Civil rights leader Paddy Joe McClean (86) dies at home in Tyrone

Teacher was one of ‘Hooded Men’ interned and tortured using illegal ‘five techniques’

Paddy Joe McClean:  ‘You’d be tortured, questioned, then back again. You’d swear you were going insane.’ Photograph: Trevor McBride

Paddy Joe McClean: ‘You’d be tortured, questioned, then back again. You’d swear you were going insane.’ Photograph: Trevor McBride

 

The former civil rights leader Paddy Joe McClean has died. The 86-year-old passed away at his home in Beragh, Co Tyrone, on Friday morning.

A teacher, he was among those who were involved in the first civil rights marches in Tyrone and Derry in the late 1960s, and went on to become a chairman of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA).

In 1971 he was interned and subjected to interrogation tactics known as the “five techniques” by the British army. Known as the “Hooded Men”, he and 13 others campaigned for recognition that their treatment had amounted to torture.

Speaking to The Irish Times in 2013, Mr McClean said he had been chosen because the interrogators needed a geographical spread of internees and they could not find an IRA man from the Omagh area.

“The best they would say was, ‘You’re the chairman of the civil rights association, people trust you, therefore you’ve been talking to IRA men,’” he said.

“They’d make you stand on your tippy-toes with legs apart and hands against the wall and if you looked like falling you got kicked and were put back up again.

“Sometimes they would pick you up and run your spine up and down over the edge of a table.

“They kept you awake by battering cups on the corrugated iron huts. No food. When you asked for water they’d give you a drip . . . It seemed to me they were testing how far they could go without causing death. You’d be tortured, questioned, then back again. You’d swear you were going insane,” he said.

Mr McClean will be laid to rest on Sunday after Requiem Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Beragh.