Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has accused the Taoiseach Enda Kenny of “misrepresenting the events surrounding the miscarriage of justice involving the Guildford 4.”
Gerry Adams said:
“This morning I expressed solidarity and condolences to the family of Gerry Conlon who died at the weekend. Instead of joining in the spirit of the moment for the family the Taoiseach used this opportunity to attack me and to claim that republicans had contributed to this miscarriage of justice by not admitting who was responsible.
“The truth is that in December, 1975, the four IRA Volunteers who became known as the Balcombe Street unit were arrested. Within 24 hours of their arrests they told senior British police officers that they and not the four people who had been recently convicted – later to become known as the Guildford 4, were involved in the bombings.
“On the strength of legal statements given by members of the Balcombe Street unit, the Guildford Four were eventually granted an appeal in October 1977.
“At the appeal hearing, with the support they explained later of the IRA leadership, Eddie Butler, Harry Duggan, Joe O'Connell and Brendan Dowd testified that they were responsible for the Woolwich attack. Brendan Dowd also accepted responsibility for the Guildford bomb attack. All of the men said that the four persons convicted of the Guildford and Woolwich bombings had played no part.
“So, republicans did admit their involvement and asserted the innocence of the Guildford 4.
“The response of the British judicial system was to keep them in prison for another 10 years.
“According to the highly respected British Labour MP Chris Mullin, who campaigned for many years on behalf of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six: ‘So detailed was the Balcombe Street unit's account that it was not possible to pretend that they had not been involved’.
“Later in his evidence to Sir John May's Inquiry into the Guildford & Woolwich bombings in 1989, British Labour MP Chris Mullen MP stated: ‘In the absence of an explanation a good deal more credible than any which has so far been advanced, I submit that from soon after the arrest of the Balcombe Street IRA unit it is inescapable that those in authority, up to the highest level, realised that innocent people may have been convicted of the Guildford and Woolwich bombings and were anxious to avoid facing up to that possibility.’
“None of this is any consolation to the families or the victims of these miscarriages of justice like Gerry Conlon or his family. Neither is it any consolation to the families of the victims or the victims of the IRA bombing.
“Our endeavour must be to ensure that these events never happen again. Efforts to score political points by distorting or ignoring the facts makes no worthwhile contribution to this.”