An emotional Paul Hill has told Irish radio that previous Irish governments did nothing to support the Guildford Four and others, including the Birmingham Six, in their fight to clear their names.
Conlon died in Belfast on Saturday at the age of 60. He had been incarcerated by the British for 15 years for a crime he did not commit.
Speaking to Irish radio from his home in the United States, Hill said he found it difficult for politicians and sections of the Irish media to be ‘eulogizing’ Gerry Conlon.
He said successive Irish governments and the media only got involved in publicizing what happened to them ‘very late in the day’.
Hill said: “I’m not trying to score political points here but it has to be said that people in positions of power did very little for Gerry Conlon, for myself, the Birmingham Six, Judith Ward and the Maguire Seven.
“People knew we were completely and absolutely innocent. They should look in the mirror today and ask themselves ‘what did I do for these individuals’.
“We received mail from people all over the world while they were in prison so we knew our story was getting publicity.”
Asked on the RTE This Week program about the IRA, an emotional Hill replied: “What about the IRA? It’s political point-scoring.
“What happened to myself and Gerry Conlon was a greater miscarriage of justice than those who died in Guildford, in Woolwich and in Birmingham.
“We had absolutely nothing to do with that. People in positions of power did very little to help.
“The British government stressed that our case was a judicial matter and not a political one.
“When they talk about collateral damage, the man who died yesterday was collateral damage.”
Hill told the RTE radio program that he last spoke to Conlon in March.
“I had seen Gerry a couple of years ago when I was home. I spoke to him in March just before he spoke at an event in Limerick University,” he added.
In response to questions about Conlon’s campaigning and the focus it had given him, Hill explained that his friend had a ‘bigger burden to carry’ according to the report.
“Well it (the campaigning) focused him a little bit,” he said. “People should really grasp that Gerry had a more difficult time than the rest of us.
“He lost his father Giuseppe Conlon. His father died in prison. His father was never going to be released. Gerry’s father was always going to be in prison in Gerry’s head.
“Gerry had a bigger burden to carry than the rest of us and he didn’t deal with that well. He would be first to admit he didn’t deal with it well but these were the circumstances.
“But he focused himself and he was driven to help other people. I remember speaking to him about the Patriot Act here in America, about the people in Guantanamo.
“A nation can kidnap you anywhere in the world, fly you to a black site, torture you and hold you in a prison for nine years without trial.
“How do you think Gerry Conlon felt about that? How do you think people like me feel about that? After everything that’s happened to us, it gets even worse. All in the name of fighting terrorism.”
Hill, Conlon, Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson were eventually freed and pardoned in 1989, 15 years after five people died and 65 people were injured in the Guildford bombing carried out by the IRA in 1974.
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