Wednesday 7 December 2016

'That was the day my childhood ended' - Maguire Seven brothers speak of ordeal 40 years on

Published 25/10/2015 | 12:22

Patrick Maguire (l) Anne Maguire (m) and the late Patrick Maguire (r) (archive photo) Credit: PA
Patrick Maguire (l) Anne Maguire (m) and the late Patrick Maguire (r) (archive photo) Credit: PA

Two brothers who were falsely imprisoned as teenagers for the Guildford pub bombings have spoken of the experience 40 years on.

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Patrick and Vincent Maguire were part of the Maguire Seven group who were - together with the Guildford Four - wrongly convicted for the 1974 bombings.

"I remember the day I came home from school. It was a Thursday.. youth club night... a normal day," Patrick - who was 13 at the time of his arrest - told RTE Radio 1's Sunday with Miriam this morning.

"We [himself and his brother John] were eager to get and go there... [Afterwards] we saw a lot of police and unmarked car outside our home. I ran up to the house, knocked on the door. The door opened... I said 'I live here' and I was dragged inside. They said, 'here's another one'.

"That was the day my childhood ended," he said.

The Maguire Seven, who were convicted of handling explosives allegedly passed to the IRA to make bombs, were made up of Anne and Patrick Maguire, Anne's brother Sean, Anne's brother-in-law Patrick Conlon, family friend Patrick O'Neill, and Anne's two sons Patrick and Vincent.

Paul Hill (left) and Gerry Conlon, two members of the Guildford Four
Paul Hill (left) and Gerry Conlon, two members of the Guildford Four

The family moved from Belfast to London and all of their children were born in the UK.

Read more: Background: Guildford Four wrongly convicted of bombing

Vincent - who was 17 at the time of his arrest - told Miriam O'Callaghan - that while his mother was involved with their Irish heritage, their father was a conservative man who classed himself as a Londoner.

"We were brought up as Londoners. I'm proud to be a Londoner but I'm proud to have Irish heritage as well," he said on the radio show.

He was working as an apprentice and attending college at night when he came home to police "ransacking" his parent's home as his mother cried in the kitchen.

"It was a nightmare - I couldn't believe what was going on," he said.

The convictions of the Maguire Seven were overturned in 1991 - and the now grown men reveal the "devastating" impact the ordeal had on the entire family.

"I remember when I was being taken to Guildford Prison and was 'interrogated'. They told me that I would never see my Mam and Dad again - and I would be very old by the time I left prison," said younger brother Patrick.

But although Vincent reports that certain things will be ingrained on their minds forever, like their prison numbers, he believes that their other siblings suffered more.

Read more: 'We were like brothers' – star director Sheridan leads tributes to pal Conlon

"John and AnnMarie [who was seven years old at the time]  - they had the worst sentence," he told the radio show.

"We just had to get through our sentence inside, they had to survive outside on their own."

Patrick added that his two siblings would have faced hardship moving to Belfast "with [Londoner] accents like mine".

He said that after he was released he had brushes with the law as he'd "seen what they'd done to my family".

"I thought 'why should I start behaving well?'," he asked.

He has battled addictions to drink and drugs and has undergone therapy for these and to cope with flashbacks and panic attacks.

Vincent said the fact that his late dad Patrick could "do nothing" at the time of their arrests must have "devastating" for him.

The boys' mother Anne was invited for interview on the show but she declined, for reasons that presenter Miriam found "understandable".

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