Wednesday 11 December 2013

Patrick and Annie Maguire

One of the saddest events that sprang from the Terror campaign in Northern Ireland and England was the wrongful conviction and imprisonment, in March 1976, of the Maguire family on the false charge of running a bomb factory in their home in the Brixton area of London.

The parents, Patrick and Annie, spent almost fourteen years in prison; other members of their family also served prison sentences including the youngest son, Paddy, who, at the age of thirteen, was sent to an adult prison for four years.

Patrick and Annie were two honourable and hard-working people who reared their children to be law-abiding and honest. They were never involved with subversive groups; in fact Patrick served in the British Army in the fifties.

The family were arrested following false statements made to the police by their nephew Gerard Conlon and his cousin Paul Hill—two of the Guildford Four.

In January 1994, the film In The Name of the Father was produced covering the Maguires' arrest and conviction. Like all films of this nature, which are made to appeal to viewers, it contained distortion, exaggeration and untruths.

The Maguires issued a statement pointing to a number of inaccuracies:
  • The Maguire seven were not tried with the Guidford Four.
  • The Maguires were not accused of the same offences as the Guidford Four—the Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings—but of running a bomb factory in their London home.
  • The film's depiction of Paul Hill and Gerard Conlon arriving in London to a meal at the Maguire house in 1974 is false. Although Mr. Conlon stayed with them in 1973, his conduct was such that he was no longer welcome there again. The first time Mrs. Maguire met Mr.Hill was with Mr. Conlon two weeks after the Guildford bombings. No other member of her family had met Mr. Hill before and she had not been aware of Mr. Conlon's presence in England until then.
  • Mr. Conlon did not sign a blank statement into which the police inserted Annie's name but wrote out two long statements implicating her.
  • The Conlon family never sent food parcels to the Maguires.
  • Lawyer Gareth Pierce did not become involved in the case until 1988 (eight years after Guiseppe Conlon's death) when she began representing Mr. Conlon, not the Maguires. "We do not owe the quashing of our conviction to her" says the statement.
  • The evidence of police perjury and fabrication which led to the quashing of the Guidford Four convictions—and therefore re-examination of the Maguire case—in 1989 was found by Avon and Somerset police when they searched the Surrey police files.
The family were exonerated in 1991 and received a public apology from Prime Minister Tony Blair.

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