Gerry Conlon and Paddy Joe Hill RTÉ Radio One Sunday With Miriam 23 March 2014

Sunday with Miriam
RTÉ Radio One
23 March 2014

Miriam O’Callaghan speaks to Paddy Joe Hill and Gerry Conlon as this year marks the fortieth anniversary of the Guildford and Birmingham pub bombings.

(begins)

Miriam:  First though today this year marks forty years since the IRA bombings in Guildford and Birmingham which killed twenty-six people and injured hundreds of others. As well as the devastation those attacks caused for the immediate victims they also set in motion a chain of events that ended in the wrongful imprisonment of my first guests. Gerry Conlon, one of the Guildford 4, spent fifteen years in prison and Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham 6, was wrongly jailed for nearly seventeen years.

Audio:  Paddy Joe Hill on 14 March 1991 addressing the media outside the Old Bailey in London after the Birmingham 6 convictions were quashed.

Audio:  Gerry Conlon on 19 October 1989 addressing the media outside the Old Bailey in London after the Guildford 4 convictions were quashed.

Miriam:   Morning, Gerry Conlon! Morning, Paddy Joe Hill!

Gerry:  Good Morning, Miriam.

Paddy:   Morning, Miriam.

Miriam:  I’m going to start with you, Gerry. Do you remember the first time you heard about the bombings in Guildford in 1974?

Gerry:  You know I think the first time I heard of them was when the allegation was put to me. I mean I came from West Belfast, the Lower Falls, and they were an everyday occurrence. And that was one of the reasons I went to England. You know, in the eyes of the local Republicans and the IRA I would have been one of these people who would have been creating problems by singing on corners and stuff like that, you know? So the bombings didn’t really mean a lot. The Birmingham pub bombing registered simply because of the amount of people that were murdered that night.

Miriam:  Do you recall the moment that you were arrested? Is it still very vivid in your memory?

Gerry:   Not only is my arrest vivid but everyday of the torture in the various police stations from Springfield Road to Addlestone to Godalming to Guildford and every day of my prison experience is indelibly stamped in my brain. And at the least drop of a hat memories come flooding back of what they did to us.

Miriam:  So time, the notion that time eases those memories, isn’t true for you, Gerry?

Gerry:  No, not at all. You know, my father came over on the assurance of Jim Neville, who was the then head of the bomb squad, and my father spoke to him from Springfield Road police station. And Jim Neville told my father: Come over. You’ll have access to him and you’d be able to get a solicitor of your choosing to represent him. My father was no sooner in the country, four hours, and he was arrested and never came out.

Miriam:  That was Guiseppe, of course, Gerry. Gerry, recall for me the actual arrest. Do you remember even where you were?

Gerry:  Oh, I was in 32 Cypress Street. That’s where we lived at the time in the Lower Falls. And it was the start of a horrendous nightmare that we’re still living through because we’ve never had help for it.

Miriam:  What do you mean you’ve never had help for it?

Gerry:  Well we’ve never had help. The government have never gave us help for the trauma we suffered. I witnessed not only my father dying in prison but two people being murdered in front of my eyes in the most brutal of fashion. And when we came out I was given thirty-four pound ninety of a discharge grant and told to get on with it.

Miriam:  Paddy, when was the first time you heard about the Birmingham bombings? Was it when you were detained that time, the first time, by the police?

Paddy:   It was at the boat, the Heysham boat terminal. I’d already gone through the security check. And as far as the Heysham and Morecambe Police are concerned I have no complaints about them at all, Miriam. They were absolutely brilliant. And it was Sergeant Willoughby who took me off the boat and he told me, the sergeant, he wanted to talk to me and I went out and I’ll never forget his words – they’re burned into my brain. He said to me: Paddy, please excuse the pun but you know how things gets blown up out of all proportion when something happens but he said I can tell you something now, this is bad. The first reports we have is that there’s over two hundred people injured and that there’s over twenty people dead. I don’t know whether that’s true or not, he said, that could be blown up out of all proportion but it is serious. And that was the first time that I heard about it.

Miriam:  But I assume, Paddy, a bit like Gerry there, when you look back on being detained, I assume at the very beginning you couldn’t actually believe this was happening to you.

Paddy:  No, that’s the thing about it. We went to the police station of our own free will. And I remember I was sitting on a bench reading this book and suddenly the door beside me opened and two cops walked in and they had a couple of bundles of clothes in their hands and they threw them behind the door. And I looked up and both of them were standing there staring at me and you could feel the hatred coming out of them. And I happened to look out the door and I seen this guy standing there, another cop, and the funny thing about it was I’ve seen cops before with guns but I’ve never seen a cop with two guns. This guy that was standing there and he had a shoulder holster with a thirty-eight in it and he had a side arm on his hip with a thirty-eight. And I remember looking at him thinking: Jaysus! Some poor people are in for a rough ride. I never thought for one second it had anything to do with us.

Miriam:  I mean, not a lot of people, Paddy, know this but your own family – your dad, I think three of your brothers – they were in the British Army. It’s not like you were the kind of guy who was going to be joining up with the IRA.

Paddy:  No, definitely not.

Miriam:  Gerry, in terms of both of you surviving in prison for something you didn’t do you said in the past if there is a hell it’s being in prison and knowing you’re innocent. But what sustained you through the years?

Gerry:  What sustained me was knowing that my father was going to be tried by the same judge in the same dock in the same court by the same prosecutor and the possibility that he was going to be coming to prison – little did I know he was going to be dying in prison. But we made promises to each other, as Paddy and I did, and I think you find something in adversity and you find something when everything is against you.

Miriam:  Gerry, obviously what happened to both of you was so horrific but did you find it particularly difficult that because of the situation you found yourself in your dad, who you adored, got embroiled in it, too, and in the end ended up dying in prison. Did you feel guilty about that?

Gerry:  I still feel guilty about it. I remember being in Wormwood Scrubs in 1978 when two Labour MPs came, Philip Bennett and Andrew Whitehead, and they said – they called my dad ‘Joe’ because that’s the Anglicisation of Guiseppe – they said: Joe, we’ve secured a transfer for you back to the H-Blocks. You’d be out within three months. And he said: Is my son coming with me? And they went: No, we can’t get him a transfer. He says: Well, I’m not going. I came here to help my son. So of course I feel guilty. Of course I feel guilty.

Miriam:  Those moments when you finally got out, Paddy…

Paddy:  …Yes?

Miriam:   Do they, in the way in which you were both talking earlier about the horror of being put away for something you didn’t do stay indelibly etched in your mind, do you also remember the moments of release incredibly vividly?

Paddy:  Yes, I still remember it. Like even though I look back on it and I seen it that many times on television etc it seems a bit ethereal. It’s like something that you’re looking down on. You know?

Gerry:   You know you’re talking about the moment we got out which should have been filled with joy and elation but too much pain had gone on, Miriam, beforehand. You know, Paddy didn’t know what was happening to his children while he was in prison and obviously I had lost my father but too much had been done. When we went in, as Paddy says, the prison officers – they were defecating in our food, they were urinating in our food, they were putting glass and stones and crushed florescent tubing in our food – we were being targeted more so than any member of the IRA. But when my father died and the ‘appalling vista‘ happened there was a slow sea of change. And of course we were very lucky – British documentary makers started coming to our aid – World in Action, Panorama, First Tuesday – major broadsheet newspapers started publishing editorials. And what also should not be forgotten was that the Irish government, and the Irish Embassy in particular, didn’t do anything for us until after these programmes and these editorials were written. In fact, we never seen any Irish politicians until early ’87 – twelve years, thirteen years, after our incarceration – did any Irish politicians want to come to help us.

Paddy:  And not only that, Miriam, when they did come to see us in March 1987, that was the first time that the six of us had all been put together and they sent an all-party delegation. And when they came over they brought the six of us up into the education department, in a classroom, and they spent an hour with us. And about six o’clock they said they were leaving. And I said: What do you mean you’re leaving? What about Gerry Conlon? What about the Guildford 4? You better see them before you go. And they turned around and said: Oh, no. we haven’t get the time. We’ve got to get a plane. I said: Ach! The only thing you’ll be getting is an ambulance. And I picked up two of the table legs and Richard McIlkenny, God rest his soul, Richard grabbed the other two and I told them: The only place you’re going to go is to the hospital. You’re not leaving here until you see the Guildford 4. And ten minutes later they brought Gerry up and when he walked into the room you know the first thing they said to him? I’m sorry, Gerry, to hear about your uncle dying in prison. His uncle?! That’s how much they knew about us in 1987!

Miriam:  Paddy, had you thought beforehand about what you were going to say when you were released?

Paddy:  No. I never do. It just comes off the cuff.

Miriam:   Good! And you, Gerry, had you thought?

Gerry:   I mean those words that came out of my mouth that day I believe it was my father speaking through me. When you ‘go in’, Miriam, you learn a whole new vocabulary and it’s very coarse and very abrupt and very harsh. How those words came out in sequence and with the right amount of meaning and truth was just incredible. I don’t believe – I believe my father spoke them through me.

Miriam:  Of course we heard your eloquent words there at the beginning of today’s show. We have some clips now which is what you both said shortly after you were released about how life had changed from the time you went into prison to the time you were released. Let’s listen to them now.

Audio:  Paddy Joe Hill comments on technology and changes.

Audio:  Gerry Conlon comments on technology and changes.

Miriam:  Were they a huge change, Paddy?

Paddy:  Massive changes. Massive changes. Like when I came out I never believed there was that many motors and what have you, vehicles, on the road in the world never mind in London. In prison the one thing that you don’t have is long vision. You can only see ‘x’ amount of yards and then you come against a big wall and barbed wire. The only long-vision you have is looking up at the sky. And of course there’s no such thing as colours in prison. And when we came out all you could see was these big buildings with all these funny glass, coloured things and big fancy trucks flying down the road at you. The only time I seen some of these trucks was on television in one of these American movies. And suddenly you come out and you’re standing in the middle of Holloway Road and I’m standing there like somebody that’s been hypnotised or something. And I’m standing in the middle of the road and this big thing’s flying at me! And I couldn’t move. I was completely paralysed. Everything, everything had changed so much. And you’re completely lost. Your mind can’t take it in so quickly. And the more you try to take it in, the funny thing about it is, the more your mind closes down. You just can’t handle it. And then for so many people who come out, Gerry’ll tell you this, they start becoming hermits. They don’t go out because they can’t handle the outside world. And they start locking themselves in their room or where ever they are living. The only time that you go out is at night when it’s quiet and it’s dark and you walk the streets at night. Like I’ve had people that’s come out of jail and I’ve picked them up – Johnny Kamara etc – or Paddy Nicholls etc…

Gerry:  …Rob Brown.

Paddy:  Rob – I picked them all up and brought them home to live with me. And they were all the same. The only time they went out was at night. It’s just – I don’t know what it is. And as Gerry said, we get no help. No help whatsoever. And like I try to tell people when they come out: Don’t bother going to doctors. Going to doctors – the only thing they’re going to tell you is that you’re depressed and the only thing they’re going to do is try and shovel you full of pills. Our problem is not pill problems. Our problem is not medication. Our problem is trauma. And we’ve been fighting for years to get help. And yes, we get angry at times, and – don’t get me wrong, don’t take this the wrong way – if anybody that suffers trauma if there’s help and they need it and they can get it fair play to them for getting it and for having it and I thank the authorities for giving it to them but at the same time – why should we be left out?

Gerry:  But getting back to what you were saying about difficulties: There’s also this suspended animation in relation to maturing over those years you are in prison. So you’re playing catch-up. And Miriam, you became a close friend of my family’s. So you knew my mother well and you knew my sisters and you knew my aunts and uncles. I mean, we became disenfranchised from our families while we were in prison. Your visits were heavily populated by prisoner officers. You weren’t allowed to talk about prison. So you lied to each other. And then when you come out after fifteen years of telling lies, that you believed the other side is telling you the truth even though you knew you were telling them lies, because there’s this idea in their head: They don’t want to tell you something that you’re going to take back to your cell that’s going to worry you and you think: I’m not going to tell them anything about this prison that’s bad because I don’t want them taking it home and worrying. So the relationship fractures. I’ve been in treatment for nearly seven years – seeing a psychiatrist, a trauma counselor, twice a week, and for the first three years all I did was cry. I couldn’t get over when he mentioned my father or a certain prison I would just burst into tears – the trauma was so deep.

Miriam:  Gerry, are you still getting therapy now?

Gerry:  Yeah.

Miriam:   Because listening to you you sound in a very good place at the moment.

Gerry:  I am in a very good place, Miriam. I’ve been very lucky and I’ve had to fight very hard and I’ve had to go through – I mean, for a long time I wanted to kill myself. It’s only the last year that my life is, for some reason, the therapy has kicked in. I never thought I’d get to this position, Miriam, where I would be able to feel relatively happy, able to deal with what had happened in a positive way – but I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life.

Miriam:  Your mum and dad would be very pleased to hear you say that – to know you’re in a good place.

Gerry:  Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well you know, the healing started when my mother got cancer in 2005 and she asked me would I come home to look after her and it was a traumatic experience looking after her. It was always – it was crazy. But after nine months of living together, you know, I started to have this empathy again with her. I started to feel this paternal love. And she started to trust me and started to engage with me and we became not only a loving mother and son we became best friends. And I got enormous pleasure out of getting up every morning and going into the town and buying some food and cooking her different meals that she’d never tasted before and getting her to watch programmes she’d’ve never had watched and becoming good friends.

Miriam:  In terms of how you are, Paddy, right now – I know because you have, of course, children and you were missing from their lives for seventeen years. Is it possible to heal those fractured relationships after such a long time?

Paddy:  No. Definitely not. I’m still a stranger to my kids. I spent more time here this morning talking to you than I’ve done with my kids, some of them for years. I hardly ever see them. And when I go I get such – I don’t know what it is – for the want of a better word you get this sort of guilt feeling and I know we’ve got nothing to feel guilty about but, when you’re there, you feel like an intruder. There’s nothing there. I don’t know what it is. Prison kills you a little bit every day particularly for innocent people. One day you’ll waken up and you won’t feel nothing because one thing you can’t afford to have in prison is emotion. Emotions will get you killed in prison. So you bury your emotions so deep. And after a while it comes to the point in prison where you don’t even want to have visits because they’re too traumatic. And you don’t get visits – instead of having a visit every month you may get two visits a year – and you’re thankful for them but even at the time you don’t want them. Gerry will tell you the same things and so will most people in prison and when they come out trying to re-build relationships – it just doesn’t work. The money, the first fifty thousand pound they gave me interim payment, I was going out buying my kids and grand kids things. And what I was actually doing was just trying to buy love and affection and I realised after a year: You can’t do that. It’s an impossibility. But more importantly I realised, and had to be honest with myself and my kids, I didn’t feel nothing for them. Even today, I’ve been out twenty-three years now last week, and I feel sorry for my kids for the simple reason is that none of them is ever, ever going to have a father and daughter or father and son relationship with me like we should’ve have. And that’s just the way it is. It’s the only way I can handle it.

Gerry:  See you become dependent, you become institutionalised after that length of time. Whether you want to admit it or not. And the only people that you’re really comfortable around are people who have had a shared experience with you. So you gravitate to people who’d been in prison because there’s no need to qualify how you’re feeling. You know, I’ve often thought that they did ‘silent lobotomies’ on us when we were in prison – clip the emotion and clip the love – and it’s something that’s very hard to get back once it’s gone.

Miriam:  Paddy, obviously listening to Gerry he has said he’s been going to therapy, going to see a psychiatrist, still is and it has clearly worked a lot for him. Have you gone to therapy and do you think you’re in as good a place as say Gerry is psychologically at the moment?

Paddy:   No. I’m not in the same place as Gerry. And as far as treatment is concerned I’ve never had any.

Miriam:   Gerry and Paddy, you’re both very involved now in helping other people who are victims of miscarriages of justice, aren’t you?

Paddy:  Yes. I’ve been doing this ever since I got out. And I’m still doing it.

Miriam:  Do you find that in itself is almost therapeutic, Paddy? That you can work to try and help other people?

Paddy:  Yeah, yeah. It’s therapeutic in the simple fact that if I wasn’t doing it I’d probably be sitting at home and just thinking, thinking, thinking and that’s the worst thing for people coming out of jail, innocent people coming out. It’s having nothing to do and just sitting, hiding away in a room. It kept me going. I made a promise to certain people when I got out – the Bridgewater 4, the Tottenham 3, etc, John McGranahan and a number of other people and I gave them the first year of my life.

Miriam:  Also Paddy, I mentioned at the beginning it’s forty years since the Birmingham bombings themselves and you work also today, don’t you, with the families of the victims of those bombings? I mean, nobody’s ever been put away for those bombings.

Paddy:  No, no, no. I got involved with this just over a year ago in relation to a petition that was up by Brian and Julie Hambleton. This is a brother and sister whose other sister was killed in the bombs. And of course since we got out these people have been a thorn in the side of the Birmingham Police. And I must say, in Birmingham, I thought they would’ve got a hundred thousand signatures in no time. And all I can say, particularly to the Irish people in Birmingham: Shame on you for not joining this! If anyone should want to know the truth it should be the people of Birmingham, particularly the Irish people. And when I met Brian and Julie I think they were more nervous of meeting me, we had been the figures of hate and the police have made them hate us. And I sat with them for about two and a half three hours.

Miriam:  Gerry, I know the organisation, MOJO, Miscarriages of Justice Organisation, is the one that you and Paddy do a lot with. Are there any particular cases you’d like to mention this morning?

Gerry:  

Available everywhere in paperback and as an eBook.

Oh, well I certainly would like to mention the case of Brendan Dixon who’s a Doire man who’s been in prison in a Scottish jail for ten years for a crime we think he’s absolutely innocent of. And how he came to be a suspect was someone said that they seen ‘Irish Brendan’ near the house where the pensioner was murdered. And the evidence that we have checked out, you know, shows that Brendan Dixon was in another place. He was living an intransient type of life and he was involved in drugs and alcohol but because you’re involved in drugs and alcohol doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a killer. And of course there’s the case of the Craigavon Two. And the things that I heard there started to disturb me and you spoke to the family and you spoke to witnesses and stuff like that – you seen that here was a high profile case that need a conviction. But in the Brendan McConville – John Paul Wootten case I firmly believe that they’re innocent.

Miriam: 

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Well we’re going to put a link on our website as well, Paddy and Gerry, to that organisation you’re both really involved in, Miscarriages of Justice Organisation, anyone who wants to find out about it or about those cases can get in touch with you. Final question for you, Gerry: You seem in a good place. I’m so happy to see that. Do you wake up, by and large, content?

Gerry:  I still have the nightmares. I still have the nightmares. I don’t think they’ll ever go. The trauma people don’t think they’ll ever go. They’re so deep. They’re so brutal. And they lasted for so long in prison. But it’s something that’s now manageable, Miriam. It’s something within a short space of time of getting out of bed I’ve learned techniques how to not disassociate and how to focus on other things. So yeah, life is better than it’s ever been at the moment.

Miriam:  And you, Paddy?

Paddy:  No, I’m not there yet. I still have bad times, you know? But of course, I’ve never had any help. The only help, I learned a long time ago that the only help I’m going to get is the help that I give myself. They come up with this old cliché, Miriam, that time’s a great healer. That’s a load of garbage. Time doesn’t heal nothing. The only thing that you can do with time is hopefully, with time, you’ll learn to handle it a little bit better than you did.

Gerry:  Just to interject there: The guy who’s treating me and treats me twice a week has offered to help Paddy and Paddy’s met him but the government won’t pay for Paddy’s fares to come from Scotland two or three times a month to have that treatment. I think that would be very little for them to pay in order to give Paddy Joe Hill a quality of life that he so richly deserves and that his family deserves. I think we all should be getting it without having to go cap in hand.

Paddy:   Exactly.

Miriam:  Okay, listen Gerry, Paddy, it’s been a real pleasure and privilege for me to chat to you both today – delighted you’re in a great place, Gerry. And Paddy, I hope you get there one day very soon, too.

Gerry:  Miriam, thank you for your support down the years in highlighting the injustice that happens to people in life. Thank you!

Miriam:  Thanks, Gerry.

Paddy:   It’s been a pleasure and thanks for keeping other people aware of what is actually going on in miscarriage of justice cases.

Miriam:  Thank you, Paddy. Thank you, Gerry. Take good care of yourselves.

Gerry:   Bye.

Paddy:  Same to you. Bye. (ends)

Paddy Joe Hill RFÉ 11 July 2015

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
11 July 2015

Sandy Boyer (SB) interviews Paddy Joe Hill (PJ) via telephone from England about his support for the Craigavon Two. (begins time stamp ~ 27:25)

SB:  And we’re going over to Birmingham to talk to Paddy Joe Hill. Paddy, thank you very much for being with us.

PJ:  A pleasure, Sandy, thank you for inviting me.

SB:  And as our audience should know, Paddy, you were framed by the British government for a pub bombing you had nothing to do with and you were in prison for sixteen years even though at the highest levels of the British government they knew you were innocent. But now you’re taking the time to crusade for the Craigavon Two who are framed. Can you tell us a little bit about their case?

PJ:  The case is quite simple. It was the first Catholic policeman to be killed in Ireland a few years ago. Two men were accused of waiting on him coming out – he came out for a pizza or something and they shot him. And the main witness – there’s only one witness against them – and the main witness – Gerry Conlon, God rest his soul, Gerry got me involved in the case because he was over there and was championing the case and I went to the appeal. And the witness’ father came to the court and told the judges: You can’t believe a word that comes out of my son’s mouth. My son is a compulsive liar since from when was born and his nickname from when he was a child is “Walter Mitty”. And on the night in question when he said he’d seen them he was about fifty-sixty feet away from them. But on that particular night he wasn’t wearing his glasses. He had left his glasses at his father’s house and without his glasses he can’t see more than eight feet – he’s practically blind – all he can see is blurs – and yet the court still upheld – went against the appeal; they upheld the conviction. And of course, this is typical of the British establishment. The one thing they hate is to be proved wrong. And unfortunately for innocent people it takes ten, twelve, fifteen maybe more years before they’ll finally admit – and of course, over here in England at the present moment in the UK the way it is, you’re guilty until you can proved that you’re innocent. The presumption of innocence is gone – that’s how bad things are over here.

SB:  Well Paddy, I think there’s at least some similarity to your case. In your case there was a horrendous IRA pub bombing and there was huge pressure on the police to arrest somebody – anybody – and they found you and your associates, your comrades.

PJ:  Yeah, that’s correct. We were going home for a funeral in Belfast. James McDaid – I grew up with James McDaid and Gerry Hunter and Richard McIlkenney are related. And of course we used to drink in Birmingham together when we met up socially-like, you know? But what you call it…on the night in question two bombs exploded in the city centre of Birmingham and two bars and the result was twenty-one people were killed and a hundred and eighty-two people were injured and in respect of that there – the police – the evidence against us was quite simple – they said that they had arrested us trying to flee the country. Yet in actual fact, five of us went to the police station of our own free will to be eliminated from their enquiries. And we actually were!

Because I spoke to someone after I got out of prison in about ’94 who was in the police force, he was in T-14 the Intelligence Service at home, and he turned round and told me – he said: On the night of the Birmingham pub bombings we were asked for background information on youse five and he says we told Morecambe Police and Special Branch to let you go – that we knew all about you and that you were not involved in any Republicanism or IRA activities and that was it. But of course when the police arrived – I was cleared by the Morecambe Police at six o’clock in the morning. And then when the Birmingham Police arrived that was it. They turned around and told us right from the very beginning: (quote) “We know you didn’t do the bombings. We don’t care who done the bombings. We’ve got you. That’s good enough for us.” And then he turned around and said: We didn’t pick you. You’ve been selected. And he pointed at the ceiling and he said: You’ve been selected by members at the highest level of government and they gave us our orders. And he pulled a bit of paper out of his pocket and he shoved it under my nose and he said to me: Read that, you little Irish b–. Look what it says there. Our orders are that we are to get confession and convictions and that we are to use any means that we have to to obtain them. Now we’re covered all the way to the top. You can have it the easy way – and the easy way for them was for us to sign false confessions. And they told us that we didn’t have to fill them out because they would fill them out themselves – which they did! And they turned round and told us that was the easy way. And then he made a circular motion with his finger round and said: the hard way is around the f’ing walls. And that was it. They played football with us and tortured us for next three days you know?

And unfortunately, Sandy, the thing about it was – at that it was the Bomb Squad we used to call them – and the Bomb Squad and Special Branch had an informer in the Birmingham IRA. And on the Sunday night they put our names up on the television before we’d even appeared in court and the informer seen it and he went and got in touch with his handlers and he told them: You’ve got the wrong people. And he made a detailed statement and he gave the names of the two people who made the bombs, where they were made and the names of the three people who came along and planted them. And they had that information within a week of the Birmingham pub bombings. But unfortunately by that time they had tortured and battered us so much they couldn’t go back so they just carried on.

SB:  But Paddy, in the case of the Craigavon Two, who are Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, as you said a police officer was killed – a huge uproar – all over the press – they had to get somebody and they had to get them quickly.

PJ:  Of course they had to. And these two guys are just two patsies. These two guys are completely innocent. I can assure you of that, Sandy. Gerry Conlon would not have gotten involved in the case if he thought for one second that they were guilty. And neither would I. But I’m a million percent confident that these two men have been fitted up by the police simply because they wanted a quick conviction. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s not about innocence or guilt – it’s all about convictions. That’s the way the British establishment is going.

SB:  Well, some things never change do they, Paddy?

PJ:  No, nothing has changed. In fact, the only thing that’s changed, Sandy, we’ve got an ongoing battle here in the UK: there’s a number of people that have been released over the last few years. A young Irish boy from Dublin, Victor Nealon, and they had the evidence to show that it wasn’t him – they had the DNA evidence and everything – and he served seventeen years. And he was released eighteen months ago. They threw him out of the prison gates at six o’clock at night and they gave him forty-six pound discharge grant and that was it. Nowhere to live, no social work or nothing. Nowhere to go. And of course now him and another young fellow, Sam Holland, who served nearly nine years – Barry George who was convicted of the Jill Dando, the TV presenter, who served nearly nine years – and we went to the Supreme Court a few months ago and they turned round and said: Even though they’ve been found not guilty they’re not innocent enough to receive compensation.

SB:  I want to come back to your and my late friend, Gerry Conlon of The Guildford Four who, like you was framed. And like the Craigavon Two, was framed. But Gerry I know did a very careful investigation in this case.

PJ:  He did indeed, yes.

SB:  He first said…in the very beginning he said: Look, what I know for sure is that they didn’t get a fair trial. He began with that, right? And then he investigated further and then he said not only did they not get a fair trial – they’re innocent. But Gerry didn’t leap to that conclusion. He came to it very carefully. He examined it.

PJ:  Exactly! Gerry examined the evidence as he always does and he spoke to me about it on the phone and he sent me some of the paperwork and I came to the same conclusion. These guys did not get a fair trial. In fact, they broke so many rules and regulations that is supposed to be laid down but of course that is typical of the police – they just do what they want. As I said, the only thing they’re interested in is getting the conviction. And they don’t care whether you’re innocent or guilty. As long as they get someone for the crime they’re happy. And unfortunately for innocent people it takes years and years and years before they will – you’ve got to embarrass them to get them to finally admit that they’re wrong and that is a very, very hard thing to do over here in this climate over here.

SB:  And as you know better than anyone else you cannot rely on the courts for justice.

PJ:  Oh, definitely not. Definitely not. Courts are the last place! The last thing that the courts want to admit is that the lower court judges got it wrong. They always look after their own and they will not go against them. Even if some people come in and said they done it – they still wouldn’t believe them – because they’ve already got a conviction.

SB:  That is what happened to Gerry Conlon.

PJ:  Exactly! Look at Gerry’s case. Joe O’Connell and the three men with him, who were more commonly know as the Balcome Street unit, when they were arrested, the first thing – they took them to four different police stations and they held them in four different police stations and they questioned them separately. And when they were asked: What was the first operations that you carried out in the UK they turned round and told them: You’ve got four innocent people in prison for the Guildford and Moody’s pub bombings. We done that. In fact, Joe O’Connell told them it was him who actually threw the bomb through the window of the pub, The Horse and Groom. And yet they got an appeal on that on those grounds. When they went to the court of appeal the court of appeal judges turned around and stated in their summing up: Yes. We admit that you did not do the Guildford and Moody’s pub bombings. We admit that in all likelihood you’ve probably never, ever been in Guildford in your lives. But, we believe that you might have known these men and knew what they were up to and you didn’t pass on the information. So they sent them back to prison for another thirteen years!

SB:  But now history seems to be repeating itself with the Craigavon Two.

PJ:  Exactly! Exactly! It’s repeating itself all the time. You know, they say they haven’t learned much. Believe me, they have, Sandy. They’ve learned how to cover up better. They have learned how to just fit people up left, right and centre. And it’s commonplace. Here in the UK we have about two thousand people in prison at the moment that are screaming they are innocent and nothing is done about it.

SB:  And what you told me and what Gerry told me was the only hope is if people speak out. Because if you just rely on the courts, if you leave everything alone – nothing will ever happen.

PJ:  Nothing would ever happen. Definitely not. You know over the last couple of years I’ve been working with the relatives of the people who were killed in the Birmingham pub bombings. I’ve been working with them to get at the truth. And of course, as I keep telling people, we’ll never get justice, Sandy, never! They could never give us justice. But I’ll tell you what: at the very, very least the thing that we should have is the truth. And that is what they’re hiding because in so many of these cases it’s people higher up who made the decisions and that’s what it’s all about – protecting the people in very high places – it’s all about protecting reputations.

SB:  Well you know, the Bible says the truth shall set you free but the truth is very hard to come by.

PJ:  It is over here – you better believe it! Very, very hard! No matter how many witnesses and what have you you have they just don’t want to believe them. All they want is a conviction at the end of the prosecution. And they’re very, very successful at getting that. Very successful.

SB:  Well, Paddy, thank you very much. It’s always a privilege to talk to you and I want to congratulate you for the work you do not only for the Craigavon Two but for some of the other people who have been unjustly convicted.

PJ:  Thank you very much, Sandy, and I’ll continue to do it until the day I die.

SB:  We know that.

PJ:  I know what it’s like to be landed in a prison cell and hoping and praying that someone will pick up the banner and start shouting and screaming for you. And for so many people in the prison system who are innocent they haven’t got a voice on the outside – they’re more or less buried alive. But while we’re alive and my organisation is alive we will continue to champion their cause and to raise our voices for them. And hopefully we’ll get a lot more but we do definitely need a helluva lot done in the judicial system in this country. It is rotten. Like I said outside the Old Bailey on the fourteenth of March, 1991 when I got released: Justice? They haven’t got the intelligence nor the honesty in them to spell the word justice never mind dispense it. They’re rotten! And believe me, they are!

SB:  Well, Paddy, thank you very much.

PJ:  Thank you, Sandy, and thank you to all your listeners for taking the time to listen to me. (ends time stamp ~ 42:24)