The rejection of the latest Hooded Men case represents a “nice slapdown for the Dublin government,” said TUV leader Jim Allister in the wake of the judgment.
The North Antrim MLA was reacting to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to reject the Irish government’s claim that the mistreatment meted out to a group of 14 Catholic men (who were never convicted of offences) in the 1970s amounted to torture.
He questioned how the Irish state’s own record on Troubles-era violence – in particular its refusals to extradite paramilitary suspects – sits with its decision to pursue the Hooded Men case on human rights grounds.
“They were looking for another opportunity for some anti-British propaganda.
“I think the British government should – whether they will or not – recognise that behind all the blarney from Dublin there’s an invective towards this part of the UK which is part of their DNA.”
Doug Beattie, a decorated former captain with the Royal Irish Regiment, told the News Letter that he is familiar with the interrogation techniques involved in the case, and had undergone such treatment as part of military training.
“Yes, it is incredibly uncomfortable. Yes, it is unpleasant. Did I feel I was being tortured? I did not,” said the UUP MLA for Upper Bann.
However, he added that his own experience was in a “controlled environment”, making it a different experience to that of the Hooded Men.
“I will not justify what happened to those 14 men,” he said. “It was not right, and could not be justified.
“But the court has now ruled that it was not torture.”
Referring to the victims of paramilitaries, he said: “And what I want to see is for the British government – and the Irish government, who have been so vocal on this – to come forward and bring the cases to the European Court of Human Rights of the targeting of innocent civilians who were abducted, tortured and murdered who never got a day in court.”
He said for members of Sinn Fein to complain about the judgment is “absolute hypocrisy in its highest form, given that Sinn Fein promoted, endorsed and justified the IRA’s actions”.