Gerry Conlon wrote to Haughey asking him to intervene in his case

Then taoiseach Haughey went on to raise the issue of the Guildford Four throughout 1988

Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford Four who was wrongly convicted of being an IRA bomber, wrote from prison in 1988 to then taoiseach Charles Haughey asking him to intervene in his case.

In a letter, which has been declassified with other State records under the 30-year rule, Conlon reminded Mr Haughey that his father Giuseppe had died in a British prison (in 1980 having been convicted as part of the Maguire Seven) as a result of “years of neglect and ill-treatment”.

Conlon told the then taoiseach that they had been victims of “serious miscarriages of justice which are being covered up at government and judicial levels.

“But these bodies know of our innocence but are frightened by the prospect of our release which would expose the parts played by both in our railroading to prison for crimes we are not guilty of.”


Conlon and three others were arrested for the Guildford pub bombings of October 1974 which resulted in the deaths of five people.

Conlon, Paul Hill, Patrick Armstrong and Carole Richardson were convicted a year later for the bombings and sentenced to life imprisonment. They were eventually released in 1989 after a long campaign which exposed one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British history.

In his letter from Full Sutton prison in York, Mr Conlon requested that Mr Haughey speak out on their behalf and on behalf of the Birmingham Six and Maguire Seven. He asked the Irish government to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

“You have nothing to fear because we have the truth on our side,” Conlon told Haughey. “The British establishment has only lies and every lie they tell is a lie we can expose.

“Thatcher, recently said, ‘one is on either the side of justice or the terrorist’. Where does she stand regarding us then? Obviously on the side of the judicial terrorists. Please help us by taking a more robust attitude with her on our case.

“I hope you will give some thought to what we said and find the courage to stand up for all the innocent Irish people languishing in English prisons.”

Haughey did raise the issue of the Guildford Four throughout 1988 and called for a review of all the miscarriage of justice cases in Britain.

The Guildford Four were released in October 1989 and their convictions were quashed. The story was made into the film In the Name of Father in 1993.

Gerry Conlon died in 2014 at the age of 60 from lung cancer.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times