Adams calls on Government to reopen ‘Hooded Men’ case

Documentary alleges British lied over interrogation methods used in 1971

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has called for the reopening of the 1970s ‘Hooded Men’ case. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has called for the reopening of the 1970s ‘Hooded Men’ case. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 13:56

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has called for the reopening of the 1970s case alleging torture by the British government against the so-called Hooded Men.

The call follows the screening last night of The Torture Files, an RTÉ investigation into the events.

“In August 1971, 340 men were arrested and interned. Fourteen of these were subject to in depth interrogation techniques which had been planned from earlier in the year and involved specially trained British interrogators and RUC Special Branch officers,” Mr Adams said today.

“Over a number of days the Hooded Men were subject to white noise, sleep deprivation, hooding, being forced to stand spreadeagled against a wall and were deprived of food and water. They were also beaten and terrorised.”

In 1977 the European Commission on Human Rights concluded that this treatment was torture.

“The following year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it wasn’t torture but inhuman and degrading treatment,” Mr Adams said.

He said that following intensive research by the Pat Finucane Centre and further research by the RTÉ team, new evidence had emerged which reveals that the British government “lied to the European Court of Human Rights both on the severity of the methods used on the men, their long term physical and psychological consequences, on where these interrogations took place and who gave the political authority and clearance for it to occur”.

“Not only was the European Court misled and lied to by the British government but so too was the Irish government.”

Mr Adams said the onus was now on the Irish Government to challenge the British government on these matters and to request that the European Court of Human Rights reopen the case of Ireland v the United Kingdom.

He said he was disappointed that Attorney General Maire Whelan had refused to reopen the case following representation from lawyers acting for the Hooded Men.

Amnesty International said the allegations in the documentary that the British government had sanctioned the use of torture in Northern Ireland in the 1970s underlined “the failure to deliver a comprehensive mechanism to deal with the past”.

Northern Ireland programme director for Amnesty International, Patrick Corrigan, said the latest allegations that the British government had misled the European Court of Human Rights were “deeply worrying”.

Amnesty’s executive director, Colm O’Gorman, said the organisation’s own research on torture in detention in Northern Ireland in the 1970s was an important factor in these cases being brought before the European Court in the first place, and that it would continue to follow developments closely.

“Torture is a crime under international law, and anyone at any level who condoned or authorised it must be held fully accountable.”