Tuesday 12 December 2017

'We suffered a greater miscarriage of justice than those killed in bombings' - Guildford Four's Paul Hill

* Paul Hill made his controversial comment during RTE interview
* He was being interviewed about the late Gerry Conlon
* Five people died and 65 people were injured in Guildford bombing in 1974
* Two people died in Woolwich bombing in 1974
* 21 people died in three Birmingham bombings on November 21st, 1974 and 182 were injured

Paul Hill, inset, Gerry Conlon (main image)
Paul Hill, inset, Gerry Conlon (main image)
Paul Hill (left) and Gerry Conlon, two members of the Guildford Four. The victims of one of Britain's biggest miscarriages of justice will travel to the House of Commons in the hope that Tony Blair will publicly apologise for their wrongful imprisonment, Wednesday February 9, 2005. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Paul Hill, one of the wrongly convicted Guildford Four, has said Gerry Conlon and himself suffered a “greater miscarriage of justice than those who died in the Guildford, Woolwich and Birmingham bombings”.

Mr Hill made his comments in an emotionally charged interview with broadcaster Colm O Mongain on RTE Radio’s ‘This Week’ programme about the late Mr Conlon.

Mr Hill joined the programme live from his home in the US where he now lives with his family.

Along with the late Mr Conlon, Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong, Mr Hill was wrongly convicted of the Guildford Bombings and served 15 years in a British prison before being released in 1989.

Speaking on RTE radio earlier today, Mr Hill said he found it difficult for politicians and sections of the Irish media to be “eulogising” Mr Conlon.

He criticised successive Irish governments and the media for only getting involved in publicising what happened to them “very late in the day”.

“I’m not trying to score political points here but it has to be said that people in positions of power did very little for Gerry Conlon, for myself, the Birmingham Six, Judith Ward and the Maguire Seven.

The bombings all took place in 1974. Five people died in the Guildford bombing, two died in the Woolwich bombings and 21 died in the three Birmingham bombings, with 182 people injured.

“People knew we were completely and absolutely innocent," Mr Hill said today. "They should look in the mirror today and ask themselves ‘what did I do for these individuals’.”

Mr Hill said himself and Mr Conlon received mail from people all over the world while they were in prison so they knew their story was getting publicity.

When O’Mongain asked him about the IRA, Mr Hill replied: “What about the IRA? It’s political point-scoring so what do we say? What do we say?”

In a strong voice that appeared to become emotional, Mr Hill said: “What happened to myself and Gerry Conlon was a greater miscarriage of justice than those who died in Guildford, in Woolwich and in Birmingham.

“We had absolutely nothing to do with that,” he said.

"People in positions of power did very little to help."

The British government stressed that their case was a "judicial matter" and not a political one.

"When they talk about collateral damage, the man who died yesterday was collateral damage."

Mr Hill said he last spoke to Mr Conlon in March.

“I had seen Gerry a couple of years ago when I was home. I spoke to him in March just before he spoke at an event in Limerick University.”

When asked by Mr O Mongain if Mr Conlon’s campaigning had helped “focus him”, Mr Hill explained that his friend had a “bigger burden to carry”.

“Well it [the campaigning] focused him a little bit.

“People should really grasp that Gerry had a more difficult time than the rest of us.

“He lost his father [Patrick ‘Guiseppe’ Conlon]. His father died in prison. His father was never going to be released. Gerry’s father was always going to be in prison in Gerry’s head. Gerry had a bigger burden to carry than the rest of us and he didn’t deal with that well. He would be first to admit he didn’t deal with it well but these were the circumstances.

“But he focused himself and he was driven to help other people,” Mr Hill explained.

“I remember speaking to him about the Patriot Act here in America. About the people in Guantanamo.

“A nation can kidnap you anywhere in the world, fly you to a black site, torture you and hold you in a prison for nine years without trial.

“How do you think Gerry Conlon felt about that?

“How do you think people like me feel about that?

“After everything that’s happened to us, it gets even worse. All in the name of fighting terrorism,” he said before the interview was concluded.

Irish Independent

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