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Thursday 18 October 2018

Family of man wrongfully executed by State deem it a 'disgrace' posthumous pardon 'bears wrong name'

Henry 'Harry' Gleeson hanged in Mountjoy Prison for murder 75 years ago

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald (Inset: Henry 'Harry' Gleeson)
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald (Inset: Henry 'Harry' Gleeson)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A grand-nephew of Henry 'Harry' Gleeson has branded it “nothing short of a disgrace” that a posthumous pardon signed by President Michael D Higgins "bears the wrong name".

Mr Gleeson, known widely as Harry, is the first person to receive a posthumous pardon by the Irish State after he was wrongly hanged in 1941 for a murder he did not commit.

Mary 'Moll' McCarthy was shot dead in November 1940 and her neighbour Harry Gleeson was executed in Mountjoy Prison the following April.

President Michael D Higgins signed a posthumous pardon for Mr Gleeson before Christmas and it is due to be presented to members of the Gleeson family at the Department of Justice tomorrow.

However, some members of the family do not want the ceremony to go ahead with the signed decree as they claim the pardon addresses Mr Gleeson by the wrong name.

Speaking to, Mr Gleeson’s grand-nephew Vincent Phelan said there are up to 40 members of the family “not happy” with the signed pardon.

“This man was tried, charged and convicted in the proper legal name of Henry Gleeson," he said.

“He even signed his name at the time as Henry Gleeson, yet the decree addresses ‘Harry Gleeson’.

“We were supposed to be given sight of the decree and given the opportunity to go back to the minister before it was signed by the President but that never happened.

“The pardon with the name Harry Gleeson was signed by the president and as far as we’re concerned this is fundamentally flawed.

“The pardon is not in his correct name. You cannot pardon a non-entity.

“If the document referred to the man as ‘Henry’ and perhaps ‘Harry’ in brackets, maybe, but it doesn’t.

“If that document is presented to us tomorrow like that there will be uproar because we are not accepting it.”

He continued: “If somebody took the time to look at the original charge and conviction document they would have written the thing properly and we wouldn’t be in this situation. This is nothing short of disgraceful.

“My father’s uncle was wrongfully convicted and put to death by the State.

“We want this man’s name to be properly and unequivocally cleared.”

Independent campaigner Bernadette Gorman said there is also a second flaw with the pardon order in that it fails to mention a legal milestone in the case of Mr Gleeson.

“Every legal date appears in the pardon, but the date his appeal failed does not feature.

“The justice minister intends to present this pardon to the family of tomorrow and they’re deeming it invalid.

“This is a possible constitutional crisis.”

Bernadette’s  father was at the trial of Mr Gleeson in the early 1940s and was due to give evidence but was never called to the stand. He had a business partnership with Mr Gleeson at the time.

“This is a basic error,” she continued.

“It is very disrespectful. They got the victim’s name right. How well they got Mr Gleeson’s name right when they were convicting and hanging him.”

The Department of Justice said this evening that they hold the position that the wording of the pardon is "unambiguously clear" as to who is being pardoned and it is a "full recognition" of Mr Gleeson's innocence.

A spokesperson for the department said: "The position is that the wording of the pardon is unambiguously clear as to who has been pardoned and the question raised in relation to the name does not invalidate the order, which has taken effect. 

"In other words, there can be no doubt that the pardon order achieves what many people have sought for many years: a full recognition on the part of the State that Harry Gleeson should not have been convicted of the crime in question nor have suffered such dreadful consequences as a result."

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