It’s hard to think of anything positive in Gerry Conlon’s life. He didn’t even have the full quota of years he might have expected, and to be truthful, maybe he didn’t want it.
Convicted for a crime he didn’t commit, at the age of 20, he endured torture and abuse in prison. He suffered the knowledge that his ailing father was arrested, framed and died in prison simply for gong to Britain to enquire after his son. He had to endure the fact that his aunt, Annie Maguire, was jailed for no reason, in an atmosphere where it was a crime to be Irish.
Gerry Conlon didn’t walk out of prison in 1989, when his conviction was overturned. Gerry Conlon never walked free until the day he died at the shockingly-early age of 60.
Gerry Conlon never had a life. He never had wild years, chasing girls and maybe even catching one. He never had a chance to develop into a mature adult. He never had anything, and his only crime was that he was an Irish Catholic from Belfast.
Whatever we might think about the historical background, there wasn’t a vast difference between lads like Gerry Conlon and the youth of Palestine today, crushed by an all-powerful military in support of a politically-imposed reality. If you don’t believe this, just ask yourself why the loyalists are such strong supporters of Israel.
You don’t have to be a Catholic nationalist to see the injustice of the situation that existed in Northern Ireland at the time Gerry Conlon was framed. Indeed, you don’t have to be a nationalist of any kind. All you need to do is ask any Irish peron who lived in England in the 60s or the 70s what sort of treatment they received in the wrong quarters. It’s true that hundreds of thousands of them settled in and became embedded, but there was always a need to be circumspect.
I imagine that’s precisely the experience young Muslims have today, as they fill the need for a new group to be vilified by the unthinking proles, egged on by a cynical gutter media. What a shame, therefore, that some Irish would join in the clamour to oppress Muslims with the same kind of stupid generalisations based on no information.
Would we really want to be the same sort of people as those who threw Gerry Conlon in jail without evidence?