Annie demands Blair apology

Appeal made on eve of 30th anniversary of arrest and wrongful conviction

As the 30th anniversary of the arrest of the Maguire Seven approaches this week Annie Maguire has called on the British Prime Minister to apologise publicly to her family for their false imprisonment.

Members of the family were arrested on 3 December 1974 and charged with the possession of the explosive nitroglycerine. The Maguire Seven were arrested following an alleged remark made by Gerry Conlon from the Guildford Four during his own arrest. Conlon, a nephew of Annie and also a victim of a miscarriage of justice, is alleged to have made a remark about learning to make bombs in his Aunt Annie’s kitchen when being grilled about the Guildford pub bombings.

The seven were sentenced to various terms in prison, despite a lack of forensic evidence. Annie and her husband Patrick were sentenced to 14 years. Sean Smyth, Annie’s brother received 12 years as did Gerry Conlon’s father Guiseppe and family friend Pat O’Neill. Sixteen-year-old Vincent Maguire was sentenced to five years and Patrick Junior, who was 13 at the time, was given a four year term.

On 23 January 1980, Guiseppe Conlon died in prison, the rest of the Maguire Seven served full sentences with Annie being the last to leave prison on 22 February 1985. The Maguire Seven finally had their convictions quashed in June 1991 after the Guildford Four’s convictions were also quashed. However no apology was ever made to the Maguire family by the British government.

Now on the eve of the 30th anniversary of their arrest Annie – who hails from Abyssinia Street in the Falls – says that the time spent in prison robbed her family of precious years together, something they can neither forgive nor forget.

“The day I was sentenced my life finished. I had no husband or no children and I believed that my life was over. I died at that point,” said Annie.
“The time in jail completely destroyed my family and to this day we are affected by it.

“My kids were made orphans and all I ever wanted was to get that time back with my kids.

“Nobody has ever said sorry and I want Tony Blair to apologise for what the British government did to my family,” she added.

The 69-year-old says that she hopes that one day an apology will be made.
“I will never give up hope that one day they will say sorry and if I don’t see it in my lifetime then I hope that my children will see the day when an apology is made to the Maguire family.”

Annie says that the family are closely knit, living just streets apart in London.
“Every day for me is a bonus and I have seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren and every minute that I spend with them is a bonus. Although sometimes when I watch the grandchildren playing I get flashbacks and think that when their parents were the same age they were in jail or had no parents to look after them.

“The memories of that time never go away,” she added.

Journalist:: Anthony Neeson

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