Hooded Man Paddy Joe McClean died aged 86

Posted By: August 03, 2019

Connla Young. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, August 3, 2019

The oldest surviving member of the group known as the Hooded Men has died.

Tyrone native Paddy Joe McClean passed away at his home in Beragh in the early hours of Friday.

The 86-year-old was interned twice, during the 1950s and again in the 1970s.

He was one of 14 Catholic men from across the north have claimed they were subjected to state-sanctioned torture when they were interned in 1971.

The techniques 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 some cases,  the men were also thrown from helicopters they were told were hundreds of feet in the air despite being just feet from the ground.

At the time he was interned he was aged 38 and worked as a remedial teacher.

A founding member of the Civil Rights Association in later years he regularly spoke on the issue of peace and reconciliation.

Although never elected, he stood for both the Worker’s Party and Democratic Left in the 1980s and 1990s.

He is also a former Independent member of the Omagh District Policing Partnership.

In a statement his family last night said the father-of-12 had “a gift of making people laugh and feel welcome too”.

They said that he and his wife Annie brought their children up “with a sense of fairness and equality for all”.

“He knew that all kinds of discrimination existed around the world and people should not be blind to it,” his family said.

“Even when he was treated unfairly and unjustly himself, he made it clear that this would not define him.

“He would not live his life in victimhood.

“That would only do him and his family harm, not the perpetrators of the crimes against him.”

It is the second tragedy to hit the McClean family in recent years after his son Eamon died in 2016.

Surviving members of the Hooded Men offered their condolences to the McClean family last night and are expected to attend his funeral on Sunday at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Beragh.