Birmingham pub bomb families turn to Ireland for justice

Tánaiste Simon Coveney receiving the families of the victims Birmingham pub bombing in Dublin

Bereaved family members of those killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings have appealed to the Irish government for support for their campaign for a full public inquiry into the 21 deaths.

Their Justice-for-the-21 group travelled to Dublin where they were received and hosted by Foreign Affairs Minister and Tánaiste Simon Coveney at Iveagh House, President Michael D Higgins at Aras an Uachtaráin and received by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in the course of their three-day visit.

The group met President Michael D Higgins last Wednesday night and Tánaiste Simon Coveney the following day.

Last year a long-delayed inquest jury ruled that the deaths of the 21 people unlawfully killed, and injuries to 220 others, in the 21 November 1974 Birmingham pub bombings was the fault of a “botched” IRA bomb warning.

Two huge IRA bombs destroyed the packed ‘Mulberry Bush’ and ‘Tavern in the Town’ pubs.

Among them was 18-year old Maxine Hambleton whose sister Julie is one of the main campaigners for a public inquiry.

Ms Hambleton said the British government had treated the victims’ families shamefully and she hoped the courtesy and support shown to them by the Irish Government would embarrass the British government into holding an inquiry.

“One would hope that we could shame them into it, but you can only shame them if they have a conscience. The proof is in the pudding as they say,” she said.

She said the meetings in Dublin had been positive and was full of praise for Mr Coveney but declined to go into detail.

 “Simon Coveney has been generous, hospitable, supportive and sensitive.

President Higgins and Sabina welcomed the families at the Áras an Uachtaráin, who were invited to ring the Peace Bell

“They have given us time and respect – and we want to give them the same respect. 

“As such, we don’t want to discuss what was said during our meetings. 

“They have been very supportive, and we are going to stay in contact,” said Ms Hambleton.


‘Our visit to Ireland has been monumental and we hope it makes a mark for all of the Irish people who live in the United Kingdom’ Maxine Hambleton


Before the meeting with Mr Coveney the group met former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and ministers and senators who are part of the Good Friday Agreement Committee.

She said of the meeting: “They have been very polite and kind and have actually listened and they want to stay in touch with us.

“We met Bertie Ahern, who was extremely insightful, and is a diplomat and politician through and through. He gave us some excellent advice and support, and he openly supports our calls for a public inquiry.

“They listened to us and heard us – they have done more for us than our own British Government has. 

“Our loved ones have been honoured by being remembered by them. It is something we will never forget.

“Our visit to Ireland has been monumental and we hope it makes a mark for all of the Irish people who live in the United Kingdom and to come out and be proud of being Irish and to come out and join us in our plight for truth and justice.

“The Irish hospitality we have experienced here has been second to none and on behalf of the families, we would like to thank Ireland as a country,” she said.

The families of those killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings feel they may have to shame the British Government into holding a public inquiry into the deaths.


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