Context: Research for Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control
Date: 9th November 2004
Interviewee: Monsignor Denis Faul
Monsignor Denis Faul was a prominent campaigner for civil rights in Northern Ireland. Here he talks about ‘Interrogation in Depth’ and reveals how he and his colleagues managed to discover what the British Army was up to in 1971, then get the word of the abuses out in the Press. I like his take on US interrogation techniques and Guantanamo Bay.
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Where were you at the time of Internment?
In 1971 I was teaching in a grammar school, St Barter’s (sp). I was up there for years but I was on holiday. I was applying for a place in Pomeroy which is in County Tyrone, and the Internment day was 9th August, which I think was a Monday, and on Wednesday after Mass a man came in to see me, a past pupil of mine, he was a young teacher and he said ‘I was taken away to be interned and we were brutally ill-treated’. I said ‘Where did this happen?’ He said ‘I think it was Ballykinder’. The British army stamped on them and kicked them around and put them into stress positions and treated them very, very badly. ‘Oh, it happened to everybody’, he said.
I got in touch with a colleague of mine, Fr Brian Brady in Belfast, and he’d had the same very bad reports from Belfast. So I went down to Belfast and we straight away got a number of priests together and we started recording the statements from all these people and eventually we formed a little group, the Association for Legal Justice… We got together some excellent men who worked very, very hard, set up a little office at the bottom of the Falls Road and [interviewed] everybody who was interrogated by the police or had been in and out. We gathered a terrible picture of ill-treatment over the next – well it went on for the next nine years. But then a few days went past and we were told by relatives that a number of people were missing. There was in particular a young man here, Paddy Joe Maclean, who was also a teacher and a good friend of mine and a very peaceful man. The relatives could get no trace of them.
His wife contacted you?
Yes, as far as I remember, the message came to me, probably from the wives – the relations and different ones – and we couldn’t work out where these people were. We worked out eventually that there were about 10 – I think it was 12 – and there were 2 more later on, that were missing from different parts.
I went to Belfast every day and we were collaborating together to put together this information. It was most mysterious: these ten were missing. It began to get into the Irish news, the local papers a little bit about this but not very much. Eventually then after about 7 or 8 days we found these men had arrived back into the Crumlin Road prison, which was a remand prison in Belfast and we were able then to get the whole story. Some of our staff and workers got the whole story then – had to be 16th or 17th August 1971, we began to get the story. So by about the 21st, we had the whole story
How did you get the story?
We advertised and made it known public that we were taking statements. People came to Belfast and relatives got in touch with us from different parts…it was that little committee, a number of priests in Belfast. People came up to the Falls Road and saw the group and told them. The relatives were in a state of terror and they just went to anyone to tell them. And we managed to assemble the material and find out that there was 10, I think, that were missing.
You were phoning the authorities?
Oh yes. But they would put you off. We did that, I did a lot of that. But they wouldn’t tell you about it, they didn’t seem to know themselves.
You rang up…
Yes. ‘I’m looking for Sean McKenna, where is Sean McKenna? His mother or his wife is looking for him’ (he was one of the ones from Newry and then there were two from Armagh). As you can see it was a rather confused situation, we were trying to gather a bit of information here, a bit of information there. We thought at first it was simply – since they had taken in 330 men and let out a good number of them all right, like my teacher friend who came to Mass. We thought it was just a bit of bureaucratic confusion, that these men would turn up somewhere.
Then they turned up and we found how they had been treated. Hooded, put in stress positions, and beaten up for seven days non-stop, day and night. We immediately recognised this as torture. We gathered up all the facts as best we could. Father Brady went to the ** (hotel). I also conveyed the information to Cardinal Conway but he had it already.
How did he get it?
He got it from Paddy Joe Maclean. As soon as Paddy Joe got back to the Crumlin Rd Prison, about 16th, 17 August, he wrote it all out and gave it to one of the prison officers who took it to Cardinal Conway. When I saw Conway he already had got it from Paddy Joe. He went over to see Mr [Edward] Heath. But I didn’t know that.
We went to the Sunday Times Insight Team on 24, 25 August and we gave it all to them. We thought it was a great scoop. It never appeared.