Kevin Barry was captured on 20th September 1920 during an attack on a British army truck in Dublin in which three British soldiers were killed.
The other Irish volunteers had escaped and the British were determined to find out their names.
They interrogated Barry in Mountjoy Jail but he wouldn’t tell them anything except his name and address in Dublin.The authorities then resorted to torture. Barry’s brigade commander got to hear about this and ordered him to make a sworn affidavit describing the treatment he received. Barry made the following statement, which was smuggled out of the prison by his sister Kathy.
In this following extract, he describes what happened when the interrogating officer asked about the names of his companions.
“The sergeant then said that he would run the bayonet into me if I did not tell. . . The same officer then said to me that if I persisted in my attitude he would turn me out to the men in the barrack square, and he supposed I knew what that meant with the men in their present temper. I said nothing. He ordered the sergeants to put me face down on the floor and twist my arm. . .
“When I lay on the floor, one of the sergeants knelt on my back, the other two placed one foot each on my back and left shoulder, and the man who knelt on me twisted my right arm, holding it by the wrist with one hand, while he held my hair with the other to pull back my head. The arm was twisted from the elbow joint. This continued, to the best of my judgment, for five minutes.
“It was very painful. . . I still persisted in refusing to answer these questions. . . A civilian came in and repeated the questions, with the same result. He informed me that if I gave all the information I knew I could get off.”
Barry held firm throughout and revealed nothing. His affidavit was published in the Irish papers and outraged public opinion.
There were further debates about whether he should given prisoner of war status but the British authorities refused to budge. His trial date was set and few doubted that he was likely to be sentenced to death.