The Government is to attempt to challenge a decision that the ill-treatment of a group of 14 prisoners, known as the ‘Hooded Men’, by the RUC and British Army does not qualify as torture.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejected the case taken by the Government on behalf of the men in March.

But following a Cabinet meeting today, it was confirmed that the Government is to seek a referral of the case to the Court's Grand Chamber, where 17 judges are involved.

The decision has been welcomed by Belfast solicitors, Madden and Finucane, which represents a daughter of one of the men.

The ‘Hooded Men’ are 14 prisoners who were subjected to ill-treatment when in RUC and British Army custody in 1971.

The Government brought its case to the European Court of Human Rights in 1978.

The court decided the men had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment but stopped short of calling it torture.

The decision has been cited to justify controversial behaviour on a number of occasions since then.

An RTÉ investigation revealed new information about the case four years ago.

It led to an appeal by the Government to the European Court of Human Rights. But this was rejected on 20 March.

Legal representatives of the ‘Hooded Men’ have been pressing the Government to challenge the ruling.

Madden and Finucane Solicitors, representing a daughter of one of them, said the Government had to indicate its intention before 20 June or the opportunity will be lost.

Yesterday in Dublin, it commenced a High Court action against the Government.

That case has been adjourned until tomorrow.

Read more on the Government's decision in this article by Rita O'Reilly of the RTÉ Investigations Unit