Belfast Telegraph

Sister seeks 'justice for everyone' in calls for pub bombings inquests to resume

The sister of the Guildford Four's Gerry Conlon has said "justice has no sell-by date" as she called for the 1974 pub bombings inquests to be resumed.

Ann McKernan, 58, said she promised her brother she would continue the fight for justice, not just for him but for "everyone involved", including the families of those killed.

Mr Conlon was one of the quartet wrongly imprisoned for the IRA attacks in the Surrey town which killed five people - four soldiers and a civilian - and injured 65.

The Guildford Four were handed life sentences but had their convictions overturned in 1989, and their case became one of the best known miscarriages of justice in British legal history.

Belfast-based firm KRW Law has applied to the senior coroner for Surrey to resume the inquests on behalf of Ms McKernan and a soldier who survived and who wishes to remain anonymous.

The firm said the application was on the basis that the inquests were never completed following the conviction of the Guildford Four.

Soldiers Caroline Slater, 18, William Forsyth, 18, John Hunter, 17, and Ann Hamilton, 19, and civilian Paul Craig, 22, died in the blast at the Horse and Groom pub on October 5 1974.

Mr Conlon, who was played by Daniel Day-Lewis in 1993 film In The Name Of The Father, died in June 2014, three weeks after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

His father Giuseppe, who was also jailed as part of a discredited investigation into a supposed bomb making family - the Maguire Seven - died in prison.

His mother Sarah, a tireless campaigner for their freedom, died in 2008, aged 82.

Ms McKernan said she wants justice for all of them, and will fight for it until her "dying breath", telling the Press Association: "Justice has no sell-by date."

She added: "I promised him I would continue to get the proper justice for him. Not only for him, but for everyone involved in this."

She said her mother was "put through hell for 15 years", adding: "What happened to my family, what the British police and judiciary did, was cruel and wicked."

Ms McKernan, who lives in west Belfast, said the families of the victims are also in her thoughts.

"They're going through the same hell as me. It's wrong," she said, adding: "I don't have any contact with the victims' families, but believe me when I think of my family I also think of them families. They're as much victims as we are victims."

Asked if she would like to hear from the victims' families, she said: "I would. I would support them 100%."

Ms McKernan said the whole ordeal has taken a heavy toll on her health, and she is housebound due to advanced Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

"From a young girl at 14-years-of-age visiting jails, it does take its toll on you," she said.

"But how can you give up on something that can be rectified and put right?

"There's not a day that I don't think about Gerry, my mother, my father."

KRW Law believes the resumption of the inquests would serve the interests of the victims and the wider public interest, adding that its clients still have unanswered questions.

The lawyers said their clients want to know why there was no subsequent police investigation following the release of the Guildford Four and why questions remain over the original prosecution.

The firm said that for its clients these inquests would be "an exercise in their right to truth, justice and accountability".

Last month, the lawyers applied to the Attorney General for England and Wales for him to consider ordering a new police investigation into the bombings, specifically regarding the original investigation by Surrey Police, the original prosecution of the Guildford Four and the subsequent inconclusive findings of judicial inquiry.

Ms McKernan said the families impacted by the miscarriage of justice should be given "some sort of closure", adding: "It will never go away until the right thing is done."

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