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Botched IRA warning call contributed to Birmingham pub bombing deaths, inquest finds

Over 200 people were also injured in the 1974 attacks.

The remnants of the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham, one of the two pubs in Birmingham where the bombs exploded.
The remnants of the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham, one of the two pubs in Birmingham where the bombs exploded.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

AN INQUEST INTO the deaths of 21 people as the result of two separate IRA bombings in 1974 has found that the victims were all unlawfully killed. 

The bombs detonated at the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs on 21 November 1974. Over 200 people were also injured in the attacks. 

The BBC reports that a “botched IRA warning call” contributed to the deaths. A call came through to the Birmingham Mail newspaper less than 10 minutes before the bombs detonated. The jury found that this gave emergency services inadequate time to get to the scene and evacuate the buildings.

In 2016 a coroner ordered new probes into the twin attacks. 

The bombings are widely believed to have been carried out by the provisional IRA, although the group has never formally claimed responsibility.

The new inquests came after evidence emerged that police missed two warnings about the 21 November 1974 attack, which also left 182 people injured — one 11 days before, and another on the day of the bombings itself.

The attack on two pubs in Britain’s second biggest city came at the height of the Troubles in the North. 

The original inquests — judicial fact-finding investigations that do not apportion blame — were halted by a police probe that led to six men being wrongly jailed for the bombings in 1975.

The Birmingham Six, five of whom were Belfast-born Catholics, were jailed for the murders and served 17 years behind bars before their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991.

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