Irish Republican News · April 26, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Blair issues apology to Conlon and Maguire families

British Prime Minister Tony Blair today apologised for the “ordeal and injustice” suffered by the Conlon and Maguire families, who were wrongly jailed at the height of the conflict in 1974.

Blair issued a public apology today to the families whose relatives were imprisoned by a hostile British judiciary on the basis of evidence falsified by police.

The movie “In the Name of the Father” dramatised the experiences of the families, including the tragic death in jail of Guiseppe Conlon.

Blair said the families “deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated”.

Gerry Conlon, who was ultimately cleared and released after 15 years in jail, said the apology exceeded his expectations.

Emerging from a meeting with Mr Blair, Mr Conlon and the other family members held aloft written copies of Mr Blair’s apology.

Amid considerable media interest, Mr Conlon said: “He apologised profusely and he was physically taken aback by the suffering that we have all suffered.”

“Tony Blair met us privately, he spoke to every one of us, he took time, he listened to us, he exceeded our expectations in apologising, he said it was long overdue.

“I asked why we hadn’t received the same treatment as John McCarthy, Terry Waite and Brian Keenan, and he said he would make sure that we got the help that we needed.

“Because ... this hasn’t ended for us. But today is the start of the end. We want parity of esteem with other victims of miscarriage of justice, and we want other miscarriage of justice victims to receive a public apology the same way we have.

“If you damage people and you can repair them, it is your duty to do that. We said that to the Prime Minister, he accepted it. He went beyond our expectations.”

“Everyone has been affected by this, everyone has suffered trauma from it. And the good thing is that he has acknowledged it, and he accepts that we are in pain, that we are suffering terrible, terrible nightmares and terrible post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Annie Maguire spoke briefly after the meeting, saying: “We have all suffered. And this is a great day for us, for all of us.” She added: “It will help our children and their children.”

There were some complaints that Mr Blair had not made his apology in the Westminster parliament. He had been expected to make the apology at Prime Minister’s question time.

The following was the full text of his statement:

“The Guildford and Woolwich bombings killed seven people and injured over 100. Their loss, the loss suffered by their families, will never go away. But it serves no one for the wrong people to be convicted for such an awful crime.

It is a matter of great regret when anyone suffers a miscarriage of justice. There was a miscarriage of justice in the case of Gerard Conlon and all the Guildford Four as well as Giuseppe Conlon and Annie Maguire and all of the Maguire Seven.

And, as with the others, I recognise the trauma that the conviction caused the Conlon and Maguire families and the stigma which wrongly attaches to them to this day.

I am very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and such an injustice.

That’s why I am making this apology today. They deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News