Only Six working days left for Government decision on ‘Hooded men’ case

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has called on the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to urgently conclude the government’s deliberations on a decision to reopen the ‘Hooded men’ case with the European Court of Human Rights.

In a letter to the Taoiseach on Wednesday the Sinn Féin leader pointed out that there is a December 4th deadline – only six working days – left for the government to seek to have this case reopened.

Gerry Adams described the decision of the European Court in 1978 as ‘a landmark judgement. The 14 men were denied justice. The Irish government lost a case it should have won. And because of British lies the ECHR judgement in 1978 facilitated the use of these torture techniques in other conflict situations, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is a grave onus on the Office of the Attorney General and the government to conclude its deliberations and seek a reopening of this case’.

The text of Gerry Adams letter to An Taoiseach.

Taoiseach a chara,

In 1971 the Irish government took a case to Europe on behalf of ‘The Hooded Men’. These were 14 Irish citizens who were arrested by the British Army following the introduction of internment in August 1971.

In the course of seven days they were hooded and subject to brutal in-depth interrogation techniques by the RUC Special Branch and the British Ministry of Defence’s Joint Services Interrogation Wing (JSIW).

The European Commission on Human Rights in 1977 ruled that this was torture. The British government appealed and the following year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the men had not suffered torture but inhuman and degrading treatment.

Taoiseach, evidence has now emerged that the British government lied to the Irish government; lied to the lawyers acting for the ‘Hooded Men,’ and lied to the ECHR.

Lawyers acting for ‘The Hooded Men’ wrote to the Office of the Attorney General last October. 

They provided a range of new material in respect and asked that the Irish government ‘urgently review the ECHR judgement marked in the case of Ireland v the United Kingdom, Application no. 5310/71, 18th January 1978 with a view to reopening the same before the Court through their capacity as a member state under Article 33 of the Convention.’

In March the Attorney General concluded that she could ‘find nothing new in the documentation’ and concluded that it did not meet ‘the threshold which would warrant this state bringing an application to reopen the case before the ECtHR.’

I expressed my disappointment and called for a reversal of the decision.

In June a major documentary by RTE – The Torture Files – reported on additional new evidence which it and the Pat Finucane Centre had uncovered.

This revealed that the British government lied to the ECHR about the use of the so-called five techniques for in-depth interrogation; lied to the ECHR on the severity of the interrogation methods employed and the detail of this torture, including its location; lied to the ECHR about the medical and psychological consequences on the 14 men tortured; and failed to inform the ECHR that this torture had been cleared at British Cabinet level by the then Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington.

It is clear from all of the documentation now available that the use of torture against these 14 men was a matter of administrative practise by the British government.

I immediately wrote to the Attorney General on this. In his response to me in July the Attorney General’s Private Secretary confirmed that the ‘process of giving detailed and careful consideration to the material is in hand and could take some time.’

Taoiseach, there is a December 4th deadline for the reopening of this case. Time is quickly running out.

This was a landmark judgement. The 14 men were denied justice. The Irish government lost a case it should have won. And because of British lies the ECHR judgement in 1978 facilitated the use of these torture techniques in other conflict situations, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is a grave onus on the Office of the Attorney General and the government to conclude its deliberations and seek a reopening of this case.

When do you expect that the government will conclude its deliberations and take its decision?