Belfast Telegraph

Tributes to one of 'Hooded Men' after death at age of 86

Internee: Paddy Joe McClean
Internee: Paddy Joe McClean
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

Tributes have been paid to one of the so-called hooded men, civil rights activist Paddy Joe McClean (86) who has passed away.

Mr McClean, from Beragh in Co Tyrone, was a teacher in his early years and an advocate for older people and a cross-community champion in his later years.

He was interned without trial in 1971 and was selected for a torturous system of interrogation known as the Five Techniques when he was 38.

Paying tribute to Mr McClean, Michael Donnelly, who was also one of the hooded men, described him as "a leading light".

"Our politics were quite a bit different but our politics didn't really come into our friendship.

"Paddy Joe was a unique person," he said.

"We were interned together and taken to Magilligan Army camp where we were kept awake all night and tortured.

Paddy Joe was a bit older than me and perhaps knew what to expect more than I did.

"I was naive enough to think prisoners of war would be treated fairly by the British but he knew different and tried to warn the rest of us," he continued.

"Over the past few years Paddy Joe had suffered from Alzheimer's but the last time I met him, which was a few years ago, he knew me straight away.

"I went up to him and shook his hand and I was glad about it.

"I was always greatly impressed by Paddy Joe.

"He was a leading light for those interned, he worked greatly for keeping people together.

"I don't think I ever met anyone who had a bad word to say about Paddy Joe. He was a unique person and a great man," Mr Donnelly added.

Sinn Fein councillor for Beragh Sean Donnelly, who knew Mr McClean for six decades, also paid tribute.

He said: "Paddy Joe was very much involved with community work around Beragh in his day.

"He worked a lot for pensioners and helped set up the first pensioners' club.

"He was also a great advocate for cross-community work and I was involved with him in community policing work.

"Paddy Joe - religious, principled, and he was a man I got on really well with."

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