West Belfast woman and around 20 Protestant men suing UK state over internment
A WEST Belfast woman and around 20 Protestant men are all suing the UK state over their internment during the Troubles, it emerged today.
Evelyn Gilroy's legal action is to be grouped with the so-called loyalist cases in all future reviews at the High Court.
A judge was told one of the claims they were unlawfully imprisoned without trial is now at an advanced stage.
Mr Justice Maguire has now asked lawyers to identify all writs issued in connection with the policy.
He said: "I will initiate a review relating a group which I will call internment cases."
Detention without trial was introduced in 1971 as the conflict 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.
Ms Gilroy alleges she was subjected to inhuman conditions during her arrest and imprisonment in May 1974.
She was held for three days in an RUC station before being transferred to Armagh prison where she was held until Christmas that year, according to her claim.
Internment had been introduced as the conflict raged in Northern Ireland.
Nearly 2,000 people, most of them Catholic, were held without trial between 1971 and 1975.
Ms Gilroy is seeking damages for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, negligence, breach of statutory duty and misfeasance in public office.
In court todayy it emerged that writs issued by around 20 men from the other side of the community are continuing.
They claim the British Government abused its power by locking them up in a bid to balance mass Catholic internment.
One of that group was arrested in 1973 and spent more than a year in custody.
Their case includes allegations they were interned because of their religion, in order to demonstrate the British state was not just detaining Catholics under that system.
More than 300 people were initially held in what was then called the Long Kesh prison camp outside Lisburn, County Antrim.
They were accused of involvement with the IRA.
It would take another 18 months before anyone from a loyalist background was interned.
Barrister Paul McLaughlin, for the authorities being sued, confirmed as many as 21 legal actions have been commenced.
"Most are loyalists who say there was an unlawful policy to intern them from 1973," he told the court.
Eugene McKenna, representing Ms Gilroy, predicted the same discovery would be required in all the cases.
He added: "This plaintiff (Ms Gilroy) is the only matter with proceedings issued who was a member of the nationalist population at that time."
Following submissions Mr Justice Maguire agreed to group all the actions together for future, regular reviews. ends