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Final dissertation


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Final dissertation

  1. 1. Internment Without Trial: Operation Demetrius and the Impact on Inter-Governmental Relations Alan McGeady 10343693 A dissertation presented in part fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of BA in Single Subject Major History April 2013 Supervisor: Dr. Brian Hanley UCD School of History and Archives
  2. 2. Contents Acknowledgements..............................................................................................3 Introduction.......................................................................................................... 4 Literature Review................................................................................................ 7 Chapter I: Build up to Operation Demetrius..................................................... 11 Chapter II: The Irish Government’s Reaction to Internment............................ 22 Chapter III: Internee Brutality and the Impact on Anglo Irish Relations......... 33 Conclusion.........................................................................................................41 Biblliography.................................................................................................... 43
  3. 3. Acknowledgements Firstly I would like to thank Dr. Brian Hanley for supervising this dissertation and guiding my research in the right path. I would also like to thank Dr. Michael Staunton who helped with the early stages of research and was always on hand for insightful advice. I must also thank Dr. Edward Coleman who has done an excellent job looking after BA Single Subject Major History students during my time in UCD and his help over the years is much appreciated. I would also like to thank the UCD archive staff for being very helpful when I needed to research a paper on their records. Thanks also to all the staff and students within the School of History and those who attended our Conference earlier this month. Finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for encouraging me throughout this research project.
  4. 4. Introduction As Thomas Hennessey asserts ‘the troubles in Northern Ireland are the tragedy of modern Irish history’.1 A tragedy which could have been prevented and indeed the decision to introduce internment in 1971 by Brian Faulkner, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland with the backing of Westminster, did the opposite to stabilising the situation. This decision added greatly to the tragedy of this dark period. An article in An Phoblacht illustrates this by claiming ‘no single decision by the British government in Ireland did more to violate human rights and to escalate the conflict than the decision to impose internment without trial in the Six Counties.’2 This security measure was in force between August 1971 and December 1975, a period that witnessed the internment of nearly 2,000 people. The significance of internment was somewhat overshadowed in later years of the troubles as people recalled the Bloody Sunday massacre in January 1972 and the long prison struggles which culminated in the 1981 hunger strikes. Incidences like Bloody Sunday and the H-Block hunger strikes are central events in the troubles of Northern Ireland, however would such tragic events of occurred had it not been for internment? Firstly the march which came under fire from the British Army in Derry on Bloody Sunday was an anti-internment demonstration. Secondly, the prison struggles and subsequent hunger strikes arose from the criminalisation policy adopted by the British Government after internment failed to break republican resistance. Instead of crushing the republican movement, internment did quite the opposite, stoking the fires of resistance and filling the ranks of the IRA with nationalists from the beleaguered communities across the Six Counties.3 Internment was a watershed moment in the history of the troubles as the nationalist community were united in their hostility towards British forces like never before. 1 Thomas Hennessey, Northern Ireland: The Origins of the Troubles (Dublin, 2005), p. xi. 2 An Phoblacht, 30 July. 2010. 3 An Phoblacht, 30 July. 2010.
  5. 5. As the crisis in 1971 reached its climax, Northern Ireland witnessed the introduction of internment without trial on 9 August. This dissertation Internment Without Trial: Operation Demetrius and the Impact on Inter-Governmental Relations examines the effect this decision had on relations between the London, Dublin and Stormont governments. The first chapter will look at how the rise in violence from both wings of the IRA, coupled with demands for internment from unionists forced Faulkner into opting for a security led solution instead of a political one. This however is complicated by the fact that Sir Harry Tuzo, Governing Office Commander Northern Ireland of the British Army opposed the introduction of internment. The general consensus among the commanding ranks of the British Army and the RUC was that the IRA would welcome and exploit the use of such a measure. Internment was therefore a security led solution to a political problem and this will be discussed throughout this paper. This chapter also looks at the relations between Stormont and London in the build up to internment. While internment could not have been introduced without the acquiescence of London, the policy indicates a shift towards greater influence of Stormont in what were previously jointly determined security solutions. This chapter will examine the reasons behind Westminster’s conciliatory approach to Faulkner and the Stormont administration. The uproar and reactions of the nationalist community in the North has been well documented, therefore chapter II will take a step away from the chaos in the wake of internment, instead looking at the reaction of the Irish government. This chapter will look at how the Irish government introduced internment previously; complicating the stance Taoiseach Jack Lynch had to take, with public opinion very anti internment this time around. Also discussed will be the relationship between London and Dublin in the wake of internment. The stance of both Lynch and Heath will be examined in particular, with Lynch calling for a political solution and abandonment of the policy of internment. Heath however defended the security operation and also ignored the Irish warnings before internment was introduced. This chapter will also
  6. 6. examine the reaction of other Irish parties and political figures to the introduction of internment but most importantly the paper aims to highlight the impact internment had on souring Anglo- Irish relations with Westminster advocating a security solution while Dublin called for a political one. The final chapter of this dissertation will examine how Anglo-Irish relations became further embittered. The casual brutality of the arresting soldiers and intensive interrogation techniques used on some of the internees resulted in allegations of internee torture. This shocked the public, north and south of the border and the Irish government could not be seen to be too co- operative with their British counterparts, whose security forces were willing to go along with such savage interrogation methods. This chapter will therefore look at the position the Irish government now took as relations between London and Dublin took a turn for the worst, culminating in the Case of Ireland V The United Kingdom of 1978. The British response to these allegations will also be analysed, looking in particular at the Compton Report which was released to widespread criticism. After the improvement of relations between Britain and Ireland during the Lemass era, internment and the subsequent torture allegations released a lot of tension into the diplomatic atmosphere of both countries. This paper will examine the main fall outs in the immediate aftermath of internment, dealing with the one sided nature of the operation and the torture allegations made by internees.
  7. 7. Literature Review A number of history disciplined books and articles, as well as political science and international law texts have been used throughout this dissertation. A number of newspapers have also been used extensively, in particular the Irish Times, Irish Independent and the Irish Press. The Irish Press was chosen in particular as it is seen to be the newspaper of mainstream nationalism. As the newspaper most associated with Fianna Fail, it can be said to be representative of the nationalist stance which the Irish government took, in the wake of internment. Furthermore, this newspaper was established by Eamon de Valera and controlled by his son Vivion during the period under review. Due to this background the newspapers irredentist nationalist credentials are all but assured: ‘the Irish Press retained its republican philosophy throughout the decade and, in an era of aroused nationalism in the South, it enjoyed a reputation as being the most nationalist of all nationalist newspapers.’4 Although representing a particular political viewpoint, it was one of the three major daily newspapers in the country, competing with the Irish Times and the Irish Independent. These newspapers were used as a lens through which to view the reactions to the political developments at the time, in particular regarding the Compton Report in Chapter III. These newspaper sources have been used simply to gain an idea of what events surrounding internment were making the headlines at the time, making use in particular of statements made by political figures in the South. In Chapter III which focuses on torture allegations, the Compton Report was examined, although it was difficult to accept the conclusions having read extensive newspaper articles, political stances and historians views criticising this ultimately bias inquiry. The Ireland V UK Court Case was also reviewed to understand the conclusions from a more impartial judgement. The UCD archives were also used to research the papers of important political figures like Dr. 4 Mark O’Brien, De Valera,Fianna Fail and the Irish Press (Dublin, 2001), p. 119.
  8. 8. Patrick Hillery, Minister for External Affairs and Garret FitzGerald, T.D which gave an insight into the political thinking of those involved in Ireland’s dealings with the North. The National Archives of the United Kingdom (NAUK) also provided this paper with many primary documents, be it telegram exchanges or minutes of meetings, which give an insight into British political attitudes to internment. The NAUK was also used to look at meetings between Heath, Faulkner and the security forces in the build up to internment in Chapter I. It also provided documents dealing with telegram exchanges between Heath and Lynch in Chapter II. The memoirs of Brian Faulkner, edited by John Houston were also central to understanding Faulkner’s position on internment. A number of the more central texts are discussed briefly below. William Beattie Smith’s The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis, 1969-73 focuses on four case studies in the period discussed, depicting how easily a conflict over national identity can turn into such a violent episode, with atrocities committed on both sides. He makes the argument of the difficulty it is to quell such tensions and restore peace with violence continually rising. The author clearly has an acute knowledge of the British and Irish political systems and outlines British policy used in this period. He deals with the three policies in particular: reform, coercion and power sharing. Coercion and reform are two policies which are central to this paper and Beattie Smith gives a valuable insight into how such policies were undertaken or in the case of reform, scrapped. This book examines also the role the British Army played in determining British policy, in particular mentioning how the forces resented having to skew their security operations for political reasons.5 Martin J. McCleery’s article Debunking the Myth of Operation Demetrius: The introduction of Internment in Northern Ireland in 1971, challenges the accepted narrative, asking was 5 William Beattie Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973 (Washington,2011), p. 157.
  9. 9. Operation Demetrius an indiscriminate attack on the nationalist community? He does not believe so, stating that while internment was a mistake and yes, the nationalist community were the ones that suffered, Internment was aimed at crushing the IRA. Although the intelligence was limited and not poor in his view, the Provisional’s were warned in advance of the initial swoops which meant the key leaders got away. However with orders to arrest any male over eighteen if they could not identify the suspect, this resulted in some cases of innocent arrests and added to this impression that it was an indiscriminate attack. Cleery believes this was not the case. He backs this argument up by claiming loyalists weren’t interned in fear of a protestant backlash and re hashes the familiar argument that internment was carried out in part to placate demands for tougher security measures from hard-line unionists. This article takes a fresh approach to internment and raises interesting questions of the accepted narrative.6 Tim Pat Coogan’s, The Troubles: Ireland’s Ordeal and the Search for Peace covers the tortured history of Ireland from the beginning of the civil rights movement, through the years of violence, and up to the attempts to find peace. This book was particularly useful in providing a good hard look at some of the internees that came forward during their suffering. Coogan gives a very detailed and descriptive analysis of the events, in particular, when discussing the welfare of the internees. It is extremely dense and covers the various events under review in minute detail which for a project like this, helps the author get a sense of the times and issue at hand. Finally, Thomas Hennessey’s The Evolution of the Troubles 1970-72 proved to be the perfect timeframe for this particular area of study, aiding especially with the background to internment which Chapter I deals with. Like Coogans The Troubles, this book is also very comprehensive and descriptive dealing with experiences of those on the ground while also combining the 6 Martin J. McCleery, ‘Debunking the Myth of Operation Demetrius: The Introduction of Internment in Northern Ireland in 1971’, Irish Political Studies, Vol. 27, issue 3 (2012), p. 428.
  10. 10. impact political decisions had on these civilians. This book deals with key areas of this dissertation, in particular Anglo-Irish relations, the premiership of Brian Faulkner and of course internment. It proved to be a well balanced and objective book, giving a good blow by blow account of this period with plenty of information to evaluate. This review only consulted the main primary documents and authors who have been most influential in the actual argument presented, and most often referred to in this essay. Many other authors have been consulted while researching who have impacted upon the thinking present in this dissertation. Chapter I – Build up to Operation Demetrius On 9 August 1971, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Brian Faulkner introduced internment without trial, a decision made in the wake of escalating violence and increased bombings in a hostile and unstable Northern Ireland. With Faulkner’s leadership challenged
  11. 11. both from within and from outside the Unionist party, he took a risk on what he hoped would be a decisive move in restoring the type of law and order which unionists advocated for decades.7 Across Northern Ireland in the early hours of the morning the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) implemented Operation Demetrius. Armoured cars roared into streets, doors were kicked in and people were dragged from their beds by aggressive and often abusive soldiers, terrifying the targeted families. One wife of a suspect detained captures this forceful approach in a witness account in which she claimed ‘the troops smashed their way in, shouting something about Fenian Bastards.’8 The security forces were tasked with interning 450 individuals based on names drawn up by the RUC Special Branch. With 342 people picked up of the initial list of 450 names, one might presume that many key leaders had been successfully detained, however due to outdated intelligence, 104 people had to be released within 48 hours.9 As the identities of those interned became known, outrage spread as it was clear that the operation was directed exclusively against the nationalist side with no loyalists taken into custody. How did the situation in the North come to this? Where does one begin? This dissertation has chosen to begin with the events of 1970. 1970 witnessed the republican movement split into the Provisional and Official wings, the foundation of two progressive constitutional political parties, the Alliance Party and the Social, Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and also the much abhorred Falls Curfew. The Falls Curfew was a British Army operation in search of weapons which quickly escalated into two days of intense rioting and gun battles between British troops and the Official IRA. The Falls Road Curfew has been seen as a defining moment in the deterioration of relations between the army and the nationalist community.10 It gave credence to the republican view that the British 7 McKearney, ‘INTERNMENT, AUGUST 1971’, p. 32. 8 Danny Kennally and Eric Preston,BELFAST August 1971: A Case to be Answered (London, 1971), p. 39. 9 Coogan, The Troubles, p. 126. 10 Gerry Adams, Before the Dawn: An Autobiography (Dingle, 2001), p. 126.
  12. 12. Army was a hostile colonial force of occupation and support for more extremists like the Provisional IRA (PIRA) and the OIRA increased. It was also the year of the fiftieth anniversary of Northern Ireland and its government, although the nationalist community had little to celebrate as they still felt they were an oppressed community. The government’s attempt at reform proved futile, with many nationalists lending their support to the ever growing republican movement.11 1971 inherited this tense and hostile atmosphere, resulting in a rise in violence and sectarian attacks. This chapter will discuss the tension that plagued society in 1971, firstly examining the increasing violence as the months progressed and how support for paramilitary organisations arose. Secondly with the resignation of Chichester-Clark as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, we will look at the role his successor Brian Faulkner played in this turbulent year. As the crisis in 1971 reached its climax, Northern Ireland witnessed the introduction of internment without trial. The third aspect of this chapter will look at why Faulkner, despite commanding officers within the British Army opposed to interment, claimed that they were running out of arguments against it.12 As 1971 got underway, Douglas Woodwell notes that ‘it was the new leadership of the Provisional IRA that took advantage of the lingering romantic symbolism associated with militant republicanism in order to attract and organize the increasing population of radicalized Catholic youths in Northern Ireland.’13 The Provisional’s campaign for a full scale guerrilla war was in motion and according to Colonel Michael Dewar they were ‘striking indiscriminately at civilian and military targets in an endeavour to make the province ungovernable’.14 Dewar’s words are also reiterated by Brian Faulkner. His memoirs highlights 11 John Houston (editor), Brian Faulkner: Memoirs of a Statesman (London, 1978), p. 99. 12 Thomas Hennessey, The Evolution of the Troubles 1970-72 (Dublin, 2007), p. 109. 13 Douglas Woodwell, ‘The Troubles of Northern Ireland: Civil Conflict in an Economically Well-Developed State’, in Understanding Civil War, Vol. 2, ed. Paul Collier and Nicholas Sambanis (Washington, 2005), p. 167. 14 Michael Dewar, The British Army in Northern Ireland (London, 1996), p. 50.
  13. 13. the IRA’s ability to wreak havoc and he notes that they ‘had committed itself to total war against the state and was demonstrating a capacity to carry it out on a more widespread and organised scale than ever’.15 This capacity to carry out widespread attacks increased when the Provisional’s deployed new and extremely dangerous weapons in the form of the car and nail bomb which invoked fear in the North for years to come. After the events of 1970, the PIRA had established themselves as the predominant faction in most republican communities in Northern Ireland and also as the most ruthless. This ruthlessness was evident when on 10 March three young off duty Scottish soldiers, two of them brothers and one aged seventeen were picked up by republican women from a Belfast pub and lured to their deaths. Each soldier was shot in the back of the head by three separate assassins. This cold blooded execution was widely unpopular and thousands of Belfast shipyard workers took part in a march demanding the introduction of internment for IRA members.16 From this evidence, it is clear that unionists were becoming increasingly vocal in their calls for a security solution, putting the Stormont administration and Prime Minister Chichester Clark under increasing pressure to put an end to such IRA violence. The violence was increasing as the months progressed and in Faulkner’s memoirs he highlights these shocking statistics whereby, over 300 explosions occurred, 320 shooting incidents and over 600 injuries took place from January-July 1971.17 According to William Beattie Smith, the Provisional IRA was the main antagonists in causing this surge in violence.18 However this leads us to the question of was it just the PIRA responsible for such an increase in violence? The Official IRA was also responsible for some of the violence and as their feud with the 15 Houston, Brian Faulkner: Memoirs of a Statesman, p. 115. 16 Tony Geraghty, The Irish War: The Hidden Conflict Between the IRA and British Intelligence (Baltimore, 2000), p. 41. 17 Houston, Brian Faulkner: Memoirs of a Statesman, p. 115. 18 William Beattie Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973 (Washington, 2011), p. 116.
  14. 14. Provisional’s intensified, a young PIRA leader Charles Hughes, became a victim of this bitter rivalry. Vincent Browne, writes in the Irish Press that ‘the present feud within the Republican movement is a particularly tragic one, for most of those involved were former comrades-in- arms, and firm friends’.19 Although this feud drew to an end through the mediation of the clergy, Tim Pat Coogan notes that ‘the general carnage was not so susceptible to change.’ 20 Loyalist paramilitaries were also active at the time, like the UVF, the tartan gangs and towards the end of 1971the UDA. These paramilitaries began to exert their control over unionist strongholds, further adding to the intimidating and violent atmosphere of 1971. Coogan described the UVF as ‘an assassination gang’. Clearly it wasn’t just the Provisionals or the Officials that were a ruthless force. The other force involved in the violence was the British Army, who shot dead innocent civilians like Bernard Watt, Sean Cusack and Desmond Beattie. An article in The Derry People puts forward the question ‘Is not the general situation bad enough without British soldiers looking to the bullet as the effective answer in “crowd control” methods?’ The facts suggests that it was not just violence from one side but from within the nationalist community, unionist community and the supposed liberators the British Army. Not only was Northern Ireland experiencing a security meltdown but the political situation in Stormont was also bleak. Within the Unionist Party, internal criticisms never let up with the re-emergence of William Craig to join Harry West as chief tormentor. Chichester-Clark was put under extreme pressure and his days as Prime Minister were numbered.21 Pressure was also coming from the nationalist side as their demands for reform increased, illustrating the need for a political solution. By March of that year, Chichester-Clark felt he simply exhausted all 19 Irish Press, March 10. 1971. 20 Tim Pat Coogan, The Troubles: Ireland’s Ordeal 1966-1995 and the Search for Peace (London, 1995), p. 138. 21 Graham Walker, A History of the Ulster Unionist Party: Protest, Pragmatism and Pessimism (Manchester, 2004), p. 188.
  15. 15. avenues in attempting to quell the violence and therefore announced his resignation.22 This was a major setback for the British Government in securing a stable Northern Ireland and Beattie Smith highlights three major difficulties which now faced Heath and the Home Secretary Maudling. Firstly, they faced an accelerating campaign of terrorist violence, secondly the failure of the reform strategy to prevent it and thirdly the continuing disintegration of the Unionist regime.23 Brian Faulkner was the leading candidate to take over as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Thomas Hennessey makes the point that while the British seemed fairly relaxed at the prospect of his premiership, in Dublin, the possibility of Faulkner becoming Prime Minister was not very appealing, although it was better than the alternative William Craig.24 As expected, Brian Faulkner now succeeded Chichester-Clark in this difficult role as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, with some commentators highlighting that he was the Stormont administrations last chance to restore calm before direct rule becomes an unwanted but only remaining option. The Premiership of Northern Ireland was not a political prize to be coveted, with two Prime Ministers falling from power in two years, not because of a defeat in polls but because of a loss of authority in a deteriorating political and security situation. It was a daunting prospect for Faulkner but he was the most experienced Minister in the government. On his succession he faced conflicting political demands, the apparent disintegration of the Unionist Party, and the escalation of violence. These factors created an atmosphere of fear and confusion in which demagogues could attract support from the more moderate communities and according to Faulkner ‘the voice of reason was difficult to make heard’.25 Heath and Maudling welcomed 22 Document Reference: PREM 15/ 476. Record of conversation between the Prime Minister and Major Chichester-Clark on Friday, 19th March, 1971, at 5:00 pm. 23 Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973, p. 122. 24 Hennessey, The Evolution of the Troubles, p. 85. 25 Houston, Brian Faulkner: Memoirs of a Statesman, p. 76.
  16. 16. Faulkner as the best option to replace Chichester-Clark, despite having a reputation as a hardliner. Maudling considered him a pragmatist and Westminster felt he would comply with directions from London, instead of an extremist like Craig who they felt would try to implement unacceptable policies. With internment being demanded from the more extreme unionists Heath and Faulkner agreed that it should not be introduced except on the advice of the security forces, yet they still took precautions by drawing up contingency plans so that it could be introduced at short notice if necessary.26 Faulkner did not waste much time either to show how tough he could be and on 25 May, 1971, he announced at Stormont ‘any soldier seeing a person with a weapon or acting suspiciously may fire to warn or with effect [...] without waiting for orders from anyone’.27 Coogan believes it was this announcement by Faulkner which caused the shootings of two previously mentioned Catholic civilians Sean Cusack and Desmond Beattie by British forces during rioting in Derry.28 This did not help the political situation in Northern Ireland and it became further embittered as the SDLP withdrew from Stormont on 16 July because no official inquiry was announced into the killings.29 This withdrawal further added to the woes of the Stormont administration as the political state of affairs suffered another blow. Tommy McKearney, a former hunger striker, sums this situation up aptly by stating ‘by mid 1971 Northern Ireland had reached that critical stage in political struggle where the ruling order was unable to make transformative change while its opponents were unwilling to accept anything less.’30 26 Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973, p. 123. 27 Hamill, Pig in the Middle, p. 53. 28 Coogan, The Troubles, p. 123. 29 , accessed 26 November, 2012. 30 Tommy McKearney, ‘INTERNMENT, AUGUST 1971: seven days that changed the North’, History Ireland, Vol. 19, no. 6 (2011), p. 33.
  17. 17. The month of July proved very significant in dictating what policies Faulkner should use to restore law and order. It was also the main month for marching season and Faulkner notes in his memoirs that ‘in July there were few if any days were there was not serious violence at one or more of the trouble spots in Belfast, Londonderry, Lurgan or Newry’.31 The PIRA targeted business infrastructure to deter capital investment and this culminated in the bombing of the daily mirror newspaper plant on 17 July, which was the largest and most expensive explosion of the troubles to date. All the above developments, the increased level of IRA violence coinciding with the orange marching season, the SDLPs withdrawal from Stormont, the threat of Faulkner’s unionist colleagues, intense public pressure and the city bombings of mid July, convinced Faulkner that internment was the only option left.32 By the end of July, it was no longer the question of will internment be introduced but when? Although Faulkner had earlier agreed with Heath that internment should only be introduced on the advice of the security forces, Sir Harry Tuzo, General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland, was still opposed to its introduction. Faulkner however could not wait much longer as the violence intensified and telephoned Maudling on 28 July to inform him that with the support of the cabinet, he believed the time for internment had arrived.33 Government Ministers in Westminster noted the importance of keeping Faulkner in place as P.M of Northern Ireland, as they believed he was the only credible candidate they could cooperate with. If Faulkner was overthrown it would most likely lead to an extremist government led by William Craig or Ian Paisley. Internment was therefore the last available method which could be implemented short of a staunchly unionist government or direct rule. At a top secret meeting at Downing Street on 5 August, those involved in the security operation were still divided on whether internment 31 Houston, Brian Faulkner: Memoirs of a Statesman, p. 115. 32 Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973, p. 125. 33 Hennessey, The Evolution of the Troubles, p. 120.
  18. 18. was the correct option to take. The Chief Constable Shillington lent his support to internment, however Tuzo still felt it was not absolutely essential in purely military terms. In the political sphere, Heath was concerned about the impact internment would have on moderate Catholic opinion and also outlined that the United Kingdom’s international reputation was at stake here. Internment was always going to be a contentious issue and the evidence shows that there was opposing views within the security forces, while also raising uncertainties among Ministers in London. One of the main aspects in preparing the final stages of internment was to ensure they had sufficient intelligence in order to catch the key leaders of the IRA. With the operation codenamed Demetrius, Major General Robert Ford who recently took over as Commander of Land Forces (CLF) called a conference between the personnel involved where the final preparations were discussed. It soon became apparent to Ford that the list of suspects was extremely questionable.34 The list which was drawn up by the RUC special branch appeared very out of date, containing files on the older generation of IRA men from the border campaign in the 1950s and radical civil rights activists. Therefore from the outset Operation Demetrius, the codename for internment, with this outdated intelligence, appeared destined for failure.35 Robert Ford was further concerned about the security of the operation, believing too many people in Stormont were aware of the date planned, it was therefore decided to be brought forward a day to Monday, 9 August. Ford was correct in his suspicions as it emerged many key leaders of both wings of the IRA were tipped off about the planned raids. The operation commenced at 4 a.m, despite the supposed reluctance of the British Army and the reservations of Westminster that it might not work.36 From this chapter, it is clear that not only was their 34 Hennessey, The Evolution of the Troubles, p. 129. 35 Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973, p. 131. 36 Martin J. McCleery, ‘Debunking the Myth of Operation Demetrius: The Introduction of Internment in Northern Ireland in 1971’, Irish Political Studies, Vol. 27, issue 3 (2012), p. 417.
  19. 19. pressing security issues to deal with but the political situation was also undermining stability in Northern Ireland. The withdrawal of the SDLP, the failure of any significant reforms to appease the nationalist community, the divisions within the Unionist party and of course the most pressing issue, the increase in violence by paramilitary organisations made up Faulkner’s mind that internment must be introduced. Chapter II – The Irish Government’s Reaction to Internment Internment was a PR disaster, not only for Faulkner and his Stormont administration but for the British Government and its army. They were responsible for carrying out what was seen as
  20. 20. a one-sided and arbitrary operation against the nationalist community of the North at the behest of the unionists.37 According to Brian Hanley, the rage that followed internment engulfed nationalists of all descriptions.38 There was a surge in support for the IRA and the scale of the fighting that followed had not been seen in Ireland since the 1920s, with seventeen people killed over the following 48 hours. Atrocities occurred on both sides in the immediate aftermath of internment, with Private Malcolm Hatton, aged 19, being shot in the head as British troops and the IRA exchanged fire in the Ardoyne. A short time later however, his alleged assailant, Provisional IRA volunteer Patrick McAdorey, aged 24, was shot dead by troops.39 In the nationalist Ballymurphy estate alone, eleven civilians were killed including the priest Fr. Hugh Mullan who was shot by the British army while going to the aid of a wounded man. In the midst of this violence, thousands fled their homes as relations between nationalists, unionists and the British Army reached breaking point.40 From an article in the Irish Independent on 12 August, 1971, it was reported that ‘of almost 5,000 people who have left the city [Belfast] most have gone to Army camps in the Republic’.41 With refugees now crossing the border, this immediately brings the Irish Government and the community in the Republic into the sphere as the situation was not just confined to the six counties. The anger and fury vented by the nationalists of the North has been well documented, therefore this chapter will focus on examining the reaction of the Irish Government led by Fianna Fails Jack Lynch and other important and vocal figures in the Republic. Despite the Irish Government’s use of internment on previous occasions, indeed it had been threatened as recently as December 1970 by Minister for Defence Des O’Malley. Why then 37 northern-ireland/#.ULf0sORg_PD , accessed 27 November, 2012. 38 Brian Hanley, The IRA: A Documentary History 1916-2005 (Dublin, 2010), p. 166. 39 Hennessey, The Evolution of the Troubles, p. 133. 40 Des O’Hagan, Letters From Long Kesh (Dublin, 2012), p. 5. 41 Irish Independent, 12 August. 1971.
  21. 21. was the Irish Government against internment if they had already used it successfully in the past?42 Internment had been used as a security measure in every decade in both jurisdictions since the partition of Ireland. The most recent use of such an extreme measure in the Republic was during the 1956-62 IRA border campaign. According to Tim Pat Coogan however, internment was not the factor which defeated this campaign. What principally defeated the IRA was the lack of support from the Catholic population of Northern Ireland. The nationalist community in 1956-62 were far more cowed than they were in 1971. The RUC and B-Specials struck terror in their minds, however times had changed and in 1971, nationalists were no longer willing to accept their tag as second class citizens. Stirred by the civil rights movement and angry at the unionists stalling on reform, while also in the main critical of IRA violence, the nationalist community were determined to put an end to what they perceived as Stormont’s policy of repression.43 Internment had also been applied in 1940-5,however the IRA campaign in England was insignificant compared with events of 1971. Even so, both previous examples of internment witnessed hundreds detained by Irish Governments. This complicates the approach Jack Lynch had to take to this situation because clearly it is not an issue of principle considering this policy was used by previous Irish Governments to maintain law and order.44 In the weeks before internment was introduced it was reported in the Irish Times that the Irish Government was planning on taking tougher police measures to ensure no deterioration in law and order. The political correspondent wrote that ‘so strong, however, is feeling within the government for tougher measures that if internment were introduced in the North then it would follow in the Republic almost at once.’45 This political correspondent however completely miscalculated the government’s stance as is evident from a telegram sent by Sir John Peck, the 42 Beattie Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973, p. 141. 43 Coogan, The Troubles, p. 129. 44 Irish Times, 15 July. 1971. 45 Irish Times, 15 July. 1971.
  22. 22. British ambassador in Ireland, who attempted to explore the possibility of cooperating with Dublin on internment. In this telegram reporting back to the British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Peck notes the reaction of Jack Lynch to plans for introducing internment. Firstly, he reports that Lynch stated categorically that ‘he could not possibly contemplate internment at the present time’.46 Justifying this statement, he claimed there were no immediate grounds for doing so and that such an extreme measure would bring about the collapse of not just his Fianna Fail Government but any Irish Government which attempted this task. Such words clearly indicate the government’s unwillingness to introduce a measure which would bring about the collapse of their power. Peck reports that Lynch then goes onto reaffirm that ‘it was true that they had threatened it (internment) in a special internal situation last December’. However despite such threats made so recently, the British Government did not seriously expect Lynch to introduce internment and made little serious attempts to induce him to do so. From John Pecks telegram reporting back to the British Government, it is clear Lynch was totally opposed to introducing internment in the South unless the IRA posed a direct threat to human life in the Republic. What then was Lynch’s stance on it being introduced in the North with violence rising at alarming levels? Evidence from Pecks telegram capture the Taoiseach’s view that internment was the wrong step to take and indeed reflects the views of many of those in government circles south of the border. Fine Gael for example, although critical of Lynch not implementing tougher police measures, recognised that there would be grave dangers for the North in applying internment there and also within the borders of the Republic. Fine Gael leader Liam Cosgrave was vocal in his concerns that the courts needed to be a more effective instrument if the situation worsened and stated ‘if the courts were unable to control things then internment would be justified.’47 Sinn Fein however took the opposing stance to that of Fine 46 John Peck (1971) ‘Sir John Peck secret proposal report’ New Year Releases 2002 Crisis in Northern Ireland. National Archives UK (30 July 1971) PREM 15/478, London NAUK. 47 Irish Times, 15 July. 1971.
  23. 23. Gael and one particular incident in North Cork on the day of internment captures this. It was reported in the Irish Press that ‘armed police and detectives raided the homes of Republicans and their supporters in the North Cork area’. Sinn Fein was critical of the police measures involved in this situation claiming that ‘the forces of the 26 County State were involved in intimidation and repression of the Republican people of the South.’ Sinn Fein like most people in the South were opposed to internment and called on the people that ‘they must demand an end to internment and repression in the North and no internment and no further repression in the South.’48 Although the various political parties in the Republic disagreed over approaches to security, the general consensus was that internment was the wrong policy to pursue. Lynch urged the British Government through Sir John Peck that they should reflect very seriously before taking the grave step of introducing internment in the North.49 Lynch believed internment would lead to a surge in the numbers joining the IRA, with even moderate nationalists identifying with the internees. This is brilliantly described in the telegram with Peck quoting Lynch as saying ‘if you round up 1,000 people and intern 20 because they are bad, you immediately make bad people of the other 980.’50 Coogan emphasises this point by claiming ‘the IRA’s best recruiting agent was the British Army.’51 Boyer Bell also adds to this accepted narrative by stating ‘internment did not crush the Provos but unleashed them’.52 Peck then mentions the issue of direct rule which seemed to be drawing ever so closer if Faulkner’s administration fell and his summary of Lynch’s reply was that he would prefer it to a general election and Paisley or Craig led government. This demonstrates that those in power in Dublin and London were opposed to a more hard line unionist government led by Craig or the aforementioned Paisley. This meeting however between Peck, who was in general 48 Irish Press, 12 August. 1971. 49 PREM 15/478 (Sir John Peck secret proposal report). 50 PREM 15/478 (Sir John Peck secret proposal report). 51 Coogan, The Troubles, p. 115. 52
  24. 24. sympathetic to the Irish Government’s position and Lynch, always ended up with the latter reverting back to the immediate problem of the ‘unwisdom of internment’.53 On the basis of this telegram it was clear that the overwhelming consensus from Lynch and the Irish government was that internment was indeed the wrong option to pursue and that it would do the opposite of ending the violence in the North. On the day of Operation Demetrius, a draft telegram to the Taoiseach from Prime Minister Heath dealt with some of the terms and conditions of internment agreed with the Stormont administration. He notes how Lynch ‘will understand why it is impossible to give notice or a decision to introduce internment before the operation to give effect to it’ noting that ‘the security forces have in fact been carrying out such an operation this morning’.54 Heath explains some of the agreements made between Westminster and the Stormont administration such as the ban on marches and parades. Heath notes that ‘the marches due in Derry on 12 August and in Belfast at the end of the month will not take place’ while also mentioning a ban on rifle clubs.55 He acknowledges the dangers such a measure will have for the Republic while also making the point that ‘the effectiveness of internment in Northern Ireland could have been increased if you had felt able to take similar measures on your side of the border.’56 As mentioned before, Lynch felt such a policy was not possible and would be disastrous for any government that pursued such a measure in the Republic. The most interesting aspect of this document however deals with the important phrase ‘Protestant as well as Catholic and I.R.A extremists will be liable to internment’, which was then crossed out.57 The British Government acquiesced to demands of Faulkner who in a top 53 PREM 15/478 (Sir John Peck secret proposal report). 54 Heath, Edward. (1971) ‘Draft message from Heath to the Taoiseach’(9 August 1971) New Year Releases 2002 Crisis in Northern Ireland. National Archives UK, PREM 15/478, London, NAUK. 55 Heath, PREM 15/478 (Draft message from Heath to the Taoiseach). 56 Heath, PREM 15/478 (Draft message from Heath to the Taoiseach). 57 Heath, PREM 15/478 (Draft message from Heath to the Taoiseach).
  25. 25. secret meeting at Downing Street on the 5August refused one of the conditions set out by the British Government. This condition stated that the policy would ‘include a certain number of Protestants’.58 Faulkner refused to lift some loyalists believing that they were not a threat and not enough evidence could be provided to warrant their detention. He did not want to appear to be victimising Catholics but he stated in his memoirs that ‘the idea of arresting anyone as an exercise in political cosmetics was repugnant to me.’59 Beattie Smith highlights that this clearly captures a shift from a policy of reform to one of coercion essentially in an effort to sustain the Stormont administration. Paul Dixon also notes that the British were reluctant to reject Faulkner’s demands for internment, fearing this would precipitate direct rule.60 Therefore scrapping a policy of reform and a political solution and instead opting for a security led solution. Faulkner believed this to be the only remaining option to put an end to the increased violence occurring in Northern Ireland. Within days of internment, the Minister for External Affairs, Patrick Hillery flew to London to meet with Home Secretary Reginald Maudling and deliver his governments protests personally. Hillery was furious with the situation and the policies being enforced and believed the current situation would lead to war in Ireland, north and south of the border.61 The Home Secretary notes how Hillery complained that internment had been directed solely against members of the Roman Catholic community and emphasised the need for a political solution which would give the minority a proper opportunity to participate in the governing of the Province.62 Lynch also telephoned Heath on August 10, after he dismissed Faulkner’s offer to the SDLP of a committee system at Stormont as too little too late, believing such an idea had been overtaken 58 ‘Note of a meeting at 10 Downing Street’, (5 August 1971) New Year Releases 2002 Crisis in Northern Ireland. National Archives UK, PREM 15/478 London, NAUK. 59 Houston, Brian Faulkner: Memoirs of a Statesman, p. 119. 60 Paul Dixon, Northern Ireland: The Politics of War and Peace (New York, 2001), p. 118. 61 Hennessey, The Evolution of the Troubles 1970-72, p. 138. 62 Minutes of a Meeting held at 10 Downing Street (12 August 1971) New Year Releases 2002 Crisis in Northern Ireland. National Archives UK, CAB 130/522 – GEN (71) 47. London, NAUK.
  26. 26. by the reaction to internment.63 The Irish Government and SDLP were concerned with creating a political solution to the problems in the North, however this was the opposite to Faulkner’s security minded solution of introducing internment, which albeit with some convincing, was backed by Heath. So the policy of internment was after all counter-productive in creating a political solution. In the call with Heath, Lynch notes how the press are in hordes and that the government are struggling to accommodate the thousands of refugees crossing the border. He also accuses the army of taking action against one side, letting the Ulster unionists roam and not being told of their true role. Heath however defends the army as protecting the community and only retaliating when fired upon, no matter which side of the divide such attacks came from.64 This is a far cry from when the British army first arrived in Northern Ireland to a welcoming Catholic community. As one paratrooper stated ‘always tea and coffee from the Catholics........we felt like Knights in shining armour.’65 These feelings however had long passed and the British army were no longer seen as peacekeepers but instead as a hostile colonial force of occupation. With Heath defending the security forces and the general policy of internment, Hennessey highlights that Lynch, under pressure to prove his patriotic credentials had to go on the offensive. Anglo-Irish relations deteriorated rapidly in the wake of internment despite a recent message from Heath to the Taoiseach stating ‘I hope that this [internment] will not be allowed to affect the good relationship which you and I have established’.66 Such words however did not stop Lynch from issuing a public statement, denouncing internment and calling for London to abandon this policy in Northern Ireland. Along with setting up army camps along the border for Catholics who had abandoned their homes, Lynch also took the decision to publicly endorse 63 Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973,p. 211. 64 Hennessey, The Evolution of the Troubles, p. 140. 65 Hennessey, The Evolution of the Troubles, p. 6. 66 Heath, PREM 15/478 (Draft message from Heath to the Taoiseach).
  27. 27. the SDLPs protest campaign, including the rent and rates strike. In his statement which was released to the Irish press, he states ‘I intend to support the policy of passive resistance now being pursued by the non-unionist population.’67 This captures how the Irish Government changed gear from one of cooperation with London and Stormont, the policy instigated by former Taoiseach Sean Lemass, to a more oppositional stance in support of civil disobedience which undermined the Northern Ireland states legitimacy. Finally, echoing John Hume, Lynch demanded that Stormont should be replaced by an administration in which power and decision making will be equally shared between unionists and non-unionists. This again defines Dublin’s stance that a political solution should be put forward instead of the disastrous security led policy of internment.68 It is apparent that relations between Lynch and Heath were deteriorating rapidly in the days after internment and further evidence of this can be gauged from Heaths curt return telegram to his Irish counterpart. He claims that Lynch’s statement was ‘unjustified in its content, unacceptable in its attempts to interfere in the affairs of the United Kingdom, and can in no way contribute to the solution to the problems of Northern Ireland.’ Heath condemns Lynch’s reference to supporting a policy of passive resistance believing such a stance is ‘calculated to do maximum damage to the cooperation between the communities in Northern Ireland’.69 These hostile telegram exchanges which were sent to the press by both statesmen created huge tensions between Heath and Lynch and certainly did not benefit the situation in Northern Ireland. Despite Heath desiring that the introduction of internment would not affect the good relations he had with Lynch, this unfortunately was an optimistic outlook and from the various telegrams exchanged in the aftermath of internment, the evidence proves that diplomatic 67 ‘Telegrams exchanged between Lynch and Heath’ (19 August 1971) New Year Releases 2002 Crisis in Northern Ireland. National Archives UK, PREM 15/ 479 (). London, NAUK. 68 Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973, p. 211. 69 PREM 15/ 479 (Telegrams exchanged between Lynch and Heath).
  28. 28. relations took a considerable setback in this tumultuous period. Some commentators however might point to a meeting on September 27-8 which proves otherwise. For the first time since 1925, the leaders, Heath, Faulkner and Lynch from the three jurisdictions met for talks, which unfortunately ended with no substantial agreement.70 Beattie Smith however notes that they did mark a turning point in British policy, regardless of no formal or public agreement being made. Instead what these talks achieved was that nationalists would be included by right in the Northern Ireland Government.71 The Irish government’s reaction to internment, despite clearly stating its opposition from the outset, was complicated by the fact that they introduced internment in the past and had threatened it as recently as December 1970. The British Government however did not apply serious pressure on the Irish government to induce them to introduce it this time around. They did not however take much consideration into Lynch’s warnings of the implication internment would have. The one-sided nature of which internment was carried out by the security forces led to an extraordinarily angry public exchange of messages between the two premiers, momentarily flinging diplomatic convention to the wind. Despite both leaders calming down and personal contacts continuing, this did not remove the difficulties that lay ahead since Heath continued to advocate his faith in a security solution while Lynch held that the problem was at root political. There were many matters on which both heads of government were never to agree, especially regarding security. Lynch stuck firmly to his belief that internment should be ended, while Heath retorted that the Irish Government should take much stronger actions against the IRA south of the border, something of which Fine Gael was also critical. Many 70 Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973,p.213. 71 Smith, The British State and the Northern Ireland Crisis 1969-1973,p. 214.
  29. 29. more damaging Anglo-Irish spats lay ahead and in the next chapter of this paper, one of these spats dealing with the treatment of internees and allegations of torture will be examined.72 Chapter III – Internee Brutality and the Impact on Anglo-Irish Relations The previous chapter clearly illustrates that Anglo-Irish relations took a severe battering in the wake of internment. Tensions between London and Dublin became further embittered when 72 David McKittrick and David McVea, Making Sense of the Troubles (London, 2000), pp 72-3.
  30. 30. allegations of internee torture began circulating. Reports in the press of the RUC and British Army’s use of brutality and torture as a method of interrogation shocked the public. The Irish Government came under increasing pressure to do something about these accusations. These stories further deepened the outrage experienced by the nationalist community in Northern Ireland and also fuelled anger south of the border. The combination of botched arrests and stories of brutality in the internment holding centres unleashed a wave of violence across the north. In this environment Jack Lynch could not be seen to be overly cooperative with the British who had given Brian Faulkner the go ahead for internment. This chapter will explore how the Irish Government handled these accusations. We will also examine the British Government’s approach to dealing with the situation as public fury increased not only in Ireland but also in Britain itself and indeed further afield. Anglo-Irish relations will be further assessed in this chapter as various contentious issues such as the Compton Report and the Ireland V UK court case added to the tense and hostile diplomatic atmosphere in the aftermath of Operation Demetrius. Various methods of systematic torture were carried out by the security forces which shocked the public and even some members within the British Army itself. It was reported that this alleged brutality led to the desertion of a young Tyrone soldier from the British Army ‘because the sight of the internees’ pitiful conditions in Magilligan Camp in Co. Derry had sickened him.’73The treatment of eleven men in particular became a source of considerable contention. These men who became known as the ‘hooded men’ were submitted to a form of ‘interrogation in depth’ which involved the combined application of five particular techniques. These methods, sometimes termed ‘disorientation’ or ‘sensory deprivation’ techniques consisted of the following, hooding, subjection to continuous white noise, forced to stand in stressful 73 Irish Press, 3 September. 1971.
  31. 31. postures for long periods of time and deprivation of sleep, food and drink. These techniques were never officially authorised in writing or any official document by the British Government, however they had been orally taught to members of the RUC by the English Intelligence Centre at a seminar held in April 1971.74 Clearly, British security forces had intended using these techniques months in advance of Operation Demetrius. In a meeting on 18 October in Downing Street it was reported by Lord Carrington, the Secretary of State for Defence that the methods of interrogation used by the security force ‘were regarded as proper’. These methods deemed as ‘proper’ included techniques designed to isolate detainees subject to interrogation, to prevent them from obtaining any sense of time, location and to impose fatigue by exposure to insistent and disturbing noise called ‘white sound’ or ‘white noise’. In this meeting it was also noted that the RUC conducted the interrogation with the Ministry of Defence providing supervision. Carrington also reports that ‘the selection of persons to be interrogated was left to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.’ This highlights the close and personal role Brian Faulkner played in the dealings with internees during this turbulent period. According to Carrington’s reports it appeared that the RUC were at first reluctant to use the methods advanced by the Joint Services Interrogation Wing (JSIW), although accounts of this varied. Those members of the RUC were assured however that they would not come under any criticism so long as they stuck by the instructions for the conduct of interrogation given to them by the JSIW. Faulkner’s personal involvement in the interrogation process gives credence to Beattie Smiths words that by introducing internment, the Governments of Stormont and London had shifted from a policy of reform to one of coercion essentially in an effort to sustain the Unionist administration. 74 F.F Martin, S.J Schnably, R. Wilson, J. Simon, M. Tushnet, International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law: Treaties, Cases, and Analysis (New York, 2006), p. 315.
  32. 32. Those present at this meeting under consideration included the Prime Minister Edward Heath and the Chief of the General Staff Sir Michael Carver and one interesting point discussed dealt with hooding and being made stand spread-eagled for long periods of time. At the meeting it was agreed that these methods were ‘unnecessarily harsh’ and were absent from Carrington’s list of ‘proper’ methods. Members of the meeting also agreed that although the interrogation techniques under discussion did not need specific approval of United Kingdom Ministers, future proposals of such interrogations should be ‘specifically approved by the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Secretary for Defence.’ This highlights that these allegations of brutality did have an impact on British Government thinking and they wanted to resolve the issue to avoid future outbursts of anger and support for those detained. However, despite making the point that some of the techniques used during the interrogations were unnecessarily harsh, those at the meeting do highlight that ‘the lives of British soldiers and of innocent civilians depended on intelligence.’ Nonetheless it was also noted that it is important that such methods of interrogation do not overstep the proper bounds. The minutes of this meeting on 18 October clearly show that the British politicians were concerned about the reports of brutality. Although this concern may not be for the internee’s welfare but as previously mentioned, Heath was concerned for the United Kingdom’s international reputation. However they make the point that ‘we were dealing with an enemy who had no scruples and we should not be unduly squeamish over methods of interrogation in these circumstances.’ This is a pivotal question, when does one overstep the boundaries when it comes to interrogation? Clearly the British Government believed that, yes, they should reconsider their techniques and use those interrogation methods deemed ‘proper’ in future situations, however to sum up their stance, the common saying ‘desperate times calls for desperate measures’ seems apt. Despite the British Government flip flopping around the issue of what is deemed ‘proper’ conduct and what is overstepping the boundaries, they were still
  33. 33. willing to go along with these systematic methods of torture so long as intelligence was required. The methods of interrogation used in Northern Ireland were similar to those employed in Cyprus, Aden and Malaysia in past counter-insurgency excursions. The British Government held the belief that such intelligence obtained as a result of these techniques was significant in their efforts to combat IRA terrorism. Although in the wake of the allegations and the angry reaction from the public, the British Government were forced to re-evaluate future plans for interrogation. The key results of this meeting, as summed up by Edward Heath, was that ‘no further interrogations involving such techniques as hooding and ‘spreadeagling’ of detainees and ‘white sound’ were to be carried out except with his authority, and that of the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence.’ This is not to say that the security forces forego any permissible means of securing intelligence but that they must get orders from the British Ministers mentioned above in future with regards their methods of interrogation. The British accepted that something had to be done to avoid future accusations which not only increased the tension in the North, embittered Anglo-Irish relations but also damaged the British security forces and the government’s reputation internationally. The decision was therefore taken in (....) to ban the five techniques as described above. Mimi conclusion. Link up above paras, consider the role of the Brits and the nature of their compromise on torture. Refer to secondary sources and agree/disagree with their assessment. Impact of Internment on government relations in the Troubles (Dublin, Belfast and London) Soured relations. It brought to the fore the difference of policy (political sol v. Security).
  34. 34. In response to these reports of torture and brutality, Reginald Maudling, the British Home Secretary set up an official inquiry under the chairmanship of a retired civil servant, Sir Edward Compton. Compton a former British and Northern Ireland Ombudsman conducted the inquiry along with Dr. Donald Gibson, chairman of the British Medical Association Council and Mr. Edgar Fay, Q.C, who conducted an inquiry into the Munich air disaster of 1958.75 It was this team’s duty to investigate all the allegations of physical brutality which the internees were alleged to have suffered. Although allegations were made by internees, they were so mistrustful of the British and Compton that only one detainee consented to give evidence.76 Eddie McAteer also notes reasons for the lack of evidence from the internees by claiming that ‘the internees were discouraged from giving evidence by not being allowed to have legal representation.’77 With the inquiry also being made in private, the Crumlin Road Prisoners’ Committee said in the wake of the inquiry that they would not co-operate with this tribunal, unless it was a completely public, impartial body with an internationally accepted chairman. Bernadette Devlin M.P. was also vocal in her criticism describing the terms of reference of the inquiry as ‘farcical’ while also criticising those involved in the inquiry claiming one of them was an ex- army man. Although there was no official reaction from the government in Dublin to the inquiry’s terms of reference, Fine Gael took it upon themselves to join in the criticism of this inquiry committee which was composed entirely of British members. The party’s spokesman on Foreign Affairs, Richie Ryan, T.D, sent a letter to the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Patrick Hillery T.D. setting out the reasons why their party found the inquiry unacceptable. Fine Gael again reiterated the main complaints against the inquiry complaining of it being held in private and 75 Irish press, 2 September. 1971. 76 Coogan, the troubles, p. 129. 77 Irish Independent, 17 November. 1971.
  35. 35. also of no legal representation for the complainants.78 From these various newspaper reports, it is clear that there was widespread opposition to this inquiry from the outset. The British Government were hoping that Compton and his team of investigators would calm the situation; instead further evidence of their miscalculations of the situation in the North is exposed. From the views from the South, it is evident that many in government and outside were becoming increasingly opposed to British policy in the North. Britain’s role as an independent and neutral actor in the troubles had long been debunked and with the British still intent on pressing ahead with their security solution, the Irish Government continued to advocate the problem was at root, political. From the outset, this inquiry was limited with most internees, bar one, refusing to give evidence. Throughout the course of the investigation the inquiry committee used documentation by the army and police force while also making particular use of the medical records for testing allegations of physical ill-treatment. They visited the three Regional Holding Centres, Ballykinler, Magilligan and Girdwood Park and also the two places of detention, the Maidstone and Crumlin Jail. The evidence for the report was taken from 95 oral accounts from the British army, 26 from the police, 11 from prison personnel and 11 from doctors. From this evidence, the inquiry decided that the allegations did not amount to brutality but rather ill treatment. The key distinction being made was between ‘brutality’ on the one hand and ‘ill- treatment’ on the other. Brutality is a worse form of ill-treatment with Compton defining it as ‘an inhuman or savage form of cruelty, and that cruelty implies a disposition to inflict suffering, coupled with indifference to, or pleasure in, the victim’s pain’. According to the inquiry brutality is something the British soldiers and RUC involved did not commit and Compton 78
  36. 36. believed the use of the five techniques was morally justifiable.79 After the report was released Maudling wrote: It is clear from the report that there were very few complaints, and those that were had in the committees view, very little substance. The record of events reflects great credit on the security forces [...] the committee have found no evidence of physical brutality, still less of torture or brain washing.80 Unsurprisingly, the nationalist community felt that the Compton report was overwhelmingly biased. The Compton report was clearly a whitewash and again undermined the British Government of their ability to handle the situation in Northern Ireland. Such a report hardly gave confidence to the Irish Government that Britain was sincere in achieving justice for the internees and in the wider nature of things, in finding a solution to the Troubles. One such victim who was part of the group of internees who became known as the ‘hooded men’ was Kevin Hannaway. The hooded men were subject to the five techniques for a number of days and their stories became a source of outrage in the wake of internment, with many nationalists and non-nationalists disgusted at their treatment. Unlike the vast majority, Hannaway did receive damages for the treatment he suffered at the hands of the security forces. Hannaway’s story is similar to many other internees and captures some of the brutal treatment that many of these men suffered. He speaks of his experience in which he tells Tim Pat Coogan: After they arrested me, I was thrown into a lorry where I got a kicking. Then i was taken to another barracks where I got another Kicking. They took me in a helicopter and told me they were going to throw me out. I thought we were hundreds of feet up, but were only a few feet. They set Alsatians on me. My thigh was all torn, and they made me run in my bare feet over broken glass.81 79 Tobias Kelly, This Side of Silence:Human Rights,Torture, and the Recognition ofCruelty (Philadelphia, 2012), p. 32. 80 Coogan, the troubles, p. 129. 81 Coogan, the troubles, p. 127.
  37. 37. Hannaway was then subject to the ‘five techniques’ as mentioned above. Another man, Patrick Shivers, tells of his experience during the week of torture, in one interview he stated ‘I heard men crying out for death and I still hear those men crying today’.82 These experiences were not isolated and many other internees also suffered like Kevin Hannaway and Patrick Shivers, not just physically but also mentally. It is a fair assessment to say that the Compton report was indeed biased and did not give justice to those who were subject to this brutality or ‘ill- treatment’ as officially declared by the Compton Report. The Compton Report was controversial to say the least with many important figures claiming that the inquiry was biased and inconclusive. Sinn Fein was one party who were very critical of the report’s findings. In a statement they claimed that the Commission desperately tried to minimise the extent of the ‘licensed savagery that happened’ while also adding that ‘it is obvious that there can be no impartiality where the British are acting as judges.’ Gerry Fitt, the leader of the SDLP described the Report as ‘an exercise in semantics in making a distinction between brutality and ill-treatment.’83 The Derry Nationalist Party was also very vocal in their criticism of the Report, and backed up Gerry Fitt’s words, issuing a vehement statement claiming: Let Britons indulge themselves in semantics about the difference between brutality and ill- treatment [...] the inescapable fact is that outside Britain the Compton Report will be taken as proof that Britain has embraced the principles of totalitarianism and, in trying to preserve the rotten Stormont system, has betrayed all the principles of democracy which the naive Briton cherished. Vocal figures from the Republic who also criticised the Report included the leader of Aontacht Eireann and former Fianna Fail Government Minister Kevin Boland, who described the Report as ‘euphemistic’ and that only the defence side had been represented. Other noteworthy reactions include that of the former Chairman of Amnesty International, Anthony Marreco who 82 Coogan, the troubles, p. 127. 83 Irish Independent,17 November. 1971.
  38. 38. accepted the findings of the Compton Report, but did criticise the actual internment operation stating it was carried out in ‘inefficient and reprehensive’ manner.84 From this evidence it was clear that the nationalist community and those that represent them felt that the Compton Report was an insult to the internees, their families and supporters. The Kerryman newspaper sums up the thoughts of many of those critical of the Report with the words ‘Whitewash. Buckets of Whitewash.’85 From various statements and newspaper articles, it is evident that the vast majority of nationalists and people from the Republic believed that the Compton Report was prejudiced and did not highlight correctly the suffering inflicted upon many of the internees. This leads us to the question of how did the British public and politicians react to these allegations and the resulting Compton Report. The House of Commons debate on the Report yielded evidence that captures a mixed reaction to how the British Army was operating in Northern Ireland. Not every politician was satisfied with their operations especially in the wake of these allegations. According to an article in the Irish Independent, the editor reports that ‘there are M.Ps and there are British newspapers speaking out about the moral dilemma their Government is in over the handling of some prisoners.’ This article also highlights how the issue has been raised regarding the interrogation methods used and that if the British Government can justify that these methods yield results, it is time to start rethinking its policies. The decision to hold a private inquiry which was not met favourably from the nationalist community was also condemned by M.Ps in Westminster. There was even a committee set up opposed to internment which was supported by 34 Labour M.Ps and leading British Trade Unionists, who planned a series of public protest meetings throughout the country to mobilise opinion in Britain against the policy of internment. In a statement issued by the Labour Party Committee Against 84 Irish Independent,17 November. 1971. 85 The Kerryman, 20 November. 1971.
  39. 39. Internment they said ‘If the British Government has nothing to hide and the British troops have nothing to hide why do they refuse to hold a public inquiry?’ Labour of course would go on and end internment in 1975 while in power, although it was far from an immediate action upon taking office the year before. Clearly there were different views within the British establishment to internment and the surrounding controversies. The Irish government had to consider various strategies in relation to Northern Ireland during the decade, whether it be the possibility of military intervention or internationalising the situation to secure a foreign military or peacekeeping presence.86 The situation in the North was constantly an issue of concern in Leinster House and with northern nationalists and republicans accusing the Irish government of showing blind support for British policy and outrage in the south over the treatment of the internees, Lynch’s position as Taoiseach was becoming heavily scrutinised and he had to act.87 Jack Lynch made a statement claiming the Compton Report, together with investigations being made by the Irish Government ‘provided very substantial evidence showing a very grave state of affairs in the administration of justice in the North.’88 Fine Gael was also pushing for Lynch to act and their Foreign Affairs spokesman Richie Ryan appealed to the government: ‘to exercise its right under Article 24 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights to refer to the European Commission of Human Rights a complaint of breach by Britain of the provisions of Article 3 of the Convention prohibiting torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’89 With pressure from various political parties like Fine Gael and the general public, the Irish Government in line with their policy of internationalising the situation brought what became known as the ‘torture case’ to the European Court of Human Rights. This case was lodged by 86 Diarmaid Ferriter, Ambiguous Republic: Ireland in the 1970s, p. 168. 87 Ferriter, Ambiguous Republic, p. 180 88 Irish Independent, 17 November, 1971. 89 Irish Press, 2 September, 1971.
  40. 40. the government of Ireland against Britain with the European Commission of Human Rights on 16 December 1971 under Article 24 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.90 This case dragged on for several years, becoming a source of considerable tension between the Irish and British Governments.91 The Irish Government’s response to these allegations becomes a lot more hard line and they make this decisive move in order to force the British to change policy and engage in a political solution. ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’. This is Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights and was the central issue in the case being brought against the British Government by Ireland.92 Although internment had ended in December 1975, with close to 2,000 people interned during this time, it was not until September 2 1976, that the European Commission of Human Rights adopted its lengthy and significant report with the following findings regarding article 3. The Commission ruled unanimously that the ‘combined’ use of the five techniques ‘constituted a practice of inhuman treatment and torture in breach of article 3 of the Convention.’93 In the Ireland v UK case, in addition to the five interrogation techniques, the commission also looked into cases of beatings, however these beatings somehow amounted, not to torture but to inhuman treatment.94 The hearings before the European Court of Human Rights were held in 1977, in the months of February and April with the judgement being delivered on January 18 1978. The Court in a 16- 1 decision judged that the interrogation techniques were not torture, but were inhumane, degrading, and designed to be ‘humiliating and debasing’ to prisoners. The Court also found 90 91 Pat coogan, troubles.P. 129 92 93 =X&ei=CGBkURfDuoQHwuaAwAo&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=irel and%20v%20britain%20the%20tort ure%20case&f=false 94 Nigel S. Rodley, The Treatment of Prisoners Under International Law p. 105.
  41. 41. that the detention and interrogation of internees also violated Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights that stipulates that prisoners have a right to know the charges against them. They are entitled to be speedily brought before a judge and have a trial or be released.95 These Court Cases and different hearings undoubtedly had a negative impact on relations between Dublin and London and indeed became a source of considerable tension throughout the decade. 95 Mary L. Volcansek (ed) and John F. Stack Jr., Courts and Terrorism: Nine Nations Balance Rights and Security (Cambridge, 2011), p. 77.