Friday 22 September 2017

Furious pub blast families reject IRA bomber's apology

Michael Christopher Hayes (69) said he was in Birmingham on the night of the 1974
attacks but declined to comment on whether he was directly involved. Mr Hayes reiterated an
apology he previously made to the families of the 21 victims, but relatives of those who were
killed said the apology was 'gutless and spineless'. Photo: BBC News NI
Michael Christopher Hayes (69) said he was in Birmingham on the night of the 1974 attacks but declined to comment on whether he was directly involved. Mr Hayes reiterated an apology he previously made to the families of the 21 victims, but relatives of those who were killed said the apology was 'gutless and spineless'. Photo: BBC News NI

David Young

A self-confessed IRA bomber has admitted responsibility for the Birmingham pub bomb atrocity.

Michael Hayes (69) said he was in Birmingham on the night of the 1974 attacks but declined to say if he was involved.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Hayes reiterated an apology he made to the families of the 21 victims in a newspaper interview last year.

He repeated a claim that he defused a third bomb that had been planted in the city once he heard of the carnage the first two explosions had caused.

He also stood by his refusal to give evidence to the forthcoming inquest into the bombs.

Hayes who was named as a suspect in the Birmingham attacks in a TV documentary in 1990, repeatedly refused to comment when asked if he had any direct involvement in the attacks.

File photo of the wreckage left at the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham after a bomb exploded. Photo: PA
File photo of the wreckage left at the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham after a bomb exploded. Photo: PA

The former IRA man, who lives in south Dublin, said two men planted the bombs, but he refused to name them or say if he was one of them.

"I was a participant in the IRA's activities in Birmingham. I take full collective responsibility for all operations carried out in the West Midlands," he said.

"I take collective responsibility for every IRA operation carried out in England, let alone Birmingham."

On the night of November 21, 1974, the two IRA bombs ripped through the Tavern in the Town and Mulberry Bush pubs, killing 21 and injuring 182.

The botched police investigation into the attacks led to the wrongful convictions of the Birmingham Six.

Asked what his message to the victims was, Mr Hayes said: "My apologies and my heartfelt sympathy to all of you for a terrible tragic loss that you have been put through.

"And I apologise not only for myself but I apologise for all active republicans who had no intention of hurting anybody and sympathise with you," he added.

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was killed, branded him "gutless and spineless."

"An apology? Please, don't insult us," she told the BBC.

Irish Independent

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