Birmingham pub bombings: silhouettes shed light on killings of 21 innocents in 1974 Troubles atrocity

On the 47th anniversary of the Birmingham pub bombings, a group of victims’ campaigners took to the streets of the English city to highlight the tragedy of the 21 innocent people killed.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 7:25 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd November 2021, 7:54 pm
A memorial service was held inside St Philip's Cathedral in Birmingham 47 years after two pubs in the city were bombed, killing 21 people

Although the IRA never officially admitted responsibility for the worst Troubles atrocity outside of Northern Ireland, in 2014 a senior IRA man said they had carried out the attack.

On Saturday, Justice for the 21 brought 21 silhouettes on a tour of Birmingham, representing the victims of the two pub bombings.

Victims campaigner Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine was killed, said: “We took them around Birmingham on Saturday because on Saturday 47 years ago they were still alive. We wanted to remind people that 21 Brummies were still alive 47 years ago.

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The memorial service at St Philip's Cathedral in Birmingham

“We took them to where the Mulberry Bush pub would have been and then to the Tavern in the Town, where my sister Maxine would have been.

“We lined them up outside West Midland Police’s HQ.

“One of our supporters suggested we lie them on the ground. People were stopping at asking us what we were doing. People were crying because the silhouettes were so powerful.

“People today still don’t know about it because the authorities kept it well and truly buried.”

The silhouettes outside West Midlands Police HQ

Julie continued: “Inside St Philip’s Cathedral we had the silhouettes in front of the altar. It was so powerful.

“We took them down to the tree memorial where the Irish ambassador came to pay his respects as well.”

Julie and her brother Brian started Justice for the 21 in 2011 to highlight the atrocity and seek justice for the victims.

They believe the UK government has failed them.

Julie said: “The Irish authorities have paid more respect to our families and the memories of our loved ones than any UK government.

“They’ve brushed it under the carpet until we’ve came along.

“This amnesty proposal is just the straw that broke the camel’s back for us.”

Julie said she was disheartened by the fact the Tavern in the Town site where her sister was killed hasn’t been closed down.

She said: “It’s something that grates on many of us that it really should be sealed and locked up. It’s a cellar so it could easily be closed down.

“It has changed hands a number of times. It was another pub, then a restaurant, then a Chinese buffet. It’s closed at the minute but only because there isn’t a tenant.”

She said: “It’s so disrespectful, it shows that money rules. It’s so crass, it’s quite sick really.”

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