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17 September 1998 Edition

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Commission has over 1000 submissions

by Laura Friel

A last-minute rush is believed to have brought the number of submissions to the British government's Commission on Policing to over a thousand, just a week after the Commission had complained that it had received less than 300 submissions.

One of the last-minute submission was one compiled by ex-internees. It was delivered by Liam Shannon, one of the `hooded' men, just hours before the Commission's 15 September deadline.

In a six page document, ex-internees detail their collective experience of ``torture and ill treatment'' at the hands of the RUC. The submission states, ``Our experiences are not isolated or confined to one period of the conflict in our country, but reflect the experience of thousands of Irish men and women who have passed through RUC barracks and interogation centres over the past thirty years.''

The document concludes, ``The brutality and cruelty of the Human Rights violations perpetrated on us are indicative of the ethos, culture and personnel of the RUC.''

The submission details the types of physical and psychological torture endured by detainees which have been documented by Human Rights groups such as Amnesty International as well as admissions by the British government themselves. It makes particular reference to the periods in which the now RUC Chief Ronnie Flannagan had specific duties in one of the most notorious interrogation centres in the North. According to the submission Flanagan was a sergeant at Castlereagh in 1971-73, a period when ``the European Commission found the British government guilty of torture and the European Court subsequently found the British government guilty of inhumane and degrading treatment.''

During the period covered by the Bennett report, Flanagan returned to Castlereagh as Duty Inspector, a role with responsibility to supervise and monitor interrogations. The submission concludes, ``Ronnie Flanagan either failed in his duty to supervise interrogations which led to the torture of detainees or condoned and actively allowed the use of torture.''

A submission by the Centre for Human Rights called for the the RUC to be disbanded. Highlighting concerns of collusion between the RUC and loyalist paramilitaries, Anne Monaghan called for the establishment of a ``new non-partisan police force''.

``The centre is concerned that the British government will not go far enough in their attempt to bring about the kind of police service that is required. It is obvious that the RUC do not have, will not have, and cannot regain the confidence of the nationalist community,'' she said.

Late submissions to the Commission will be accepted but contributors are advised that submissions past the deadline cannot be expected to carry the same weight.

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