Guildford Four's Gerry Conlon dies

Gerry Conlon pictured upon his release Gerry Conlon, pictured with his sisters after being released at the Old Bailey in 1989

Related Stories

Gerry Conlon, who was wrongly convicted of the 1974 Guildford IRA pub bombing, has died aged 60 after an illness.

He was one of the Guildford Four, who spent 15 years in prison before their convictions were quashed in 1989.

Mr Conlon's family said his fight for justice had "forced the world's closed eyes to be opened to injustice".

His case was highlighted in the 1993 Oscar-nominated film In The Name Of The Father, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

Bombing campaign

The Guildford Four were convicted amid the backdrop of an IRA bombing campaign targeting pubs in England.

Start Quote

He brought life, love, intelligence, wit and strength to our family through its darkest hours”

End Quote Conlon family statement

High-profile attacks were carried out in Guildford, Woolwich and Birmingham in 1974.

Gerry Conlon, Paddy Armstrong, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson were jailed for life in 1975 for an attack on the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford which killed four soldiers and a civilian, as well as injuring scores more.

All those involved vigorously protested their innocence.

The Court of Appeal quashed their sentences in October 1989, amid doubts raised about the police evidence against them.

An investigation into the case by Avon and Somerset Police found serious flaws in the way Surrey Police handled the case - considered to be one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in Britain.

Gerry Conlon: "I've been in prison for 15 years for something I didn't do"

The perpetrators of the Guildford bomb attack have never been brought to justice.

When he emerged from court after his conviction was quashed, Mr Conlon said: "I have been in prison for something I did not do. I am totally innocent."

In 2009, he wrote about the emotional problems he endured as a result of his incarceration, revealing that he had suffered two breakdowns, and attempted suicide. He also developed an addiction to alcohol and drugs.

'Darkest hours'

Mr Conlon died at his home in the Falls Road area of west Belfast after an illness.

Gerry Conlon, pictured at the funeral of SDLP MP Eddie McGrady Mr Conlon, pictured in 2013 at the funeral of SDLP MP Eddie McGrady

In a statement issued through his lawyer Gareth Peirce, Mr Conlon's family said: "He brought life, love, intelligence, wit and strength to our family through its darkest hours.

"He helped us to survive what we were not meant to survive.

"We recognise that what he achieved by fighting for justice for us had a far, far greater importance - it forced the world's closed eyes to be opened to injustice; it forced unimaginable wickedness to be acknowledged; we believe it changed the course of history.

"We thank him for his life and we thank all his many friends for their love."

The Maguire Seven

After Mr Conlon was jailed for the pub bombing, seven people were arrested because of a family connection to him.

Among them was Mr Conlon's father Giuseppe, who was arrested while travelling to London from Belfast to help his son.

They became known, as the Maguire Seven and were convicted and jailed for handling explosives, based on scientific evidence which was later entirely discredited.

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said Mr Conlon "bore no grudges"

Giuseppe Conlon died in prison in 1980.

The sentences given the Maguire Seven were overturned by the Court of Appeal in June 1991.

Annie Maguire, who was one of the Maguire Seven, described Mr Conlon's death as "very sad news".

"I am sad to hear he has died so young, and am sorry for his sisters," she said.

Paul Hill said: "I think he suffered a great deal more than the other individuals involved, myself included, because Gerard could never have release of his father.

"I always said that Gerard's father was continuously imprisoned in Gerard's mind.

"Not only did he feel responsible (for his father's death in prison), but every time he looked at his mother, the late Sarah, I think he seen his father. That was Gerard's problem."

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said Mr Conlon had been a "close friend".

'Miscarriage of justice'

"Gerry had a strong sense of social justice and an uncompromising desire to right the wrongs that had been suffered by others," he said.

"The miscarriage of justice that Gerry, his father and friends suffered was terrible and appalling.

"He was a shining light in the search for truth and a tireless campaigner for justice."

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said: "Gerry and his father Giuseppe were two of the most infamous examples of miscarriages of justice by the British political and judicial system."

In 2005, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a public apology to the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven for the miscarriages of justice they had suffered.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Northern Ireland stories


BBC News NI Live

    13:53: IFA against GB football team: BBC Sport NI

    The Irish FA says its position on a GB Olympics football team is "unchanged" and that "when playing, our players should play in a Northern Ireland shirt".

    Great Britain Olympics team

    The Football Association plans to enter men's and women's Great Britain teams for the 2016 Olympics. A GB team featured in the 2012 Olympics, but the Irish, Welsh and Scottish FA didn't give their official backing.

    13:43: Drugs seized in searches:

    Cannabis plants worth estimated street value of £15,000 were seized by police yesterday after searches in Craigavon and Portadown.

    Police say three men, aged 22, 28 and 44, were arrested on suspicion of a number of drugs offences. The 22 and 28-year-old have been released on bail.

    13:31: Lord mayor expecting: Belfast Telegraph

    The Belfast Telegraph reports that the Lord Mayor of Belfast Nichola Mallon (left) is expecting her first child this summer.

    Nichola Mallon
    13:21: Temperatures rising: Cecilia Daly BBC News NI Weather Presenter

    It may not seem like it today, but it is going to get milder later this week! Temperatures rising from tomorrow and getting up to highs of 13 degrees Celcius by the weekend.

    13:12: Unionist 'cold house':

    Unionists on the new Mid Ulster council say they're demanding a call-in about a number of decisions made at last week's council meeting.


    They said decisions including banning the sale of poppies and Irish-first branding on logos, vehicles and buildings were an attempt by nationalists to create a "cold house for unionists".

    13:03: First woman editor: Belfast Telegraph

    The Belfast Telegraph says it has appointed a new editor - Gail Walker. She is the first woman to edit the newspaper and replaces Mike Gilson, who left in January.

    12:54: Interface interviews:

    BBC News NI's Mark Simpson conducting interviews at the Belfast Interface Project on the upcoming The Big Lunch event (thanks to Grainne McCloskey for the picture).

    The Big Lunch
    12:40: Bin collections off: Derry Journal

    The Derry Journal reports that bin collections across Londonderry have been cancelled today because of hazardous road conditions.

    Bin being taken out
    12:38: Paulie is 'Ireland's sexiest': BBC Sport NI

    Some rugby news you might have missed over the last week - Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was voted Ireland's sexiest rugby player.

    Paul O'Connell

    BBC Sport NI's Thomas Niblock asked him how he felt about winning the prestigious award.

    12:28: 'No case' for air tax cut: Julian O'Neill BBC News NI Business Correspondent

    An economic report for the Executive says there is not a strong enough case for abolishing a £13 tax on the majority of flights out of Northern Ireland.

    Belfast International Airport

    Removing air passenger duty (APD) is seen by airports and airlines as key to attracting new routes and growing tourism.

    12:21: Pup's first snow:

    It's always exciting seeing the first sprinkles of snow, but it's easy to get fed up with it once the cold sets in though. Desmond Loughery sent in this snap of his pup Mavis experiencing the white stuff for the very first time!

    12:07: New heart surgery service: Marie-Louise Connolly BBC News NI Health Correspondent

    Paediatric congenital heart surgery to end in Belfast. New joined up service with Republic starts April 1st. The system will take up to 18 months before becoming fully operational.

    That means England will still be used in some emergency cases.

    11:55: Stronger punishments? BBC Talkback

    Our top story on BBC Talkback today - should there be jail sentences for public officials who fail to protect children?

    BBC Talkback

    Join us from 12:00 - tweet your views to @BBCTalkback and call 08459555678.

    11:36: Rider debuts: BBC Sport NI

    British Championship riders Sam West (left) and Craig Neve (middle) will make their North West 200 debuts at this year's meeting in May.


    Both riders had a chance to check out the circuit for the first time last week.

    11:26: Gritters out and about: Keiron Tourish BBC News NI

    The gritters are out in Derry as snow flurries continue to fall. Transport NI say conditions were treacherous this morning but staff are working hard to keep roads passable with care.

    11:15: Heart surgery proposals accepted:

    BBC News NI reporter Kevin Sharkey tweets:

    11:03: Dogged display:

    The result of Ireland's Cricket World Cup pool game against South Africa has not been in doubt but a great effort from Ireland brought the underdogs from a dodgy 48 for five at one point to a final tally of 210 all out in the 46th over.

    Ireland supporters

    South Africa had set a massive target of 412.

    11:00: North coast brew: Belfast Telegraph

    The Belfast Telegraph reports that Portrush is getting its first brewery in three decades.

    10:52: DPP to get supergrass file:

    The Police Ombudsman is to send a file to the director of public prosecutions "within a matter of weeks" for him to decide if two former police officers should be prosecuted for a number of crimes, including conspiracy to murder.

    The former Special Branch agent handlers were questioned in October about allegations made by former UVF commander and police informer, Gary Haggarty. He agreed to become a supergrass more than five years ago.

    10:44: Foyle traffic moving: BBC NI Travel

    Conditions at Glenshane and Coleraine Mountain are good, but further snow flurries are affecting these routes. In Derry, a collision on the Caw Roundabout was a major contributor to delays on the Foyle Bridge earlier, but things are now moving well again.

    10:36: Stormont today:

    BBC News NI's political correspondent Chris Page tweets:

    Chris Page
    10:35: Snowy sunrises: Jayne McCormack BBC News NI

    The weather outside might be frightful up in the north west today, but it's making for some great photos! Thanks to Ciara Shaw (top) and Ramada Portrush for these scenic sunrises in Derry and Portrush.

    10:23: Snow disruption:

    More than 40 schools across counties Londonderry and Tyrone are closed today because of snow and icy conditions. Transport NI says snow ploughs are being used to keep the roads clear, but motorists should take extreme care.


    Stevan Patterson sent in this photo of a van stuck in a ditch this morning on the main Castlederg to Drumquin Road.

    10:12: Flight delays: City of Derry Airport

    Adverse weather conditions are causing minor delays at the airport this morning. You can check the latest flight information at @coderryairport.

    Airport delays
    10:05: SF 'supporting Newry's wishes':

    Sinn Féin says its Newry councillors rejected proposals to reconsider calling a play park after IRA man Raymond McCreesh last night because people in the area want to keep the name.

    Conor Murphy

    Conor Murphy told the Nolan Show: "We're supporting the democratic wishes of the area, which overwhelmingly wants to retain the name."

    09:56: Derry fleet expansion: Clodagh Rice BBC News NI

    Londonderry firm Airporter is expanding its fleet, buying six new coaches in an investment worth almost £500,000.


    They operate a transfer service between Derry and the two Belfast airports and carry more than 100,000 passengers every year.

    09:46: Frozen paws:

    Angela Cunning in County Antrim sends in this wonderful photo of her dog out in the big freeze that's gripping northern and western areas of Northern Ireland this morning.

    09:40: Third prison escape arrest:

    A man in his 30s has been arrested at Portlaoise prison in connection with the escape of another prisoner, Derek Brockwell, at Tallaght Hospital in February. A couple in their 60s were arrested earlier this morning in County Meath.

    Brockwell allegedly stabbed two prison officers before getting away on a motorbike on 17 February. He was recaptured by police in Belfast city centre the next day.

    09:31: Disappointment over McCreesh proposals:

    Alasdair McDonnell says he's disappointed that Sinn Féin councillors have blocked proposals to reconsider naming a Newry park after IRA man Raymond McCreesh.

    Alasdair McDonnell

    The SDLP leader told Good Morning Ulster: "Sinn Féin and their allies blocked it because it suits their political purposes at the moment".

    09:29: Ireland hanging in:

    At the halfway mark of their innings, Ireland doing their best to stay in as long as they can and make the score as respectable as possible in Cricket World Cup pool game with South Africa.

    Kevin O'Brien ducks

    129 for six in the 26th over. South Africa 411 for four.

    09:17: Prison escape arrests:

    A man and a woman have been arrested in connection with the escape of a prisoner from custody at Tallaght Hospital last month.

    Derek Brockwell

    Derek Brockwell allegedly stabbed two prison officers before getting away on a motorbike on 17 February. He was recaptured by police in Belfast city centre the next day.

    09:08: Rathlin ferry cancelled: BBC NI Travel

    All ferry sailings between Rathlin and Ballycastle are cancelled today because of the difficult weather conditions.

    09:07: Ploughs out: BBC Radio Foyle

    Our brave reporter Joe Doran is tackling the Glenshane Pass this morning and the snow ploughs are out! Keep checking @BBCNITravel for the latest roads information.

    Joe Doran
    08:57: White stuff: Jayne McCormack BBC News NI

    Paul McLaughlin emailed in this great snap of Sion Mills this morning. It looks pretty nice when you don't have to go outside in it!

    08:47: Silence of the supergrass: BBC Spotlight

    Tonight on BBC One NI at 22:40, Vincent Kearney investigates why UVF leader and special branch informer Gary Haggarty hasn't testified against anyone, five years after he became a supergrass.

    08:37: Slow traffic: Trafficwatch NI

    Traffic on the M1 is slow from Lisburn through to Broadway, and the M2 from Templepatrick into Belfast is also busy.

    08:36: Hard day at the wicket:

    The gulf in class is showing in Canberra as Ireland continue to be punished by South Africa in their Cricket World Cup pool match.

    South Africa"s Dale Steyn reacts after dismissing Ireland"s Paul Stirling

    It's 48 for five after 11 overs.

    08:26: Digital economy: Clodagh Rice BBC News NI

    I'm at a CBI-run event in Belfast finding out more about the digital economy and what role it can play for businesses. I'll have more on Good Morning Ulster just after 08:45.

    08:14: School closures:

    Lots of schools in Counties Londonderry and Tyrone have contacted us to say they're closed today because of snow and icy conditions. The list is being constantly updated so keep checking the BBC News NI website.

    08:09: Foyle Bridge 'treacherous':

    Donna Gallagher has tweeted us to say she's stuck on the Foyle Bridge, where conditions are treacherous. She says traffic can't get through the last bit at the Waterside end.

    Foyle Bridge

    @BBCNITravel has the latest updates on the roads this morning.

    08:09: Ireland struggle:

    BBC Test Match Special's John Kenny says: "It's looking very, very ominous. We could have an early finish here." as Ireland struggle against South Africa in their Cricket World Cup pool match. Ireland are 25 for 3 and chasing 412.

    08:02: Cottages centre a 'lifeline': BBC Radio Foyle

    The health minster says it could take several months before a final decision is made on the future of a respite centre for disabled children in Londonderry. The Western Trust had previously indicated that the service might be cut.


    Frank Gallagher, who looks after his teenage son, said the facility is a lifeline for parents.

    07:53: Loyalist bands at SF conference: BBC Radio Foyle

    A group representing loyalist bands are to take part in the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis for the first time. The Londonderry Bands Forum will participate in an event at the party's conference on Saturday.


    The forum is funded by the International Fund for Ireland. Its chairman Adrian Johnston said the move would improve "peace and reconciliation activity".

    07:52: Right on time:

    Translink NI tweets:

    07:47: More school closures:

    Roe Valley Integrated Primary School, Limavady and Drumahoe Primary School, Derry will be closed today due to snow. You can check the list of school closures on the BBC News NI website.

    07:43: Rush hour: Trafficwatch NI

    Traffic is busy on the M1 from Lisburn to Blacks Road, on the Westlink towards York Street and on the A2 Shore Road leaving from Carrickfergus.

    07:41: Glenshane 'treacherous': BBC NI Travel

    Some difficult conditions out there this morning because of ice and snow so please drive with extreme care. We've been told The A6 Glenshane Road is treacherous with snow between the Glenshane Pass and Claudy.

    07:38: More schools closed:

    Oakgrove Integrated College, Derry; Ashlea Primary School and Nursery Unit, Tullyally.

    07:37: Cruelty or fun?: Good Morning Ulster

    Is it cruel to showcase wild animals in the circus or is it all just part of the act? Councillors in Newtownabbey and Antrim tried to ban exotic animals from shows on council-owned land, but they have been defeated.


    The motion was rejected at a council meeting last week. We'll be discussing this at 07:50.

    07:35: School closures:

    Some schools are closed today because of snow: Donemana Primary School, Donemana; Killen Primary School, Castlederg; St Canice's Primary School, Feeny; Limavady High School, Artigarvan Primary and community nursery, Strabane and Evish Primary School, Strabane.

    07:30: Let it snow! Jayne McCormack BBC News NI

    Lots of you have already been sending in pictures of snow that fell overnight - and our latest weather forecast says there's more in store today. Thanks to @foyleflyer, @annainfermanagh, @NIweatherspot and Elizabeth Brown for the snaps!

    07:22: IT company being sued:

    A public spending watchdog says an IT company was awarded a 1.3m euros (£950,000) grant to buy equipment which "in all likelihood" cost it just 30,000 (£22,000) euros.


    The Department of Enterprise is now suing Bytel Ltd after the Northern Ireland Audit Office found there were major failings in the handling of its EU-funded broadband scheme.

    07:16: Newry park debate blocked:

    Unionists have failed in their latest efforts to remove the name of a dead IRA man, Raymond McCreesh, from a park in Newry, County Down.


    The bid to discuss the park's name again failed after Sinn Féin councillors voted against it.

    07:11: Hoping for a miracle:

    South Africa leave Ireland hoping for a miracle in their Cricket World Cup pool match. Ireland have a target of 412 from their 50 overs.

    Ireland"s Andy McBrine fails to reach a ball that goes for a six hit by South Africa"s Hashim Amla during their Cricket World Cup match at Manuka Oval in Canberra
    07:07: Weather watch: Cecilia Daly BBC News NI Weather Presenter

    A cold start again - the current temperatures and radar showing a snapshot of the snow showers that will affect mainly north and west areas. Take care out there and watch the BBC News NI weather forecast for the latest information.

    07:07: Extra journey time:

    City of Derry Airport tweets:

    07:02: Ireland up against it:

    Ireland are up against it in their Cricket World Cup pool match with South Africa at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

    Ireland"s wicketkeeper Gary Wilson (L) watches as South Africa"s captain AB de Villiers hits a six during their Cricket World Cup match at Manuka Oval in Canberra

    South Africa are 387-4 after 49 overs.

    07:00: Wintry conditions:

    Trafficwatch NI tweets:

    07:00: Good morning! Jayne McCormack BBC News NI

    Good morning and welcome to BBC News NI Live on Tuesday 3 March. We'll be bringing you all of the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across Northern Ireland up until 19:00 this evening.



  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • Aimen DeanI spied

    The founder member of al-Qaeda who worked for MI6

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • A man shutting his eyes tightlyStrange light show

    What do you see when you close your eyes?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.