Belfast Telegraph

Case of loyalist Troubles internees to be heard next year

The case will be heard before Belfast High Court in May 2020 (stock photo)
The case will be heard before Belfast High Court in May 2020 (stock photo)

By Alan Erwin

A legal action over claims that loyalists were interned at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland to "even up the score" will be heard next year.

More than 20 elderly Protestants are suing the UK state, alleging they were imprisoned without trial in an attempt to balance the number of Catholics being detained.

A judge on Friday listed the lead case for trial in May at the High Court in Belfast.

The solicitor who represents most of the men taking the lawsuits welcomed the development.

Kevin Winters said: "Resolution of conflict-related cases has taken an incredibly long time.

"Many of these people are now in their eighties, so it is important for them that there is some expedition."

Internment was introduced in 1971 as violence raged in Northern Ireland.

Nearly 2,000, most of them Catholic, were held over the next four years.

Claims have been brought against the Northern Ireland Office, PSNI, Ministry of Defence and Secretary of State by men from the so-called loyalist side of the community.

They allege the British Government abused its power by locking them up because of their religion, and to demonstrate internment was not just focused on Catholics.

East Belfast man Jim Wilson's claim has been identified as a lead case.

He was arrested in July 1973 and interned for 14 months at the old Long Kesh prison camp.

Mr Wilson has previously described how it resulted in him losing his house, job and missing out on the birth of his first child.

At least four others in the group have died since legal proceedings were initiated.

Mr Winters added: "It is vital that we now get these cases heard."

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