Security forces ‘misled parliament’ on interrogation, documents reveal

Men arrested during Operation Demetrius being led out of a British Army helicopter before being taken to the Maidstone prison ship. Included are Derry men Mickey McNaught, second from right, and behind him the late Sean Keenan.

Men arrested during Operation Demetrius being led out of a British Army helicopter before being taken to the Maidstone prison ship. Included are Derry men Mickey McNaught, second from right, and behind him the late Sean Keenan.

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Those in the security forces and government who kept secret an interrogation centre in Ballykelly, “wilfully misled parliament” during reviews of the security operation which heralded the beginning of internment in 1971, a spokesperson for the Pat Finucane Centre has said.

Sara Duddy told the ‘Journal: “It is our case that Compton and Parker [inquiries] should be thrown in the bin alongside Widgery in terms of cover-up and white-washing.”

Ms Duddy said questions have to be asked as to why Ballykelly was kept secret, why no investigating body was made aware of, or allowed access to the site and what else may have been carried out there.

She made her comments after sharing the documents uncovered by the Pat Finucane Centre researchers, with the Derry Journal.

The documents uncovered point to extreme interrogation methods being used in Ballykelly including six of the detainees spending in excess of 30 hours “on the wall” - standing hooded, in a stress position against a wall. One detainee spent 49.5 hours “on wall”. They also revealed that at the Ballykelly centre interrogation methods such as sensory deprivation, the use of white noise, sleep deprivation and a bread and water diet were also implemented.

Of all the detention centres in Northern Ireland, Ballykelly was the only one kept secret and, according to the documents, was the only one which required the “advice and support from the Joint School of Intelligence”.

The uncovered evidence contradicts information provided to the European Commission for Human Rights. Such information was also not disclosed to either the Compton or Parker inquiries.