Another year has passed, that’s 39 now, since the Birmingham Pub Bombings. The killers are still at large. At last there seems to be both momentum and a sufficient body of evidence for the criminal investigation to be re-opened.
It is said that the identities of the killers are known to those at the higher echelons of the IRA and to the British Government.
The two bombs exploded at The Mulberry Bush and The Tavern in the Town in the city centre. A telephone warning to the offices of The Birmingham Mail was given only minutes beforehand. 21 people killed and 182 injured, mostly young adults.
Shortly beforehand, five Irishmen bought train tickets to Heysham at the nearby New Street Station. They, together with another man who saw them off, were to become the Birmingham Six. They were travelling to Ireland to attend the funeral of James McDade, an IRA bomber who had accidentally blown himself up in Coventry.
The six men were arrested, confessions beaten out of them, flimsy forensic evidence concocted and they were jailed. Everybody cheered, justice had been done.
Only it hadn’t. It was a good old fashioned frame-up. The men weren’t saints, far from it. They were unemployed nuisances whose chief interest was drinking. Their faces fitted nicely, but they hadn’t the brains for it. They were freed on appeal in 1991. The police were discredited and several charged with perjury, but were never prosecuted.
Paddy Hill, one of the Six, says they know who the bombers were. Chris Mullin in his book Error of Judgement: The Truth About the Birmingham Pub Bombings claims to have met several of those responsible.
They are walking around among us, smug-faced. Old men with a secret they whisper and smile about. Probably in Dublin or Belfast, sipping a pint and having the craic.
High time they were made to look into the eyes of the parents, brothers, sisters, lovers of those they blew away that night.