Tribute to Gerry Conlon and the British state’s practice of hiding files

I pay tribute to Gerry Conlon who passed away this week. His speech on his release from prison is one of the iconic television moments of the 20th century. He summoned great dignity and passion following his release after 15 years spent wrongfully imprisoned and having seen his father die in prison. An article in today’s edition of The Irish Times makes the most curious point that if the Guildford Four had been relying on the Irish media to make their case, they would still be in prison. Only a small number of journalists championed their cause. This lack of support and the lack of clarity about what the Guildford Four faced continues in the reporting of the death of Gerry Conlon. RTE, for example, referred to Mr. Conlon’s wrongful imprisonment after a miscarriage of justice and made no reference to the Guildford Four being tortured or the hiding of evidence from their defence team.

Miscarriages of justice against Irish citizens and the State continue. What are the Taoiseach and Tánaiste doing in response to a recent excellent RTE documentary which exposed events surrounding a case Ireland took against the British state for torturing a number of Irish citizens living in the North, who became known as the “hooded men”? I have not heard the Taoiseach, Tánaiste or any other member of the Government express outrage about the way in which the British Government lied to the State or about recent revelations that the British Prime Minister was aware at the time that elements in the British army were shooting Irish citizens in Belfast. Not one question has been raised about these matters.

Senator Paul Coghlan praised the Taoiseach, his party leader, for travelling to France this week to discuss the future of Europe. Perhaps he will ask the Taoiseach whether he raised with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, the files that were hidden from the State when it prosecuted the British State.

I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on issues related to the British state’s practice of hiding files, not only in respect of the cases of the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and hooded men, but also in the case of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

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