IRA leadership tried to keep innocents in jail - Mallon

Sunday 22 June 2014 22.43
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Former SDLP Deputy leader Seamus Mallon said IRA leadership almost connived to keep innocent people in jail
Former SDLP Deputy leader Seamus Mallon said IRA leadership almost connived to keep innocent people in jail
Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill appearing on RTÉ television following their release in 1989
Gerry Conlon and Paul Hill appearing on RTÉ television following their release in 1989

Former Deputy leader of the SDLP, Seamus Mallon, has said the IRA leadership who directed the IRA Guildford Bombing almost connived with the British establishment to keep innocent people in jail for 16 years.

Speaking on RTÉ's 'This Week' programme Mr Mallon said that the leaders who directed the bombing "watched Gerry going through hell in a prison for a crime he didn't commit."

Mr Mallon added that "it was nothing to them because he wasn't of their organistaion, and their words ring hollow now." 

Gerry Conlon and three others - Paul Hill, Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong - were wrongfully jailed in 1975 for the bombing which killed five people and injured 65.

Mr Conlon died at his home in Belfast yesterday.

Paul Hill, one of the Guildford Four, has said that although IRA members arrested at the Balcombe Street siege in London admitted their part in the Guilford attack, this was not acted on by the British authorities.

Mr Hill told RTE News that seeing and hearing the eulogies to Gerry Conlon reminded him that many people in political life and the media had no time - for many years - for those wrongfully jailed in Britain during the Troubles.

Mr Hill also said "the intelligence service were well aware that the people in the Birmingham case and the people in the Guildford case were totally and absolutely innocent."

"We’ll never get to the bottom of why they actually put people away. Scapegoats had to be found and they were found."

Mr Hill added that what happened to himself and Mr Conlon was "a greater miscarriage of justice than those who died."

Keywords: gerry conlon