State pardons man hanged for murder in 1941

The State has pardoned a man who was hanged 74 years ago for the murder of a woman.

It is the first posthumous pardon in the history of the State.

The Government made the recommendation to the president of posthumous pardon for Harry Gleeson following an independent examination by senior counsel Shane Murphy. Legal rights campaigners and family descendants — whose efforts led to the establishment of the Murphy review — welcomed the move.

Mr Gleeson was convicted in February 1941 for the murder of Mary “Moll” McCarthy, a mother of seven, in Tipperary the previous November and was sentenced to death by hanging on April 23, 1941.

Following a submission from Innocence Project Ireland, which is based at Griffith College in Dublin, and the Justice for Harry Gleeson Group, the attorney general directed that Mr Murphy undertake a review.

Mr Murphy concluded that there were deficiencies in the conviction such as to render it unsafe.

The Department of Justice said in a statement: “The Government deeply regrets that a man was convicted and executed in circumstances now found to be unsafe. All that can be done now by way of remedy is to clear his name of the conviction, which this pardon will do, in the hope that this will be a proper tribute to his memory.

“Equally the Government regrets that this decision leaves unresolved the brutal murder of Ms Mary McCarthy, whose children were deprived of their mother in terrible circumstances. The Government wishes to express its sympathy with both families.”

Mr Gleeson’s grandnephew Kevin Gleeson welcomed the announcement as “tremendous news”, but added that it was also emotional. “

He said: “It’s a day of happiness and sadness because an innocent life was taken but the good name and character of Harry Gleeson is finally restored and the question of his innocence is no longer an issue.”

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