Northern Ireland

Guildford Four's Gerry Conlon: Funeral takes place in Belfast

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Media captionGerry Conlon's coffin was carried into St Peter's Cathedral by four members of the Birmingham Six

The funeral has taken place for Gerry Conlon, who was wrongly convicted of the 1974 Guildford IRA pub bombings in Surrey, England.

His coffin was carried into St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast by four members of the Birmingham Six.

Mr Conlon died at home in west Belfast on 21 June, after an illness. He was 60-years-old.

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

His memoirs, Proved Innocent, were used as a basis for the Hollywood film In the Name of the Father, in which his part was played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

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

Irish deputy prime minister Eamon Gilmore was among a number of politicians who attended the funeral, as did the high-profile lawyer Gareth Peirce, who represented both the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six.

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

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

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Image caption Gerry Conlon's coffin was carried into St Peter's Cathedral in Belfast

Ms Pierce, who became a close friend of Mr Conlon after his release, paid a personal tribute to him at the ceremony.

She told mourners: "When he shouted out 'I'm an innocent man, my father was innocent, the Maguires are innocent and the Birmingham Six', he set something in motion that forced the rest of us, the rest of the world, Britain, to hold a mirror up to ourselves and see precisely who we were and what we had done."

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

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.

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Image caption The funeral Mass for Gerry Conlon was held in St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast

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

Mr Conlon's father Giuseppe, who was also jailed as part of a discredited investigation into a supposed bomb making family - the Maguire Seven - died in prison.

In his homily at Gerry Conlon's funeral, Father Ciaran Dallat said he always carried a burden of guilt, feeling he was responsible for the death of his father.

"In the master's house, the place that Jesus has prepared in heaven, we trust that Giuseppe and Sarah are there and he will truly be at peace at last because Giuseppe will reassure him, as his mother tried so often, that it wasn't his fault - it wasn't his fault, other people got it wrong."

An investigation into the case by Avon and Somerset Police found serious flaws in the way Surrey Police handled the investigation.

It is considered to be one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in Britain.

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

Gerry Conlon was buried at Milltown cemetery.

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