Conlon 'pleased' with Blair's apology

Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four wrongfully imprisoned for the IRA bomb attacks in Guildford and Woolwich in 1974, has welcomed the British Prime Minister's apology to the Conlon and Maguire families.

Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four wrongfully imprisoned for the IRA bomb attacks in Guildford and Woolwich in 1974, has welcomed the British Prime Minister's apology to the Conlon and Maguire families.

Emerging from the Commons after a meeting with Tony Blair, Mr Conlon and the other family members held aloft copies of Mr Blair's statement.

They said they were pleased with the Prime Minister’s words.

Amid a huge scrum of reporters and cameramen, Mr Conlon said: “We can’t say who the Speaker will pick, or who he won’t pick, but Tony Blair picked us.

“He didn’t have to do it and he did it and that is the important thing.

“He apologised profusely and he was physically taken aback by the suffering that we have all suffered.”

"Tony Blair met us privately, he spoke to every one of us, he took time, he listened to us, he exceeded our expectations in apologising, he said it was long overdue.''

He continued: “I asked why we hadn’t received the same treatment as John McCarthy, Terry Waite and Brian Keenan, and he said he would make sure that we got the help that we needed.

“Because … this hasn’t ended for us. But today is the start of the end.

“We want parity of esteem with other victims of miscarriage of justice, and we want other miscarriage of justice victims to receive a public apology the same way we have.

“If you damage people and you can repair them, it is your duty to do that. We said that to the Prime Minister, he accepted it. He went beyond our expectations.”

“Everyone has been affected by this, everyone has suffered trauma from it. And the good thing is that he has acknowledged it, and he accepts that we are in pain, that we are suffering terrible, terrible nightmares and terrible post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Annie Maguire said: “We have all suffered. And this is a great day for us, for all of us.”

She added: “It will help our children and their children.”

Sinn Féin said it hoped the apology from the Prime Minister to the Conlon and Maguire families would help end their decades-long ordeal.

Speaking on behalf of the party, Lower Falls councillor Fra McCann said: “There was a grave injustice visited upon the Conlon and Maguire families. The smear campaign operated by the British establishment against those freed from prison continued for years.

“It would be my sincere hope that the apology issued by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair marks an end to this and indeed goes some way to ending the ordeal of the Conlon and Maguire families.”

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