Tributes as sister of Guildford Four’s Gerry Conlon laid to rest
Tributes have been paid to justice campaigner Ann McKernan who was laid to rest on Thursday.
She was laid to rest at St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast. The west Belfast woman was the sister of Gerry Conlon and the daughter of Guiseppe Conlon, who were wrongly convicted of terrorism offences and were ultimately exonerated after a long fight for justice.
Guiseppe died in 1980 while still in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Gerry was freed in 1989 after his conviction was quashed. He died in 2014.
Ms McKernan, who was in her late 50s, was a tireless campaigner in the long struggle for justice for her father, brother and the others wrongly convicted in what became known as the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven cases.
Former Irish Labour senator Mairia Cahill paid tribute to her.
“I’m devastated to learn that my friend Ann McKernan/Conlon has died,” she said.
“She sent her last message to me last week, saying there was nothing more they could do for her.
“She had a very hard battle on all fronts in life, not least in campaigning for her father Giuseppe and brother Gerry for decades.
“Her whole life was taken up with what happened to her father and brother, and the campaign for justice for them.”
Up to just a few weeks ago she had continued to campaign for the release of secret Government papers relevant to the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven miscarriages of justice.
“Ann was a woman of strong faith, her faith was very important to her,” Ms Cahill added,
“I hope she is at peace now.”
SDLP councillor Tim Attwood, who had known her for many years, said: “Ann was a champion against social injustice and she stood firmly by Gerry through both his time in prison and when he sought a public apology. Ann was a rock for her family when both her brother and father were in prison.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Ann’s family at this difficult time.”
Campaigning organisation the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (MOJO) also offered its sympathies.
“Everyone at MOJO would like to offer our condolences to the McKernan and Conlon family on the passing of Ann McKernan,” the group posted on its Facebook page.