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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019
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Birmingham pub bombings families call for Irish government to back public inquiry

Relatives are in Dublin asking the government to support their efforts.

Julie Hambleton (centre) speaks to the media outside the Civil Justice Centre in Birmingham after the conclusion of the Birmingham Inquests into the pub bombings.
Julie Hambleton (centre) speaks to the media outside the Civil Justice Centre in Birmingham after the conclusion of the Birmingham Inquests into the pub bombings.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

FAMILIES OF THE people killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings are asking the Irish government to back a public inquiry into the incident.

The Justice For the 21 group met President Michael D Higgins in Dublin on Wednesday evening as part of their three-day visit to Ireland.

They are due to meet Tánaiste Simon Coveney tomorrow where they will ask him to back their calls for an inquiry.

Julie Hambleton, sister of one of the victims 18-year-old Maxine Hambleton, said she hoped their visit to Ireland would “make a mark”.

Hambleton said successive British governments had done nothing to help victims of terrorism and they were “humbled” by the support they had received so far from the Irish government.

“It has been humbling. People are so kind and spiritually generous. It shames our own British authorities because they treat us with nothing but contempt,” she said.

“With this visit to Ireland we will have seen more dignitaries than in our own country that want to speak to us, meet us and listen to us.”

“We are asking the President, the Taoiseach and Tanaiste if they will endorse our continued plight for justice so we can have a public inquiry,” she said.

birmingham-pub-bombings-inquest The aftermath of the fatal bomb attack on the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

In April 2019, an inquest jury found a botched IRA warning call led to the deaths of 21 people unlawfully killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings.

Two massive detonations caused what one witness described as “pure carnage”, ripping apart the packed Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs on the night of 21 November, killing 21 and injuring 220 more.

Hambleton said the inquest that took place earlier this year “left more questions than answers”.

“If we can get a public inquiry then the information that has been locked away can be brought to the fore and be put to and in front of a public inquiry,” she said.

Hambleton spoke about the impact that the death of her sister had had on her life and that she would continue to fight for justice to honour the memory of those who were killed in the bombing.

“I chose not to have children because of the murder of my sister,” she said.

“We cannot in all good conscience not fight – not only for our 21 but the future generation where murderers are allowed to come to our cities and kill with impunity or retribution. What kind of future would we be leaving to our children?

“We have experienced the worst of humanity but in our latter years we have experienced the best of the Irish community – there are far more good people in the world than bad and it has restored a sense of humanity back to us.”

Barbara Walsh, chair of the board of Glencree Peace and Reconciliation centre, said: “For the last couple of days, the Birmingham group have told what life is like for them and about the loss of people they lost in the bombs.

“They have also met other people from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland who back in the ’70s, at the beginning of the conflict also lost people.

“Sometimes, when people experience a great trauma, they sometimes feel they are the only one so to be heard by others and hear other people’s stories is helpful.”

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