Hugh Callaghan, a member of the "Birmingham Six" who was wrongfully jailed for IRA pub bombings in England in the 1970s, has died at the age of 93.
Hugh Callaghan died on Saturday, May 27, after being admitted to London's Homerton Hospital with chest pains.
Callaghan and five others were rounded up and jailed after the IRA detonated bombs in the Tavern and Mulberry Bush pubs in Birmingham on November 21, 1974, killing 21 people and injuring 182 others. Their group is known as the "Birmingham Six".
West Midlands Police beat up and terrorized the six men, obtaining false confessions that led to life sentences. They also claimed to have found traces of explosives on the six men, but the tests were later discredited. The six men spent 16 years in jail before being released and exonerated in 1991 after years of campaigning on their behalf.
In 1980, the six men took legal action against the West Midlands Police over their ill-treatment while in custody in 1974.
However, British judge Lord Denning turned down their legal action, stating that the consequences arising from the British legal system accepting that police were lying was such an "appalling vista" that any sensible person would reject legal action.
Sally Mulready, Director of the Irish Elderly Advice Network, told RTÉ News that hardly a day went by when Callaghan didn't think of the 16 years he spent in prison for something he didn't do.
Hugh Callaghan, one of the Birmingham Six, who was wrongly jailed for IRA bombings, has died at the age of 93. He passed away in a London hospital last Saturday https://t.co/ZTe6F4HN6H— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 1, 2023
Mulready, who was heavily involved in the campaign to free the Birmingham Six and later co-wrote Callaghan's 1994 autobiography "Cruel Fate", described Callaghan as a "gentle soul", adding that his death "is a sad day for all of us".
"He was a man with astonishing strength of character," she said in a statement.
"Despite the profound injustice he endured, he was not bitter or angry, but joyful and always ready to sing. His party piece was 'Danny Boy', and his voice was magnificent and strong right to end, with the last day of his life spent with his beloved Adeline, singing to the nurses in hospital."
Mulready said Callaghan had been in good form recently, adding that his death was sudden.
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Callaghan, a native of Belfast, became involved in Irish community organizations in England following his release from prison in 1991 and spent his last years in Hackney, East London, with his partner Adeline Masterson. He is survived by his daughter Geraldine.
He was a talented singer and a member of the Irish Pensioners Choir.
The other five members of the Birmingham Six were Richard McIlkenny, Gerard Hunter, Patrick Joseph Hill, William Power, and John Walker. McIlKenny died in 2006.