Today marks the 38th anniversary of one of the saddest days in the city’s history, the Pub Bombings of 1974. Here the campaigning group Justice for the 21 talk about their quest to uncover the truth behind this atrocity.
Today is the 38th anniversary of the Birmingham Pub Bombings, in which 21 people were killed and hundreds more injured. To mark the anniversary, Justice for the 21 will be holding a vigil at St Philip’s Cathedral in the city centre. This will be preceded by prayers during Choral Evensong, which begins at 5.45pm. Following the short service the Hambleton family will then lead us outside for a short candlelit vigil at the memorial for the Birmingham Pub Bombings, which will last until 8.27pm, the time of the final explosion.
Justice for the 21 was founded to support the Hambleton family, who lost their daughter and sister Maxine aged 18 in the pub bombings. The group has been increasingly active over the last nine months, seeking to highlight and resolve the situation the families of the victims have been left in since the release of the Birmingham Six. With the support of local media, we have raised this matter to become a major issue during the recent election for Police and Crime Commissioner. The successful candidate, Bob Jones, has supported our campaign and has stated that he will attend the vigil. We now have a paper petition, with well over six thousand signatures, calling for the case to be reopened. Justice for the 21 supporters have lobbied elected representatives across the country, a growing number of MPs support our campaign, including the Chancellor and the Defence Secretary, and a number of members of the European Parliament and of the Northern Ireland Assembly have also pledged their support.
Following receipt of a letter tabling four questions we felt needed to be answered, West Midlands Police Counter-Terrorism Unit has agreed to carry out a re-assessment of existing evidence in order to consider any new leads which may have surfaced in the years since the atrocity. Justice for the 21 has also been very impressed with the attitude of Head of Counter Terrorism, Det Supt Kenny Bell, who has treated the campaigners with the respect they deserve.
Today’s vigil aims to pay proper reverence to 21 people from our community who were brutally murdered and who we believe have been forgotten with all the publicity following other aspects of the case. We would also like to remind people there were other victims that night, people who were wounded, emergency services who were traumatised and also family members who lost loved ones and who have suffered with silent dignity in the years following the attack. We do not wish to make any political point, we are calling for as many people as possible to attend, and to show their support for justice. Their presence will send a message that we demand justice for our people, justice for our community. Justice for the 21.