Richard McIlkenny, Patrick Joseph Hill and Gerard Hunter three of the Birmingham Six who were jailed for sixteen years for a crime they did not commit talk about their prison experience and trying to keep their sanity and dignity intact.
Patrick Joseph Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, John Walker and William Power were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 accused of bombing two pubs in Birmingham which killed twenty-one people and injured hundreds of others, afterwards known as the Birmingham pub bombings.
After 16 years their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal and they were released on 14 March 1991. Between them, the men served almost 100 years in prison.
Getting used to and enduring the prison regime was one thing, but the Birmingham Six were treated particularly badly, because prison authorities and most officers believed they were guilty.
On their admittance to prison they were subjected to physical and verbal abuse, and the prison doctor who later visited them was indifferent to their injuries.
If he would have done his job we wouldn't have had the prison sentence.
They did however experience kindness and compassion from some of the prison staff at that time.
Gay Byrne remarks on Richard McIlkenny's lack of rancour. There is no point in carrying bitterness around, explains Richard,
You have to get rid of it...you're only going to destroy yourself.
It has taken him a long time to get to this point, and also to recover his faith, which returned only after a struggle.
Paddy Joe Hill also noticed while in prison the effect that bitterness has on people and resolved that he would not go down that route. He promised to clear his name, but also when he came out that he would be the same person who went in,
I was going to be a little bit older, a little bit sadder, but a hell of a lot wiser.
Some people have described Paddy Joe Hill's statement outside the Old Bailey on the day the Birmingham Six were released as angry and forceful. He maintains the truth is always forceful and he has good reason to be angry having spent over sixteen years in jail for a crime he did not commit,
They told us from the start that they knew we hadn't done it...they didn't care who done it...as long as they got convictions they were happy.
This episode of The Late Late Show was broadcast on 22 March 1991. The presenter is Gay Byrne.