Page 1, 22nd August 1975

22nd August 1975
Page 1
Page 1, 22nd August 1975 — RUC accused of brutality by Irish priests

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Locations: Belfast, London, Derry


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RUC accused of brutality by Irish priests

DOZENS of cases of Royal Ulster Constabulary brutality and mistreatment of Catholics are recorded in a 100-page document by two Northern Ireland priests published this week.

Fr Dennis Faul, of Dungannon and Fr Raymond Murray, of Armagh, have collected an impressive number of detailed, signed statements involving RUC ill-treatment of Catholics since 1968.

They said no RUC member had been convicted of assaulting a prisoner since 1968, though Mr Merlyn Rees, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, answering a House of Commons question in February, reported 1,345 complaints alleging assault by the RUC had been received since January, 1970.

"Immunity from effective prosecution illustrates a serious level of corruption in the RUC. Their machinery of complaints has proved to be useless," they said.

The priests' report,. "The RUC: The Black and Blue Book," describes the failure of Sir Arthur Young, the former Chief Constable of the City of London, to reform the RUC when appointed in 1969, Under Sir Arthur, 31 Scotland Yard men were brought into the RUC, as well as fingerprint experts, after it was discovered that fingerprint records in Belfast had been "tampered with," the report said. These records were later found in a disused Ulster Volunteer Force dump in Derry. The RUC Police Federation blocked Sir Arthur's attempts at reform and finally the Scotland Yard men were sent home.

The recommendations made by Lord Hunt in his 1969 report that the RUC should be disarmed and made into a civilian police force, had also been ignored, the report said.

Detailed accounts by Catholics, some as young as 17, of the interrogation techniques used in the RUC Interrogation and Detention Centre at Ballykelly, many of whom were picked up for apparently no good reason, record use of hooding, hairpulling, simulated executions to terrify individuals arrested, prisoners being struck cursed, deprived of sleep and other forms of mistreatment.

Other well-documented incidents record less restrained brutality and several cases of RUC involvement in various killings of Catholics.

Another part of' the priests' report describes the plight of Catholics in Northern Ireland's first planned new town, Newtownabbey, where the Catholic population has dropped by over 6 per cent to 22 per cent since 1969.

Protestant extremist groups patrol the area openly in paramilitary dress and Catholics have been driven out by intimidation and fear of intimidation.

An unpublished report of the Community Relations Commission on the area reported "intimidation against Catholic families in Ratheoole (a district of Newtownabbey) was almost an everyday occurrence following the disturbances which resulted from the reintroduction of internment in August, 1971". The Commission found definite sympathy existed between the RUC and the intimidating "loyalist" orgarnsations.

The report concludes: "The RUC is an anti-Catholic paramilitary force, in spite of having a Catholic at present as Chief

Constable." Only 4 per cent of the force was Catholic — one out of every 300 constables under the age of 30. The Catholic population had given up making complaints which had no effect.

In June three judges from the European Commission of Human Rights al Strasbourg visited Northern Ireland to investigate complaints of brutality made by the Government of the Irish Republic against the RUC and the British Army.

A spokesman at the Irish Embassy in London this week said the -presentation of evidenee at Strasbourg was completed hut a report had not yet been released.

Complaints of the distress caused by internment without trial and the treatment or internees has not ceased since it was introduced four yearsago. Up to 2,000 people have been jailed, though only 212 now remain in detention — all Catholics.

Mr, Rees said last week that he hoped the situation in Northern Ireland would have progressed sufficiently for all those interned to be released by Christmas. But he warnedlhat "he would not hesitate" to revert to internment if it were necessary.

Fr Null and Fr Murray have also this week published a report on internment entitled The Shame of Rees. In the case of internment, as with alleged mistreatment by the RUC, they have found it impossible to have complaints heard.

They say; "Priests and social workers have ceased to write to the Northern Ireland Office or to any official there. even at the top, about the cases of interned men who were ill or disturbed by nerves or who had family probleins."

Last 'April, the Catholic bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Armagh, said: "The continuation of internment without trial, now once again entirely one-sided in its operation, is another source of genuine grievance. It is difficult to defend its continuation, especially when a particular paramilitary organisation, which has been officially declared to be legal, openly boasts of named murders which it has committed:"

Later in April a joint interChurch report on internment pointed out the machinery of internment was riot a dminstered "with sufficient competence and humanity" and called for internment to be ended,

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