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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 28 March, 2020

Today is a big day for the truth about the 'Birmingham Six' IRA pub bombings

In two weeks we’ll know if there’s enough evidence to open an inquest.

Barbara Lane, 21, one of the victims of the bomb attack on the Tavern in the Town pub in hospital in 1974.
Barbara Lane, 21, one of the victims of the bomb attack on the Tavern in the Town pub in hospital in 1974.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

OVER THE NEXT three days, the coroner in Birmingham is to hear submissions about whether an inquest into the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings should be reopened.

The twin pub bombings killed 21 people and injured almost 200 more. Although the IRA never claimed responsibility for the attack, they are widely believed to have planted the bombs.

A third bomb was found later that night but it failed to detonate.

An inquest that began after the bombing was halted pending a criminal investigation.

Six innocent Irishmen convicted of the atrocity were imprisoned for 16 years before the miscarriage of justice came to light.

The six men claimed that police forced them to sign confessions after physical and psychological torture.

After the men were released in 1991, West Midlands Police began investigating the case again but three years later it was decided that there was not enough evidence to prosecute anyone.

Last year, West Midlands Police said again that unless any new evidence came to light the case would not be re-opened.

Birmingham IRA Bombing Memorial The Dean of Birmingham Catherine Ogle speaks during a memorial service in 2014. Source: Tim Goode

Now, after pressure from a group of victims’ families, the original inquest may be reopened. Should it be reopened, the inquest may be able to call witnesses.

Senior coroner for Birmingham & Solihull  Louise Hunt will today hold the first day of three days of open hearings before a decision on reopening the inquest will be made on 24 February.

Julie and Brian Hambleton, the sister and brother of 18-year-old Maxine Hambleton who died in one of the bombs, says they are simply seeking the truth.

There are 20 families whose lives were changed forever on that night and they have never been told the truth about what happened. There are many more – the casualties and those who came to their aid on the night – whose lives were changed forever, too.

Read: On this day 24 years ago, the Birmingham Six were released >

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Rónán Duffy

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