Belfast Telegraph

Former republican inmates launch internment legal bid

By Victoria O'Hara

Six former republican prisoners have launched legal proceedings against the Secretary of State and Government over the controversial policy of internment, 40 years after it was introduced.

The ex-internees, consisting of four men and two women, delivered the writs against the Ministry of Defence, RUC, Secretary of State and the estate of the former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Brian Faulkner, to Stormont yesterday.

The legal move taken by the Coiste delegation comes on the 40th anniversary of the introduction of internment - imprisonment without trial.

The policy was ended in December 1975 by then Secretary of State Merlyn Rees.

Among the delegation taking the legal action is Joseph Curley (60) from west Belfast, who was interned at Long Kesh for eight months.

He claimed he suffered "physical and mental abuse".

"Those eight months were a total hell," he said.

"I couldn't adjust to life after internment. I imagined everyone was following me and thought at any time I would be rearrested and put back into Long Kesh.

"It still lives with me. It is there every day."

Geraldine Rogan (55) from west Belfast was interned in 1974 when she was 17 years old.

"I was interned for just less than a year - it was a humiliating, unreal experience," she said.

"I spent a Christmas and my 18th birthday in there. You are definitely scarred, emotionally and psychologically."

Just 15 years old when he was arrested in 1973, Kevin Donnelly was released on Good Friday in 1975.

"I was told that I was going to be served with an interim custody order and would probably spend a couple of years in Long Kesh.

"It made me tough, you had to survive it. The memories never leave you," he said.

Solicitor Padraig O'Muirigh said the legal case was not just about compensation.

"The families want an apology," he said.

Sinn Fein MLA Fra McCann welcomed the decision by former internees to take legal action.

"I would call on all former internees to come forward and have their story documented," he said.

Background

In the early hours of August 9, 1971 dozens of people were rounded up in Northern Ireland by security forces in an attempt to bring an end to violence. Three hundred and forty-two people, suspected by the police of being in the IRA, were detained without trial. Despite being launched to quell violence, the Troubles only intensified - 17 people were killed in the next 48 hours and there was rioting in nationalist areas. More than 100 others on the list to be interned were able to flee and escape the raids.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph