SF stance on Manchester bombing is an ‘insult’ to victims

Julie Hambleton, sister of Birmingham pub bombings victim Maxine Hambleton, in 2016.
Julie Hambleton, sister of Birmingham pub bombings victim Maxine Hambleton, in 2016.

A woman whose sister was killed by the IRA has dismissed Sinn Fein’s condemnation of the Manchester Arena bomb as mere “empty rhetoric” – suggesting it is akin to Myra Hindley condemning the crimes of Jimmy Savile.

Julie Hambleton described the republican party’s expression of horror at Monday night’s blast as “insulting”, and contrasted it to Sinn Fein’s approach towards the crimes of the IRA.

Maxine Hambleton, was killed in the 1974 Birmingham attacks.

Maxine Hambleton, was killed in the 1974 Birmingham attacks.

Top Sinn Fein figures Gerry Adams and Michelle O’Neill both specifically condemned the fact young people had been targeted on Monday night whilst out enjoying themselves.

Ms Hambleton lost her sister Maxine in the IRA’s double bomb attack against pubs in Birmingham in 1974.

Maxine was 18 at the time the IRA detonated a device in the Tavern in the Town bar.

The IRA also bombed the Mulberry Bush pub. In all, 21 people were killed.

The IRA never officially admitted responsibility.

Reacting to Monday night’s bombing against gig-goers in Manchester, Sinn Fein president Mr Adams said it was “a shocking and horrendous attack on children and young people enjoying a concert”.

And Ms O’Neill, whom the party describes as its “leader in the north”, turned up at Belfast City Hall to sign a book of condolence for those caught up in the atrocity.

In a statement, she said Monday’s bombing was “horrific and I condemn it”.

She said: “I, like many others, watched with shock and horror as the events unfolded overnight and the scale of this terrible attack became known. For something like that to happen while young people are out enjoying themselves is unthinkable.”

Ms Hambleton, 51 and living in Birmingham, said: “For us, that message is 43 years too late. None of them – not one of them – has ever admitted to the heinous crime that was committed in Birmingham.

“And not one of them has condemned it.

“It’s just empty rhetoric isn’t it? It’s empty rhetoric.

“If they truly were remorseful and condemned [Monday’s bombing], then why don’t they condemn their own history, their own past?”

She suggested the party’s condemnation of Monday’s bombing was equivalent to the idea of notorious child abductor Myra Hindley saying she was sorry for “the child abuse that’s been conducted by Jimmy Savile”.

She said that no-one in the republican movement had the “courage of their convictions” to step forward and face justice for the Birmingham bloodbath, concluding that “actions speak louder than words”.