#OTD in 1976 – The Maguire Seven: Guilty in Law, innocent in Fact.

‘Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.’

Forced (beaten) confessions, contaminated forensic kits, a rush to justice following IRA atrocities in Britain and sloppy police practices ensures that Anne Maguire, her husband Patrick, sons Vincent 17, Patrick 14, brother, brother-in-law and a family friend are found guilty of possessing explosives at their London Home and passing them on to the IRA. Anne Maguire received the most severe sentence of fourteen years imprisonment although it could be said her brother-in-law Giuseppe Conlon received a life sentence as he died in prison in 1990 proclaiming an innocence that would not become official until 1991.

The Maguire Seven are found guilty in another terrible miscarriage of justice. On 26 June 1991 the Court of Appeal overturned the sentences on the Maguire Seven. In 2005, Prime Minister Tony Blair apologised unreservedly for what happened. “I am very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and such an injustice. “They deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated.” Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who is credited with persuading Mr Blair to make the apology, said: “I know that the years of lost time that the Conlon family has suffered cannot be recovered. My hope for them is that they can move on with their lives and that the cloud that has hung over them for so long can now finally be lifted.

Mr Conlon said Mr Blair had gone “beyond what we thought he would (say). Tony Blair has healed rifts, he is helping to heal wounds. It’s a day I never thought would come.”

Many of the 10 surviving defendants had led strange and troubled lives since their release.

Mrs Maguire, who described the apology as “lovely”, said her sons – convicted and imprisoned when they were 14 and 17 – had suffered heavily.

In the preface to Annie Maguire’s book Miscarriage of Justice, Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster writes of Anne Maguire “she is, as far as I am concerned, a very exceptional woman whom it has been a privilege to get to know.”

Image | Gerry Conlon (RIP), right, and Annie Maguire, far left, with Tony Blair’s letter of apology

Posted by

Stair na hÉireann is steeped in Ireland's turbulent history, culture, ancient secrets and thousands of places that link us to our past and the present. With insight to folklore, literature, art, and music, you’ll experience an irresistible tour through the remarkable Emerald Isle.