'Hooded man' Francie McGuigan to address Free Derry rally

Francie McGuigan.
Francie McGuigan.

Francie McGuigan, one of 14 'hooded men' subjected to spread-eagling, hooding, white noise, food deprivation and sleep deprivation while interned by the British Army in 1971, is to speak at a rally at Free Derry Corner at 1 p.m tomorrow.

The rally has been organised by the Bloody Sunday March Committee (BSMC) after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused to overturn its 1978 finding that the men had not been tortured.

A spokesperson said: “Fourteen men were subjected to treatment which on any rational definition amounted to torture. Yet the ECHR has endorsed the perverse 1978 judgment that their treatment didn’t amount to torture.

“The men were already victims of the state. They had all been interned without charge or trial. It should be remembered that the Bloody Sunday march, when 28 Derry people were killed or wounded by paratroopers, was held in direct response to internment and the maltreatment of internees.

“The torture techniques included hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation, deprivation of food and water and death threats and beatings. The men, still hooded, were put into a helicopter and flown to Ballykelly and told that they were about to be thrown out from hundreds of feet.

"The original decision that they hadn’t been tortured is partially explained by the British Government refusing to hand over documents, including medical records. The British authorities also claimed, ludicrously, that the maltreatment at Army barracks had been perpetrated by ‘rogue' elements from the lower ranks acting without permission.

“As Amnesty International has said, ‘These men were tortured, and with approval at the highest levels of government.'"

The BSMC went on to state that, in their view, the revocation by the former Secretary of State for the North, Theresa Villiers, of the release licence of Derry republican, Tony Taylor, without recourse to the courts, amounted to a latter day form of internment.

“We should also note that internment hasn’t gone away. Tony Taylor remains behind bars merely on the say-so of the NI Secretary of State. Everyone who believes in basic human rights and justice for the victims of the Troubles should open their eyes to the case of the 'hooded men'.

“How can there be talk of a new beginning when the old excuses for evil are still produced? No stable administration can be built on lies and a refusal to deliver justice even after all these years.”