Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Justice

It's not often that political pugilists are reduced to tears, but that's what happened on Saturday when victims of serious miscarriages of justice addressed a fringe event at the SDLP Conference in Armagh.

The audience at the discussion heard from Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four, Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, Briege Quinn, Raymond McCord and Bríd Boyle, a relative of a Ballymurphy Massacre victim.

You hear about these cases- people who were wrongly convicted or haven't seen convictions take place when they should have- and it does evoke a sense of sympathy. However, it isn't until you look into the eyes of people whose lives have been irrevocably destroyed due to the justice system not having served them as it should have that you realise just what a profound effect their experiences have had on them. Listening to their words, it's hard to comprehend how people could suffer so much.

Frankly, I have no idea how the speakers at the SDLP event on Saturday can summon up the strength to carry on, never mind talk about their experiences. I suppose their respective quests for justice drive them on- the Quinns still seek to have the killers of their son brought before the courts and Paddy Hill and Gerry Conlon are working to help innocent people after they've been released from prison through the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation (MOJO) charity.

You think you have problems. Then you meet these people. They deserve nothing but respect and support and I was honoured to have been able to listen to them tell their stories.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thee are brave people who are desperate for justice - and this will keep them driving on - I wish them luck in their pursuit of justice