Guildford bombings: “That was the day my childhood ended” Maguire brothers speak about their experience

Posted By: October 26, 2015

40 years on.Aine O’Doherty .Belfast Live. Sunday, October 25, 2015Vincent and Patrick Maguire spoke to Miriam O’Callaghan on her Sunday morning RTE Radio 1 show

Vincent Magure speaking to the BBC after the findings of Sir John May’s report into the Maguire Seven.

Two brothers who were falsely imprisoned for possessing explosives have spoken about their experience 40 years on.

Vincent and Patrick Maguire were just 13 and 16 years old when they were arrested at their home in London on December 3, 1974.

They were wrongly convicted of the Guildford pub bombings of 1974 along with five others.

The brothers were arrested along with their parents Anne and Patrick, Anne’s brother Sean, brother-in-law Patrick Conlon and family friend Patrick O’Neill.

Known as the Maguire Seven, they were arrested after their cousin Gerry Conlon gave false information to police under intense coercion.

The brothers were imprisoned for five years and four years respectively, but their convictions were subsequently quashed in 1991.

Speaking on the Sunday with Miriam show on RTE Radio 1, Vincent said his arrest and time in prison is always in the back of his mind.

“Certain things on the telly come up, certain dates. The date we were arrested, the date we were sentenced, your prison number. You never forget things like that,” he said.

Patrick Maguire, who was only 13-years-old at the time of his arrest, told host Miriam O’Callaghan about his memories of December 3, 1974.

“I came home from school, it was just a normal day. There was a suitcase there, and I found out later that belonged to Guiseppe Conlon. Anything that was going on didn’t matter to me because it was Thursday, that was our youth club night and me and my brother John just wanted to get out and go there. We did and when we came out we hung about the corner for a while.

“We saw a lot of police, and unmarked police cars and they all took off. Someone said to me they’re outside your house. I ran up and knocked on the door and a police man or woman not in uniform said ‘what do you want?’ I said ‘I live here’ and I was dragged in and they said ‘here’s another one.’ That was the day my childhood ended. I remember clearly everything about it,’ said Patrick.

Patrick added that during his interrogation at Guilford Police Station, he was told he would “never” see his Mum and Dad again.

Patrick Maguire jnr, Annie Maguire and Patrick Maguire Snr

Vincent Maguire was an apprentice with the gas board at the time of his arrest, and was also studying at college at night. On the night of his arrest, he was returning from college, and saw the police outside his house. “I hadn’t a clue what was happening,” said Vincent.

He was greeted with the same response from the policeman at the door as Patrick, “Oh, there’s another one,” and entered a house full of police, with his mother crying in the kitchen.

“They were upstairs in my room, they were ransacking it. I said there’s only records and books here there’s nothing for you to find. The dog was all over the room and under the bed. They just destroyed the place basically. I just couldn’t believe what was going on, couldn’t believe. I didn’t know what was happening like,’ he added.

The trial of the Maguire Seven was based on forensic evidence, which was eventually discredited and led to their conviction being quashed.

Patrick said he enjoyed getting out of school for the trial for around a week, but then he became fed up with it. He did, however, learn an important life skill during the trial, how to tell the time.

“I actually learned to tell the time in the Old Bailey. I couldn’t tell the time, which is not too good for a bomb maker is it?

“How it came about, my Dad used to sit in the front with me and I used to tap him and say what time it was because lunch was coming up. After a few times he got fed up with it and pointed to a big clock just below the public gallery and I said I didn’t see it.

“So I spent the next few weeks learning how to tell the time, and then ironically, that was taken away from me, time itself,” said Patrick.

The brothers said that although they spent several years of their lives behind bars, they believe their brother John and sister Anne Marie were given the “worst sentence.”

“They had to survive outside with us inside. We were inside and we just had to get on with doing our time and surviving inside, while they and to survive outside without us,” said Vincent.

Vincent and Patrick’s mother Anne will celebrate her 80th birthday in November, and Patrick said she “looks fantastic.”

“No one believes she’s nearly 80. Every Sunday she’ll make a big Sunday dinner, with pretty much an open house.

“I say to her quite often, why don’t you just have a break on a Sunday.

“She said she had enough breaks. ‘I had a ten year break’ she said. I had 10 years in prison where I couldn’t do this, don’t deny me this,’ he said.