9th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

9th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Monday 9 August 1971

Internment

Operation Demetrius

Operation Demetrius was a British Army operation in Northern Ireland on 9–10 August 1971, during the Troubles. It involved the mass arrest and internment (imprisonment without trial) of 342 people suspected of being involved with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was waging a campaign against the state. It was proposed by the Northern Ireland Government and approved by the British Government. Armed soldiers launched dawn raids throughout Northern Ireland, sparking four days of violence in which 20 civilians, two IRA members and two British soldiers were killed. All of those arrested were Catholic Irish nationalists. Due to faulty intelligence, many had no links with the IRA. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries were also carrying out acts of violence, which were mainly directed against Catholics and Irish nationalists, but no loyalists were included in the sweep

See below for additional details on Internment

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Internment, 17 People Killed

In a series of raids across Northern Ireland, 342 people were arrested and taken to makeshift camps as Internment was re-introduced in Northern Ireland. There was an immediate upsurge of violence and 17 people were killed during the next 48 hours. Of these 10 were Catholic civilians who were shot dead by the British Army (BA).

Hugh Mullan (38) was the first Catholic priest to be killed in the conflict when he was shot dead by the British Army as he was giving the last rites to a wounded man.

Winston Donnell (22) became the first Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) solider to die in ‘the Troubles’ when he was shot by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Clady, County Tyrone.

[There were more arrests in the following days and months. Internment was to continue until 5 December 1975. During that time 1,981 people were detained; 1,874 were Catholic / Republican, while 107 were Protestant / Loyalist. Internment had been proposed by Unionist politicians as the solution to the security situation in Northern Ireland but was to lead to a very high level of violence over the next few years and to increased support for the IRA. Even members of the security forces remarked on the drawbacks of internment.]

Wednesday 9 August 1972

There was widespread and severe rioting in Nationalist areas on the anniversary of the introduction of Internment.

Friday 9 August 1974

A report on the Dublin bombings investigation was completed by the Garda Síochána (the Irish police).

[A number of further inquiries were carried out by the Garda Síochána between 1974 and 1976 but nothing of consequence resulted.]

Tuesday 9 August 1977

The Queen began a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part of her jubilee celebrations. It was the first visit by the Queen for 11 years.

Saturday 9 August 1980

Following protests on the ninth anniversary of Internment there was continuing violence and three people were killed and 18 injured in a number of incidents.

Sunday 9 August 1981

Liam Canning (19), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), as he walked along Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.

Peter Maguinness (41), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by a plastic bullet fired by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) while he was outside his home on the Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast.

There were continuing riots in Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 9 August 1983

In the run-up to the anniversary of the introduction of Internment in 1971 there was rioting in Nationalist areas of Belfast. A young Catholic man was shot dead by a British soldier following an altercation between local people and a British Army (BA) foot patrol on the Whiterock Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

Thursday 9 August 1984

Martin Galvin, then leader of NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), appeared at a rally in Derry despite being banned from the UK.

Galvin appeared at another rally in Belfast on 12 August 1984.

Wednesday 9 August 1989

Seamus Duffy (15) was killed by a plastic bullet fired by a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Friday 9 August 1991

Garry Lynch (28), who was an election worker with the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), was shot dead in an attack at his workplace in Derry.

Wednesday 9 August 1995

Albert Reynolds, the former Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said that the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons had not been highlighted in the talks leading to the Downing Street Declaration. He further stated that if the issue had been raised he would not have signed the Declaration.

Monday 19 August 1996

Jimmy Smith, one of those who had escaped from the Maze prison in 1983, was extradited from the United States of America.

Saturday 9 August 1997

The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) planted a hoax van bomb on Craigavon Bridge in Derry, prior to the start of the Apprentice Boys’ parade through the city. When the march got underway there were disturbances when Loyalist bandsmen broke ranks to attack Nationalist residents who were observing the parade. An Apprentice Boys’ parade through Dunloy, County Antrim, was rerouted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

The Royal Black Preceptory decided to cancel a parade in Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, because of protests by the Nationalist residents of the village.

Monday 9 August 1999

The Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to press charges against Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers who were accused of assaulting David Adams, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) member.

Adams had received £30,000 compensations for injuries, including a broken leg, inflicted upon him while being held in Castlereagh Holding Centre. Adams had been arrested in 1994 and later sentenced to 25 years for conspiracy to murder a senior RUC detective.

A man from north Belfast appeared in Belfast High Court and was charged with the murder of Charles Bennett on 30 July 1999.

The Northern Ireland Parades Commission decided to allow an Apprentice Boys march down the lower Ormeau Road, Belfast, on 14 August 1999 despite the opposition of local Nationalist residents. Delegates from the Apprentice Boys of Derry and the Bogside Residents’ Group met in an effort to reach a compromise on the arrangement for the forthcoming parade in Derry.

Thursday 9 August 2001

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement about its meetings with the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), said the statement did not go far enough and his party wanted to see a beginning to actual decommissioning.

The UUP and Sinn Féin (SF), and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held separate meetings with John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, at Hillsborough Castle, County Down. The UUP argued for a suspension of the institutions of devolved government, whereas SF favoured fresh elections to the Assembly.

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Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live forever

– To the Paramilitaries –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

.26 People lost their lives on the 9th August between 1971 – 1991

9th August

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09 August 1971
William Atwell,  (40)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Security man. Killed by nail bomb thrown into Mackie’s factory, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
 Sarah Worthington,  (50)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot in her home, Velsheda Park, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
Leo McGuigan,   (16)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while walking along Estoril Park, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

Patrick McAdorey,   (24)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
John Beattie,  (17)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot, from British Army (BA) observation post in Clonard Monastery, while driving van along Ashmore Street, Shankill, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

Francis Quinn,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Springfield Park, Ballymurphy, Belfast, by BA snipers from the nearby New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, while going to the aid of a wounded man.

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09 August 1971

Hugh Mullan,  (38)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Catholic Priest. Shot during gun battle, Springfield Park, Ballymurphy, Belfast, by BA snipers from the nearby New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, while going to the aid of a wounded man.

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09 August 1971
Francis McGuinness,   (17)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

Desmond Healey, (14)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Lenadoon Avenue, Belfast.

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09 August 1971

 Joan Connolly,   (50)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as she stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
Daniel Teggart,  (44)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as he stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
Noel Phillips,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as he stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1971
 Joseph Murphy,  (41)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot as he stood opposite New Barnsley British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Belfast. He died on 22 August 1971.

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09 August 1971
Winston Donnell,  (22)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while at British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Clady near Strabane, County Tyrone.

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09 August 1972

Colm Murtagh, (24)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died in premature bomb explosion in garage, Dublin Road, Newry, County Down.

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09 August 1973

 Henry Cunningham,   (17) nfNI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
From County Donegal. Shot during gun attack on his firm’s van, from bridge overlooking the M2 motorway, near Templepatrick, County Antrim.

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09 August 1977

Paul McWilliams,  (16)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army Youth Section (IRAF),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot from British Army (BA) observation post, in Corry’s Timber Yard, Springhill Avenue, Ballymurphy, Belfast

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09 August 1977
Loius Harrison (20) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while standing outside Henry Taggart British Army (BA) base, Springfield Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

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09 August 1980
James McCarren,  (19)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot during sniper attack on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Shaw’s Road, Andersonstown, Belfast.

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09 August 1980

Brien Brown,   (29) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Forkhill, County Armagh.

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09 August 1980

Michael Donnelly,  (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by plastic bullet at the junction of Leeson Street and Falls Road, Belfast.

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09 August 1981
Liam Canning,  (19)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot while walking along Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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09 August 1981

Peter McGuinness,  (41)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot by plastic bullet outside his home, Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast.

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09 August 1983

Thomas Reilly,  (22)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during altercation between local people and British Army (BA) foot patrol, Whiterock Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

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09 August 1989

Seamus Duffy,   (15)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot by plastic bullet while walking along Dawson Street, New Lodge, Belfast

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09 August 1991

 Lynch, Gary (27)  

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Also Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) member. Shot at his workplace, Foyle Meats, Lisahally, Derry.

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Operation Demetrius

Internment

Operation Demetrius was a British Army operation in Northern Ireland on 9–10 August 1971, during the Troubles. It involved the mass arrest and internment (imprisonment without trial) of 342 people suspected of being involved with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which was waging a campaign against the state. It was proposed by the Northern Ireland Government and approved by the British Government. Armed soldiers launched dawn raids throughout Northern Ireland, sparking four days of violence in which 20 civilians, two IRA members and two British soldiers were killed. All of those arrested were Catholic Irish nationalists. Due to faulty intelligence, many had no links with the IRA. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries were also carrying out acts of violence, which were mainly directed against Catholics and Irish nationalists, but no loyalists were included in the sweep.

The introduction of internment, the way the arrests were carried out, and the abuse of those arrested, led to mass protests and a sharp increase in violence. Amid the violence, about 7,000 people fled or were forced out of their homes. The interrogation techniques used on the internees were described by the European Commission of Human Rights in 1976 as torture, but the European Court of Human Rights ruled on appeal in 1978 that while the techniques were “inhuman and degrading”, they did not constitute torture.

It was later revealed that the British Government had withheld information from the ECHR and that a policy of torture had in fact been authorized by British Government ministers. In December 2014 the Irish government asked the European Court of Human Rights to revise its 1978 judgement.

The policy of internment was to last until December 1975 and during that time 1,981 people were interned;1,874 were Catholic/Irish republican, while 107 were Protestant/loyalist. The first Protestant/loyalist internees were detained in February 1973.

Background and planning

Internment had been used a number of times during Northern Ireland‘s (and the Republic of Ireland‘s) history, but had not yet been used during the Troubles, which began in the late 1960s. Ulster loyalist paramilitaries such as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had been engaged in a low-level violent campaign since 1966. After the August 1969 riots, the British Army (BA) was deployed on the streets to bolster the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Up until this point the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had been largely inactive. However, as the violence and political situation worsened, the IRA was divided over how to deal with it. It split into two factions: the Provisional IRA and Official IRA. In 1970–71, the Provisionals launched an armed campaign against the British Army and the RUC. The Officials stated that their policy was one of defence.

During 1970–71 there were numerous clashes between state forces and the two wings of the IRA, and between the IRA and loyalists. Most loyalist attacks were directed against Catholic civilians and the Irish nationalist/republican community, but they also clashed with state forces on a number of occasions.

The idea of re-introducing internment for republican militants came from the unionist government of Northern Ireland, headed by Prime Minister Brian Faulkner. It was agreed to re-introduce internment at a meeting between Faulkner and UK Prime Minister Edward Heath on 5 August 1971. The British cabinet recommended “balancing action”, such as the arrest of loyalist militants, the calling in of weapons held by (generally unionist) rifle clubs in Northern Ireland and an indefinite ban on parades (most of which were held by unionist/loyalist groups). However, Faulkner argued that a ban on parades was unworkable, that the rifle clubs posed no security risk and that there was no evidence of loyalist terrorism

It was eventually agreed that there would be a six-month ban on parades but no targeting of loyalists and that internment would go ahead on 9 August, in an operation carried out by the British Army.

On the initial list of those to be arrested, which was drawn up by RUC Special Branch and MI5, there were 450 names, but only 350 of these were found. Key figures on the list, and many who never appeared on them, had got wind of the swoop before it began. The list included leaders of the non-violent civil rights movement such as Ivan Barr and Michael Farrell. But, as Tim Pat Coogan noted,

What they did not include was a single Loyalist. Although the UVF had begun the killing and bombing, this organisation was left untouched, as were other violent Loyalist satellite organisations such as Tara, the Shankill Defence Association and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers. It is known that Faulkner was urged by the British to include a few Protestants in the trawl but he refused.

In the case brought to the European Commission of Human Rights by the Irish government against the government of the United Kingdom, it was conceded that Operation Demetrius was planned and implemented from the highest levels of the British government and that specially trained personnel were sent to Northern Ireland to familiarize the local forces in what became known as the ‘five techniques‘, methods of interrogation described by opponents as “a euphemism for torture”.

Legal basis

The internments were initially carried out under Regulations 11 and 12 of 1956 and Regulation 10 of 1957 (the Special Powers Regulations), made under the authority of the Special Powers Act. The Detention of Terrorists Order of 7 November 1972, made under the authority of the Temporary Provisions Act, was used after direct rule was instituted.

Internees arrested without trial pursuant to Operation Demetrius could not complain to the European Commission of Human Rights about breaches of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because on 27 June 1957, the UK lodged a notice with the Council of Europe declaring that there was a “public emergency within the meaning of Article 15(1) of the Convention.”

The operation and immediate aftermath

The HMS Maidstone, a prison ship docked at Belfast where many internees were sent

Operation Demetrius began on Monday 9 August at about 4AM.

The operation was in two parts:

In the first wave of raids across Northern Ireland, 342 people were arrested. Many of those arrested reported that they and their families were assaulted, verbally abused and threatened by the soldiers. There were claims of soldiers smashing their way into houses without warning and firing baton rounds through doors and windows. Many of those arrested also reported being ill-treated during their three-day detention at the holding centres. They complained of being beaten, verbally abused, threatened, harassed by dogs, denied sleep, and starved.

Some reported being forced to run a gauntlet of baton-wielding soldiers, being forced to run an ‘obstacle course’, having their heads forcefully shaved, being kept naked, being burnt with cigarettes, having a sack placed over their heads for long periods, having a rope kept around their necks, having the barrel of a gun pressed against their heads, being dragged by the hair, being trailed behind armoured vehicles while barefoot, and being tied to armoured trucks as a human shield.[12][13] Some were hooded, beaten and then thrown from a helicopter. They were told they were hundreds of feet in the air, but were actually only a few feet from the ground.

The operation sparked an immediate upsurge of violence, which was said to be the worst since the August 1969 riots. The British Army came under sustained attack from Irish nationalist/republican rioters and gunmen, especially in Belfast. According to journalist Kevin Myers:

“Insanity seized the city. Hundreds of vehicles were hijacked and factories were burnt. Loyalist and IRA gunmen were everywhere”.

People blocked roads and streets with burning barricades to stop the British Army entering their neighbourhoods. In Derry, barricades were again erected around Free Derry and “for the next 11 months these areas effectively seceded from British control”.  Between 9 and 11 August, 24 people were killed or fatally wounded: 20 civilians (14 Catholics, 6 Protestants), two members of the Provisional IRA (shot dead by the British Army), and two members of the British Army (shot dead by the Provisional IRA).

A mural commemorating those killed in the Ballymurphy Massacre during Operation Demetrius

 

Of the civilians killed, 17 were killed by the British Army and the other three were killed by unknown attackers. In West Belfast’s Ballymurphy housing estate, 11 Catholic civilians were killed by 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment between 9 and 11 August in an episode that has become known as the Ballymurphy Massacre. Another flashpoint was Ardoyne in North Belfast, where soldiers shot dead three people on 9 August.

Many Protestant families fled Ardoyne and about 200 burnt their homes as they left, lest they “fall into Catholic hands”.Protestant and Catholic families fled “to either side of a dividing line, which would provide the foundation for the permanent peaceline later built in the area”.  Catholic homes were burnt in Ardoyne and elsewhere too. About 7000 people, most of them Catholics, were left homeless.

About 2500 Catholic refugees fled south of the border, where new refugee camps were set up.

By 13 August, media reports indicated that the violence had begun to wane, seemingly due to exhaustion on the part of the IRA and security forces.

On 15 August, the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) announced that it was starting a campaign of civil disobedience in response to the introduction of internment. By 17 October, it was estimated that about 16,000 households were withholding rent and rates for council houses as part of the campaign of civil disobedience.

On 16 August, over 8000 workers went on strike in Derry in protest at internment. Joe Cahill, then Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA, held a press conference during which he claimed that only 30 Provisional IRA members had been intern

On 22 August, in protest against internment, about 130 non-Unionist councillors announced that they would no longer sit on district councils. The SDLP also withdrew its representatives from a number of public bodies. On 19 October, five Northern Ireland Members of Parliament (MPs) began a 48-hour hunger strike against internment. The protest took place near 10 Downing Street in London. Among those taking part were John Hume, Austin Currie, and Bernadette Devlin.

Protests would continue until internment was ended in December 1975.

Long-term effects

Anti-internment mural in the Bogside area of Derry

 

The backlash against internment contributed to the decision of the British Government under Prime Minister Edward Heath to suspend the Northern Ireland Government and replace it with direct rule from Westminster, under the authority of a British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. This took place in 1972.

Following the suspension of the Northern Ireland Government and Parliament, internment was continued by the direct rule administration until 5 December 1975. During this time a total of 1,981 people were interned: 1,874 were from a Catholic or Irish nationalist background, while 107 were from a Protestant or Ulster loyalist background.

Historians generally view the period of internment as inflaming sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland, while failing in its goal of arresting key members of the IRA. Many of the people arrested had no links whatsoever with the IRA, but their names appeared on the list of those to be arrested through bungling and incompetence. The list’s lack of reliability and the arrests that followed, complemented by reports of internees being abused, led to more people identifying with the IRA in the Irish nationalist community and losing hope in other methods.

After Operation Demetrius, recruits came forward in huge numbers to join the Provisional and Official wings of the IRA. Internment also led to a sharp increase in violence. In the eight months before the operation, there were 34 conflict-related deaths in Northern Ireland. In the four months following it, 140 were killed.

A serving officer of the British Royal Marines declared:

It (internment) has, in fact, increased terrorist activity, perhaps boosted IRA recruitment, polarised further the Catholic and Protestant communities and reduced the ranks of the much needed Catholic moderates.

In terms of loss of life, 1972 was the most violent of the Troubles. The fatal march on Bloody Sunday (30 January 1972) in Derry, when 14 unarmed civil rights protesters were shot dead by British paratroopers, was an anti-internment march.

Interrogation of internees

All of those arrested were interrogated by the British Army and RUC. However, twelve internees were then chosen for further “deep interrogation”, using sensory deprivation. This took place at a secret interrogation centre, which was later revealed to be Shackleton Barracks, outside Ballykelly. In October, a further two internees were chosen for deep interrogation. These fourteen became known as “the Hooded Men”, or “the Guineapigs”.

After undergoing the same treatment as the other internees, the men were hooded, handcuffed and flown to the base by helicopter. On the way, soldiers severely beat them and threatened to throw them from the helicopter. When they arrived they were stripped naked, photographed, and examined by a doctor.

For seven days, when not being interrogated, they were kept hooded and handcuffed in a cold cell and subjected to a continuous loud hissing noise. Here they were forced to stand in a stress position for many hours and were repeatedly beaten on all parts of their body. They were deprived of sleep, food and drink. Some of them also reported being kicked in the genitals, having their heads banged against walls, being shot at with blank rounds, and being threatened with injections. The result was severe physical and mental exhaustion, severe anxiety, depression, hallucinations, disorientation and repeated loss of consciousness.

The interrogation methods used on the men became known as the ‘five techniques‘. Training and advice regarding the five techniques came from senior intelligence officials in the British government. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) defined the five techniques as follows:

  • (a) wall-standing: forcing the detainees to remain for periods of some hours in a “stress position”, described by those who underwent it as being “spreadeagled against the wall, with their fingers put high above the head against the wall, the legs spread apart and the feet back, causing them to stand on their toes with the weight of the body mainly on the fingers”;
  • (b) hooding: putting a black or navy coloured bag over the detainees’ heads and, at least initially, keeping it there all the time except during interrogation;
  • (c) subjection to noise: pending their interrogations, holding the detainees in a room where there was a continuous loud and hissing noise;
  • (d) deprivation of sleep: pending their interrogations, depriving the detainees of sleep;
  • (e) deprivation of food and drink: subjecting the detainees to a reduced diet during their stay at the centre and pending interrogations.

The fourteen Hooded Men were the only internees subjected to the full five techniques. However, over the following months, some internees were subjected to at least one of the five techniques, as well as other interrogation methods. These allegedly included waterboarding,  electric shocks, burning with matches and candles, forcing internees to stand over hot electric fires while beating them, beating and squeezing of the genitals, inserting objects into the anus, injections, whipping the soles of the feet, and psychological abuse such as Russian roulette.

Parker Report

When the interrogation techniques used on the internees became known to the public, there was outrage at the British government, especially from Irish nationalists. In answer to the anger from the public and Members of Parliament, on 16 November 1971, the British government commissioned a committee of inquiry chaired by Lord Parker (the Lord Chief Justice of England) to look into the legal and moral aspects of the ‘five techniques’.

The “Parker Report” was published on 2 March 1972 and found the five techniques to be illegal under domestic law:

10. Domestic Law …(c) We have received both written and oral representations from many legal bodies and individual lawyers from both England and Northern Ireland. There has been no dissent from the view that the procedures are illegal alike by the law of England and the law of Northern Ireland. … (d) This being so, no Army Directive and no Minister could lawfully or validly have authorized the use of the procedures. Only Parliament can alter the law. The procedures were and are illegal.

On the same day (2 March 1972), United Kingdom Prime Minister Edward Heath stated in the House of Commons:

[The] Government, having reviewed the whole matter with great care and with reference to any future operations, have decided that the techniques … will not be used in future as an aid to interrogation… The statement that I have made covers all future circumstances.

As foreshadowed in the Prime Minister’s statement, directives expressly forbidding the use of the techniques, whether alone or together, were then issued to the security forces by the government.  While these are still legally in force and the use of such methods by UK security forces is not officially condoned by the government, the five techniques were still being used by the British Army in 2003.

European Commission of Human Rig

The Irish Government, on behalf of the men who had been subject to the five techniques, took a case to the European Commission on Human Rights (Ireland v. United Kingdom, 1976 Y.B. Eur. Conv. on Hum. Rts. 512, 748, 788-94 (Eur. Comm’n of Hum. Rts.)). The Commission stated that it

…unanimously considered the combined use of the five methods to amount to torture, on the grounds that (1) the intensity of the stress caused by techniques creating sensory deprivation “directly affects the personality physically and mentally”; and (2) “the systematic application of the techniques for the purpose of inducing a person to give information shows a clear resemblance to those methods of systematic torture which have been known over the ages…a modern system of torture falling into the same category as those systems applied in previous times as a means of obtaining information and confessions.

European Court of Human Rights

The Commissions findings were appealed. In 1978, in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) trial Ireland v. the United Kingdom (Case No. 5310/71), the court ruled:

167. … Although the five techniques, as applied in combination, undoubtedly amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, although their object was the extraction of confessions, the naming of others and/or information and although they were used systematically, they did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture as so understood. …168. The Court concludes that recourse to the five techniques amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment, which practice was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 3 (art. 3).

On 8 February 1977, in proceedings before the ECHR, and in line with the findings of the Parker Report and UK Government policy, the Attorney-General of the United Kingdom stated:

The Government of the United Kingdom have considered the question of the use of the ‘five techniques’ with very great care and with particular regard to Article 3 (art. 3) of the Convention. They now give this unqualified undertaking, that the ‘five techniques’ will not in any circumstances be reintroduced as an aid to interrogation.

Later developments

In 2013, declassified documents revealed the existence of the interrogation centre at Ballykelly. It had not been mentioned in any of the inquiries. Human rights group the Pat Finucane Centre accused the British Government of deliberately hiding it from the inquiries and the European Court of Human Rights.

In June 2014, an RTÉ documentary entitled The Torture Files uncovered a letter from the UK Home Secretary Merlyn Rees in 1977 to the then British Prime Minister James Callaghan. It confirmed that a policy of ‘torture’ had in fact been authorized by the British Government’s ministers—specifically the Secretary for Defence Peter Carrington—in 1971, contrary to the knowledge of the Irish government or the ECHR. The letter states:

“It is my view (confirmed by Brian Faulkner before his death) that the decision to use methods of torture in Northern Ireland in 1971/72 was taken by ministers – in particular Lord Carrington, then secretary of state for defence”.

Following the 2014 revelations, the President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, called on the Irish government to bring the case back to the ECHR because the British government, he said,

“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”.

On 2 December 2014 the Irish government announced that, having reviewed the new evidence and following requests from the survivors, it had decided to officially ask the ECHR to revise its 1978 judgement.

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