Page last updated at 08:28 GMT, Sunday, 20 July 2008 09:28 UK

Guildford bomb campaigner dies

Sarah Conlon
Mrs Conlon campaigned to clear her son and husband's names

West Belfast woman Sarah Conlon, whose husband Giuseppe and son, Gerry, were wrongly convicted over the Guildford IRA pub bombings has died aged 82.

Mrs Conlon helped secure an apology from former prime minister Tony Blair in 2005 for the wrongful imprisonment of her husband and son.

Her son Gerry spent 15 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of the Guildford bombing.

Guiseppe Conlon, arrested after going to London to help him, died in jail.

Sarah Conlon spent 16 years campaigning to have the names of her husband and son cleared.

The Guildford Four - Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill, Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong - were jailed for life in 1975 for an IRA bombing campaign which killed five people and injured 65.

Gerry Conlon
Gerry Conlon said his mother bore no bitterness about what happened

The Maguire Seven - members and friends of the Maguire family, including Guiseppe Conlon - were convicted of possessing nitro-glycerine allegedly passed to the IRA to make bombs.

Three years ago, Tony Blair delivered a public apology to the Conlon and Maguire families, saying they deserved to be completely and publicly exonerated.

Gerry Conlon said his mother bore no anger or bitterness about what had happened to him and his father.

"She was remarkable in the fact that she didn't bear any ill will towards the people who first arrested us and then tortured us and framed us," he said.

"And while I was in prison, every letter ended the same: 'Pray for the ones who told lies against you and pray for the judge who sentenced you. It's them who needs help as well as yourself.'

This small lady of frail frame had huge reserves of faith, fortitude and remarkable forgiveness
SDLP leader Mark Durkan

"That was just my mum. She was quiet, reserved, unassuming, but a giant in her own way. Very principled and very caring, and loving as a mother."

SDLP leader Mark Durkan paid tribute to Mrs Conlon, who died of cancer.

"Of no-one can the words 'patience of a saint' be more true and she was not just distinguished by her patience," he said.

"This small lady of frail frame had huge reserves of faith, fortitude and remarkable forgiveness.

"What Sarah, Guiseppe and Gerry Conlon and their family had to endure physically, psychologically and personally would have given Sarah more cause to hate than most."





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