Gerry Adams: IRA not to blame for Gerry Conlon's injustice
The IRA should not be blamed for keeping the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six and other innocent people behind, despite knowing they were not guilty of IRA bombings, Gerry Adams has said.
In the wake of the death of one of those wrongly jailed, Gerry Conlon, the Sinn Fein leader said the burden of guilt for the miscarriages of justice rests absolutely with the British establishment.
Mr Conlon (60) died in his west Belfast home on Saturday after an illness.
He spent 14 years in jail for the 1974 IRA bombing of the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford, Surrey, in which four soldiers and a civilian were killed and 65 people were injured – a crime he had nothing to do with.
His father Giuseppe, who was suffering from emphysema, was wrongly jailed for supposed bomb-making offences and died after five years behind bars.
Former SDLP MP Seamus Mallon accused republicans of "almost conniving" with the British Government to keep innocent people behind bars.
He said the IRA leaders who directed the bombing "watched Gerry Conlon going through hell in a prison for a crime he didn't commit".
"I wonder what their consciences tell them now," he added.
But Mr Adams dismissed the claim as political point-scoring.
"The responsibility for the detention and incarceration of a range of people there, from the Guildford Four to the Birmingham Six and the Maguires, rests absolutely with the British establishment," he said.
"The police there knew those individuals were not involved in those actions and there was a cover-up and that's a matter of public record."
Mr Adams told RTE Radio: "The IRA has to take responsibility for its own actions, but let's not have Seamus Mallon try to score political points."