After most of Ireland got independence around 1919 to 1921, Northern Ireland was the only part to remain under British rule. This led to dissatisfaction within Northern Ireland, leading to increased tension in the Irish Republican Army, which opposed the British Empire. The original purpose of the I.R.A, (aka, Irish Republican Army), was mainly to keep the Brits out of Ireland and protect its sovereignty. Eventually, the group contained different political views which led to the division of the I.R.A into subgroups; the Anti Treaty I.R.A, the official I.R.A, the provisional I.R.A, the continuity I.R.A, and the Real I.R.A.

Following independence, an Irish Civil War started between two opposing forces, the Anti-Treaty I.R.A with the Pro-treaty I.R.A. For the U.S, a neutral Ireland in an East-West War would be somewhat bearable, however, it would come in between since they would have to consider neutral Ireland’s help only in conceivable circumstances.

At that time, the U.S believed that Ireland was already aligned with the West. It was strongly Catholic and anti-communist, and in spite of military weakness and the Partition issue, it would probably not remain neutral in an East-West war. The Partition issue stems from the Government of Ireland Act of 1920, confirmed in the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. Under the Treaty, twenty-six of thirty-two counties in Ireland gained dominion status, but the six northeastern counties, established as Northern Ireland by the 1920 Act, remained in the United Kingdom. Partition was a constant nuisance in Anglo-Irish relations, where the Irish Government was refusing to join any military alliance that included the United Kingdom, one of them being NATO. (1)

Torture and Behavioral Experiments in Northern Ireland

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Inside Long Kesh/ Maze Prison where Irish Republican Army prisoners were supposedly tortured

Around 1971 the British Government introduced internment in Northern Ireland, (the order to arrest any republican terrorist suspects without a trial), due to the constant unrest caused by the I.R.A groups. This caused the Catholic community to take it as a personal attack. In August of that year, Northern Ireland had arrested around 342 men, the majority of them being Catholics with links to the I.R.A. (2)

After some time, claims of violation of Human Rights within several Northern Ireland prisons (Long Kesh, Maze Prison, and others) had been a hot topic in Europe. In April 1971, the Dublin government presented to the Europeans court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, a detailed list of over 200 cases of torture committed against Catholics by members of the expeditionary forces. That document served as proof, at the time, that England was guilty. (3) In 1977 Rep. Benjamin Rosenthal (DNY), wanted Congress to investigate a few claims where the British Government had been accused of torturing Northern Ireland prisoners in inhumane ways. He warned that the Soviet Union may “cite the example of Northern Ireland, to counter western charges of Human Rights violations within the eastern bloc.

It had been charged, at the time, that brutalities have continued in Northern Ireland despite empathetic British statements that the mistreatment of Irish detainees ended in 1972. That many prisoners were being deprived of food, water, and sleep for long periods of time. Claiming, that they were held in rooms without windows to disorient them, that they were exposed to white noise and that the police would fire blank cartridges at them in a frightening perversion game of Russian Roulette. Where they were forced to perform exhausting physical exercises or to run barefoot across glass straw floors, as well as crude, physically dangerous strip searches. (4) (5)

Around 1972, Dr. Rona Field, a clinical psychologist from Washington, conducted an investigation back in Northern Ireland where she stated that her investigation shows evidence that psychological torture, as well as physical abuse, was being used in the interrogation of catholic prisoners held in internment camps. (6) In her book “Northern Ireland: Society under siege”, she claims that detainees were also subjected to sensory deprivation, sensory overstimulation, de-oxygenation, massive ego threat, beatings, massive doses of tranquilizers, overcrowding, extreme stress resulting from enforced sleep deprivation, and dietary insufficiencies, along with physical annihilation. These techniques, which have been known as “Brainwashings”, are oriented towards the destruction of one’s individual identity, increased suggestibility, deterioration of cognitive capacities, and “conversion phenomena”. She commented on how certain inmates, like Patrick Crawford, committed suicide, slashed their wrists, overdosed, banged their heads in water pipes, or got into fights deliberately.

While one might think that these prisoners were only people who have participated in terror acts, some of these people were in fact individuals who happened to know someone from the I.R.A, participate in, or promote the I.R.A. Individuals who could or could not have direct ties to the I.R.A.

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Picture of the Hooded men: Accused by the British Government of belonging to the Irish Republican Army

According to Dr. Fields’ book, during the first two months of internment, at least 14 men were subjected to a depth interrogation treatment, which later on became known as “the hooding treatment”. The term comes from the days and nights of interrogation torture, where their heads were kept covered by thick cloth bags. Those same 14 men became known as the “Hooded Men”, who still until this day seek justice. (7)

These men insist that they have undergone psychological along with physical torture and that they still deal with the consequences of these traumas. Justice has yet to be served, in 2018 the appeal by the Irish Government, on behalf of the Hooded Men, was rejected by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). (8) With, just last year in 2021, the Police Service of Northern Ireland considered whether there was sufficient evidence to warrant a new investigation, but concluded there was not. Even though the supreme court called such a decision “irrational”. (9)

According to a CIA, (Central Intelligence Agency), file on Behavior manipulation, some prisoners went through experiments where they ended up developing extreme psyche dysfunctions. Experiments described as follows;

  • – Standing with elevated hands up for 6 hours
  • – Decreased Sensors (such as; the ability to hear, think, and act rationally), by playing extreme loud noises and disorientation methods where the visual sensor was covered. For example; Subjects went through different scenarios without being able to see, including mounting helicopters, passing by barking dogs, going up and down the stairs without any chronological order, multiple times. Which led to confusion and loss of sanity.
  • – Sleep deprivation of 48 hours, which caused psychotic-like symptoms
  • – Starvation/ Malnutrition: where prisoners were only fed bread and water for 6 days straight.
  • – High-frequency waves and sensory deprivation research methods that have been outlawed for use on humans, by the American psychological association.

For me, it seems that they knew what they were doing, they didn’t seem to be doing all of this just for the sake of revenge towards the IRA.

As a subject example, it was mentioned how the release of a 40-year-old man showed that his mental stability and his physical stability were never the same, he walked like he was 65 years old. (10)

Most prisons were abandoned throughout the years or shut down, but they remain open for tourist tours and are seen as historical places.

CIAs smuggling of weapons to the I.R.A

Michael Flannery 1921
Picture of Michael Flannery, founder of Noraid

In February 1983, a prosecutor charged four men from the New York area with conspiring to obtain guns, explosives, and missiles for the Provisional I.R.A. All four men stated that they support the goal of ousting the British from Northern Ireland by the Irish Republican Army.

An attorney for two of the defendants admitted that their clients worked to get most of the weapons, but that they are not guilty since they were illegally entrapped by a government informant into thinking they worked with the C.I.A. (11) The verdicts argued that there was indeed CIA involvement, FBI entrapment, and that they were tortured in a Northern Ireland jail. Where two defendants, mainly the Meehan brothers, were tortured for two and a half years in Long Kesh Prison, without having any right to a trial. (12)

The defendants were; Gabriel Megahey, Andrew Duggan, Eamon Moehan, and Colm Meehan.

The chief prosecutor, Carol B. Amon, said that one of the defendants had asked the informant, Michael Hanratty, who later agreed to become an informant for the government. She stated that the goal was to obtain as many guns, as many ammunition, as many explosives, and as many surface-to-air missiles as they could to export to the provisional I.R.A in Northern Ireland.

Attorney Bruce Goldstone told the Jury that his client, Mr. Megahey, was innocent because he had believed he was working with the CIA. The claims of the CIA’s involvement existed because Mr. Michael Hanratty was an operative of the CIA who presented himself as acting on the behalf of the U.S Government. Edward Panzer, the lawyer of Mr. Duggan presented a similar argument. As a response, the CIA came out stating that Mr. Hanratty had never worked for the organization. (13)

In 1983, Michael Flannery, the founder of Noraid, (aka Irish Northern Aid Committee), an Irish American membership organization to aid in the creation of a United Ireland, was acquitted of charges that he supplied a friend with 17,000 dollars to purchase weapons for the I.R.A. He insisted to the jury, that he believed the money would be going to a CIA operative, while never denying his support towards the Irish Republican Army which he joined when he was 14 years old. (14)

Two years later, the funds of Noraid were accused of being diverted for the purchase of guns and bomb-making equipment for the Provisional IRA according to U.S Federal court documents. The funds raised through pub collections and testimonial dinners by Noraid of New york city were channeled through “An Cumman Cabhrach”, a relief organization in Dublin, that also worked with Green Cross. However, on several occasions in 1982 and 1983, some Noraid funds were siphoned off to finance the IRA, shopping expeditions in the U.S for guns and other military hardware, according to the testimony of Michael Hanratty.

Money supplied by Noraid was sent to Ireland, Hanratty testified. When the equipment was to be purchased a courtier would take some of the money that was needed and carried it back to the U.S. It was direct triangulation money, sent there and then transported back.

Although Hanratty’s statement about Noraid did not play a significant role in the prosecution of Mr. Megahey and Mr. Duggan, it remains the strongest piece of evidence. Noraid only came to the public eye, following reports that the U.S was the source of seven tons of Irish Republican Army arms confiscated. A spokesman of Noraid responded to the claims saying; “Noraid categorically rejects the false suggestion that our committee funds were involved with the shipment of weapons seized in Kerry or with any shipments of weapons.”

However, the founder of Noraid eventually approved the smuggling of weapons but denied involvement with the Irish Republican Army. (14)

Around the same time that the four defendants testified, another five defendants in the district Judge Joseph M. Mclaughlin’s courtroom, Brooklyn, were charged with running guns and a cannon to the I.R.A. Just like the past four, the five defendants accused the CIA of being their silent partner. Veteran defender, Frank Durkan, said that his client, George Harrison was not guilty of any crimes against the U.S because he had the approval of the U.S Government while he was shipping more than 1,000 guns and 900,000 rounds of ammunition to Northern Ireland in the past 20 years.

“The CIA has been as active in Northern Ireland as it has been in the rest of the world”, Mr. Durkan said. He continued by saying that he would show that his client’s actions were sanctioned and approved by the CIA because the arms dealer who supplied Mr. Harrison with guns, during those 20 years, was George DeMeo, whom he claimed to be a CIA member. “A brotherhood bond that was created in Washington” he stated. (15)

Did the CIA work with New York Mafia families?

Picture of the I.R.A

George DeMeo was an Italian-American arms dealer, known to have mafia connections, in particular with the DeMeo Crew. Where its founder Roy DeMeo has been known to be involved in the Lucchese Mafia Family as well as with the Gambino Mafia Family, two of the five families known to dominate organized crime in New york. Not only has George DeMeo been known for supplying arms for the Irish Republican Army but also for Cuban Rebels. (16)

In 1969, the New York Times reported that a gun dealer, Earl V. Redick Sr, and his attorney, Carl A. Barrington Jr, hand hinted in an interview that the CIA had been connected with a weapons cache that was seized in Fayetteville, N. C. and had been linked to Gen. Carl C. Turner, former provost marshal general. The cache was located in Mr. Redicks Farm home and had been used as a way station for weapons being shipped out of the country. Government officials called the story of being “absolutely untrue”, and that the CIA had no connection to the North California gun cache. An investigator told the senate inquiry, however, that 23 guns found in raids on the farm and shop of Mr. Redick, had indeed been traced back to Mr. Turner.

The investigator claimed a five-ton weapons cache on Redick’s farm was bound for revolutionaries in Haiti. Redick’s attorney responded to it, by claiming that it was part of a shipment intended for the West African republic of chad. Redick became involved when an old friend, gun dealer George Demeo, leased Redick’s warehouse to store the guns. At the time, New York records didn’t list a gun dealer named George Demeo, but a man given that name had apparently been arrested in July 1965 with two others, charged with putting together an illegal gun stockpile in Brooklyn for shipment to anti-Castro elements in Cuba.

Demeo had contracted with the state department’s approval to sell two shipments of firearms to Chad in 1968. After making one shipment, Demeo was told in early 1969 to store the second shipment in Southern U.S, this was when the guns were sent to Redick’s Warehouse. (17)

Who is telling the truth?

How exactly the CIA was involved in the I.R.A and “why” is still not clear until this day. We do in fact see too many claims from various sides claiming their involvement, but it has yet to be stated the “Why?”. We do know that around the time of the civil war in Northern Ireland, NATO was making steps toward integrating Ireland into the alliance. However, as stated above, Ireland was refusing to join any alliance involving Britain until the conflict got fixed.

While many believe it had been to protect the U.S oilfields in Belfast, one must question if the U.S government would go that far into shattering the U.S-Anglo relationship by supplying Anti-British forces with weapons.

2 Colin Wallace for
Picture of Colin Wallace

In 1987, the chairman of the 119 Member bi partisan Ad Hoc Congressional Committee for Irish Affairs, wrote a letter to request that William Webster, director of the CIA at the time, undertook an investigation on the allegations made in a Jack Anderson column of June 9th. Dealing with an effort by the British intelligence officials to distort the role of the CIA in Northern Ireland during the early 70s.

The column stated that the British Intelligence had printed and circulated fake CIA identity cards in Northern Ireland in an attempt to discredit the U.S spy agency, according to Colin Wallace, a senior official in the British Army.

Wallace claimed that the goal was to link the CIA to the IRA, claiming to have seen phony ID cards printed and photocopied. In a report to prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984, he stated; “I can recall the quite strong feeling in the British Intelligence circles that the CIA had not only turned a blind eye to arms smuggling from the USA to the IRA but also encouraged it.

The ID cards stated: “This certificate of credentials is issued under the authority of the CIA. It is requested that the bearer be afforded the necessary help to enable him to satisfactorily discharge his duties.” He said that the fake IDs were designed to create the impression that the CIA was present in Northern Ireland, and that the rumor was that the American Intelligence believed the Irish Republican Army could come under Eastern Bloc countries.

His reason to leave the service, was because he objected to the efforts by the British Intelligence to discredit and oust prime minister Harold Wilson. The CIA commented saying that they never heard of the alleged forgery of ID cards. But why the British would fabricate and encourage such claims, is not clear. (18) Wallaces’ claims today, are said to be misinformation.

The CIA’s involvement is almost undeniable. There were just so many claims from different subjects, it almost can’t fall under coincidence. Was it just the oilfields? The fear of Northern Ireland and eventually Ireland falling into Eastern bloc countries’ hands? What’s with the Mafia connections? Or was it indeed, all merely coincidence?

Who was behind the torture/experiments committed in Northern Irelands’ prisons, and did they serve a purpose outside pure rage?


  1. Anglo-Irish agreement – International Fund (
  2. Army warned against internment (BBC News) (
  3. FBIS West Europe Report (
  4. San Bernardino, 15th August 1977 (——-en–20–1–txt-txIN-northern+ireland+prison+deprivation——-1)
  5. New York Times, Torture an Official way of Life in 30 Countries (
  6. Dr. Rona Fields (
  7. Dr. Rona Fields Book; Society under Siege (Northern Ireland : society under siege : Fields, Rona M : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive)
  8. The Hooded Men – The independent (
  9. Ex-Provo contrasts “hooded men” case with IRA brutality (
  10. Offensive Behavior USSR- Irelands Prisons (
  11. Case outlined against 4 on Trial for dealing in Guns for IRA (
  12. The jury convicts 4 men of smuggling weapons to Irish outlaws (
  13. A marshal with a very martial air (
  15. Turning Tables on the CIA (
  16. Book: Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Empires
  17. Federal Agency tied to Turner Gun Deal (
  18. British Allegedly tried to link CIA, IRA (

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