The Troubles: Group of elderly loyalists secure legal hearing into claims they were wrongly interned

A group of elderly loyalists have secured a hearing date for legal actions into claims they were wrongly interned at the height of the Troubles to “even up the score”.
Jim WilsonJim Wilson
Jim Wilson

Nineteen Protestant men are suing the UK state, alleging they were imprisoned without trial to balance the number of Catholics being detained under the policy.

With at least four of the cohort having died since legal proceedings were commenced, those claims are being continued by their next of kin

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A judge today listed the lead case for trial in June at the High Court in Belfast.

Solicitor Gary Duffy of KRW Law, who represent most of the group, said: “It will be good to get closure for everyone invested in this important unresolved human rights issue.”

Internment was introduced in 1971 as violence raged in Northern Ireland.

Nearly 2,000 people, most of them Catholic, were locked up over the next four years.

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Actions have been brought against the Northern Ireland Office, PSNI, Ministry of Defence and Secretary of State by men from the so-called loyalist side of the community.

They allege the British Government abused its power by jailing them because of their religion, and to demonstrate internment was not just focused on Catholics.

East Belfast man Jim Wilson’s claim has been identified as a lead case. The 70-year-old was arrested in July 1973 and interned for 14 months at the old Long Kesh prison camp.

Mr Wilson has described how it resulted in him losing his house, job and missing out on the birth of his first child.

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Another man in his nineties involved in the litigation previously expressed his desire for vindication.

At an earlier stage in the legal process he stated: “I was taken like a new-born child for nothing.”

Their claims will now come under judicial scrutiny at a two-day trial hearing.

Mr Duffy added: “We appreciate the court fixing a final date for this long running action.

“A number of the plaintiffs have since deceased, and their next of kin have since stepped in to continue the cases.”