On Wednesday September 30th, the Anne Devlin Society Belfast will host a discussion and book launch on the ‘The Hooded Men’ – the infamous story of fourteen Irish political prisoners illegally detained and tortured by British security forces, during the notorious internment raids of August 1971. The venue for the event, which will start at 8pm, will be The Red Devil Bar on the Falls Road.
Written by Denis Faul and Raymond Murray and first published in 1974, the book charts – through a series of interviews with the men themselves – the horrific story of how the fourteen were interrogated and tortured using the ‘five techniques’, which the European Commision on Human Rights, in a landmark 1978 ruling, deemed as satisfying its considered definition of torture.
Speakers, on the evening will be Monsignor Raymond Murray, co-author of the book, Jim McIlmurray, case-coordinator, and Darragh Mackin, a solicitor currently working with the men. A number of the men themselves will also speak at the event, with a limited number of reprints available for those interested in purchasing a copy.
In 1973 one of the many findings made by the Amnesty International Conference for the Abolition of Torture was, ‘torture is merely the tip of an enormous iceberg of growing institutionalised violence, a link in the chain of repression. But the fact that such treatment has become common in many societies is no excuse for us to become insensitive, silent and inactive’.
The silence and inactivity which reverberated around the North in 1971, when the fourteen were interned and tortured at Ballykelly army base in County Derry, was deafening. Deafening to the extent two British Government Inquiries, Compton 1971 and Parker 1972, exonerated the British Army of all wrongdoing.
The Parker Report did at least acknowledge that the ‘five techniques’ had been deployed during the interrogations at Ballykelly, and also that such techniques were illegal under British domestic law. However, it was the discovery of new evidence that has finally opened the door for hopefully a full, independent and effective inquiry.
According to Jim McIlmurray, the sheer enormity of the paperwork uncovered over the past year proves beyond any doubt that this torture was sanctioned at the highest level and that vital evidence in relation to this torture was withheld.
With all that in mind, it is an honour for us as a Society to host this event. We are aware of the enormity of this story and the sensitive issues that surround each and every personal experience. We are also very aware that in the interests of truth and justice this story needs to be told. We hope that others will share this view and attend on the evening.
Go raibh maith agaibh
The Committee – Anne Devlin Society Belfast
On a separate note: the Anne Devlin Annual Mass will be held on Sunday 27th September, 12pm, St. Catherine’s Chapel, Meath Street, Dublin (followed by tributes afterwards at Anne’s grave in Glasnevin Cemetary). This annual event is organised by Mícheál O’Diobhilín, an author, historian and publisher whose website, Kilmainham Tales, is a treasure-trove of information. All welcome.