Men and women from Derry interned during the 1970s are to attend a tribunal hearing in 2016 with a view to seeking legal redress for their detention.
Some time ago a meeting was arranged with ex-internees, facilitated by Derry ex-republican prisoner group, Tar Abhaile. It was open to all ex internees, regardless of their political views and indeed, Raymond McCartney, board member of Coiste na Iarchimi, who spoke at the meeting, made it clear that it was being organised by the ex-prisoner group without any political party influence.
Tar Abhaile volunteer, Gerry McCartney, said the most recent meeting between the internees took place last month.
“The last meeting was in November and we were informed that a number of test cases are now ready to proceed.
“These cases are from internees across the six counties to give a geographic spread. We are now just waiting on a date for them to get a hearing before a tribunal, which is expected to be within the next six to eight months. It was agreed further meetings will take place to keep everyone informed of progress,” said Gerry.
On August 9, 1971 the British Government introduced internment without trial in the North of Ireland.
“The people interned were taken to a number of locations and interrogated. All were from the nationalist/republican community,” said Gerry McCartney..
“They were from a wide range of backgrounds. Trade unionists, civil rights activists, young boys, old men. The first loyalist to be detained was in February 1973. In total there were 1,981 people interned before internment ended in December 1975. Out of the total there were only 107 loyalists interned, it is plain to see from those numbers it was a very one sided weapon to try to put down the republican/nationalist unrest.”
He added: “Tar Abhaile asked Padraig O’Muirigh solicitor’s office in Belfast to provide legal advice on whether there was a viable chance of a successful challenge. Padraig was present on the night and outlined his views and took questions. It was agreed by all present to proceed with the case and Padraig agreed to represent the prisoners. There has been a number of further meetings held to report on progress.”
The ex-internees are expected to receive a date for their tribunal in early 2016.