Court hears of internment acts of torture


One of 14 men allegedly tortured during internment in Northern Ireland was bitten by a soldier’s dog and had to drink from the animal’s dish, the High Court heard today.

School caretaker Sean McKenna was also slammed into concrete posts and made to go barefoot after being taken from his Newry home in August 1971, it was claimed.

Lawyers for his daughter argued that the interrogation techniques “ruined” him and worsened a heart condition that led his death four years later at the age of 45.

Mary McKenna is taking legal action along with other surviving members of the so-called Hooded Men in a bid to secure an independent and human rights-compliant investigation into their treatment.

Proceedings have been issued against the Chief Constable, Secretary of State and the Department of Justice over alleged failures to properly probe and order a full inquiry.

Counsel for the group claim they were tortured using methods sanctioned by the British State.

Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath was allegedly involved in the decision making process, while Stormont’s Prime Minister at the time, Brian Faulkner, was said to have been personally briefed on the deployment of the methods.

Readng from Ms McKenna’s affidavit, barrister Karen Quinlivan QC said: “I remember (my father) telling me that he had been hooded and handcuffed to a British solider who had an Alsatian dog with him.

“He told me that the dog had been allowed to bite him and that he had been required to drink from the same dish as the dog.”

Tony McGleenan QC, for the Government and Chief Constable, countered that the 1998 Human Rights Act has no retrospective powers. He pointed out that in 1978 the European Court of Human Rights held that the techniques constituted inhuman and degrading treatment - but fell short of torture.

The case continues.