Northern Ireland

Hooded Men call on British government to apologise

Liam Shannon and Jim Auld. Picture by  Mal McCann
Liam Shannon and Jim Auld. Picture by Mal McCann Liam Shannon and Jim Auld. Picture by Mal McCann

Two of the Hooded Men have called on the British government to apologise for their treatment during internment in 1971.

The 14 Catholic men say they were subjected to state-sanctioned torture when they were detained without charge more than 50 years ago.

Read More:Hooded Man Joe Clarke received death-bed apology from PSNI

The 'five techniques' used on the men included being hooded, made to stand in stress positions, forced to listen to loud static noise and being deprived of sleep, food and water.

In 2021, the Supreme Court ruled that the methods used "would be characterised today" as torture.

It has now emerged that one of the men, Joe Clarke received a death-bed apology last Thursday from the PSNI with surviving members of the group given theirs on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, Hooded Men Liam Shannon and Jim Auld said that while they "note the acknowledgement by the PSNI that treatment meted out to them was unacceptable" they were not made aware of negotiations that led to the apology."

“This apology is something which Joe Clarke sought and that is fully respected," they said.

"Having said that it is surely very insensitive to wait until Joe was on his death bed before issuing the apology.

“However, this apology must be seen in its proper context and can only be accepted in so far as it signposts the need for an apology by the orchestators of the torture namely the British government."

The men have called on the British government and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak "to do the right thing and apologise".

“This apology in some ways is too little too late," they said.

"It ought to have been delivered long before now and is only coming on the back of latest legal challenges against the police over their failure to investigate the criminality of the state’s involvement in torture.

“We are concerned that its being promoted in a cynical way to remove ultimate responsibility from the government and the then ministers."

The men say that the "RUC were a part of the torture regime" which was "sanctioned and directed by the highest officials in the state".

“We can see through this and want to guard against any complacency and any sense that our battle is over," they said.

“It isn’t.

“We see this as another step on the road to vindication."

Mr Shannon is currently involved in a legal challenge to force the PSNI to investigate the Hooded Men's case.

“We now call upon the PSNI to remove their objection to our judicial review challenge listed in a few weeks’ time," he said.

“The apology was timed to try and influence the case.

"Any suggestion that we will stop our battle for a proper investigation is premature.

“We also now call upon the state to withdraw its insensitive attempt to stop our rightful civil claims for the horrendous treatment suffered by us."

The men's solicitor Kevin Winters, of KRW Law, said: "They really want to embrace this type of news positively but when they look at the wider context and the timing of the announcement they can’t help it if they just feel very cynical about it all.“