A memorial to the 21 people killed in the Birmingham pub bombings has been unveiled by the Birmingham Irish association 44 years after the deadly IRA attack.
The memorial, designed by the local artist Anuradha Patel, was revealed outside New Street station at a ceremony in Birmingham last week. It was attended by religious and civic leaders and more than 80 members of the victims’ families.
Explosions at the Mulberry Bush at 8.17pm and the Tavern in the Town at 8.27pm on 21 November 1974 killed 21 people and injured 220.
Seen as one of the deadliest atrocities of the Troubles, six men, who eventually became known as the Birmingham Six, served 16 years in prison for the bombings. They had their convictions quashed in 1991.
“In addition to the miscarriage of justice which saw the Birmingham Six imprisoned for 16 years while the real perpetrators remain at large, the trauma of the bombings and their aftermath left a lasting impact on Birmingham, shaping community relations and personal identities for a generation,” said Maurice Malone, CEO of Birmingham Irish Association.
In 2015, the Birmingham Irish Association held a witness seminar in the history department of the University of Birmingham to gather and record memories of the night of the pub bombings and to, “consider their historical importance”.
A panel of speakers representing the families of those who lost their lives attended, as well as survivors, members of the attending emergency services, and representatives of Birmingham’s Irish communities. It was decided that a memorial should be erected.
“While a small memorial was placed belatedly in the grounds of the city’s St Philip’s Cathedral, it was neither prominent nor located close to the actual bombsites,” Mr Malone said.
Mr Malone set up the Misneach Memorial Committee, bringing together a range of Irish organisations and community members to organise a “prominent memorial in the heart of the city.”
The memorial features three sculpted metal trees, each with six 1.52-metre-long leaves inscribed with the names and ages of the victims. There will be benches for people to sit under the trees.
The statue, which stands in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral, has been funded with £110,000 from National Rail following a campaign by the Birmingham Irish Association.
“That this new memorial was created through the efforts of Birmingham’s Irish communities sends a further message, a reminder of the centrality of Irish people to all that Birmingham was and is. It has been a project of peace and reconciliation led by a community that has nothing to be sorry for, but which suffered more than most as a result of the bombings,” Mr Malone added.
On the base of the new memorial, a sentence from Revelations reads: “The Leaves of the Tree are for the Healing of the Nations”.