TWO former republican prisoners beaten as teenage inmates in the 1970s are to receive “five-figure” compensation pay-outs.
The awards were made to North Belfast men Francis Hamilton and Patrick Harkin in claims determined by the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Redress Board. Lawyers for the pair said their cases are among an increasing number of ex-political detainees securing financial remedy for what they suffered as youths.
Mr Hamilton (64) claimed over his treatment while being held at Crumlin Road Prison and Long Kesh between 1974 and 1975. He endured heavy levels of physical abuse from both staff and other prisoners, it was alleged.
One incident involved the deployment of CS gas and being beaten by British Army soldiers when a fire broke out at the Long Kesh detention camp in October 1974. He was beaten and forced to “run the gauntlet” in order to get food which, at times, amounted to just two slices of bread and a single glass of milk per day, according to his lawyers.
Mr Hamilton recalled one soldier allegedly stating: “That child’s petrified, he shouldn’t even be here.”
A claim was also brought on behalf of Mr Harkin (63) over his treatment after being remanded at Crumlin Road Prison as a 14-year-old in 1974. He was repeatedly slapped and punched in the face by prison staff as well as living with constant threats from other prisoners, according to his case.
Mr Harkin described being put into a punishment cell because he was too young to go into the general prison population, and removed to a hospital wing on 23-hour lock up.
Both men’s applications to the HIA Redress Board also involved their alleged treatment at St Patrick’s Training School.
Their legal representatives, KRW Law, revealed that both men are to receive “significant five-figure compensation sums”.
Padraig McIlkinney, of the Belfast firm’s Historic Abuse and Redress Department said: “These cases are the latest settlements for a number of former republican and loyalist prisoners detained when they were young boys.
“The unacceptable conditions Frankie and Paddy had to live in typified the abuse suffered by so many other detained children during this time in the conflict.”
Mr McIlkinney added: “I am pleased that once again we have seen some State recognition of the ordeals sustained by ex-political prisoners. I commend the HIA (Redress Board) in their decision making.”