Hollywood movie star George Clooney may be travelling to Belfast with his laywer wife Amal who is representing the ‘Hooded Men’ one of whom was Lurgan man Gerry McKerr who died recently.
Amal Clooney is travelling to the north next month as part of the legal team representing the men who have made serious claims of brutal torture at the hands of British soldiers and the RUC.
I’m definitely going to make a visit this summer. Amal has been several times, so she can show me around.George Clooney
The group of men said they were hooded, forced to listen to constant loud static noise, deprived of sleep, food and water, forced to stand in stress positions and beaten if they fell.
Top barrister Mrs Clooney has already worked on major legal cases with high profile clients including Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder fighting extradition from the UK to Sweden, as well as acting for the Greek government in a campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles.
Lurgan man Jim McIlmurray who has spearheaded the case is hoping the pair will visit Lurgan where one of the hooded men, the late Gerry McKerr, is from.
More than 500 people packed into Clan naGael club rooms last Friday night to hear each of the men recount harrowing accounts of the torture they suffered during the 70s.
It has emerged that as part of the case, she will accuse former Conservative Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath (below) of authorising the torture.
In 1976 the European Commission on Human Rights upheld a complaint by the Irish government that the men had been tortured, a ruling that was later overturned on appeal. The European Court ruled that the men had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment, but not torture. In December, the Irish government backed the men’s campaign to have the case reopened, stating that their treatment should be recognised as torture after new evidence emerged in British files.
Mrs Clooney has been brought on to the case by solicitors Kevin R Winters and Co.
It is expected that her husband will accompany her to Belfast after he talked about his links to Ireland. His great, great grandfather Nicholas Clooney was from Kilkenny.
He said: “I’m embarrassed that I’ve never been properly there before now. I’ve been talking about going there for years and Bono has been trying to get me to do a bike ride around Ireland with him.
“I’m definitely going to make a visit this summer. Amal has been several times, so she can show me around.”
The 14 ‘hooded men’ some of whom have since died, were held under the internment without trial policy in 1971. Techniques used included hooding suspects, putting them into stress positions, sleep deprivation, food and water deprivation and the use of white noise. Some were thrown from helicopters after being told they were high in the air when they were only feet from the ground.