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Henry McDonald
Gender Male
Job The Guardian Staff Writer
  Ireland Correspondent
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Media The Guardian

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Coworker Ruth Michaelson

2015 02 09 Publish

Amal Clooney has joined a legal team representing 11 prisoners known as the ‘hooded men’ who allege they were tortured by the British army at the start of the Northern Ireland Troubles. She is working with other lawyers from Belfast, Dublin and London to persuade the European court of human rights to censure the UK over the men’s treatment and to officially brand it as torture

In 1978 the European court of human rights admonished Britain for its inhuman and degrading treatment of the 14 prisoners but fell short of finding the UK guilty of torture. The techniques inflicted on the detainees included hooding suspects, putting them into stress positions, sleep deprivation, food and water deprivation and the use of white noise. They were arrested as a result of the British policy of internment without trial in 1971 when thosusands of suspects, mainly from Ireland’s nationalist-republican community, were rounded up

In June last year an RTÉ documentary called The Torture Files said documents uncovered from the UK national archive revealed that the government knew its core argument - that the effects of techniques used on the hooded men were not severe or long-lasting - was untrue

2017 06 14 Publish

Leo Varadkar, 38, was formally elected taoiseach at a confirmation ceremony in the Dáil in Dublin after he won the Fine Gael party leadership earlier this month. Enda Kenny, who stepped down after six years, said his successor represented a ‘modest, diverse and inclusive Ireland’

Pro-choice reformers say the country cannot liberalise its strict anti-abortion law until the eighth amendment, which gives equal citizenship to the foetus in the womb, is abolished, but a second referendum would be needed

Varadkar won the vote by 57 votes to 50, with 47 abstaining. Micheál Martin, the leader of Fianna Fáil, the Dáil’s second largest party

Leo Varadkar becomes the EU’s youngest national leader, with Jüri Ratas, the 38-year-old Estonian prime minister, and Emmanuel Macron, 39, of France, joining him as a trio under 40

Leo Varadkar studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin and completed his six-year degree in April 2003. He was a member of Young Fine Gael on campus and was elected as a councillor with 5,000 first preference votes a year after he entered politics

After the Dáil approved his nomination, Varadkar was taken by ministerial car to Phoenix Park in Dublin, the official residence of Ireland’s president, Michael Higgins, who handed over the seal of approval that officially marks the Fine Gael chief as taoiseach of Ireland.

2019 09 24 Retrieve

[On punk rock, football hooliganism, paramilitaries, and his new novel Two Souls] [Henry grew up in Belfast in the midst of the Troubles] Anyone could’ve been sucked in. The violence was very seductive. For a lot of people - it was a juncture. Every person faces these junctures in their lives, but the difference is that where we came from, the direction you chose could be a matter of life or death

It made me think back to the ’70s and ’80s and what it was all about. The story started whirring in my brain. The thing that I always wanted was for this book to be more universal than just about Belfast and the Troubles. I’m fascinated by how sexual jealousy and sexual frustration can lead people towards violence. There’s a solidarity in violence for a lot of people, a comfort in it. Seriously, it was like the certainty of violence could become a comfort blanket

It isn’t autobiographical but it’s based on the experiences I went through in the ’70s and the ’80s, and the people who I grew up with. In school and where I lived, a lot of people either went to Milltown cemetery or the Maze prison because of choices they made. So this was based on raw experience - but distilled and worked on

I’m fascinated by the idea of two selves. I had this epiphany about 40 years ago. On school days, I used to get the bus to St. Malachy’s when it was too cold to walk, and I’d talk to this guy called Gaudy, who went to Boys Royal Academy. We’d talk about bands and who we liked, who we didn’t. I used to see him in town at the record shops as well.

Then I remember being at a Cliftonville game and there was a load of young Glentoran fans howling sectarian abuse at us through the segregated fence - and there was Gaudy leading them, screaming ‘You dirty Fenians’! I remember he looked at me, clocked who I was, and turned away like he was embarrassed. Truth be told I was probably screaming the same shite at him. But that moment of recognition always stuck with me. We were all living double-lives. That was one of the origins of this book

Some of the shite being said at the minute about Brexit and the border is ridiculous, mainly by ‘singing for their supper’ journalists in Dublin, who tour London newsrooms with their messages of doom and gloom. They’re the new rewriters of history.

The historian Ed Moloney - someone who I highly respect - said that up to 30% of the IRA were infiltrated by the various branches of the British security forces during the Troubles. So you ask yourself - what’s it going to be like for the dissidents? Given not only the money spent on defeating them, but the technological innovations in the last 25 years. Who are the only people they killed this year? Lyra McKee - who was a friend of mine. But the point is, the dissidents can go on and on about Brexit and how it’s giving them a boost, but they’re not a threat like the PIRA were. People are dishonestly ramping up the Brexit effect, saying ‘We’re going back to war’. No, we’re fucking not. It’s insulting. I find some journalists the worst offenders

I don’t even mind the fetishisation of it. What really gets me is the hyperbole, often for a cause that has nothing to do with Northern Ireland. And I do think that it’s mainly people who are anti-Brexit who are deliberately hyping up the efficacy of these groups like the New IRA, to make political, partisan points. It’s always a self-fulfilling prophecy - the more they say it, the more the eejits in the dissidents will think, ‘Let’s do it.’ But I do find it nauseating, some of the people who were great critics of Brussels, beating the drums of doom over Brexit

I was told to turn up at a hotel by the Bogside. I was heading towards it and this very fancy car screeched up. I was driven for ages, I assume west across the border. Then the car came to a halt on this country road. I kept thinking of all the people over the last 25/30 years who’d been driven out like this with binbags over their head, who’d then been shot.

Then another car pulls up, and this guy gets out with a written statement and he tells me to take it down. I take out my notebook and write the statement down. It’s basically the New IRA announcing their existence. As soon as I’d written it, the guy burns his statement and drives off again. Then half an hour later, another car arrives and drives me back to the Bogside. Very strange, very bizarre, almost comedic