President Michael D Higgins has signed a posthumous pardon for a Kerry man who was hanged 126 years ago.
John Twiss was wrongly convicted of the 1895 murder of James Donovan, a caretaker on a farm near Newmarket in Co Cork.
At the time, the 35-year-old was widely believed to be innocent of the crime and his subsequent hanging led to public outcry.
The decision to recommend a pardon was announced by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee last month after a full review of the case by the Department of Justice.
It followed an extensive campaign by John Twiss's relatives and the Castleisland District Heritage Group.
The case is only the sixth time that a Presidential pardon has been awarded here, and is the third posthumous case.
A report on the case by UCD Associate Professor and expert on 19th century trial law, Niamh Howlin, found that Mr Twiss "was convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence that can best be described as flimsy, following a questionable investigation ... the problematic aspects of this case are like 'strands in a rope' which together lead to the conclusion that the nature and extent of the evidence against Twiss could not safely support a guilty verdict".
This afternoon, President Higgins signed a Presidential Pardon for Mr John Twiss, who was executed in February 1895 following a wrongful conviction of murder. It was only the sixth Presidential Pardon to be issued and the third posthumously. Read more at https://t.co/7Mq46tqA6f pic.twitter.com/esdOR1fiSt— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) December 16, 2021
In addition to President Higgins, today's ceremony was attended by the Minister for Justice, as well as Mr Twiss’ great grandniece Helen O’Connor and her family.
President Higgins said the case had been one of "long-standing concern" for the people of Kerry, Cork and Limerick.
"Even before his execution, the Fermoy Town Commissioners wrote to the Lord Lieutenant asking him to exercise his Prerogative of Mercy in a petition accompanied with 40,000 signatures, a very substantial number to collect at that time in rural Ireland," he said.
He added: "Furthermore, the Governor of Cork Prison and the Prison Chaplain both stated their belief that Twiss was innocent while the Jury in the Coroner’s Inquest stated that they believed in Mr Twiss’s innocence.
"While we at this remove cannot undo what happened, we do have the power to acknowledge that what happened to John Twiss was a great wrong. I am pleased to be able to formally grant a Presidential Pardon to him today, and to at least set the record straight.
"I hope that my doing so will bring a sense of closure to his family following almost 127 years. I commend them for their efforts."