One of the Birmingham Six has called on republicans to “come clean” and own up to their role in the bomb atrocities.
Twenty-one people were murdered and 182 were injured when terrorists blew up two Birmingham pubs on the same night in 1974.
Six Northern Ireland men were sentenced to life imprisonment but were freed in 1991 after the Appeal Court said their convictions were “no longer safe and satisfactory”.
One of the Birmingham Six, Paddy Hill, revealed at the weekend that he is to launch an online petition calling on the Government to hold a new public inquiry into the bombings.
In a speech to commemorate the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings in Londonderry, Mr Hill called for the remaining IRA members to tell the truth about what happened.
He hopes any fresh investigation would highlight the role of an alleged informer who, Mr Hill claims, told West Midlands police that he and the five other people were wrongly convicted.
“From what we have learned we now know that there was an informer in the IRA unit that bombed Birmingham,” he told the Observer newspaper.
“At the time of our arrests he told the police that we were not even in the IRA and knew absolutely nothing about the bombs.
“Any new inquiry has to look at the role of that informer in this scandal.
“As for those behind the bombs there are, to my knowledge, three of them still alive, walking the streets as free men. I don’t believe they would do a single day in jail, due to the amnesty given under the Good Friday Agreement. But I do feel they should come clean and tell any public inquiry exactly what they did 40 years ago.”
Julie Hambleton of the Justice for the 21 Campaign is pressing for the culprits to be brought to justice.
Her sister Maxine was killed in the bombings.
“I think this is absolutely fantastic,” she told the News Letter yesterday. “It was very hard when we met Paddy for the first time. For 17 to 18 years he had been associated with the death of our sister – we thought he did it.
“Now we are running our campaigns in parallel. He wants to clear his name and we want justice for Maxine.”