Belfast Telegraph

Amnesty welcome Irish government decision on 'hooded men' case

43 years after the alleged torture of the 14 so-called 'hooded men' - who were interned in Northern Ireland in 1971 - the Irish government is to ask the European Court of Human Rights to reopen the case

By Amanda Ferguson and Brian Hutton

The Irish government will ask the European Court of Human Rights to reopen a landmark case against Britain over the use of alleged torture in Northern Ireland.

A documentary on Irish State broadcaster RTE in June disclosed fresh evidence that the British government authorised the "deep interrogation" tactics at the highest levels.

Confirming Ireland's approach to Europe, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said the fresh evidence was taken very seriously by Dublin and legal advice was also sought.

"On the basis of the new material uncovered, it will be contended that the ill-treatment suffered by the Hooded Men should be recognised as torture," he said.

"The Government's decision was not taken lightly.

"As EU partners, UK and Ireland have worked together to promote human rights in many fora and during the original case, the UK did not contest before the European Court of Human Rights that a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human rights took place.

"The British and Irish governments have both worked hard to build stronger more trusting relations in recent years and I believe that this relationship will now stand to us as we work through the serious matters raised by these cases which have come to light in recent months."

Speaking from the high court today, Liam Shannon, one of the 'hooded men', said: "We've just been told about the decision to take the case to Europe.

"We're absolutely delighted by this.

"We've waited 43 years and we want to thank everyone involved, our legal team and all the researchers who turned up the relevant information in order that we could make a case and we'd particularly like to thank Amnesty International for their assistance"
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director, said:  “The then Irish Government took a brave and unprecedented step when bringing the case against the UK back in 1971 – today’s Irish Government has remained true to that pursuit of justice.

"Ireland is to be commended for playing its role in ensuring the UK finally is held responsible for what it did to these men in those interrogation rooms 43 years ago.

“We hope the UK Government now announces without further delay the establishment of an independent investigation into what was revealed in the RTE programme."

“We earnestly hope there will be no suggestion that Ireland’s decision may undermine the wider Northern Ireland peace process.

"As we have repeatedly communicated to the Irish Government, there can be no stable and lasting peace in Northern Ireland without truth and justice, including in this case."

Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “Today’s decision by the Irish Government is hugely welcomed by Amnesty International.

"We commend Ireland for helping these men, and the families of those who have since died, to finally have their right to truth and justice vindicated for what we now know happened to them in 1971.

"The UK withheld from the European Court what it knew about the terrible suffering deliberately inflicted on them and its being sanctioned at the highest levels of the UK Government.

"Ireland’s decision today bravely flies the flag for human rights and the universal and unconditional prohibition of torture."

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph