internment northern ireland 1950s

These allegedly included waterboarding,[26] 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.[27]. 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"; 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; subjection to noise: pending their interrogations, holding the detainees in a room where there was a continuous loud and hissing noise; deprivation of sleep: pending their interrogations, depriving the detainees of sleep; deprivation of food and drink: subjecting the detainees to a reduced diet during their stay at the centre and pending interrogations. [21] About 2,500 Catholic refugees fled south of the border, where new refugee camps were set up. Martin Meehan, Catholic interned prisoner. Internment was a tactic that had used successfully during the 1950s, largely because it had been brought into force on both sides of the border at the same time. The power of internment was reactivated during the Northern Ireland troubles of 1956-61. Domestic Law ... (c) We have received both written and oral representations from many legal bodies and individual lawyers from both England and Northern Ireland. They were deprived of sleep, food and drink.

Faulkner’s first attempt to resolve the problems of 1971 was to offer mild political concessions, coupled with tough talk on security. After Operation Demetrius, recruits came forward in huge numbers to join the Provisional and Official wings of the IRA. Another flashpoint was Ardoyne in North Belfast, where soldiers shot dead three people on 9 August. This growing animosity handed the Provisional IRA new recruits and a civilian population willing to support and conceal them.

[14] On 19 October, five Northern Ireland Members of Parliament (MPs) began a 48-hour hunger strike against internment. 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.

He appointed a Catholic Unionist as his state minister, selected a non-Unionist in his cabinet and put opposition MPs in charge of important committees. [20] 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. McKittrick,D & McVea, D. “Making Sense of the Troubles: The Story of the Conflict in Northern Ireland”.

According to journalist Kevin Myers: "Insanity seized the city.

Ulster loyalist paramilitaries, such as the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), had been engaged in a low-level violent campaign since 1966. The Officials' policy was more defensive. These lists, it later emerged, were badly outdated. [17], The operation sparked an immediate upsurge of violence, the worst since the August 1969 riots.

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 an armed campaign for a united Ireland against the British state. [20], Of the civilians killed, 17 were killed by the British Army and the other three were killed by unknown attackers. The statement that I have made covers all future circumstances.

This page was last edited on 12 October 2020, at 13:32.

Internment stayed in place and by the eve of direct rule from London in 1972, the internees numbered 924. 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".

Former World War II soldiers criticised the tactics used in Operation Demetrius, suggesting they would not have been permitted in prisoner-of-war camps due to the Geneva Convention.

These sudden arrests triggered protests and violent riots in several Catholic areas across Northern Ireland. 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. 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. 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.[31][32]. These killings paralleled the better known ‘Bloody Sunday’ shootings, perpetrated by the same regiment five months later. The vast majority of them were housed in long huts at a disused airfield at Long Kesh, near Lisburn - the site that would become HM Prison Maze. ... Faulkner’s use of internment proved controversial because no Loyalist paramilitary volunteers were interned, while numerous Republican internees complained of torture or brutalisation. Heath was particularly outraged that evidence from civilians was given the same value as evidence from soldiers or the RUC. Some were civil rights campaigners who were not affiliated with paramilitaries at all. On March 10th, the Provos kidnapped and murdered three young off-duty soldiers in Ligoniel. Publisher: Alpha History After what seemed about one hour in the helicopter I was thrown from it and kicked and batoned into what I took to be a lorry.”.

[6] During 1970–71, there were numerous clashes between state forces and the two wings of the IRA, between the IRAs and loyalists, and occasionally between the IRAs. A career politician and member of the Northern Ireland parliament for more than 20 years, Faulkner was a pragmatist but also a resolute Unionist.

[6], The idea of re-introducing internment for Irish republican militants came from the unionist government of Northern Ireland, headed by Prime Minister Brian Faulkner.

[38], 1971 mass arrest and internment by the British Army in Northern Ireland, The entrance to Compound 19, one of the sections of.

Houses were raided, mostly in the dead of night, catching the targets and their families asleep in their beds. [14], On 16 August, over 8,000 workers went on strike in Derry in protest at internment. The Times: NICRA leads an anti-internment march in Belfast (January 1972). [29], 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. William Whitelaw, the first Northern Ireland Secretary under Direct Rule, reviewed internment and by August 1972 the number of internees had dropped to 243 - a figure that rose again as the security forces attempted to re-enter nationalist areas which had become out of bounds through rioting. 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. 3). Faulkner was urged by the British to include a few Protestants in the trawl but, apart from two republicans, he refused. They were armed with lists of names compiled by RUC’s Special Branch and MI5, the British intelligence agency.

The decision not to intern Loyalist paramilitary volunteers was exposed as folly just weeks later when the UVF bombed McGurk’s Bar, killing 15 Catholic civilians.

On February 6th 1971 a ricochet from a Provisional IRA machine gun struck and killed Robert Curtis, a British private engaged in a dispersal operation in Belfast. It was introduced in August 1971 by Unionist prime minister Brian Faulkner, under the auspices of the Special Powers Act. When they arrived they were stripped naked, photographed, and examined by a doctor. On 9 August, Prime Minister Brian Faulkner used the Special Powers Act to introduce internment without trial for those suspected of being involved in violence.

[10], Internment was planned and implemented from the highest levels of the British government and 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".[11].

The Commission's findings were appealed. 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".[12].


Incidents like the Ballymurphy Massacre, the brutal interrogation methods used by security forces and the Compton fiasco also created a sense of outrage that drove many Catholics into the welcoming arms of the IRA.

Within three days of the announcement of internment, 22 more people had lost their lives. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) had been bombing Catholic-owned stores in Belfast since early 1970, yet no member of the UVF was arrested and interned. It was proposed by the Northern Ireland Government and approved by the British Government.

Operation Demetrius began on Monday 9 August at about 4 am and progressed in two parts: In the first wave of raids across Northern Ireland, 342 people were arrested. There were claims of soldiers smashing their way into houses without warning and firing baton rounds through doors and windows. Internment was introduced to curtail paramilitary violence but instead provided it with both motive and means.

Operation Demetrius resulted in the location, arrest and internment of 342 people in three days. But, Tim Pat Coogan noted: What they did not include was a single loyalist. In May, British sergeant Michael Willetts was killed by an IRA bomb planted in a Belfast police station.


Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, "Ireland v. United Kingdom - 5310/71 [1978] ECHR 1 (18 January 1978)", 'British ministers sanctioned torture of NI internees', "Government backs 'Hooded Men' torture case", "Today in Irish History, 9 August 1971, Internment is introduced in Northern Ireland",, "The Detention of Suspected Terrorists in Northern Ireland and Great Britain", Internment: A chronology of the main events, "Former internees claim 'new evidence' of Army torture", "Blunt weapon of internment fails to crush nationalist resistance", Malcolm Sutton's Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland: 1971, "Prisoners in Northern Ireland 'subjected to waterboarding by British army officers, "The torture centre: Northern Ireland's 'hooded men, Security Detainees/Enemy Combatants: U.S. Law Prohibits Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Materials on torture and other ill-treatment: 3.

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