Northern Ireland news

Dublin government urged to pursue European Court over Hooded Men torture case

torture claims: Sinn Féin senator Niall Ó Donnghaile, left, with Liam Shannon, one of the Hooded Men, outside Leinster House, Dublin, ahead of the hearing of the Sinn Féin private members’ bill in the Seanad. In 1978 the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, inset, ruled that the men did not suffer torture main PICTURE: Brian Lawless/PA

THE Dublin government is being called on to appeal against a European court decision that found the so-called Hooded Men did not suffer torture.

Speaking before putting a motion to the Seanad, Sinn Féin senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said he wanted the government to "see the case through" and lodge an appeal against the decision, made by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in March.

The Hooded Men were 14 Catholics detained indefinitely without trial in 1971 who said they were subjected to a number of torture methods.

These included five techniques hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and water along with beatings and death threats.

The men were hooded and flown by helicopter to a secret location, later revealed to be a British army camp at Ballykelly in Co Derry.

Mr Ó Donnghaile said: "It's about vindication for these men and what they went through but also the people who continue to suffer torture around the world."

One of the Hooded Men, Liam Shannon (70), who was at Leinster House yesterday to see the motion put forward, said the decision was "massively" important to the men.

He said: "We've been going at this for 47 and a half years, trying to get justice, just to get the truth.

"We are going to continue, it doesn't matter how it goes, we are going to continue and we will get the truth in the end."

"We can only hope that the Irish government will fulfil its obligation and continue what they started and finish this off."

The ECHR dismissed Ireland's request to find that the men had suffered torture by six votes to one and said there was "no justification" for revising a 1978 ruling.

The court said new evidence had not demonstrated the existence of facts that were not known to the court at the time or which could have had a decisive influence on the original judgment.

The Irish government first took a human rights case against Britain over the alleged torture in 1971.

The European Commission of Human Rights ruled that the mistreatment of the men was torture, but in 1978 the European Court of Human Rights held that the men suffered inhumane and degrading treatment that was not torture.

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