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Victims protest former IRA commander McGuinness’ presence at Windsor Castle

Protestors outside Windsor Castle, calling for justice for victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, ahead of the attendance of Deputy First Minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness at a state banquet.

Protestors outside Windsor Castle, calling for justice for victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, ahead of the attendance of Deputy First Minister and ex-IRA commander Martin McGuinness at a state banquet.

The father of 12-year-old Omagh bomb victim James Barker last night denounced what he called “the horror of Martin McGuinness attending a state banquet with the Queen”.

Victor Barker, 57, whose son died along with 28 others on August 15, 1998, speaking before the protest, said: “I am carrying out this protest because Martin McGuinness knows the identity of the people who murdered my son and he won’t ever tell the truth about it.

“The placard I am carrying reads: ‘A terrorist in white tie and tails is still a terrorist. Martin McGuinness, it is time to tell the truth.’

“It fills me with horror that he is coming there and dressing up in a white tie and tails and sitting there at a gala state banquet.

“If he said he had been involved in all of this, said it should never have happened and violence is not the way forward, I would have more respect for the man.

“He has got to own up to what he did but he just won’t do it. I find that the most sickening form of hypocrisy. The banquet is at 7pm but I will be there at 5pm so they can all see me when they come in.”

Mr Barker’s son was 12 years and 12 days old when he was murdered in the Real IRA bomb, which led to hundreds of injuries, as well as the fatalities.

At the time of the atrocity the Barker family had lived in Buncrana, Co Donegal, but since moved to England.

Mr Barker, a lawyer, said he also questions whether the Queen “had to invite him [Martin McGuinness] or whether it was of her own volition?”

He said: “I find it must be incredibly difficult for her and her family to sit around in a state banquet with someone who has been involved in an organisation responsible for the murder of her cousin Louis Mountbatten.”

Lord Mountbatten was killed in an IRA bomb blast on his boat on August 27, 1979.

One of his twin grandsons, Nicholas, 14, and local boy Paul Maxwell, 15, were also killed in the explosion.

Lady Brabourne, in her 80s, died from her injuries the following day.

The sister of a woman killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings yesterday made calls for Martin McGuinness to be arrested ahead of his attendance at last night’s state banquet.

Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine died in the atrocity, was taking part in a demonstration outside Windsor Castle.

She expressed anger at the “permission” given to Mr McGuinness to “come on to the mainland”, adding: “By rights he should be arrested. He’s got so much blood on his hands.”

She added: “We are absolutely outraged at the British establishment.”

Ms Hambleton said she does believe it was not the Queen’s own decision to invite Mr McGuinness.

Aileen Quinton, whose 72-year-old mother Alberta died in the 1987 Enniskillen bomb, agreed.

“I think she’s put in a very difficult position,” she said.

Also outside the castle was John Radley, who was in the Irish Guards and was injured in the Chelsea Barracks bomb in 1981.

He said victims like him have been “thrown on the scrapheap”, adding that Mr McGuinness did not have the guts to meet them.

Mr Radley said that while many incidents happened 20 or 30 years ago, victims “live with it every single day”.

On Monday it was announced that no new inquiry will be launched into the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings after a re-examination of the evidence.

Nobody has been brought to justice for the atrocity, which claimed 21 lives and left 182 injured.

Six men were jailed for the bombings in 1975. The Birmingham Six, as they became known, spent 16 years in prison before their convictions were quashed in 1991.

 

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