In the Name of the Father

  • Directors: Jim Sheridan
  • Producers: Jim Sheridan, Gabriel Byrne
  • Writers: Jim Sheridan, Terry George
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Daniel Day Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite, Emma Thompson

Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his friend Paul Hill (John Lynch), fed up with life in IRA-era Belfast, move to London and join the hippie scene. They hook up with a bunch of spaced-out hippies squatting in a derelict flat. There they meet Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong. Hanging out in a London park after a fight with their flatmates, Hill and Conlon meet a homeless man named Charlie Burke in a park, who claims the bench they are sitting on belongs to him. While the two talk to Burke on the park bench, an explosion is heard. Later that night Conlon steals money from the apartment of a prostitute who drops her keys on the sidewalk outside her house. A fellow squatter, jealous of Conlon’s advances to a female in the group, drops a hint to the police that Gerry and Paul, being Irish, may be involved in the bombing, and they are arrested.

Britain’s newly-passed anti-terror laws enable the police to hold suspects for 7 days without charge. During this time, Gerry and Paul are subjected to torture until they confess. The four principal defendants (Hill, Conlon, Armstrong and Richardson) are sentenced to 14-30 years in jail. From their prison cell, Gerry and his father Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwaite), who is sentenced along with him as part of the Maguire Seven, try to appeal. Giuseppe’s health continues to worsen while in prison. In the meantime, the police arrest IRA member Joe McAndrew (Don Baker) who admits to the Guildford bombing. The police ignore his confession and the Guildford Four remain in prison.

Meanwhile, barrister Gareth Peirce (Emma Thompson) begins to investigate the case in the police archives, after receiving Giuseppe’s letters of appeal for assistance, believing that Gerry, his father, and Gerry’s friends are not guilty. Fortuitously, on a day the original archives clerk is sick, she asks for the file of Conlon. The replacement clerk asks “Which Conlon? Giuseppe or Gerard?” Realising the situation, after only having had access to Giuseppe’s file, she requests Gerry Conlon’s file. The Gerry Conlon file contains statements and photographs clipped together with a note that says “not to be shown to the defence”. This material provides the accused with a solid alibi and in 1989 the court is forced to release all four (Giuseppe had died in prison nine years prior). On leaving the courthouse, Gerry states that he will continue to fight injustice “in the name of his father.”

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