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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 June 2014

Gerry Conlon: Fighter against state injustice

Gary Mulcahy, Belfast Socialist Party

The death of Gerry Conlon in Belfast has been met with mass sympathy across the world as people are reminded of the British capitalist state's vile injustice against the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven.

Conlon and three other Irish immigrants were arrested by police following the IRA bombing of a pub in Guildford in 1974 resulting in the deaths of four British soldiers and one civilian. Without any evidence of any involvement in the bombing, the Guildford Four were tortured and coerced (including threats against family members) into signing confessions while in custody.

Conlon later wrote that they may have been able to withstand the beatings and not confessed if the Prevention of Terrorism Act (1973) had not extended detentions from a maximum of 48 hours to five days. This repressive legislation was passed in response to the IRA's individual terrorist campaign.

The consequent trial was rigged from the start with key evidence and alibis exempted in court. During sentencing, Judge John Donaldson - once a chairman of the Federations of University Conservative and Unionist Associations - regretted that he could not sentence the four to hanging before handing them life sentences.

The Maguire Seven were unjustly sentenced to life imprisonment on the false allegations that they had handled explosives connected with the Guildford bombing. This Maguire Seven included Patrick "Giuseppe" Conlon, father of Gerry, who died after 12 years in prison aged 64.

Throughout the 15 years that the Guildford Four remained in prison, many organisations ranging from trade unions and socialists to human rights groups campaigned for their release.

Incredibly, a statement issued by four IRA men on trial in 1977 which made it clear that the Guildford Four had nothing to do with the bombing and were completely innocent was ignored. It took 15 years before the Guildford Four were freed after a consistent and determined campaign by the prisoners, their lawyer Gareth Pierce and their supporters.

Despite Tony Blair's public formal apology in 2007, a 75 year immunity order remains on the case - itself an indication of how high up the chain of power the corruption and injustice went. Judge Donaldson was awarded and promoted to the Head of the Appeal Court.

Up to his final weeks, Gerry Conlon tirelessly campaigned against cases of state injustice and also publicly supported struggles of working class people across Britain and Ireland.

His fight and that of the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven should be a reminder to all working class people that the capitalist establishment, including the political and judicial elite, are willing to use grotesque methods against anyone they deem a threat.

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In The Socialist 25 June 2014:


Socialist Party news and analysis

10 July: All out to end poverty pay

Western hypocrisy as Iraq disintegrates

Blame the profit system not its victims!

NHS: The world's best - but for how long?

Miliband - the emperor with no clothes

Poverty Britain

Them & Us


Socialist Party review

Thomas Piketty: The new Marx?


International socialist news and analysis

Hong Kong: Pro-Beijing newspaper attacks socialists

Israel: Nationalist thugs assault CWI members


Socialist Party workplace news

How can Unite lead fight against cuts?

Reinstate Bryan Kennedy!

Unison conference: members call for united action

GMB members question Labour link

Safety Glass strikers demonstrate their strength

National Museum Wales strike

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

People's Assembly demo shows anti-austerity anger

South Yorkshire 'Freedom Riders' attacked by police

Fighting for young people in Blackwall and Cubitt Town

Victory! York socialists win university letting agency

Tottenham: Stop fascist attacks

Winning recruits for socialism

Tax dodgers feel the heat


Readers' comments

Supermarket price wars

A day in the life of a supermarket worker


Socialist history

When Thatcher unleashed her attack dogs


Obituary

Gerry Conlon: Fighter against state injustice


 

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