Obviously Britain would not want to be found guilty of torture ... They wouldn’t want that definition of torture ... There is a note, from Merlyn Rees to the British Prime Minister, at that time ... the decision to proceed with the torture, according to Merlyn Rees in these documents, was made at the highest level of government - it was a Cabinet decision. They were actually talking about torture and appealing against it being classified as torture ... George Bush had a lot of people, a lot of lawyers, involved in it. They implied that what they are doing in Guantanamo Bay isn’t as bad as what happened in Northern Ireland in 1971 so therefore it is not torture. It is the word torture that they all seem to be scared of ...The Derry republican further reinforced suspicions that the inclination of the Coalition was to sit it out and do nothing. He claimed the Hooded Men had been writing to the office of the Attorney General in Dublin:
but we just didn’t think it was going to go anywhere so we decided, at the last minute, to take a judicial review to force their hand. We got a reply back and they said would we put off the judicial review. That was due on the Monday and they asked that we would put it off, because they had a cabinet meeting on the Tuesday. Well, we still went ahead with it and we got the review and it was in our favour. They very quickly decided to go ahead with the case.
Tardy for sure but at least it was possible to push them into a place they did not want to be. It still leaves the question of Michael Donnelly's experience of torture only partly addressed.
Last month the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams accused the British government of lying about the torture techniques and urged the Coalition to press the knife to the British throat.
Someone who lies as frequently as Mr Adams accusing fellow political serial liars of lying is not going to be listened to with any measure of seriousness. His intervention will be viewed as tactically fashioning the grievance into a knife to be pressed against the throat of the Coalition.
Because at the heart of the Michael Donnelly torture experience is the fact that he was not the victim of torture once, but twice. In 1971 by the British and in 1998 by a Sinn Fein militia armed with ‘baseball bats studded with nails and iron crowbars.’ He sustained broken bones and other injuries after being subject to a prolonged beating.
Now that Sinead O Connor has applied to join Sinn Fein and has called on the party's martial politicians to stand down, she might be in a position to extract the truth from party leaders about the torture of Michael Donnelly, who hails from the same city as she does.
Torture is not wrong because the British use it. It is wrong no matter who uses it. There is a right not to be tortured, there is no right to torture. We can hardly demand that the truth be known only about the first torture of Michael Donnelly and not the second. Half the truth will not suffice.