Gerry Conlon dies…

“To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.”

- Magna Carta 1215, clause 40

Sorry to hear of the passing of Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four who were wrongly arrested and convicted of the IRA’s bombing of two 6-pound gelignite bombs at two pubs in Guildford in Surrey.

The underlying tragedy (aside from five people killed in the first of what were for the time tiny bombs) of Conlons life was the implication of a large number of his wider family on evidence he thought at the time was so ridiculous it would be quickly found out and charges dropped.

Although I have very briefly met Paul Hill, another of those arrested and falsely charged, I didn’t know Conlon. I did however have a friend at College who had lived in the flat below them in London at the time, and who was also ‘lifted’ in the raid that took the others in.

For someone who was exonerated the process he and others went through was nothing short of brutal. In those days, you could detain someone for seven days, and all that was required for an extension was to bring the suspect in front of a court.

It took thirteen weeks of consistent denial along with endless questions about his personal politics, the nature of the books on his bookshelf and every so often being hauled out into the daylight and into the courtroom until the day his interrogator finally told him he was free.

Here’s a video of Conlon speaking at a recent conference of the organisation he helped to set up, Justice Watch Ireland

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  • SDLP supporter

    May you rest in peace, Gerry, now that you are re-united with your beloved mother, Sarah, Guiseppe, Annie and the others.

    As Joe Hendron once memorably said: “I don’t pray for Sarah Conlon, I pray to her.”

  • Roy Walsh

    May he rest in peace.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com John Mooney

    Agreeing totally with SDLP Supporter.
    Rest in Peace, Gerry…you deserve to rest in peace.

    A victim of anti Irish hysteria.
    But lest we forget there were other victims also. …people lost their lives at Guildford.
    The Dogs in the Street are better judges than the Old Bailey.
    Rather like denials of IRA membership make an old mongrel like myself raise an eyebrow….it didnt make any kinda sense that the Guilford Four and the Maguire family were guilty.
    And yet those who will now loudly proclaim that belatedly Gerry was innocent and that it all shows the worth of British justice in the end….were scathing of any Church or political person of being a fellow traveller if they actually raised a voice.
    Nationalism thrives on Injustice.
    And the IRA thrived on this. Senior Sinn Fein people will push themselves to the front over the next few days but frankly they will expose themselves as hypocrites.
    The IRA needed Gerry Conlon and Guisseppi Conlon in jail…as much as the British Establishment did.

    The imprisonment of Gerry Conlon and others is a grave injustice but only slightly more so than the fact that some people havent been imprisoned.
    Tony Blair issued the belated apology.
    It couldnt happen again of course. If the State needs innocent people in jail, it will put them there.
    But I have a feeling that in twenty odd years time, British politicians will still be apologising for trumped up evidence and dodgy dossiers.

  • gendjinn

    Fare thee well Gerry.

  • mr x

    Found an interesting quote in John Buchan’s life of Cromwell.It’s a quotation from Oliver St John, one of the members of the House of Lords involved in the sentencing of Strafford whose death in 1641 was followed by an uprising and many deaths in Ireland. ‘Why should he have law himself who would not that others should have any? We indeed give law to hares and deer because they are beasts of chase;but we give none to wolves or foxes, wherever they are found, because they are beasts of prey’.

  • keano10

    ” “They would urinate in our food, defecate in it, put glass in it. Our cell doors would be left open for us to be beaten and they would come in with batteries in socks to beat us over the head. I saw two people murdered. I saw suicides. I saw somebody set fire to himself in Long Lartin prison.”

    Gerry Conlon

  • Alan N/Ards

    A decent and honourable man. Sorry to hear of his death.

  • Dixie Elliott

    For Gerry….

    I never saw a man who looked
    With such a wistful eye
    Upon that little tent of blue
    Which prisoners call the sky,
    And at every drifting cloud that went
    With sails of silver by.

    Oscar Wilde

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    @John Mooney
    “The IRA needed Gerry Conlon and Guisseppi Conlon in jail…as much as the British Establishment did.”

    Indeed, the IRA needed them in jail so much that they supplied a statement to Paddy Armstrong’s lawyer Alastair Logan which stated the Guildford Four were innocent – against IRA standing orders of the time.

    Needed them in jail so much that later in 1975, Balcombe Street ASU were given permission to go ahead and make detailed confessions of how they prepared and planted the devices, in order to prove the Guildford Four were innocent.

    Truly the actions of an organisation which need to keep “Gerry Conlon and Guisseppi Conlon in jail”.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com John Mooney

    Exactly.

  • http://www.banuanlae.org/ Ulick

    Interesting contribution from Paul Hill on RTE’s ‘This Week’ earlier today. He labelled the Irish media, government and politicians who are now “eulogising” Conlon as hypocrites. Directly contradicted Seamus Mallon who was on before him punting a similar line to John Mooney above. Strangely Hill didn’t see it that way and paid credit to the IRA members who quickly admitted their part in the bombings in statements which exonerated the Guildford Four.

  • son of sam

    Of course,no mention from the usual posters on the morality of the original Guilford bombing.Perhaps someone would try to justify why it was necessary in the first place?Surely it’s a bit rich painting the I R A as the good guys because they own up to something that shouldn’t have happened at all!

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com John Mooney

    The hypocrisy is stunning.
    “Conflict Resolutionists” who are now praising Gerry Conlon would not have touched his and other cases in the 1970s.
    The Sinn Fein Twitterati seem to have had poor internet connexions over the weekend.
    The Media are as usual re-writing history.
    The British Establishment hardly come out of it well….the police, the forensic people, the prison guards…all on nice pensions….the lawyers, the politicians.
    Would the British Establishment do it all again?
    Of course they would.

    The people who actually did speak up for Gerry Conlon…church people, politicians, lawyers, decent journalists were abused and ridiculed and to see some of those who led the abuse jumping on the bandwagon is sickening.

  • streetlegal

    The role of British Intelligence in these cases is often overlooked. The English police and judiciary are often blamed, but in reality they were acting under the direction of British Intelligence.

  • Kevsterino

    May he find peace, and forgive the world that didn’t give him a fair shot at happiness.

  • son of sam

    street legal
    So did British intelligence direct the I R A to carry out the Guilford bombing?!

  • tacapall

    “So did British intelligence direct the I R A to carry out the Guilford bombing?”

    Your kids might get to find out in another 75 years –

    “A close friend of the late Gerry Conlon has spoken of his wish for the files connected to the Guildford Four case, which under the Official Secrets Act remain closed for 75 years, to be released”

    RIP Gerry.