In the name of the son – THE GERRY CONLON STORY.

Miscarriage of justice victim Gerry Conlon spent the best part of £120,000 in six weeks on crack cocaine as he struggled to come to terms with life outside prison.

Previously unpublished details of the justice campaigner’s fight to beat a potentially deadly drug addiction are contained in a new book written by his childhood friend Richard O’Rawe.

The author reveals that since his release from prison in 1989, Mr Conlon “went through the guts of £1million” earned through compensation along with book and film deals.

In the Name of the Son: The Gerry Conlon Story delves into the battles faced by the west Belfast man following his release from prison after he was falsely convicted of involvement in the 1974 Guildford pub bombings, which claimed the lives of four British soldiers and a civilian.
Mr Conlon, Paul Hill, Paddy and Carol Richardson were all wrongfully convicted of taking part in the attacks.

As well as providing a gripping account of Gerry Conlon’s descent into addiction and successful battle to beat his deadly habit in the years after his release, the book also explores new evidence that suggests authorities knew the Guildford Four could not have carried out the attack.
He also says that Mr Conlon believed he and his co-accused had been “framed” rather being simply the victims of a miscarriage of justice.

It is revealed that in just six weeks Mr Conlon worked his way through £120,000, the bulk of it being spent on crack cocaine as his life spiralled out of control.

The Belfast man received the cash for the 1993 hit film In the Name of the Father, in which he was played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

The author reveals that as Conlon’s cash started to run out, which included compensation for his time spent in prison, he forked out up to £10,000 a day on drugs and giving handouts to people he viewed as needy.

He also funded his own justice campaigns, which often involved travel around the world.

But as the cash eventually became scarce he and his remaining close circle of friends were forced into desperate measures and for a while lived off food scavenged from bins in the affluent Mayfair area of London.

Speaking to the Irish News, Mr O’Rawe said his childhood friend used drugs to try and escape the memories of his past.
“Gerry put on this wonderful person in public where he was so confident and cocky jack the lad and everything else,” he said.
“So when he went home he had nightmare after nightmare – every night he had nightmares.
“He took drugs to try and keep himself awake so he wouldn’t sleep, so he wouldn’t have the nightmares.”
“I’m not saying that’s the reason he took drugs, but it’s one of them.”
Mr O’Rawe says that his pal regularly “woke up in bed…. and he would have been soaking, the bed would have been ringing, you could have rung the sheets out, squealing, ‘get off me, stop beating me”.
“This was every night,” he said.
“Gerry never escaped that for the whole time that he was alive.”
Such was the grip crack cocaine had on him, even when he returned to Belfast in the mid-1990s his then girlfriend often travelled from England to deliver the drugs to him, and sent it through the post, at a time when the use of the drug was practically unheard of in the city.

After his release Mr Conlon was surrounded by a wide circle of friends, which included celebrities like Hollywood actor Johnny Depp and former Pogues front man Shane MacGowan.

Mr O’Rawe said that Mr Conlon’s generosity was well known and that those who shared his addiction also flocked to him.
“When Gerry took crack, Gerry had a crowd around him,” he said.
“Gerry was like Father Christmas.
“All the crack heads in London loved him because, I don’t know what way you buy crack and I don’t even know what way you buy dope, but the point is Gerry used buy £10,000 worth at a time.”

Mr O’Rawe believes that his old pal’s trauma stemmed from guilt over the arrest and wrongful conviction of his father Giuseppe for the Guildford bombings along with other members of the group that became known as the Maguire Seven.
Suffering from ill health, Giuseppe Conlon died in an English prison in January 1980
“He was haunted by his father,” Mr O’Rawe said.
“He never, ever got over Giuseppe.
“He absolutely blamed himself.
“You couldn’t have spoken to him about it, you couldn’t have talked to him.”
“It didn’t matter that he knew nothing about Guilford – that he had been tortured into signing confessions.
“It didn’t matter, he blamed himself up until his dying day.”
He said that as Mr Conlon descended into despair “suicide was never far away from his mind”.

Mr O’Rawe, a former republican prisoner and ‘blanket man’ who has previously written books about the 1981 hunger strike, lived close to Mr Conlon in the Lower Falls area where the pair were best friends and schoolmates.

He says they were reunited after almost 18 years following a chance encounter in Belfast city centre days after Mr Conlon was released from prison.
After going out for a drink they bumped into former IRA commander Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes, a former cellmate of Mr O’Rawe, who joined them.
Although Mr Conlon denied it, the former IRA man was said to be the person who ordered him to leave Belfast in the 1970s.
“The three of us went to a pub and we were, well, stocious, and the craic was 90,” Mr O’Rawe said.
He said that writing the book about a man he describes as being like a brother has been both a traumatic and rewarding experience for him.

He said that around eight months before he died in 2014 Mr Conlon asked him to write his story and then later sent for him during his final days.

He emotionally recounts his last meeting with his friend and how he brought a fry into him as he lay seriously ill in the Royal Victoria Hospital.
“He actually ate it and he said to me ‘you’re going to write that for me aren’t you?
“I said ‘I will, I told you I will’.
He said ‘that’s OK, that’s good enough for me’.
“It’s very sad and then on the way out the door he said ‘I love you’.
“It near killed me. That’s the last I seen him alive.”
“It was awful traumatic, it was awful for me. I am an emotional guy anyway, I loved Gerry.
“I really did, he was my mate and he was like a brother to me. “His loss was awful, truly awful.”
The author says he takes comfort from Mr Conlon’s legacy as a campaigner for others in similar situations and reflects on the “goodness that was in him and the goodness that people saw”.
“Gerry Conlon had a profound effect on everybody he met,” he said.
“And I take great comfort from that I think he was a really decent human being who cared about other people.”
He also believes that his old friend eventually conquered his demons before his death after an illness in June 2014.
“Gerry won the war, Gerry came out triumphant,” he said.

In the Name of the Son: The Gerry Conlon Story is published today by Merrion Press.

With many thanks to: James Connolly.

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Guildford Four’s Armstrong lays bare experience of prison and it’s aftermath.

ONE of the Guildford Four has described his struggles following his release from prison – and how he has come out the other side. Wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 15 years, Paddy Armstrong was one of four people (known as the Guildford Four), jailed for the Guildford pub bombings in England in 1975.

Almost 30 years after his release, the Belfast-born man has relieved his ordeal in a book, Life After Life, saying “we can’t let people forget, because there are still injustices in the world today”. Mr Armstrong said the book, ghostwritten by Journalist Mary-Elaine Tynan, “lays bare the experiences of those years and their aftermath”. “It took a year and a half to get this out of me, but I’m glad I’ve done It,” he told The Irish News. “My son and daughter had begun asking questions about what happened to me and I found it difficult to answer. “I live for my family and I want people to see I’ve come out the other side – that there is a life after life.”

Mr Armstrong was jailed for life alongside Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill and Carole Richardson in what was widely regarded as one of the UK’s worst miscarriages of justice.

I needed to do it for my children and their generation – people who don’t know our story. Because their are still injustices in the world today. – Paddy Armstrong.

Their convictions for murdering five people in two IRA pub bombings in 1974 were finally quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1989. Recalling a dark period of his life, Mr Armstrong said: “I didn’t have a clue what was going on when I was arrested.

“They asked me the same questions over and over again. One of the police said: “We know you didn’t do it but we’re going to do you for it”. When we were told we would serve 35 years. I thought I’d never see the outside world again. “But that time came and when I got out I lived with my solicitor Alistair Logan for nine months – he saved me as I didn’t know anything about the outside. I remember the first night I stayed in his house I ended up putting the mattress onto the floor as I wasn’t used to sleeping on a bed.

“That following morning, Alistair said to me: ‘I heard you moving about a lot in your room’ and I said I still had in my head the warders were coming into my cell. “He got two doctors to treat me – ones that help soldiers who came from war, and I think that helped get my head together. They helped me adjust to life outside again. “It was very hard and there were times I wanted to be back in prison because at least I knew the structure there.”

“Asked if his ordeal had made him bitter, Mr Armstrong said: “I’ve no bitterness at all, I’m not that type of guy. “I’m angry with the police. I always get asked ‘you must hate so many people’ but what’s the point?” On why he was publishing his memoirs now, he said: “I didn’t just want the book to be about my time in prison but also about my life since I got out, and how difficult it was in those early days. 

“I needed to do it for my children and the people of their generation – people who don’t know our story. Gerry Conlon and Carole Richardson are gone now, but I’m still here. And so is Paul Hill. “And we can’t let people forget because there are still injustices in the world today.” Life After Life, A Guildford Four memoir will be launched at Easons in Belfast’s Donegal Place at 6.30pm on Thursday night April 13th 2017.
#JFTC2 #JusticeForTheCraigavonTwo


With many thanks to: Suzanne McGonagle, The Irish News.

Today in Irish History: 19th October 1989 – After serving 15-years in an English prison, “The Guildford Four”: Geard ‘Gerry’ Conlon, Patrick ‘Paddy’ Armstrong, Carole Richardson and Paul Hill are released in what is considered to be one of the biggest-ever miscarriages of justice in Britain’s history.

Paul Hill is taken to a Belfast prison where he was serving time for murder; he was also expected to be released.

With many thanks to:

Gerry Conlon stormed out of the Old Bailey in London after his release, pictured with his sisters Birdie and Ann.

Paul Hill, speaking in 1994 after his conviction for the murder of a British soldier in Belfast was quashed

Give Gerry Conlon’s Facebook page a like: Click on the link below….!

Served 15-years-in-prison for something he didn’t do.
(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)

Gerry Conlon and Paddy Hill at the Univerisity of Limerick, School of Law.


Gerry Conlon Dies in West Belfast (21.6.2014)

The coffin of Gerry Conlon is carried by, among others, Guilford Four member Paddy Armstrong (front right), and Birmingham Six member Paddy Hill (front left).


A post-release of Guildford Four member Carole Richardson, who died in obscurity in 2012.