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banner Tuesday, 1 January, 2002, 11:28 GMT
Transcripts: Patrick McClean - The Internee
Patrick McClean
Patrick McClean describes being subjected to torture
Patrick McClean was one of the 342 men interned in Northern Ireland in 1971. He had previously been arrested in 1969 and held at Cromlyn Road Prison.

BBC Television's UK Confidential programme spoke to him about his experiences as an internee.

Documents released under the 30-year rule reveal that the British Government were lent on at the time by the Irish Prime Minister Brian Faulkner, to offer their support for internment and they agreed to try and avoid direct rule.

McClean describes being tortured and badly fed during his days in prison in an interview to UK Confidential. Here are the edited highlights of that interview.


So why did they intern you?

I can't answer that question because I have never got an answer to that question.

Even after all these years?

Even after all these years. Brian Faulkner who was Prime Minister at the time, said there were three types of people interned: There were active gun men; there were those who would have supported active gun men, and there were those who would have protested about the introduction of special paras act, and against internment.


I was put through various forms of what I would call torture.

Patrick McClean
The other thing was that when I was at the International Court in Strasbourg - I do believe it was a Mr. Silkin who was the Attorney General - and when he was asked: "What is against this man?" He was asked, because I was in the witness box, and he wasn't able to put any documentation on the table, as to why I should have been interned.

So I'm afraid, I'm sorry to say, I can't answer your question. I don't know, other than, the whole political implications of it, and I do know perfectly well in that sense, because the government of the day had to be seen to be doing something.

Whether it was the British Government, or our own local government, or a combination of both. And, the story was put out although it wasn't accurate, that internment had quailed all the Storments before, and it would do so again. They found out different, and we told them before it, that that wasn't any solution.

Did you suspect internment was coming?

We knew, and I knew, that there would be internment because I was arrested in 1969 - and that was two years before it - and taken up to the police station, and when the local sergeant rang up for me to Mr. Porter, who was Minister at the time to his office, he came back and he said to me: "Porter wants heads in Cromlyn." That was in Cromlyn Road Prison. So at any time internment could have happened.

Just tell me what happened when you were actually lifted that morning?

I remember it well because I had been sitting up with my mother in law who was very ill and she died the next day. So I had just had a few hours in bed when the door was knocked and the army came, not the police, the army came, got me up out of bed. Took me into the army camp.

What did they say when they came knocking on your door?

They didn't say anything. They just said: "Come on," and I had to sort of beg to get on my clothes. My wife begged as well: "Let this man put on his clothes."

Did they check who you were? Did they say, "Are you Mr. P.J. McClean?"

I can't remember them saying anything, other than, "come with us." and I was expecting to be taken into the police barracks, but I was taken into the army camp, and that was at four o'clock in the morning.

From there, lorries were provided to take all the others who were arrested as well on to McGilligan Camp, and we were kept there for two days and processed there.

Brian Faulkner
Brian Faulkner was Northern Ireland's Prime Minister in 1971
Now I know the detective well who asked me the questions, and I asked him: "Why - why am I here?" and he said "I don't know." And he gave me a card and he wrote something on it, and he said: "That'll take you to that camp there."

And when I was going there I was stopped by a military policeman, and he said: "No, that's wrong. You are not going there, you are going there." Those four including me, were then taken away to an unknown destination, and we didn't reappear for another seven days.

And what happened to you at that destination?

At that destination, I thought that I was the only one because I didn't see anybody else all that time. I thought I was the only one. And I was put through various forms of what I would call torture, but what was described subsequently as cruel and degrading treatment.

What were you wearing? Can you describe how you looked?

I was put into an army boiler suit, and a hood was tied over my head.

Tied?

Yes, and that's the way that I was kept for most of that time, until I was due to come back to Cromlyn Road Prison.

And what did they do to you?

All sorts of, what I would describe as torture, but what they described as other things. And that included getting me up on their shoulders, throwing me on the ground, starving me for long periods against the wall. Running me over a table, back and forth. Putting me up against a wall until you fell.

All that sort of thing. It's all recorded and I don't want to really live there, you know, I want to get away from that, and have got away from that.

There was noise wasn't there?

There was a white heat and a white blinding noise, that reminded me at the time of a jet engine in an aeroplane. And that level of noise kept going all the time.

What about food and drink?

I didn't get food. I didn't get drink for a number of days.

And food?

No food. I didn't get food.

I thought there was dry bread?

No, I didn't get food. I'm talking about food that you can eat with a knife and fork. I didn't get that sort of food for days, until I was ready to come back to the Cromlyn Road Prison, but they came round with dry bread, as you say, and water.

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Patrick McClean
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