Birmingham bombing families meet Sinn Fein and DUP over atrocity

Families of the 21 people killed in the 1974 Birmingham bombings say they feel they have taken a positive step forward after meeting top figures in both Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Wednesday, 4th July 2018, 11:12 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:08 pm
Julie Hambleton and her mother Margaret, pictured on Wednesday

Five of the families were in Belfast on Wednesday for a one-day visit, meeting Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill and DUP leader Arlene Foster at Stormont.

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the atrocity, described both meetings as “very positive”.

“We hope that this is going to be another positive move forward for our campaign and for our fight for truth, justice and accountability,” she said.

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“On behalf of the families and our legal team, KRW Law, we would like to sincerely thank Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill for taking the time out of their very busy schedules to meet with us at relatively short notice to discuss our huge concerns, and to be so kind and considerate and patient with us.

“We feel now that we have taken a positive step forward, we have gone into uncharted waters and we hope that now we move from the dark into the light, and that’s all we can but hope for.”

Twenty-one people were killed and 182 left injured on November 21, 1974, when the IRA bombed two pubs in the city.

The perpetrators have never been punished.

The families have been locked in a long legal wrangle about a planned new inquest into the republican atrocities.

Ms Foster said her meeting with the families started by remembering each of the 21 people who died in the blasts.

“We have committed to following up on the issues raised during today’s meeting with the families in the future and I look forward to that ongoing relationship,” she said.

Ms O’Neill said: “Sinn Fein said that all victims need to be treated with equality and dignity and respect.

“We have consistently supported all families in campaigns for inquests which are compliant with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“We will also support the Birmingham families in this regard.”

Ms Hambleton would not be drawn on exactly what was discussed at both meetings.

She defended the group’s decision to meet Sinn Fein, saying: “Some people that won’t be happy with what we are doing, we can only walk in our shoes, we cannot walk in other people’s shoes and what we decide to do, we decide to do as a family democratically.”