Police must take action over Birmingham inquest ‘IRA leader’ claims

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
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A claim that IRA structures remain in place, and that the leader of the terrorist organisation is issuing instructions from Dublin, must be investigated, unionist representatives have said.

At the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings inquest on Friday, an anonymous ex-IRA member giving evidence by video link said he had been given permission to name the four IRA members responsible.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the new evidence, along with claims made by former IRA man Kieran Conway on Thursday, raises a number of questions.

The DUP MP said that gardai in the Republic of Ireland also had a role to play in investigating the evidence presented by ‘Witness O’ at Friday’s hearing.

“One of the individuals named today (Friday) has previously admitted involvement in the Birmingham pub bombings,” he said.

“This further evidence demands a proper police investigation into his involvement in the murder of 21 people.”

Mr Donaldson said Sinn Fein, and in particular its party president, also had questions to answer.

“Mary Lou McDonald needs to explain how the head of the IRA in Dublin can give ‘permission’ for an individual to be named, when she tells us the IRA doesn’t exist,” he said.

The bomb blasts at the Mulberry Bush and at the Tavern in the Town, killed 21 people and injured 220 others.

Bereaved families have waited 44 years for new inquests, which are now in their fourth week.

Doug Beattie of the Ulster Unionists posed the question: “Given that numerous Sinn Fein politicians have claimed that there is no IRA, you wonder just who is in sitting Dublin, claiming to be the head of it?”

He said: “Bobby Storey said it had become a butterfly and flown away. So who exactly is at the head of what some claim is a ‘non-existent’ organisation?

“The PSNI and the Garda need to give an assessment of this claim as a matter of urgency.”

The party’s security spokesman added: “If Soldier F can be lined up for prosecution for alleged offences in Londonderry in 1972 then so can alleged IRA members for alleged offences in Birmingham in 1974.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said: “The naming of the Birmingham bombers today and the compelling claim that the naming was sanctioned by ‘the current head of the IRA in Dublin,’ raises critical questions for both the Birmingham police and the Dublin government and Garda.”

Mr Allister added: “Have the four named persons been investigated fully by the police and what further steps will now be taken?

“And, Mr [Leo] Varadkar, you who likes to mind everyone else’s business, what are you doing about the continuing operation of the IRA in your capital city under a ‘current head’?

“What actions have you taken, and will take,to address this issue?”