Decision to resume Birmingham bombing inquests welcomed

SDLP says finding the truth must be ‘non-negotiable’

The SDLP’s  Alex Attwood: “The resistance by those in the state and illegal groups who resist truth and are threatened by accountability must not prevail.” Photograph: Matt Bohill

The SDLP’s Alex Attwood: “The resistance by those in the state and illegal groups who resist truth and are threatened by accountability must not prevail.” Photograph: Matt Bohill

 

The SDLP justice spokesman, Alex Attwood, has said the decision to resume the inquests into the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, which left 21 dead and 222 injured, demonstrated that the past is very much part of the present and future.

Mr Attwood, in welcoming the coroner’s decision to reopen the inquests, said that truth must be non-negotiable. “The resistance by those in the state and illegal groups who resist truth and are threatened by accountability must not prevail,” he added.

Referring to the Birmingham bombings and also the current inquest into the Kingsmill massacre in which 10 Protestant workmen were shot dead by the Provisional IRA in 1976, Mr Attwood said: “What is more widely needed are guarantees that state agencies and illegal groups will not and will not be enabled to impede more families as they seek out truth.”

The Traditional Unionist Voice leader, Jim Allister, said the “judge’s comments about the failings of West Midlands Police and the wealth of evidence which has never been heard are deeply troubling”.

“Those who have kept the pressure on the powers that be deserve enormous credit. It is a sad indictment of our country that the families of the murdered had to campaign so hard for so long to arrive at this point,” he added.

“It is a national scandal that, as with the Kingsmill case in our province, it took pressure from the victims for the state to perform one of its most basic duties to its citizens,” said Mr Allister.

“I look forward to the families receiving a greater insight into the events of that dreadful day and hope that they will ultimately see those responsible for this dreadful atrocity held to account for their crimes.”

The Belfast solicitors acting for a number of the Birmingham families also welcomed the decision to resume the inquests. KRW Law solicitors said the coroner’s decision was a “historic and memorable moment for the relatives of the victims who have fought so long for truth, justice and accountability regarding the loss of their loved ones”.

Human rights

“We do not represent all the families of the victims, we do not represent the city of Birmingham but we hope that the resumed inquests will provide answers to those who seek them and the delivery of justice, truth and accountability so long delayed,” it added.