300 former IRA inmates to seek compensation

Hundreds of former IRA prisoners in the North are to attempt to have their convictions overturned and claim compensation. Around 300 republican inmates are set to claim that confessions were extracted from after mistreatment in the North's security holding centres. Many ex-prisoners say they cannot find jobs, insurance or loans because of their convictions and are barred from entry to countries like the US.


Sinn Féin Northern Ireland Assembly member Caral Ni Chuilin said: “A lot of men in Long Kesh (prison) were only there because they signed a confession extracted from them under extreme circumstances in places like Castlereagh and Gough (police detention centres).

“I am aware that there are a lot of people coming forward to build a case up. The issue about this is that this affected republicans and loyalists and people from unionist and nationalist working-class areas were in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up spending their lives in jail.”

Earlier this year Danny Morrison, Sinn Féin’s former publicity director, successfully challenged his 1991 conviction for falsely imprisoning IRA informer Sandy Lynch a year earlier.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission recommended that Mr Morrison’s case go back to the Court of Appeal, which cleared him earlier this summer.

He was credited with the “Ballot box and the Armalite” strategy which helped bring republicans into elections and politics.

Most of the prisoners to follow his example were held on the IRA’s wings, H-Blocks, at the Maze/Long Kesh prison near Belfast, used for paramilitary prisoners.

Allegations which led to Castlereagh’s reputation for ill-treatment first surfaced in the 1970s at a time when republican violence was at its peak.

In one three-year period around this time more than 3,000 people were charged with terrorist offences based largely on confessions obtained at Castlereagh.

The centre played a key role in the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s (RUC) battle against the violence.

Heavy-handed techniques were blamed for producing many confessions. There were also numerous allegations of torture and physical abuse.

A highly critical report by Amnesty International published in 1977 documented 58 cases of alleged mistreatment at Castlereagh by plain clothes detectives and called for a public inquiry.


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