One of North’s ‘hooded men’ jailed for IRA activity

Kevin Hannaway was convicted of assisting IRA with interrogations in Castleknock

One of the “hooded men” who was subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment by British forces in Northern Ireland, has been jailed for three years and nine months by the Special Criminal Court.

Before sentencing 70-year-old Kevin Hannaway of Colinmill, Belfast on Tuesday, the three-judge court heard that since he was convicted in June and sent to Portlaoise prison he has suffered anxiety attacks and heart problems due to PTSD triggered by his imprisonment.

His barrister Ronan Munroe SC asked the court not to impose a custodial sentence as his condition means that confinement represents a threat to his life.

Mr Munro read from a medical report in which Mr Hannaway complained that the noise from an air conditioner in the prison brought back memories of the white noise he was subjected to while interned and caused him to have anxiety attacks and heart problems. He suffers nightmares and sometimes wakes up punching the air, Mr Munro said.


Hannaway was one of a number of men interned at a secret base in Derry in 1971 where he was beaten, subjected to white noise and deprivation of sleep, food and drink. The European Court of Human Rights said his treatment was “inhumane and degrading” but stopped short of calling it torture.

Justice Isobel Kennedy, presiding with Justice Robert Haughton and Judge Gerard Griffin, said that it is up to the prison authorities to decide on Hannaway’s medical treatment and where he serves his sentence. She said that his offence warranted a sentence of six years but taking into account his age and medical problems the judges reduced it to three years and nine months.

Mr Hannaway did not react but family members cried and comforted one another as he and his four co-accused were led away by prison officers.

IRA interrogations

Hannaway went on trial last January at the three-judge, non-jury Special Criminal Court, accused of helping the IRA carry out interrogations of other members following a series of IRA operations that were foiled by gardaí. The Dublin and Belfast brigades of the IRA wanted to know who was responsible for leaking information to gardaí and brought a number of men to a house in Castleknock in Dublin to interrogate them.

Gardaí, acting on a tip-off, had set up listening devices at the house and used recordings of the interrogations to arrest and convict Hannaway and the four others.

On trial with Hannaway were David Nooney (53) of Coultry Green, Ballymun, Dublin, Seán Hannaway (51) of Linden Gardens, Belfast, and Edward O'Brien (42), of Hazelcroft Road, Finglas, Dublin. They were found guilty of membership of an unlawful organization within the State, namely an organization styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA on August 8th, 2015.

Kevin Hannaway was convicted of knowingly rendering assistance to an unlawful organization styling itself the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, namely with Sean Hannaway, assisting in interviewing persons involved in IRA-organized criminal activities, those interviews being directly or indirectly in the furtherance of an unlawful object, at Riverwood Park, Castleknock, Dublin 15 on August 7th and 8th, 2015.

His co-accused Eva Shannon (60) of Oakman Street, Belfast was found guilty of the same offence. The court considered Ms Shannon to have a more marginal role than Kevin Hannaway and said that five and a half years would be the appropriate sentence but reduced that to four years after taking into account that she has no previous convictions and will be imprisoned far from her family, who live in Belfast.

Justice Kennedy said Sean Hannaway had a “central role” in the interrogations as she sentenced him to five years and six months. David Nooney, she said, was a “trusted member” of the IRA but had a lesser role in the operation and did not take part in the interrogations. He received a sentence of three years and nine months. Edward O’Brien had only a “limited role,” Justice Kennedy said, as she sentenced him to 16 months.

Legal aid for appeal was granted to all five. Supporters of the convicted men issued a statement outside court, in which they described the Special Criminal Court as a “blight on the administration of justice”. which exists to secure convictions rather than justice.