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People eulogising Gerry Conlon had 'no time for him' when he was in prison

Paul Hill, one of the Guildford Four, also said that the group had suffered a “greater miscarriage of justice than those who died in the Guildford, Woolwich and Birmingham bombings”.

Gerry Conlon outside the House of Commons with the letter of apology he received from Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005.
Gerry Conlon outside the House of Commons with the letter of apology he received from Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005.
Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

VERY FEW OF the people who have been eulogising Gerry Conlon “had any time for him” when he was prison, according to Paul Hill, another of the wrongly-convicted Guildford Four.

Hill told RTE’s This Week that hearing about Conlon’s death brought back “a lot of different emotions and memories”.

He said that is was “ironic” to see Conlon eulogised by politicians and journalists who had ignored him when he was behind bars.

When he’s being eulogised today, those people should look in the mirror and say ‘What did I do for those individuals?’
“It was only very late in the day that successive Irish governments got involved in the case … The Intelligence Service were well aware that the people in the Birmingham case and the people in the Guildford case were totally innocent”.

Hill, who now lives in the US, said it was “rather fitting … it was a very grey day” when he received the phone call telling him of Conlon’s passing yesterday.

‘Miscarriage of justice’

The two men, alongside Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong, were wrongly convicted in 1975 for an IRA bomb that killed five people in Guildford, including four off-duty soldiers.

They were jailed for life but released in in 1989. British Prime Minister Tony Blair apologised to the group in 2005.

Hill said that the four had suffered a “greater miscarriage of justice than those who died in the Guildford, Woolwich and Birmingham bombings”.

He acknowledged that Conlon had “a more difficult time than the rest of us”.

“He lost his father [Guiseppe]. His father died in prison. His father was never going to be released.

Gerry had a bigger burden to carry than the rest of us and he didn’t deal with that well. He would be first to admit he didn’t deal with it well. 

‘Any Paddy will do’

Seamus Mallon, the former SDLP politician and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, said that the attitude of the UK police during the Troubles was:

Any Paddy will do, we’ll get a few for each crime and we’ll put them in jail. It happened in Birmingham and it happened here.

Mallon said that the IRA didn’t act to help free the Guildford Four because they weren’t members of the organisation.

“It was nothing to them,” he commented.

When asked about the IRA, Hill said “What about the IRA? It’s political point-scoring so what do we say?”

It’s not a time for scoring political points, a man has died.

“Gerry is finally released, as it were.”

Read: Gerry Conlon, one of the Guilford Four, dies aged 60

Related: Politicians express their condolences on the death of Gerry Conlon

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Órla Ryan

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