Cardinal Welcomes Blair Apology Over '74 IRA Bomb Jailings

Says Basil Hume «Would Have Been Very Content»

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LONDON, FEB. 9, 2005 ( Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor welcomed an apology by British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the wrongful jailing of 11 people for IRA bomb attacks in 1974.

«I welcome the prime minister’s apology today for the wrongful jailing of the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven,» the archbishop of Westminster said.

«My predecessor, Cardinal Basil Hume, played a prominent part in helping to secure justice for them,» Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said. «He would have been very content to see this final vindication of the efforts in which he played a prominent part.»

Blair issued a public apology today to members of two families whose wrongful imprisonment for the Irish Republican Army bombings was dramatized in the film «In the Name of the Father.»

Members of the Conlon and Maguire families were jailed in connection with IRA bombings in Guildford and Woolwich in England. One attack killed five people and injured 54 others.

In October 1989 the Court of Appeal quashed the sentences of the Guildford Four, following a campaign by the then archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Hume.

«Cardinal Hume was a member of a group known as ‘the Deputation’ which also includes Lord Devlin and Lord Scarman, and two former Home Secretaries, Roy Jenkins and Merlyn Rees,» Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said in a statement. «The Deputation insisted on the innocence of the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven in the face of considerable opposition from political and legal authorities.»

Blair’s apology was made to members of the Conlon and Maguire families in his private room at Westminster. In a statement recorded for television, Blair said the families deserved «to be completely and publicly exonerated.»

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