Blair to apologise 'in days' over wrongful Conlon imprisonment

British Prime Minister Tony Blair could apologise within days over the wrongful imprisonment of father and son Gerry and Guiseppe Conlon for an IRA bomb attack on the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair could apologise within days over the wrongful imprisonment of father and son Gerry and Guiseppe Conlon for an IRA bomb attack on the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford.

Sources at Westminster said a House of Commons question on the case of Gerry and Guiseppe Conlon would be put to the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

The Conlon family has been seeking a public apology from the British government for the miscarriage of justice and have compiled a petition which has been signed by tens of thousands of people.

Their case was brought to international attention through the Oscar-nominated movie In the Name of the Father, starring Daniel Day Lewis as Gerry Conlon and Pete Postlethwaite as Guiseppe.

A House of Commons source said: “A question is being prepared by the SDLP for Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday which will provide ample opportunity for public recognition of the wrongs inflicted on the Conlons.

“There have been positive signs in recent days from (Northern Ireland Secretary) Paul Murphy and from Tony Blair that an apology is coming.”

Gerry Conlon was one of four people – Paddy Armstrong, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson – arrested in 1974 and wrongfully jailed for an IRA bomb attack on the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford.

The blast killed five people – four soldiers and a civilian. The four prisoners became known as the Guildford Four.

Gerry Conlon’s father and members of Annie Maguire’s family were also later arrested and jailed for the attack and other bombings in Woolwich, south east London after they were allegedly identified as being involved in the bomb plot in confessions extracted by the police.

Guiseppe Conlon, who had a history of bronchial problems, died in prison while serving his sentence in January 1980.

In October 1989 the British Court of Appeal quashed the sentences of the Guildford Four after doubts were raised about the police evidence.

In June 1991, the Court of Appeal also overturned the sentences on the Maguires and Guiseppe Conlon.

Last year in a letter to SDLP leader Mark Durkan, the government privately acknowledged the miscarriage of justice but the family wants public recognition.

Daniel Day Lewis and ‘In the Name of the Father’ director Jim Sheridan have joined with thousands of people who have signed the petition.

Bertie Ahern and Mark Durkan also lobbied Tony Blair directly during Downing Street meetings last week.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy has said he expects the Prime Minister to make a public apology to the Conlons and after the meeting with Mr Ahern last week, Mr Blair said he would comment soon.

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