One to Watch: It was an attack on young pub-goers that shocked a city, and nation. The Birmingham pub bombings however has never seen anyone brought to justice for the terrorist atrocity.
Birmingham City Centre in more recent times.
BBC News NI has interviewed one of the chief suspects in the Birmingham pub bombings. Twenty one people died and more than 200 were injured in the explosions, which went off at two pubs in the city centre in November 1974.
In a BBC News NI Special to be broadcast on BBC One Northern Ireland at 10.40pm tonight (10 July) reporter Kevin Magee speaks to Michael Christopher Hayes, named by Granada television in 1990 as a suspect in the Birmingham pub bombings.
Michael Christopher Hayes (Mick Hayes) tells BBC News NI’s Kevin Magee that he was an IRA bomb maker and was “active in the West Midlands” on the night the bombs exploded. During the interview he is asked several times if he planted the bombs. He says; “No comment. No comment. I’ve been accused of a lot of things, without one shred of forensic evidence, without one statement made, without one witness coming out against me.”
However Mick Hayes, who is from Dublin, tells Kevin Magee he takes what he calls “collective responsibility” for the Birmingham pub bombings and he has issued an apology to the victims’ families. He tells the programme he is ashamed by the loss of life and it was never meant to happen.
Six innocent men were wrongly convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings and served 16 years in prison before being freed after a high-profile media campaign.
Julie Hambleton, whose 18 year-old sister Maxine was killed in the blasts, has said an apology from the IRA would be offensive. The victims’ families want the perpetrators brought to justice. An inquest into the bombings is due to reopen in the autumn.
BBC News NI Special – Who Bombed Birmingham? will be broadcast on BBC One Northern Ireland at 10.40pm with reporter Kevin Magee.