Troubles amnesty: Proposal puts terrorists before victims, says sister of murdered Birmingham teen

A woman who lost her sister as the result of an IRA bomb attack has accused the British government of naivety in relation to its amnesty proposal.

Julie Hambleton, who lost her sister Maxine Hambleton in the 1974 attack
Julie Hambleton, who lost her sister Maxine Hambleton in the 1974 attack

Julie Hambleton’s sister Maxine, 18, was killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings.

Along with her brother Brian, Julie founded the Justice4the21 campaign group to demand that the terrorists responsible for the atrocity are brought to justice.

She said: “Northern Ireland Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and his party have epitomised how naive this government truly are if they believe that people will simply sit back and accept this obscene proposal.

“Our families and thousands of others directly and indirectly impacted by the Troubles are sickened by this government’s amnesty proposal.”

She makes reference to a platform piece in the Sunday Telegraph when Mr Lewis asks “any and all interested parties, if they have a better way of dealing with Northern Ireland’s legacy issues to, please, tell us”.

In the piece he states: “The state kept records about what happened, while the terrorists did not. But it is not possible to draw a statute of limitations for one side only.”

Ms Hambleton said: “Considering the security services had infiltrated the paramilitaries to such a high degree, it would appear redundant for them (paramilitaries) to bother to keep records.

“This is the most salient point of all, because it is the records that hold the key to all of the doors for all families directly impacted, which we all seek. But, successive governments have kept them embargoed, hidden and continue to deny they even exist!

“This is the only true impediment to all of us receiving ‘equality before the law’. Mr Lewis, this is the best way of dealing with the past for NI. Make the records available.”

She added: “We have not given up on justice. Through the truth recovery body, there would be some chance of families finding out what happened to their loved ones.

“We know exactly what happened to our loved ones – they were blown up beyond recognition. All victims of terrorism, as with any kind of murdered victims, deserve ‘equality before the law’.”

Addressing Mr Lewis directly she said: “But your government are attempting to issue what would be tantamount to ‘a licence to kill’ for past and any future terrorists. How deluded can you be?”

She said if Tory MPs allow the proposal to pass into law, their claim of being the party of law and order should be discarded forever: “From that point on they should only ever be regarded as the party that puts terrorists before victims.”