Vatican recognises nun friend of Irish prisoners
An Irish-born nun famed for campaigning on behalf of the Birmingham Six and Guilford Four has been bestowed with one of the Vatican's highest honours.
Sister Sarah Clarke (82), who now lives in Highgate, London, was presented with the Cross of the Church and Pontiff at a ceremony in London capital on Saturday.
The papal award for Sr Sarah's contribution to peace and justice was conferred at the request of all-Ireland primate Dr Sean Brady who, along with Mgr Denis Faul, Mgr Raymond Murray and the late Fr Brian Brady, worked closely with Sr Sarah during her campaigning.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, the Galway-born nun campaigned on behalf of Irish prisoners in Britain and was a key figure in the efforts to secure the release of the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four, the Maguire family and Judith Ward.
A member of La Sainte Union order, Sr Sarah lobbied MPs and members of the House of Lords, and met church leaders in England, including Cardinal Hume, who subsequently took up the case of the Guilford Four.
She is credited with enlisting the help of lawyer Garret Price and Chris Mullin MP in the campaigns. Sr Sarah was also active in helping the families of Irish prisoners in England, offering legal support and hospitality at the her convent in London.
The Cross of Church and Pontiff award was founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 and is bestowed upon both lay and religious persons.