UK

Gerry Adams Denies IRA Responsible For Guildford Four's Wrongful Imprisonment

23/06/2014 15:31 BST | Updated 23/06/2014 15:59 BST

The IRA is not responsible for the wrongful incarceration of the Guildford Four, Birmingham Six and others who went to prison for terrorist attacks the group committed, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said.

Speaking after the death of one of those wrongly jailed, Gerry Conlon, the republican leader said the burden of guilt for the miscarriages of justice rests absolutely with "the British establishment".

Conlon, 60, spent 14 years in jail for the 1974 IRA bombing of the Horse and Groom pub in Guildford, Surrey, in which four soldiers and a civilian were killed and 65 people were injured - a crime he had nothing to do with.

It is regarded as one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British history.

gerry conlon

Gerry Adams denied the IRA, which carried out the bombing Gerry Conlon (pictured) was accused of, was responsible for his wrongful imprisonment

His father Giuseppe, who was suffering from emphysema, was wrongly jailed for supposed bomb-making offences and died after five years behind bars.

Adams rejected claims the IRA has any responsibility for the miscarriage of justice after former MP Seamus Mallon accused terror leaders of "almost conniving" with the British government to keep innocent people behind bars.

"I wonder what their consciences tell them now," Mallon said.

Adams said: "The responsibility for the detention and incarceration of a range of people there, from the Guildford Four to the Birmingham Six and the Maguires, rests absolutely with the British establishment.

"The police there knew those individuals were not involved in those actions and there was a cover-up and that's a matter of public record."

In an interview on RTE Radio, he added: "The IRA has to take responsibility for its own actions but let's not have Seamus Mallon try to score political points."

gerry adams

Adams said 'the British establishment' was at fault for the miscarriages of justice

The Guildford Four convictions were overturned in 1989.

In July 2000, Tony Blair became the first senior politician to apologise to the Guildford Four.

The Balcombe Street gang, responsible for at least 16 murders during a 14-month terror campaign in south east England in the 1970s, is believed to have been responsible for the bombing.

Conlon's funeral will take place at St Peter's Cathedral in Belfast on Saturday morning.