Archbishop welcomes Blair apology over IRA bomb jailings - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 9, 2005

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Archbishop welcomes Blair apology over IRA bomb jailings

-09/02/05

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-OíConnor has welcomed an apology made today by the prime minister for the wrongful jailing of 11 people for IRA bomb attacks.

Tony Blair has made a public apology to members of the Conlon and Maguire families who were victims of one of the UK's biggest miscarriages of justice.

The prime minister said that he was sorry that the families "were subject to such an ordeal and injustice".

The Court of Appeal quashed the sentences of the Guildford Four in 1989 following a tireless campaign by the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume. Two years later it overturned the sentences on the Maguire Seven.

The bid by the Conlon and Maguire families followed a substantial campaign in Ireland.

In a statement, Cardinal Murphy-OíConnor said; ìI welcome the Prime Ministerís apology today for the wrongful jailing of the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven."

"My predecessor, Cardinal Basil Hume, played a prominent part in helping to secure justice for them. He would have been very content to see this final vindication of the efforts in which he played a prominent part.î

Cardinal Hume was a member of a group known as ìthe Deputationî which also includes Lord Devlin and Lord Scarman, and two former Home Secretaries, Roy Jenkins and Merlyn Rees.

The Deputation insisted on the innocence of the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven in the face of considerable opposition from political and legal authorities.

The Prime Ministerës apology was made to members of the Conlon and Maguire families in his private room at Westminster.

Mr Blair said: "I am very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and injustice."

In a statement recorded for television, Mr Blair said the families deserved "to be completely and publicly exonerated".

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