supreme Court that it is likely that the treatment to which you and the other Hooded Men were subjected to at the hands of the security forces, including some police officers, would be characterised today as torture.

“We wish to acknowledge that the treatment you received was not acceptable at that time and is not acceptable by modern standards of policing.

“We would like to convey an apology to you for the actions and omissions of police officers at that time.”

Mr Mackin, of Phoenix Law, was involved in negotiating the apology with the PSNI over the past 18 months.

“The Hooded Men have fought a 10 year campaign for justice,” he said.

“Since their landmark victory before the Supreme Court in December 2021, we have engaged at the very highest level to try and find a resolution for our clients.

“Today, almost 18 months on, the PSNI have today issued our clients with a formal apology that recognises the torturous treatment to which our clients sustained. “

Mr Mackin said the publication of the apology comes after “after weeks of intense negotiation” which drew to a close in the days before Mr Clarke died.

“In the last days of his life, Mr Clarke was finally delivered closure in the form of an apology, for which he had long since campaigned,” he said.

“This is a seismic development in a seismic case.

“Most importantly, in times of debate on how the legacy of the past should be addressed, we can and should forever point to the case of the Hooded Men as the pin up of due process, humanity and resolution coming together under one umbrella. This case is an example of why the efforts by the British government to brush the legacy of the past under the carpet will never, and can never, work.”

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