Extracts from 'BELFAST August 1971: A case to be answered' by Danny Kennally and Eric Preston (1971)
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The following extracts are from a booklet written by Danny Kennally and Eric Preston. The views expressed in these extracts do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. If anyone knows who currently holds copyright for this pamphlet please contact the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.
Originally published in London by the Independent Labour Party in 1971.
In 1975 the Independent Labour Party became Independent Labour Publications (ILP) which is based in Leeds.
CAIN is attempting to establish contact with the copyright holder(s) of the booklet. If anyone knows who currently holds copyright for this booklet please contact the CAIN Project.
A Case to be Answered
by Danny Kennally and Eric Preston Independent Labour Party
In addition to all the invaluable assistance given to us by the people who man the various agencies and voluntary organisations in Belfast, acknowledgement must be made of the hard work and long hours put in by the small group of people who voluntarily undertook the extremely difficult task of producing this pilot study, in the short time available.
In particular, thanks must go to Joan Preston who not only typed much of the document but also gave most of her time to the task. We must also thank Brian Hawkins, John Preston and Margaret Bateman for the considerable time and effort they gave to the project, and Pat McIntyre and Barry Winter, without whose assistance we could not have completed the work in so short a space of time.
Finally, we would like to thank Hira Mukherjee, Joan Christopher and all at the Independent Labour Party head office, for their assistance.
By a member of the executive committee of Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.
The Civil Rights for which the people of Northern Ireland are struggling are the basic rights to which citizens of all democratic states are entitled. These include just laws, impartial administration and a government which commands the assent of the people. Other basic rights are for a system of central and local government that is truly democratic in the discrimination against persons in employment, housing allocation, value of testimony or assessment of other rights shall not be on the basis of race, religion or political aspiration.
The campaign to achieve full Civil Rights in Northern Ireland has been met with fierce resistance since its inception in 1968 and the mere promise of reform has led to chronic instability in the ruling party and government. As government crisis succeeded crisis, all the promised reforms were either watered down or ‘postponed’ indefinitely thus leading to frustration and a violence born of despair.
In July 1970 the people of the Lower Falls, in Belfast, were placed under house arrest by the British army, in an operation of dubious legality, which caused four deaths, much injury and suffering and untold hardship. Overnight, it became apparent that the British army was no longer acting as an impartial peacekeeping force in Northern Ireland but was being used as a tool of repression by the Unionist Government against its political opponents. This use of the army as a repressive force has escalated in the last fifteen months and with it violence has grown. On the 9th August, 1971, a fateful day, the army with great roughness, arrested over 300 men under the Special Powers Act. There was a violent response, which may not have been expected, from the whole civil population opposed to Unionism.
This book, tells simply, of some of the brutality, injustice and torture which afflicted that part of the United Kingdom in the days that immediately followed internment.
It explains why an iron determination has come into men’s minds to continue resistance until that disastrous policy is abandoned and effective guarantees are given that repression will never again be used as a policy in any part of the United Kingdom.
This report was prepared by members of the National Administrative Council of the Independent Labour Party (I.L.P.) at the request of the Social Democratic Labour Party of Northern Ireland and members of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.
The brief was to examine the evidence relating to the treatment of detainees, the harassment, intimidation and brutality of the British Armed forces towards the Catholic Community, and the living conditions of the Catholic people with particular reference to the circumstances surrounding evictions.
In undertaking this task, the I.L.P. members visited various organisations in Northern Ireland, some of which allowed them to examine their files, talk with their staffs and observe them interviewing. Eric Preston and Danny Kennally, both trained Social Scientists, also interviewed some of the complainants.
Much of this report is based on the information gathered from these sources.
The I.L.P. members also visited a number of Catholic areas in and around Belfast. Here they spoke to men and women who had had first hand experience of the behaviour of some British troops. When undertaking these visits they found scores of people with complaints but were only able to interview a few of these.
It became apparent that by no means all of the people with grievances were registering these with the authorities or voluntary organisations. Many of the people concerned had no intention of complaining to the Army or the Royal Ulster Constabulary in whom them had lost confidence, and they had not so far been to the Association for Legal Justice or the Central Citizens Defence Committee.
There was ample evidence to show that the people were sincere and genuinely distressed. A measure of the amount of suffering can be gauged from this report.
It is not necessary to agree with the views of the principal organisations in Northern Ireland which sponsored this report, before considering the evidence contained in it. The I.L.P. does not necessarily share the general political perspective of any of the sponsors. Nevertheless, the I.L.P. remains convinced that the investigation of evidence concerning the treatment and condition of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland was not only justified, but of vital importance.
"General Mayhem!" was the way in which Northern Ireland’s Director of Community Relations chose to describe the contemporary situation in an interview we had with him during our visit. Our task was to conduct a pilot enquiry into the conditions faced by many of the population there and to produce a report on our findings. This is our report. The description by the Director fits what we experienced yet remains inadequate, for it is impossible to know where to begin to describe what is happening to the people of Northern Ireland. In some areas, such as in the prosperous parts of Belfast, there is an apparent air of normality betrayed only by the occasional signs of military presence. By contrast, in the working class areas around the city centre there is a very different atmosphere: some of the Catholic communities resemble a territory captured in wartime.
The atmosphere in the Falls Road is anything but normal, with dilapidated buildings, burned out shops, boarded up windows and broken street and traffic lights. Outwardly, the people appear to have got used to conditions, but it takes the newcomer time to adjust to the sight of barricades, police and army posts, gun emplacements, barbed wire road blocks, and Saracen armoured cars.
Inside the confines of homes, homes made insecure with all that is happening, they unwind to reveal their frustration, anxiety and fear. During our enquiry it was not uncommon to terminate an interview because the man or woman involved became distressed. Many of them had managed to cope with the most incredible experiences.
For the most part we found an Irish community which has now virtually lost all confidence in any form of governmental authority. They have come not to expect justice and by and large have stopped appealing to the police and the army for protection. They are inclined not to report any offences against themselves particularly if these involve any police or military personnel. They have, in fact, grown to fear and hate the British soldier whom they now see as someone more likely to cause trouble than prevent it. Time and time again we were told how the people used to fraternise with the troops, "To bake apple cakes for them and to make cups of tea". "Suddenly it all changed", and no one really knows why, all they know is that it has happened.
Some of the men interviewed, who had served for long periods in the British forces themselves during the Second World War, steadfastly refused to believe that these were normal units operating in Northern Ireland. Some of them have actually made personal protests, as for example one former captain in the British Army who is now a surgeon in Belfast. He has in fact returned his medals and service decorations to Lord Carrington, Minister of Defence. In a letter accompanying the medals, he said that it was with a deep sense of shame and disgust that he wished to sever any connections that he had had with the British Army in view of the conduct of some members of that force in Northern Ireland. He made particular reference to brutal handling and "torture" of those interned and added that while he was not witness to this he had seen some of the patients’ injuries.
Internment and the dawn raids on people’s homes in Derry, Armagh, Ballymurphy, Cookstown and other Catholic areas throughout Northern Ireland provides the Catholic population with the final confirmation of the Army’s partiality.
It soon became clear to those we met that internment was being exclusively employed against the Catholics and that treatment of the men arrested, together with the circumstances of their arrest, including the treatment of their wives, families and property had been extremely harsh. This experience alone might have been sufficient to convince the Catholics that the Army was hostile. However, many of those who had experiences of mob violence, or suffered eviction, were already of that opinion. In the section of this report containing the statements of those evicted it will be seen that a number of the people refer to the inactivity or positive hostility of the Army and the R.U.C. on these occasions. What is more, the memories of these evictions are unlikely to fade not only because of the shock and suffering experienced by very many ordinary people, but because there are ever-present reminders. Many of the families involved not only lost their homes but also some, if not all, of their household and personal belongings, including pets. Catholics have been forced to move into the grossly overcrowded and substandard housing areas, such as Falls Road, or worse still, to squat in what can only be described as semi-derelict houses. In the Ballymacarrat area people have actually taken residence in houses which have previously been ransacked and in which light fixtures and fittings and plumbing installations have been damaged or destroyed.
It is in such circumstances that men, women and children are trying to rebuild a life of sorts, sometimes with little or no money, clothes, furniture, household utensils, employment or the prospect of it. Sometimes they are without adequate heating, lighting and other facilities, and with the additional handicap of ill-health in the family. In letters three feet high on a wall between the Falls and the Ballymurphy estate there is painted the question, "Is There A Life Before Death?" Higher up the road we saw the rotting corpse of a dog which we were told had been shot some days previously by the Army. These two things perhaps symbolise the state of Northern Ireland today as we witnessed it.
At the Co-ordinating Centre for Relief (Belfast) we gained some impression of the size of the problem in the Belfast area, although they, like most agencies we visited, were working with rough estimates. They described the situation as one of "massive distress". They were coping with every conceivable type of problem, acting in an advisory capacity with the statutory welfare and housing authorities as well as channelling voluntary funds and other aid to affected families. In addition to the one thousand displaced families on their records they also stressed the problems which they had to deal with arising out of loss of earnings as a result of displacement, intimidation, destruction of place of work, suspension of bus services, etc. These things made it necessary for them and other local relief groups to supply food and immediate cash aid to hundreds of families. Hardship caused in West Belfast, the Ardoyne and St. Matthew’s Parish as a result of a lack of transport and the temporary interruption of payment of social security benefits had especially affected pensioners and mothers of large families. In addition to this there were the problems arising out of the destruction of furniture and clothing and the heavy financial losses suffered by owner-occupiers who had to vacate their houses. It became clear from our discussion with Murdoch Dynan, one of the officials at the Co-ordinating Centre, that the voluntary and official bodies now in existence cannot adequately cope with the problems. It was estimated that the Co-ordinating Centre alone was spending some five hundred pounds per day on direct relief. People were coming to them because they had no clothes for their children to wear, no beds, and little or no money for food. Some of the needs, we were told, simply could not be met and others could only be temporarily relieved, despite the activity of the Centre and other organisations, such as the Central Citizens’ Defence Committee, which we also visited.
We were told by the Co-ordinating Centre that even the one thousand or so recorded families do not represent the final figures (others remain unknown and there are still quite a number of families in evacuee camps in Eire). There are perhaps fewer families involved than there were in the 1969/70 disturbances. Nevertheless, the problem is a cumulative one and the difficulties faced now are more severe than in 1969/70. Unlike many Protestants who occupy the newer estates, most Catholics are faced with the prospects of living in poor houses in overcrowded areas where they at least feel comparatively safe.
The Community Relations Commission confirmed that there has been a massive relocation of population. Some two thousand families are officially known to have moved and others are yet to be recorded. Hywel Griffiths, Director of C.R.C., told us that it would now be necessary to redraw the map showing areas of religious affiliation. He admitted that the position is by no means clear but that it is now evident that "mixed’ religious areas have considerably declined. Furthermore there have been suggestions that in areas where Protestant and Catholic housing borders on to each other some women and children are being evacuated as though in preparation for street fighting.
It is perhaps of academic interest but there seems to be something of a pattern to the population movement. In many cases it appears to start with one family leaving or being forced out of an area in which the population is predominantly hostile. This family then moves into a "friendly" area, where another family of the opposite religious persuasion is "dislodged" to make room for them. This process is then repeated. On balance, we were told, the Protestants appear to end up in significantly better housing than the Catholics. An instance of this is on the new Glencairn estate, near Ardoyne, where the residents are mainly squatters and claim to be 100 per cent Protestants. The displaced Catholics are now in receipt of aid from tenants’ associations.
Clearly in all this, there is a large element of intimidation and according to Mr. Griffiths at least some of it appears to be organised and has sinister implications. (See our section on the U.V.F.) We were told by Mr. Griffiths that there is also something of pattern to many of the calls received by the Community Relations Commission. Frequently there is a first call, reporting intimidation, usually followed by a second call some time later for assistance and transport to help the people move out. After that, there is sometimes a third call for assistance to squatters to say that they have just moved into a house in that particular street. One example he gave us was that of Spamount Street, where at one end of the street people were being intimidated, at the same time as people were moving from the middle of the street, whilst at the other end of the street squatters were actually moving in. In talking to people, we found that Catholics often complained that whilst they left their home intact, the Protestants frequently wrecked or set fire to the house they vacated, and that in some cases the fires had spread to neighbouring Catholic houses with the troops and police often making no effort to prevent this.
One feature of this particular disturbance is that it has perhaps for the first time spread to lower middle class areas where there are a high percentage of owner-occupiers. Many of the people displaced from these areas are now having to live with parents or grandparents in back-to-back houses in slum areas, and many of them complain of the feeling of being trapped in ghettoes. In these areas where unemployment is extremely high, men and women, including young people, have little or no prospect of finding work. At midday the streets are thronged with the unemployed, and in such a situation it is perhaps to be expected that an atmosphere of hopelessness and resentment would develop, but that is not all. Invariably the strain takes its toll of the nerves. One doctor has reported a tenfold increase in tranquilliser prescriptions. Furthermore, it has been reported that it is not uncommon for patients to break down and weep in a doctor’s surgery. A doctor in the Falls Road area has reported that the women are now worried sick about their menfolk and their children. The children are often upset and confused and housewives are terrified to let them out of their sight. They are bitter, disturbed and frightened.
Community life in many areas is almost non-existent. Some church halls have been taken over by the army, some by voluntary organisations. People tend not to venture far from their homes, particularly people living in Catholic enclaves such as the New Lodge area. Public houses are regarded as favourite targets for the so-called U.V.F. and returning home on foot late at night is felt to be hazardous.
In mixed and fringe areas there is also the added discouragement to venturing out that you may return to discover your home has been attacked during your absence. Furthermore the city centre has lost its attraction ever since the start of the bombings by the I.R.A. Provisionals. Indeed in some cases going to work has become problematic for some people. Names, words, phrases often reveal religious persuasion and thereby invite abuse or worse from people in the opposite camp. There is, as one might expect, some suggestion that the religious polarisation of the community is also being reinforced in industry, where in some cases in the predominantly Protestant factories the Catholics who leave are being replaced by known Protestants.
The joint Catholic/Protestant peace committees have largely disappeared and what co-operation there is is fast being eroded. The Catholics we met and talked with, and who came from all walks of life, appeared to be opposed to violence, but at the same time they seemed to be unanimous in their determination not to allow the Stormont Government to restore the "old regime". Consequently, they are likely to give their support to a non-violent Civil Rights campaign such as the one now being organised in which people are being asked to withhold their rents as a protest against internment. From the Catholics’ point of view this is one of the few ways open to them of attempting to put an end to what they consider to be a political, judicial, military and social victimisation.
In pursuing our pilot enquiry into these particular aspects of military behaviour we spoke to a number of people who had experienced the dawn raids of the Army. Some told of their experience after arrest; others, particularly the wives and families of men arrested, told of their experiences at the time their menfolk were arrested.
Mrs. C., of Glenalena Road, who is four months pregnant, told us how she had been awakened during the early hours of the morning by the noise of breaking glass. When the soldiers entered the house, she and her husband were upstairs. Her husband, partly dressed by now, was holding their ten-month-old baby. The troops smashed their way in, shouting something about "Fenian bastards". They came up the steps shouting and creating a general commotion — the child was knocked out of the husband’s arms and when Mrs. C. attempted to go towards him, she was knocked through a bedroom door and fell over her nine-year-old daughter. The husband was told to get outside and when he asked if he could put his shoes on a soldier replied, "Can you fucking hell". He was then hit on the head with a rifle butt, which caused him to fall downstairs. At the foot of the stairs he was made to walk through the broken glass in his bare feet. A soldier, cursing and swearing and rushing about in the kitchen, kicked and smashed the kitchen table legs.
The husband was then taken away and later charged, along with fifty-four others similarly arrested, with riotous behaviour. The case was later dismissed.
The ten-month-old child and the mother were afterwards treated for shock and bruising by their local doctor, who has made notes of the case and taken photographs of the victims. The child has now developed a severe nervous rash which covers most of his body. His behaviour is also very disturbed — each time he is placed on the floor he starts to scream and cry.
Mrs. M., Glenalina Park, who was also interviewed, told us that at 4.30 a.m. on 11th August the soldiers came shouting and yelling. They went into houses in the street and put the butts of their rifles through the windows. The lady went to shut the back door and a soldier in the back garden told her to shut the fucking door. Another soldier fired a rubber bullet at the front door.
The people they brought out of the houses were made to lie on the ground legs apart and were kept that way until taken away. The lady also said that the previous night the soldiers had kicked the fence of the house opposite and one soldier spat on her child who was playing.
Mr. and Mrs. R. of Ballymurphy also told us how they were awakened at 4.30 a.m. Said Mrs. R., "My daughter in the next bedroom was also awakened". (The R’s have six children.) "My husband and I looked out of the window and saw a soldier jump over the fence from next door. The soldier then hit the door with his rifle butt and broke the lock. He entered the house and pointed his rifle at us — we had come downstairs by this time, and he said ‘All men and boys out’. My husband was then taken outside and was forced to lie face down in the road for about half an hour. He was then put in a vehicle with others and driven away. I was watching from the window and saw another soldier beating an old man in the street who was trying to put on a shirt. I opened the window and shouted at the soldier to leave him alone. The soldier then ordered me to close the window and stay inside. He then came and put his rifle butt through the window. Two rubber bullets were then fired at the outside door, breaking the trellis."
Mr. R. told how he was in detention for approximately 31 hours. At ten minutes past five in the morning a soldier ordered him out of the house and over the railings. As he was climbing over the fence he was hit in the small of the back with a soldier’s rifle butt. He was then made to lie face down in the road with his legs wide apart and his hands behind his neck. He was told that if he moved he would be shot. Other men were ordered to do the same and were similarly threatened. After some time he and others were ordered to climb into an army vehicle. They were driven out of the estate and up to an open space at Dermont Hill Road, known locally as ‘The Post Office’. It was here that they were handed over to the Royal Military Police and the worst brutality began. They were continuously hit by batons and then placed against a wall and photographed, all the while being beaten.
After this Mr. R. was made to do press-ups and was then ordered to choose someone else from amongst those arrested to do the same. He was then made to look straight ahead as were the others. Anyone who moved was batoned. Then he and others were ordered to ‘double’ to the truck and were made to lie face downwards in the truck. They did not know where they were going but at one point the driver shouted "Anyone want out for the Shankill?" (this is a well-known Protestant area).
Eventually they arrived at the Girdwood Barracks. They were ordered out at this point and made to run the gauntlet of rifle butts and batons on their way through the main doors and into the recreation space behind. They were ordered to stand against the wall with hands up in the air, legs apart, while the soldiers and the R.U.C. men went around batoning them indiscriminately. The prisoners were also ordered to sing ‘The Queen’ and were hit if they refused. Two of the men didn’t know the words so they were hit on the legs. Mr. R. was made to do more press-ups and was then asked if he had any more fight left in him. He replied "Yes" and was hit on the side of the chest. The men were then searched, an M.P. behind him called out each item found on their person, whilst an R.U.C. man stood in front. His possessions were then put into an envelope which was sealed. At this point an M.P. gave him a cup of coffee. At about 12.30 p.m. he was given an egg and a piece of ‘dipped bread’ and some more tea. For something like eighteen hours he was made to face a wall, counting the bricks. He was then taken for a ‘snifter test’ (a test for gelignite) and then for interrogation by plain clothes men. He was asked if he was in the I.R.A. and did he know any I.R.A. members or any subversives? They said that if he did they would make it easy for him if he gave them information concerning such people.
He was also asked if he had seen any strange people in the Ballymurphy area. He said "Yes". Were these people armed? they asked, to which he replied "Yes". At this point he made it clear that he was referring to the British soldiers.
At about 7 p.m. he was called before an army officer and a policeman. An M.P. held his arm up behind his back whilst he was being marched before them. The officer handed a sheet to a sergeant of the R.U.C. and Mr. R. was then taken out to a jeep. In the jeep the R.U.C. driver said to him that this was nothing to do with the police, that it was the work of the Army.
Mr. R. and the others were taken to Townsend Street Police Station and there told that they were being charged with riotous behaviour. Here they were given tea and sandwiches and put in cells. The following morning he and others were brought before the magistrate. Bail was opposed as far as he could see on the grounds that they came from Ballymurphy. However, they were eventually released on bail at 1.30 p.m. on Thursday, August 12th.
When Mr. R. and the others later appeared in court, no evidence was offered and the case was this time dismissed. This apparently happened in all the cases of people arrested with him on that date.
Both Mr. and Mrs. R. expressed concern with the publicity they had received. He told us that he and the others arrested with him were named in the papers and that they had been referred to as gunmen, which meant that they were now suspect in the eyes of the public. As a result, he knew of at least one man who dared not return to his place of work. Both Mr. and Mrs. R. felt there was little to be gained from complaining to the authorities indeed it might well bring about retaliation. Mrs. R. told us that she was fairly certain that the troops concerned were Paratroopers and in her opinion little better than the ‘Black and Tans’. Mr. R., who had served in the Royal Navy during the second world war, found it difficult to accept that these were British troops. When the troops first came to Ballymurphy, Mr. R. said, relations were friendly, the housewives gave them tea and the men chatted to them. When a North of England regiment was stationed at Ballymurphy, Mr. R. was passing the time of day with one of the soldiers and had discovered that he was the son of a man who had served on the same ship as him in the navy.
In 1965 Mr. R. had an operation that involved removing part of his stomach.
A sample of signed statements relating to some of the people who were arrested under the Special Powers Act. Copies were lodged with the Association for Legal Justice, and the C.C.D.C.
John Joseph Curry,
Statement made by Mary Curry, daughter of above.
Statement made by Patricia Morelli, wife of the above.
Report by Mrs. L. Hartley (age 24), wife of the above.
Mrs. Hartley offered the further information that Peter Hartley is a member of the Merchant Navy and was on leave until September. She does not know what will happen regarding his employment, until his leave is up. She has received no benefits. Mrs. Hartley, who is expecting a baby, was taken into hospital threatening miscarriage.
Statement by mother of Felim O’Hagan — Mrs. Bernadette O’Hagan.
To the best of my knowledge the information which I have given above is a true and accurate account of what happened.
Signed: Bernadette O’Hagan. Witness: Rev. Denis Faul.
Mr. K. McCorry,
Statement by Mrs. McCorry on the internment of her husband.
She had taken them to the barracks on Thursday. I got into Belfast about 5.00 p.m. on Friday. I did not know the procedure and thought I could just go round to Girdwood to see Kevin. When Madge Davidson rang, she was told there was no one left there; all bad been taken away. She was given a number to ring. This turned out to be Paisley’s "‘Dial-a-prayer".
From 6 to 10 we rang every number we thought would be useful, including Crumlin Road jail several times. No one knew where he was. On Saturday I rang Crumlin Road again, and they said they did not have Mr. Kevin McCorry. I then rang Paddy Devlin and he gave me a Government Information number, and they said that Mr. McCorry was definitely in Crumlin Road jail. I told them that I had just rung there, and I asked if I should ring back for confirmation. I was told there was no need for confirmation. I asked her where I would apply for a permit and she told me. I took up clothes and tobacco on Monday, 16th August. The guard at the gate said, "Are you sure we have a McCorry here?" But he checked the list and assured me that there was.
I got a permit to visit him at 3.20 on Tuesday, 17th August. I have still not got official notification of Kevin’s detention.
I was allowed in at 4 o’clock for 15 minutes, in a small cubicle with a table and three chairs for myself. Kevin and a warden. He said he had been treated well, and he looked well.
Signed: Mrs. Mary McCorry. Witness: C. McKeeven.
Mr. Blake (Householder) Father-in-law.
Statement by Mrs. Brennan — wife of arrested man.
The arrest has resulted in loss of earnings and loss of job.
Mrs. Brady stated that her husband was arrested on Monday, 9th August. Military came to door and pushed past her asking "Where’s your husband? . . . Special Powers Act". (House was raided earlier.) She followed the soldiers into the bedroom. They pulled the bedclothes off her husband and child, aged 4. The three children wakened, and the youngest child was very upset. They pulled her husband out of bed, clothed in underpants — embarrassment caused to wife. They stood with a baton over husband’s head and ordered him up. Wife tried to get over to protect husband and was told "It’s none of your business". She threw jeans over and he was half pulling them up on leaving. He had no shirt, socks or shoes. Troops held door while wife tried to get after husband.
Patrick Oliver Murphy.
Mrs. Murphy stated that her husband was arrested by soldiers wearing red berets. She was told by Father McCabe of St. Peter’s on Thursday that her husband was being detained in Crumlin Road jail. She brought clothes to the gatehouse on Thursday night. At the gatehouse they opened the parcel to see what was in it and they told her that Patrick Oliver Murphy was being detained there. Mrs. Murphy got a detention form on Friday to confirm that her husband was in Crumlin Road jail.
Patrick Joseph Largey,
Parents have not had any notification of his whereabouts (at time of statement). This boy was born with facial paralysis. Six years ago he had a very bad car crash. Has an injured leg and poor eyesight. Broken pelvis. Had a serious operation 7 years ago in St. James Hospital.
Mrs. Patterson stated that on 9th August there was a rap at the door. Her husband told her the military had arrived. The door was burst in and her husband trailed out. Mrs. Patterson didn’t see anything and wasn’t informed that her husband was being taken out. She ran downstairs with her 12-week-old baby and discovered all the doors open and her husband gone. She was not notified until Friday, 13th August as to her husband’s whereabouts. The door was damaged.
Mrs. Patterson has been deprived of means of livelihood (husband’s earnings). There is physical and emotional hardship due to the separation of father from his children and wife. Eight-year-old child suffers from a bleeding ulcer and is under the medical supervision of Dr. Colwell, York Street.
Signed: Mrs. Patterson. Witnessed: J. P. Barr.
On Monday, August 9th, 1971 at about 4 a.m. my wife heard shouts and the door being broken down. There were 8 soldiers there. She woke me. She preceded me downstairs and was butted by a rifle in the stomach. My daughter Geraldine (16) was struck on the head with a baton. The officer in charge kept repeating, "Hugh Joseph Hughes" (not my name). Another said, "Let’s have him". The soldiers were agitated and in a hurry and kept saying, "The women will be out any moment".
I was pulled by the hair on to the street, batoned on the head and kicked on the leg. I was then forced to run 400 yards in my bare feet to a truck. The children upstairs panicked and screamed as I was rushed off. My wife was butted with a rifle as she protested to the soldiers.
I was transferred to a lorry, made to be face down on the floor, covered with blankets and struck with rifles. There were other detainees in the lorry, some lying on top of each other.
The lorry drove off to collect other detainees. We reached Girdwood Army Barracks about 7 a.m. I was pushed off the lorry and on to the ground. I was put into a room and interrogated (name, address, politics, etc.). During the morning a number of detainees were maltreated by the Army in full view of the police.
About 12 noon I was removed to Crumlin Road jail. There were two other detainees in the cell, one was taken away later. I was kept there until Tuesday night, 10th August, at 11 p.m. I was finally released at 11.45 p.m. I was refused transport home and had to go up Cliftonville Road while there was a lot of shooting in the vicinity.
My specific complaints are:
Signed: Joseph Hughes. Witness: Rev. Brian J. Brady.
At between nine and ten o’clock a.m. on Monday, August 9th, 1971, 1 was at the junction of Kennedy Way and Andersonstown Road, and witnessed the following incident.
There was a barricade of three heavy vehicles at this point and deployed around them were ten British soldiers whose A.P.C. was on the lower, or Messrs. Eastwood’s side of the barricade. They were obviously positioned to act against an expected attack from some stone-throwing youths who were further up the Andersonstown Road in the region of Slemish Way. At the lower corner of Anderstown Road and Fruithill Park I noticed a car, green-coloured, I think, but did not pay any particular attention to this vehicle as I was talking with two newsmen from the Sun newspaper and we were concentrating on the actions of the youths.
After some throwing the soldiers made an attack on the youths who scattered, but some soldiers then made for the car at the Fruithill Park corner and I saw a youth being pulled from it and forced down the Andersonstown Road to the A.P.C. Batons were being used on him and he was thrown into the Army vehicle where at least one soldier went in after him using his baton as he went.
I shouted to the soldiers to "For God’s sake lay off him", and someone of them called to the soldier inside who was using his baton to "stop". Shortly after this a single shot rang out and the soldiers scurried to the vehicle, doors were pulled closed and they sped back down the Falls Road.
Within a minute or two I noticed a woman and youth making their way down from the Fruithill direction and from the former’s agitated condition it was plain that she was related to the arrested youth. So with Mr. John Kelly of Lalor Way, I crossed the road and finding out that she was going to Andersonstown R.U.C. station, we both accompanied her.
At the station were the soldiers who had taken the youth and making
our way into the station I asked to see the youth who had been arrested. (By this time I had learned that his name was Raymond McLaughlin and that he lived at North Link, Andersonstown.) After some talk with the police I was brought into the company of McLaughlin in the presence of a Constable Harkness. There was a denial of any brutality and as McLaughlin bore no visible marks on his face or head I removed his shirt and showed to Constable Harkness Army baton weals on the youth's back; there was also damage to a finger and marks around one ankle, possibly obtained when thrown into the A.P.C.
I requested that the lad be charged and let out and said that I would be going as witness should charges be preferred. The constable asked me to wait whilst he spoke with the Army officer in charge. He then left us and a senior police officer came in. He made accusations that McLaughlin had been seen in the Andersonstown Road about twenty minutes prior to his arrest, but following some explanations from the youth, told us that we could go home.
We left the station and in the station yard I recognised the soldier who had been the most vicious and going over to him asked him his rank and his regiment, but was told that he "didn't know". Realising that there was no satisfaction there, I approached a soldier with a handful of stripes on his sleeve and asked for the officer in charge. I was informed that he "didn't know" as there were various regiments there. Another soldier who was standing by was of the group in the A.P.C. concerned in the arrest and although he admitted to seeing me at the scene of the arrest he also refused to give any information as to the regiment, etc. I should point out that all those from the A.P.C. mentioned were wearing full riot gear, but the soldier with the stripes was of the Parachute Regiment, as possibly were the others.
With McLaughlin's mother, his brother and Mr. Kelly, I called on Dr. Shearer of 553 Falls Road, and had him examine Raymond McLaughlin who is one of his patients. His report is available if required.
When we later reached Kennedy Way we found the barricade in flames and McLaughlin's car gone. I left him at Fruithill, giving him my name, address and phone number should he want to contact me further.
This statement is made to the best of my recollection.
Signed: Mr. Fred Heatley.
On Wednesday, 11th August, at 5.30 a.m. I was in bed, in my home at the above address, asleep. I heard a crash of breaking glass and shouting by soldiers. (I sleep in the front bedroom.) I got up to look out of the window. I saw a soldier break the front upstairs window of 32 Glenalina Road; I got back into bed. A few minutes later I heard our front door being kicked in and battered. At this stage everyone in the house was in bed — husband, wife, three sisters and the accused brother. A soldier ran up the stairs. He kicked open both the bedroom door where my father was out of bed. He then came into my bedroom and ordered me out of bed also. I got partially dressed quickly and then I was ordered downstairs. I did this and at the bottom of the stairs I saw another soldier. I was forced to stand in the path at the front of my house. My father was then ordered downstairs. My mother said my father was ill and it would be the soldiers' responsibility if he was injured. My father was then pushed back into the hallway.
At this stage the soldier who was at the door said, "When I tell you to f . . . ing well run you'll f . . . ing well run fast". He pushed me in the back with his rifle. He then forced me to run down the street, during which time several shots were fired.
I was taken to the Whiterock Post Office and forced against a wall. I was kicked, struck with his fist and he hit me with his rifle butt. I was shivering at the time as I had only a shirt on and it was early morning. The soldier said, "Nobody gave you permission to shiver". He then kicked me. After a short time I was photographed. I was then put against a small wall and fence for fifteen minutes. A covered lorry then arrived and I was taken to Girdwood. We were warned that anyone trying to escape would be shot.
After two or three minutes against a wall I was taken to fill in a form relating to personal details. We were then leaned against a wall on our finger tips. I was kicked several times and forced to sing 'God save the Queen'. I was forced to dry blood off the floor and to clean the jeep of blood.
I returned to the hall and remained until 7 p.m. During this period I yawned and was hit by a soldier for doing so. I was also forced to hold my arms out straight for three-minute periods each time I moved a hand off my knee.
I was taken by police to Townhall Street and on entering the jeep I was told I was accused of riotous behaviour. I appeared in court next morning, and was granted bail. The charge was dropped on Wednesday, 18th August, 1971.
Signed: Mr. Gerard Cassidy.
Mr. McNully was beaten up by soldiers and made to run the gauntlet outside houses. He was threatened he would be shot because of someone's blood on his jumper. He was made to sing 'The Queen' and intimidated. He was used as a human shield in front of soldiers at iron railings at entrance of Dermott Estate. Also made to run gauntlet into Girdwood Park and called "foreign bastard".
Injuries sustained: Leg and back injuries. Beaten on kidneys with baton and kicked.
Has 'Insurance Line' for two weeks.
Examined by Dr. Murdock of Glen Road who is a private house owner and has no connection with anything. Soldiers wore riot gear and had their faces blackened.
No complaint made to Army. Solicitor informed: Mr. P. O'Hare.
Signed: J. P. McNully. Dated 15th August, 1971
Released on Bail.
On August 13, 1971, at 5 a.m., soldiers hammered at my door. My wife opened it and soldiers met me on the stairs. I was dressed in pants, undershirt, pullover, shoes without socks. The soldiers began to search They found one old radio receiver from my former days as a ham radio operator. In order to avoid a search which might ransack the house, I told them I had a licensed pistol and a licensed rifle, the licences being at the moment renewed at R.U.C. Barracks, Springfield Road. The soldiers went almost berserk, and said I had been sniping. They also said "this is all we want, we've got you now." They refused to listen to my explanation that the articles were licensed.
They took me out in a saracen on the Falls Road (almost 400 yards). There I was savagely beaten by soldiers and military police with fists, batons, rifle butts and kicked. On the journey with John Murphy, a neighbour, I was given occasional blows by fists.
When I arrived at Girdwood Barracks I was thrown out of the jeep and made to crawl on all fours into the corridor. I was abused physically while I crawled. My hair was pulled.
I was placed against a wall with finger tips only giving me support. Military police kicked my shins and I fell flat on my face. This action was repeated several times with the variation of punches to the stomach and kicks to the shins. I don't remember how often. They tested me with a "gelly sniffer" and the results were negative. I was taken immediately for interrogation by two Special Branch men. They gave me a cup of tea heavily sugared. As a diabetic I refused it. They sent for an army sergeant who first took me to a doctor and who later promised to get my tablets from the house. I was merely questioned about licences for my guns and radio and got absolutely no abuse from the Special Branch men. The sergeant returned and he said that the tablets were unobtainable. I learned later that they hadn't come to my home, they had contacted my doctor.
After this I was taken to the gym and seated in a chair in the middle of the gym with 14-20 others widely spaced, also seated on chairs. I sat there staring ahead. Talk was not allowed. The Army sergeant came with my tablets and I took two and water. Another military policeman gave me a blanket for my shoulders. The Army sergeant came back and asked to be notified immediately if I felt any diabetic symptoms. He offered me a cigarette which I refused although I am a chain smoker. I did this as I was sickened and disgusted at my own treatment and the treatment of others. I was told that contacts were being made with police officers who know me as a competitor in shooting competitions and whose names I gave during interrogation.
I was taken to another room and given the paraffin test on my hands and face for evidence of recent use of guns. I hadn't fired a shot for over two months due to the disturbed situation. (Fortwilliam Rifle and Pistol Cub.)
I was taken back to the gym. Some time later the sergeant said confirmation of licences and Gun Club Membership was being confirmed. I had a second interrogation a little later re name, address and personal details. I was asked to sign the answers. It was read to me as I couldn't read without my glasses and I signed it.
A sergeant gave me back my pocket book and small change. He told me my guns would be given back later. I was taken in a jeep and left at Beechmount Avenue, about 200 yards from my home. A neighbour — Marie McNeill met me and was horrified at my condition. I was hardly able to walk. My pullover was torn and my pants were dirty. She asked two men to carry me home. I got in about 1 p.m. to my own house.
My wife sent for Dr. Jim Ryan who examined me and took details of my multiple bruises and abrasions. He has been my doctor since 1934 and only yesterday did he realise that I was a Protestant living in a totally Catholic neighbourhood. The one and only time I was ever beaten was on August 12, 1971, and that was by the British Army. Today I am confined to bed unable to walk and I don't know when I shall be able to.
I am a diabetic and suffer from hypertension. About a year ago I had two minor strokes and was confined to bed for a month. I have since been attending clinics of Dr. Boyle in the Royal Victoria Hospital. I am on constant medication for both complaints.
To the best of my knowledge the information which I have given above is a true and accurate account of what happened.
Signed: J. Magilton. Witness: Rev. B. J. Brady.
Statement by Mrs. J. Loughran.
Mrs. Loughron said: "My husband was not politically active except helping at refugee centres. I was not notified until Friday afternoon, although he was taken away at 4.10 a.m., on Monday, 9th August, 1971."
He has a brother serving a two-year sentence.
Signed: Josephine Loughran.
Statement by Mrs. M. Shannon:
Then he was brought back to Girdwood for second investigation and then to Crumlin Road jail. While at the prison my small boy said, "Daddy, are they going to bring you out for more bad treatment?" and the warden who was sitting at the same table right beside him said, "No, your daddy will be alright now he's under the care of the boys in blue" (pointing to his lapels). I had 20 minutes visit with him and he was in great spirits.
This is a true account of the events leading up to my husband's arrest, and a true account of what he told me.
Signed: M. Shannon. Witnessed: P. Reynolds.
Statement by Jarvine Quigg, 7 Rodney Drive, Belfast 12. Girlfriend of the above.
Signed: 21/8/71 Jarvine Quigg. Witness: J. Kimbane.
This incident was also witnessed by Michael McGuigan. 23 Corrib Avenue, Shaws Road.
I left my work in Lame at 10.30 p.m. on 24th August and took a taxi to Belfast. I left the taxi at the bottom of Castle Street at about 14.10 p.m. I walked from the foot of Castle Street up to L.M.W. I was carrying three suitcases. I was stopped and searched by a foot patrol of the Green Jackets. Three soldiers grabbed me and said: "You Irish Bastard — get your hands against that wall." I dropped my cases and was pushed against the wall. The soldiers searched me.
A small private, with fair hair, yellowish skin and funny eyes, ran over and said: "I recognise that bastard — he comes from R — Street." The soldier in charge — I don't know his rank, but he had glasses and dark hair — said: "All right. Take him up Chapel Lane. It's darker up there." I was told by a soldier who was about 5 ft. 8 in., and had a brown moustache to "Lift your fucking cases". I was marched across the road to the goods entrance of L.M.W. and told to put my hands against the gate. I did so. I was told to put my hands down and did so. Then I was ordered to turn round. The soldier with the brown moustache handed his rifle to another soldier. Then a soldier behind me pulled my jacket down round my elbows. The soldier with the brown moustache hit me on the jaw. I fell to the ground and said nothing. Then I was kicked several times. I scrambled up off the ground. I was ordered to lift my cases and march across the road to Queen Street R.U.C. station. In Queen Street my photograph was taken alongside a soldier and I was then sat down. A policeman asked me what I did in the I.R.A. I did not reply. An M.P. (a Lance-Corporal) said: "This fucking photograph didn't come out". One soldier said: "Oh, take him up to bloody Hastings Street." I was taken to Hastings Street R.U.C. station. When I went in the door I recognised the policeman on duty as a man nicknamed "Bruno". He is about six feet, with black hair thinning at the sides, and has a broken nose. I think his name is Brown — I had given him soup on a number of occasions in 1968 in Mooney's in Cornmarket. I said: "Hullo, Bruno, how are you?" Then an M.P. Lance-Corporal said: "Stand up against that wall." He then took another photograph of me alongside a soldier. I waited till the photo developed (Polaroid camera). He looked at the photo, said it was all right, and ordered me to go and sit down. He then came in and began to question me about the shootings and the bombings. He then gave me a cigarette and lit it for me. I asked a young constable for a drink of water. He told me to "Fuck off". He was about 5 ft. 8 in. with fair hair. He looked very young — about 18 years of age. Then Bruno said: "Get him a drink of water." He brought me a half-pint mug of water. I thanked him. I asked for more and was given it. Then the soldier who had said he recognised me said: "I've gotta go." Bruno said: "Wait. The officer who will charge him is coming in now." After about five minutes a police constable came in and Bruno asked "Is it alright if he made a phone call?" I telephoned my employer in Lame. Anne T said to the police: "He has just left Lame." Bruno said: "We only charge them here." He said to Anne T — : "I know Danny and I know he's not a bad lad." He wrote down my name and address and said: "I'll do what I can for you, Danny."
I was put into the jeep and taken to Chichester Street and found that I was being charged with disorderly behaviour on 16th July. The sergeant asked the constable who had brought me from Hastings Street: "What is the position with this young man?" The constable said: "Bruno knows him." I was released on bail of £25 at about 3.30 a.m. and walked back home.
Signed by: Daniel McA. Witnessed by O. B. Kearney. 25th August, '71.
On Friday morning, 19th August, I left home at 4.10 a.m. to set off for work in Hughes' Bakery, to start work at 5 a.m. The route being taken was — Brompton Park — Crumlin Road — Woodvale Road — Ainsworth Avenue — Springfield Road. Coming down the Woodvale Road, I was stopped and searched by Grenadier Guards. A Saracen vehicle followed me and pulled in alongside me. Six soldiers got out and one began searching me. I was made to put my hands to the wall — one soldier searched me while the other five stood guard with rifles trained on me. After searching me the soldier went to the soldier in charge (Lance-corporal), and said: "He's clean." Then the Lance-Corporal asked me my name, where I was coming from and where I was going. I answered all three questions. They then told me I could go.
After I had gone about 100 yards they pulled up alongside me again. They all got out again and stopped me. The Lance-Corporal told me he wasn't satisfied with my identity — even though I had shown them papers (electricity bill) with my name and address. I was told to get into the Army vehicle which I did — they took me to their headquarters (Ardoyne Bus Depot). When I was taken into the depot I was handed over to the officers in charge. They questioned me in a corridor about my family — how many I had and where they were. I answered all questions and the officers went into a room close by. I was kept in the corridor for 45 minutes — then an officer came out and told me that he still wasn't satisfied with my identity — even though I had again shown them the identification papers in the bus depot. He also said that I would have to be moved to the Army barracks in Antrim Road (Girdwood Barracks). I told them that they would have to inform my employer, Hughes' Bakery, that I would be late. They did this by phone.
I was taken from Ardoyne at 6.00 a.m. to the barracks on Antrim Road. Here I was handed over to the Red Caps. I was put into a room and made to stand facing the wall (5-10 minutes) Then I was told to turn round and I was photographed. They then stood a soldier beside me (one of those who had arrested me) and took another photograph (of both of us). After that I was brought to a desk and told to take off my overcoat and empty out all my pockets. They took all the items and listed them on a sheet and left them in front of me. They then put them in an envelope and sealed it. They took my name and address, occupation and place of employment.
After this a Red Cap took me into a very large room and made me sit facing the wall. After I had been in this room for about half-an-hour I asked the time from a Red Cap — he said it was 7.15 am. Shortly after this I was taken from the room to a small room where I was questioned by a Special Branch man — for about 15-20 minutes. He asked me my name, address, number in family — if married their own name and address — my wife's maiden name — where she was born and how many were still living with me in the house. After the questioning I was again put into the large room and made to sit facing the wall. On two more occasions I was questioned by Special Branch, being asked and answering the same questions each time.
The last time I was questioned I asked the Special Branch man the time — he said 12.50 p.m. At 1 p.m. the MPs said they were going to give me some fresh air. Two accompanied me outside onto a football pitch — each with a rifle. They walked me round the pitch three times in a circle. Someone then called for them to bring me back to the barracks. I was brought into a small office and questioned by two Special Branch men. They asked me the same questions again. I answered as before. They then took me to the desk where I had first been asked my name, etc., emptied pockets, and Special Branch men told Red Caps they were going to release me. I was handed belongings, including my overcoat and asked to sign my name, which I did. I took my belongings and left the barracks escorted by a Special Branch man to the gate on Clifton Park Avenue. I was left to walk it home from there.
Signed by: John K.C. Witnessed by: Peadar A. Totten, 24th August, 1971.
At the offices of the Association for Legal Justice, we examined the data which had been gathered, on the men detained under the Special Powers Act. In a random sample of 45 which we selected, we found that the overwhelming majority were Roman Catholics (40), five did not specify their religion, and one was a Protestant married to a Catholic. The ages of those detained displayed no significant pattern and ranged from 16 to 64 years.
With regard to occupation, the sample covered a wide spectrum including tiler, teacher, boilerman, plasterer, farmworker, iron turner, labourer, lorry driver, welder, clerk, clerk of works, student, factory worker, retired mechanical engineer, docker, sprayer, Ulster Defence Regiment, bath house attendant, painter and decorator and caretaker. The information in the sample comes either from released detainees or from the relatives and friends of detainees, who came to the A.L.J. for advice. Over fifty per cent of the sample were, however, men who had been released.
Some of the men who had been released said that they had been medically examined while in detention and presumably the records, if properly kept, will give evidence of their condition. It is known that several of them were suffering from various physical complaints and others had physical disabilities or illness. In the sample we found instances of stomach ulcers, rheumatism, chronic asthma, nervous debility, bone injuries, disorder of the ear, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, hypertension, chronic heart condition, blood pressure and a dislocated shoulder.
The reports that the ex-detainees made about their treatment varied: 19 of them complained about verbal abuse, 15 about 'running the gauntlet', 3 of being harassed by dogs, 9 of being denied sleep, 6 of being starved, 12 of attempts at bribery, 8 of threats of further violence or injury, 24 of general physical violence, 5 of the 'helicopter treatment'. Specific humiliations included shaving detainees' heads, being kept naked, being burned with cigarettes, having a sack placed over the head for long periods, having a rope kept around the neck, having the barrel of a gun placed against head, being dragged by the hair, being trailed behind a Saracen without shoes or socks, being tied to a truck as a human shield, and beatings with batons.
At the time of preparation, the Association for Legal Justice had some information on approximately 219 of the 330 detainees.
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.
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