Hooded Men win court appeal against PSNI

Posted By: September 21, 2019


Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus
“This legal decision represents at least a little relief for the victims of one of the most heinous British government acts of State terrorism.
 In 1971, the British Government—posing before the world as a peace-keeping, non-partisan force in Northern Ireland— tortured and sadistically brutalized 14 innocent Irish Catholics who had been interned (imprisoned without charge or trial).
Francis McGuigan (whom I’ve met) speaks eloquently for the remaining Hooded Men in this article. 
This brutal case—just by itself alone, not to mention all the other British atrocities in The North—was enough to discredit  for all-time England’s role in a partitioned Ireland.”—Fr. Sean McManus.

Francis McGuigan… has welcomed a ruling by the Court of Appeal in Belfast that an investigation must be carried out into the treatment of 14 internees, known as the Hooded Men 
Irish News. Belfast. Friday,  September 20, 2019

The Court of Appeal in Belfast has ruled an investigation must be carried out into the treatment of 14 internees in 1971 known as the Hooded Men.

The majority ruling came following an appeal by the PSNI chief constable against a previous High Court judgment that the PSNI must investigate the unlawful treatment of the men.

The so-called Hooded Men claim they were subjected to a number of torture methods when they were detained without trial at a British military camp in Co Derry in 1971.

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

The European Court of Human Rights previously ruled that while the men suffered inhumane and degrading treatment, it fell short of torture.

Delivering the ruling at the Court of Appeal in Belfast on Friday, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said the treatment of the men “would, if it occurred today, properly be characterized as torture.”

One of the three judges dissented with that conclusion.

The ruling goes on to agree with a previous ruling that an investigation carried out by the Historical Enquiries Team was “irrational and did not honor the undertaking given by the Chief Constable”, and added: “In light of the manner in which the investigation was pursued it seems unlikely that an investigation by the Legacy Investigation Branch of the PSNI or its successor is likely to engender public confidence.”

The ruling follows an appeal brought by the PSNI against a previous ruling that its decision to end preliminary inquiries into the methods deployed against the 14 men was seriously flawed and should be quashed.

Speaking outside court, Francis McGuigan, one of the Hooded Men, welcomed the ruling.

“We are delighted with the result we got this morning, Justice Morgan confirmed Justice Maguire’s decision that if this happened today it would be torture, I would just like to know how they differ between today and 48 years ago when they use the word torture,” he said.

“It’s a small word but let me just give you some of the impact it had on me as a 23-year-old of average intelligence, what they had done to my brain and my body, I finished up that I couldn’t spell my own name, they asked me to spell my own name and I couldn’t spell my own name.

“I think Europe made a mistake then, and I want to stand in front of the judges in Europe and tell them what happened to me and the rest of us.

“There were 14 of us, over a third of us are now dead, since we initiated this case, two men have died, since Justice Morgan heard the appeal one man has died, there are nine of us left, each one of us have been in hospital for different treatments and this must be done before we all pass away.”

Commenting on the judgment, PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: “Firstly I wish to acknowledge the distress this case has caused to many people over many years.

“I note today’s judgment and we will take time to consider the fullness of its implications and our next steps.

“We will now determine how best to progress this matter and meet our legal obligations. This case again brings into focus the need for a societal response to issues of legacy.

“We will study this judgment carefully before making any further public commentary.”

Fr. Sean Mc Manus