Northern Ireland news

Treatment of Hooded Men shocked nationalists

Pat Shivers, one of the Hooded Men, died in 1985 aged 54
Connla Young

THE abuse suffered by the ‘Hooded Men' during their internment in 1971 shocked nationalist communities across the north.

Fourteen Catholic men underwent systematic ill treatment which a judge yesterday acknowledged would probably now be accepted as torture.

The men, who came from across the north, were: Jim Auld (Belfast), Pat Shivers (Toome, Co Antrim), Joe Clarke (Belfast), Michael Donnelly (Derry), Kevin Hannaway (Belfast), Paddy Joe McClean (Beragh, Co Tyrone), Francie McGuigan (Belfast), Patrick McNally (Armagh), Sean McKenna (Newry), Gerry McKerr (Lurgan, Co Armagh), Michael Montgomery (Derry), Davy Rodgers (Warrenpoint, Co Down), Liam Shannon (Belfast) and Brian Turley (Armagh).

Case co-ordinator Jim McImurray last night said “the men still have their demons” and one continues to be treated for post traumatic stress disorder more than 46 years later.

What has become known as the ‘five techniques' were used against the men while they were detained without charge or trial.

It included being hooded, made to stand spread-eagled in a stress position against a wall and beaten if they fell, forced to listen to constant loud static noise, and deprived of sleep, food and water.

It is believed RUC Special Branch officers were taught the methods used by British soldiers but sought assurances of immunity from prosecution before carrying them out.

In a statement one of the group recalled collapsing and being punched in the stomach to revive him.

He said he was against the wall for three days, subjected to kicks or beatings every time he dropped to the ground or fell asleep.

The court was told he suffered hallucinations and prayed for death.

It was claimed that the group's treatment during the British government's internment programme was on the scale of a war crime.

Another of those allegedly tortured was bitten by a soldier's dog and had to drink from the animal's dish, according to legal representatives.

One of the men, Sean McKenna, was also slammed into concrete posts and forced to go barefoot after being taken from his Newry home in August 1971, it was claimed.

Lawyers for his daughter have argued that the interrogation techniques "ruined" him and worsened a heart condition which led his death four years later at the age of 45.

Mary McKenna's legal challenge was heard alongside that brought by the other surviving men.

Her father's internment ended in May 1972, when he was released on medical grounds to enter a psychiatric hospital.

But the impact of being subjected to the five techniques caused his psychiatric break-down, according to his daughter.

Michael Montgomery also died in December 1984 after suffering a heart attack, while Pat Shivers passed away the following year from stomach cancer aged 54.

Mr Shivers, a father-of-five, said he suffered a horrendous experience at the hands of his interrogators after being detained at his home in August 1971.

He later told Fr Raymond Murray, who highlighted the men's case, how he was hooded, denied food and water, was beaten repeatedly and passed out during interrogation. He said at one point he imagined he had died.

Another of the group, Gerry McKerr, died in 2015 aged 71.

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