KRW Birmingham Press Release 19 October 2015
THE BIRMINGHAM PUB BOMBINGS 1974: HEARINGS TO DECIDE A RESUMED INQUEST
KRW LAW LLP has been acting on behalf of a number of families who lost loved ones in the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974. We welcome the decision of the Senior Coroner for Birmingham and Solihull to hold a hearing into the application we have made to her to resume the inquest into these deaths. The hearing will commence on 10 February 2016 with arguments being in relation to the Senior Coroner’s power to resume the original inquest. It will take place in Solihull and a decision is expected by the 24 February 2016.
The original inquest opened following the Birmingham Pub Bombings in 1974 and closed in 1975 because convictions had been secured against the Birmingham Six. Those convictions were subsequently overturned on appeal in 1991 and there have been no further arrests in relation to the bombings.
It remains unclear to the families of the victims what status the on-going inquiry by the West Midlands Police has in relation to the original investigation and arrests and new evidence which has come into the public domain. Further, it remains unclear whether any information in relation to the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 has been subject to a government embargo. Clarification on both matters has been sought by the campaign group Justice4the21 and KRW LAW LLP in meetings with senior politicians and policemen, including the Home Secretary and the Chief Constable in Birmingham, London, and Brussels.
A resumed inquest would be a mechanism for many of the questions arising from the Birmingham Pub Bombing 1974 to be asked by the families and the Coroner. The hearing in February will be the first time in 42 years that the families are able to contribute to the process of seeking truth, justice and accountability for the loss of their loved ones having been ignored for all that time until now.
Kevin Winters of KRW LAW LLP said: “This is a huge opportunity for the relatives of the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974 to address the Senior Coroner on why a resumption of the original inquest should take place as a mechanism to seek truth, justice and accountability for the loss of their loved ones, to establish who was responsible, what was known, what went wrong and whether these losses could have been prevented.”
Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine Hambleton was killed in the bombings and who is the spokesperson for Justice4the 21 said “This is an important announcement for us. In February 2016 we will be able to ask a senior coroner to resume the inquest into the deaths of our loved ones. We have waited a long time for this and it will be difficult for us but we welcome this opportunity to seek answers to so many unanswered questions.”
Paddy Hill, one of the Birmingham 6, said “I fully support the application to resume the inquest into the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974. The families of the victims have received no support since 1974 and now would be the time to ask the difficult questions that need asking – no matter how uncomfortable for all concerned. The truth should be out – the families deserve an inquest in compliance with human rights.”
Victims/Survivors from Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland must be afforded equality Innocent Victims United
Innocent Victims United (an umbrella organisation of 21 Victims groups with a combined membership of circa 11,000 people) has released a statement in which the organisation argues that innocent victims and survivors of terrorism who are based in Great Britain (accounting for some 10% of Troubles related deaths) and the Republic of Ireland must be afforded a 'Voice' as the Haass talks process on 'Dealing with the Past' enters its' crucial phase.
In a statement Kenny Donaldson of IVU commented: "Too often the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism who live outside of Northern Ireland are disregarded and are not afforded a platform to voice their views on Justice and Truth related matters or indeed; to gain equitable access to services for victims/survivors which are more readily available to those living in Northern Ireland."
"IVU has built up strong relationships with victims/survivors across Great Britain including; the families of the Birmingham pub bombings, the Ballygawley bus bombings, families affected by the Narrow Water massacre and dozens of other families whose loved ones were either murdered in Northern Ireland or in Great Britain whilst serving within the Army."
"Their experiences and stories are harrowing. A thematic piece of work is needed involving our devolved Government and our UK Government at Westminster which would seek to develop proactive strategies enabling victims/survivors to be offered support in dealing with their emotional, psychological, practical and Justice/Truth needs. There needs to be equality of access to services for all those affected by the campaigns of terrorism and 'Troubles' irrespective of where they happen to live."
Mr Donaldson continued: "In speaking to a significant cross section of these individuals in recent days it is clear that they are deeply concerned about the proposal currently doing the rounds that a 'limited form of immunity' could be a recommendation flowing from the Haass talks along with a process of 'Truth/Information recovery.' Those who we have been in contact with recognise that for 'limited immunity' (which is effectively a precursor to Amnesty) to be brought into effect would in all likelihood require the passing of National legislation in Westminster and Dublin."
"Negligible consideration has been given by the Haass talks process to innocent victims/survivors of terrorism based outside of Northern Ireland, the 'Belfast centric' model which has operated thus far has discriminated against rural Northern Ireland and has also effectively 'airbrushed' those affected by Republican and Loyalist terrorism who live in Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland."
"Past Terrorists, their Spokespersons or indeed their inheritors must not be allowed to manipulate history in an effort to justify campaigns of ethnic and sectarian motivated violence. If this narrative is not contained within the proposals which flow from Haass then any self respecting political party must walk away from the process. If 'Dealing with the Past' means promoting the lie that terrorists were not terrorists but rather were 'freedom fighters' within the parameters of a 'Conflict' then 'Peace' in the Northern Ireland context comes at too high a price."
Comments around Extradition / Post publication of the Report of the Smithwick Tribunal
Mr Donaldson remarked: "For those whose loved ones were murdered as a consequence of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, let it be known that their State failed them. There was no clamour from the Republic of Ireland State to have suspects extradited for questioning and why? Because they knew that they would have to reciprocate the arrangements when approached by the UK authorities. Justice has been denied the Dublin and Monaghan families by the R.O.I State and this is the common experience that these families share with the hundreds of innocents murdered along our borderlands."
On the back of the Report of the Smithwick Tribunal, as well as answering hard questions from Northern Ireland based victims/survivors so too must the R.O.I State answer questions from its' own citizens surrounding the carrying out of terrorist atrocities on its' own soil and its' failure in bringing to account those responsible."
"Dark elements within the Republic of Ireland system overtly and covertly provided support to terrorists and these elements went right to the top of the system."
"Those affected by terrorism along our Border Frontier refused to be broken, to have their basic humanity compromised, they refused to engage in retaliation attacks, they were and are God fearing people who also pledged their trust in the UK State to do right by them (and by extension their neighbouring Jurisdiction's Government)
"Their restraint must now be recognised and their loss and sacrifices must be fully acknowledged," concluded Mr Donaldson.