Court proceedings against the British government over the policy of internment in the North of Ireland are set to get underway within a week.
In the early 1970s, over 2,000 people were arrested by the British army and jailed without trial or access to any legal process. Many were jailed for years at a time.
On Tuesday August 9, the 40th anniversary of the morning the internment raids began on August 9, 1971, six former internees handed over letters of claim at Stormont as they, and others, prepare to sue the British for the strategy.
At a press conference held after they served the papers, the ex-internees spoke of systematic beatings, physical and verbal abuse, and outright torture during the four years that internment without trial was imposed.
Kevin Donnelly, who was just 15 when he was interned for a year and a half, told how CS gas was used on him and how he, as a terrified teenager, had to walk “the gauntlet” between two rows of British soldiers with dogs.
Evelyn Gilroy spoke movingly about how she had to sign her children over to the care of social services while she was interned.
Joe Curley, who, while interned, was hooded and thrown out of a helicopter hovering just several feet above the ground, said he has asked the British in the past why they did this to him but has never received a reply.
“I’m doing this so what happened to me will never happen to another Irish person ever again,” he said. The six say that they want to secure an acknowledgement from the British authorities that what was done to them was wrong.
“Six letters of claim have been served today. If we do not get a response within 14 days, legal proceedings will start,” said attorney for the six, Padraig Ó Muirigh.