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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Republicans 'to sue government' over NI internment

Republicans 'to sue government' over NI internment

A republican prisoner group plans to serve writs on the Northern Ireland Secretary and the British Government, on the 40th anniversary of internment.

The Coiste delegation will deliver the writs at Stormont on Tuesday morning.

In the early hours of 9 August 1971, dozens of people were rounded up in Northern Ireland by security forces in an attempt to bring an end to violence.

Three hundred and forty-two people, suspected by the police of being in the IRA, were detained without trial.

However, the Troubles only intensified - 17 people were killed in the next 48 hours and there was rioting in nationalist areas.

More than 100 others on the list to be interned were able to flee and escape the raids.

Of the 342 people arrested in the first day of internment, 104 were released within 48 hours.

The policy was ended in December 1975 by then Secretary of State Merlyn Rees and the final 75 detainees released.

The majority of internees - 1,874 - were nationalists, but more than 100 were loyalists.

Many claimed they had no connection to paramilitary organisations and some of the intelligence used to identify suspects is believed to have been badly out of date.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, who served as a soldier in Northern Ireland, said he believes internment only made things worse.

"To quote my company commander at the time when I arrived in 1975, he said 'if we hadn't of introduced internment three or four years ago I reckon we'd have gone home a long time ago,'" Mr Mercer said.

"I think it stoked the conflict up for at least the next 10 years, if not 20."

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