Timeline: Birmingham bombings – event, reaction and aftermath

Coroner Louise Hunt confirms that hearings are to reopen on the back of fresh evidence

November 10th, 1974: An overheard conversation by men linked to the IRA that "Birmingham would be hit next week" is reported to police but nothing is done to investigate.

November 21st, 1974: Not long after 8pm, a bomb hidden in a duffel bag explodes in Birmingham city's Mulberry Bush pub killing 10 people. Minutes later, another bomb detonates at the Tavern in the Town establishment, claiming 11 more lives.

November 24th, 1974: Police charge the Birmingham Six – Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, John Walker, Richard McIlkenny, Gerard Hunter and Billy Power – with murder and conspiracy to cause explosions.

August 15th, 1975: A jury finds the six men guilty of murder and hands down 21 life sentences.


January, 1988: The court of appeals upholds the convictions after growing campaigns and demands had led to a re-examination of the case.

March 28th, 1990: Based on the investigative work of journalist Chris Mullin, Granada Television airs the documentary "Who Bombed Birmingham" which names four of the five alleged actual bombers. Four months later it screens an interview with a man who claims to have been involved.

March 14th, 1991: The convictions of the Birmingham Six, now considered one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in British history, are quashed. They have spent more than 16 years behind bars.

March 15th, 1991: A new investigation is initiated by Ron Hadfield, chief constable of West Midlands Police, and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

April, 1994: Following three years of investigation, it is decided there is insufficient evidence to bring any prosecutions.

June, 2012: Review of evidence begins. Over a two year process, it was found 35 pieces of evidence listed in the original 1975 trial had disappeared. Police said the assumption was they had been disposed of in the 1980s following the original convictions.

February, 2016: An official request is filed with the coroner on behalf of three of the victims' families to reopen the original 1974 inquests which had been closed on foot of the criminal prosecution of the Birmingham Six.

June 1st, 2016: Coroner Louise Hunt confirms she will reopen the hearings on the back of new evidence she believes warrants a resumption.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times