Anne Devlin Society ‘Hooded Men’ Talk In Belfast A Night To Remember

A 1916 Societies account of the re-launch of Hooded Men.

On Wednesday September 30th the Anne Devlin Society Belfast had the privilege of hosting a talk and a relaunch of the ‘Hooded Men’ book. The talk, which took place in the Red Devil Bar Belfast, had been one of the several that our Society has hosted over the past year.

The relaunch of the 1971 ‘Hooded Men’, a book which graphically sets out the use of British torture methods deployed in the North of Ireland in 1971, was the idea of 1916 Society member Joe Bell. Joe believes that this work by Monsignor Raymond Murray and the late Fr. Denis Faul needs to be transported from its place in history to its place in the contemporary.

A packed and hushed audience listened as this piece of dark history, a history on the march, was individually relayed through each man’s personal testimony of the ‘hooded treatment’. This ‘hooded treatment’ was in fact one component of the ‘five techniques’ which were deployed during a process of so called ‘deep interrogation’.

This ‘deep interrogation’ method was used against fourteen men arrested, who were singled out and held in secret interrogation centres as part of Operation Demetrius – the mass arrest and internment of people suspected of being members of the IRA.

Monsignor Murray began the evening by outlining his initial encounter with torture on this scale. A scale which left those who endured it in prolonged pain, physically and mentally exhausted severely anxious, depressed, hallucinating, totally disorientated and suffering loss of consciousness.

Some of the ‘Hooded Men’ themselves, Francie Mc Guigan, Kevin Hannaway, Brian Turley and Mickey Donnelly, took the time to sign books as well as outlining their individual experiences.

Jim Mc Ilmurray, Case Coordinator, summarised where the case was at, the obstacles overcome to date and his optimism that the European Court of Human Rights would overturn their initial ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ ruling. Darragh Mackin, from Kevin Winters’ office, talked about the legal aspects of the case as well as the pinnacle importance in law and on an international stage of reversing the former ruling.

The evening ended as most Anne Devlin’s evenings do, with a ballot and short talk on the Republican POWs. Finally, tea, coffee, cake and sandwiches were on offer as a sincere go raibh maith agaibh to those who took the trouble to attend and make our evening such a great success.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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