A LAWYER representing some of the Hooded Men has called for the British Government to apologise for the group’s treatment at the hands of the security forces in the 1970s.
Darragh Mackin was speaking after the PSNI issued an apology to the group and their families for the treatment of the 14 men while being held without trial in Northern Ireland in 1971.
In 2019, a judge at the Court of Appeal ruled that the treatment of the men would today be characterised as torture.
Meanwhile, in 2021, the UK Supreme Court said the PSNI’s 2014 decision not to investigate the men’s torture allegations was unlawful.
The PSNI apologised to the men and their families on Tuesday, a day after one of the Hooded Men, Joe Clarke, had passed away.
Mr Clarke had his apology delivered to him by his solicitor last Thursday, four days before his death.
‘Nobody above the law’
Speaking yesterday, Mr Mackin of Phoenix Law described the apology as ‘seismic’ but hit out at the silence from the British Government.
“In the last days of his life, Mr Clarke was finally delivered closure in the form of an apology, for which he had long since campaigned,” said Mr Mackin.
“This is a seismic development in a seismic case.
“Most importantly, in times of debate on how the legacy of the past should be addressed, we can and should forever point to the case of the Hooded Men as the pin up of due process, humanity and resolution coming together under one umbrella.
“This case is an example of why the efforts by the British Government to brush the legacy of the past under the carpet will never, and can never, work.”
He added: “What is notable today is the silence by the British Government.
“The time is now for the Government and MOD to apologise for their part in these torture techniques.
“Today proves, nobody is above the law.”
Yesterday, the PSNI expressed sympathy to the family of Mr Clarke and revealed they had apologised for ‘the actions and omissions of police officers involved in their treatment’.
“The Police Service has written to a number of individuals, including the late Mr Clarke, and the next of kin of deceased individuals of the ‘Hooded Men’,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Saunders, Head of the Legacy Investigation & Disclosure Branch.
“In this letter, we have acknowledged the findings of the United Kingdom Supreme Court that, by today’s standards, the treatment of these men at that time would likely be characterised as torture.
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland has formally apologised for the actions and omissions of police officers involved in their treatment whilst in police custody in 1971.”
‘Too little too late’
However, two of the Hooded Men, Liam Shannon and Jim Auld, said the apology was a ‘cynical’ attempt to shift blame and also echoed calls for the British Government to apologise.
“We now call upon the current Prime Minister and the Government to do the right thing and apologise,” said the pair in a statement released by their lawyers, KRW Law.
“This apology in some ways is too little too late.
“It ought to have been delivered long before now and is only coming on the back of latest legal challenges against the police over their failure to investigate the criminality of the State’s involvement in torture.
“We are concerned that it’s being promoted in a cynical way to remove ultimate responsibility from the Government and the then Ministers.
“At the end of the day the then RUC were a part of the torture regime sanctioned and directed by the highest officials in the State.”