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Birmingham Pub bombings, 21 November 1974

Birmingham Pub bombings, 21 November 1974

Birmingham Pub bombings, 21 November 1974

On November 21st 1974 the terrorist group the PIRA exploded two bombs in the centre of the city of Birmingham, UK. This was the worst terrorist attack in UK history until the London bombings of July 2005 and killed 19 people, injured 182 and two further victims died later.

The bombs were triggered by timers and were placed in two busy inner city pubs, the ‘Mulberry Bush’ which was underneath Birmingham’s famous Rotunda building, and in a low level pub ‘The Tavern in the Town’ in New Street near Birmingham’s central shopping area and main railway station, (this pub is now renamed the Yard of Ale).

At 20.11 the Birmingham Post newspaper received a phone call saying that there was a bomb in the Rotunda building. The Police were informed and started to search the Rotunda buildings upper floors but the Mulberry Bush pub at ground level was still packed out, 6-12 minutes after the phone call, the first bomb exploded, quickly followed by the second bomb exploding 50 yards (47 meters) away, luckily a third IED placed outside a bank on Birmingham’s busy Hagley Road failed to detonate. Both pubs were packed with young people and the bombs had gone off at one of the busiest times of night leaving a scene of carnage behind. Many of the injured were taken to hospital in private cars and nearby taxis as the ambulances arrived. Maurice Buck then assistant Chief Constable for the West Midlands Police described the devastation caused by the bombs as “disastrous and appalling”. The impact on the people of Birmingham was enormous and the attacks severely damaged relations with the Irish community and are still remembered today. A plague to remember those who died can be found in the grounds of central Birmingham’s St. Philip’s Cathedral.

It is thought the attack was planned to coincide with the return to Ireland of the body of James McDade, a PIRA member who had died in Coventry the week before when a bomb he was planting exploded prematurely. Some PIRA members later said that the short length of time between the warnings and the bombs going off was an error and this would certainly fit the profile of Irish terrorist attacks during this period as the intention was not a large body count but to gain media attention. A PIRA member who was later arrested for another attack claimed that the public phone boxes that they had planned to use to make the warning calls from had been vandalised so it took time to find a working phone box. In 2004 on the 30th anniversary of the attack Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams expressed regret for the loss of life in the attacks but the PIRA has never officially taken responsibility for the attacks.

Under immense pressure to get a result the British police quickly arrested six men, Hugh Callaghan, Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and Johnny Walker. These men became known as the Birmingham 6 and were convicted in 1975, but the conviction was unsafe to say the least and was over turned 16 years later and the six were released. Three detectives were charged with perjury but their trial was abandoned in 1993 due to media coverage influencing the jury. The real bombers have never been brought to trial and it remains one of the most controversial cases in British counter terrorism history and one of the most painful for the people of Birmingham


  • The bombings took place at two pubs, the Mulberry Bush and The Tavern, during a busy Thursday night on November 21, 1974
  • Six men were arrested the next day and later convicted, but those convictions were overturned in 1991
  • British Home Secretary Priti Patel is considering holding a public inquiry into the attack

The attacks on the crowded Mulberry Bush pub and The Tavern in central Birmingham on the night of November 21, 1974, were the deadliest chapter on mainland Britain during 30 years of violence during the Northern Ireland conflict, also known as The Troubles.

A further 220 people were injured.

Although the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was believed to have planted the explosives, it never claimed responsibility.

West Midlands Police said officers from their counter terror unit had arrested a 65-year-old man at his home in Belfast on Wednesday with the assistance of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act and a search of his home is being carried out," West Midlands Police said in a statement.

"He will be interviewed under caution at a police station in Northern Ireland."

The blasts were one of the worst attacks suspected to have been committed by the Irish Republican Army during its decades-long armed campaign to get Britain out of Northern Ireland. The campaign officially ended with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel said a month ago that she would consider holding a public inquiry into the bombings.


Birmingham Pub bombings: Victims were unlawfully killed

The blasts at the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs on the night of 21 November also injured 220 people.

Inquest jurors concluded there were no errors in the way police responded to the warning call and their actions did not contribute to the loss of life.

Victims' families have called on police to bring the killers "to justice".

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the bombings, said: "West Midlands Police have always told us when they get new evidence they will act on it, well here you go, you have the new evidence and I'm sure there is more to be had and more to be found."

She did not describe the inquests' conclusion of unlawful killing as "vindication", but said it "gives us hope to move forward to get those who are still alive caught and for justice to be had".

West Midlands Police (WMP) said there continued to be an active criminal investigation.

Coroner Sir Peter Thornton QC said the bombings were "etched in the history" of the city.

Jurors at Birmingham Civil Justice Centre found the warning call was not adequate for the purposes of ensuring that lives were not lost in the explosions.

The call, made to the Birmingham Post and Mail at 20:11, gave the bomb locations as the Rotunda building and the nearby Tax Office in New Street but made no mention of pubs, costing the police vital minutes.

The first bomb, weighing between 25lb-30lb (11kg-14kg), detonated in the Mulberry Bush seven minutes later.

The second bomb, weighing 30lb (14kg), exploded in the nearby Tavern in the Town two minutes later.

Both pubs, popular with young people, were busy on the night of the bombings. It was a Thursday, which was payday for many, and also the day for late-night shopping.

A third bomb was planted near the Barclays Bank on Hagley Road but failed to properly detonate that night.

The jury at the six-week hearing said there was "not sufficient evidence" of any failings, errors or omissions in West Midlands Police's response to the bomb warning call, or in regards to two alleged tip-offs to the force giving advanced warning of the blasts.

Following the conclusions, Sir Peter said the "dreadful events will never be forgotten".

"It would be not right to leave the inquest without paying tribute to those who helped that dreadful night," he added.

"We always expect our emergency services, particularly the police and firefighters to be there for us at the time of disaster and they were."

The coroner went on to thank the members of the public who "just did the right thing and helped as best they could".

Leslie Thomas QC, representing 10 of the bereaved families, added thanks on their behalf to those who helped on the night of the attacks.

"We just hope, in light of the jury's unequivocal finding that the IRA murdered 21 innocent people, that West Midlands Police will now redouble their efforts in terms of those bombers who may still be alive to bring them to justice," he said.

The inquests came about after years of campaigning by families for a full account into what happened that night.

A botched police investigation led to the 1975 jailing of the Birmingham Six, but their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal in 1991.

There was a dramatic twist towards the end of evidence at the inquests, when a former IRA member named the four the men he claimed were involved in the bombings as Seamus McLoughlin, Mick Murray, Michael Hayes and James Francis Gavin.

The man, identified in court only as "Witness O", said he had been authorised to give those names by the current head of the IRA in Dublin.

During the hearing Mr Thomas QC asked Witness O whether a previously named suspect, Michael Patrick Reilly, had been involved.

The witness said: "No, I don't remember him at all. Reilly? I would remember that."

Mr Reilly has always denied any involvement in the bombings.

After the inquests, WMP Chief Constable Dave Thompson said the force was "We are carrying out a number of active lines of inquiry".

"Though my absolute statement is, if we could bring people to justice we would do and at the moment we have an active criminal investigation."


Man arrested over 1974 UK pub bombings that killed 21

In this file photo dated Nov. 22, 1974, showing the scene outside the Mulberry Bush public house pub in the centre of Birmingham, England after a terrorist bomb exploded in November 1974.

Synopsis

LONDON: A 65-year-old man was arrested on Wednesday in connection with one of Britain's worst terror attacks, the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings which killed 21 and left 182 others injured.

Six men were wrongly jailed for the bombings which tore through the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs, which were blamed on the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).

But the conviction of the so-called "Birmingham Six" in 1975 was ruled unsafe by the Court of Appeal in 1991 and they were freed. No one has since been convicted.

West Midlands Police said counter-terrorism officers and colleagues from the Police Service of Northern Ireland detained the man at his home in Belfast.

"The man was arrested under the Terrorism Act and a search of his home is being carried out," the force said in a statement.

"He will be interviewed under caution at a police station in Northern Ireland."

The twin attacks in the heart of Britain's second city on November 21, 1974 came during rising violence against British rule in Northern Ireland.

The IRA has never claimed responsibility.

Inquests began last year to re-examine the deaths in Birmingham after claims police failed to heed two warnings of an impending attack -- one 11 days before, the second on the day.

The original inquests -- judicial fact-finding investigations that do not apportion blame -- were halted by the police probe that led to the conviction of the "Birmingham Six".

A jury at the resumed inquest concluded the victims were unlawfully killed and the IRA was responsible, but that there were no police failings.

Families of the victims have since been pushing for a full public inquiry into what happened.

Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine died in the bombings, described Wednesday's arrest as a "monumental moment" in the criminal investigation.

She said she was "inconsolable" when police informed her of the development.

"It's welcome news. It's overwhelming news. It's tangible progress," she said but added that whatever happened, a full public inquiry was still needed.

Paul Rowlands, whose father John was killed in the Mulberry Bush bombing, also called it a "positive step".

"It is, however, just a step and it does not detract from the fact that we need a public inquiry," he added.

West Midlands Police chief constable Dave Thompson in 2016 said the failure to catch those responsible and the wrongful conviction of the Birmingham Six was "the most serious failing in this force's history".

At that time, he was pessimistic about bringing any of the real attackers to justice.

"Since 2012 and directly as a result of the campaign by families of those who died we have carefully reassessed the opportunities to bring the people responsible to justice," he said.

"Despite an intense scrutiny we have not been able to see, at this time, a prospect of doing this."

An estimated 3,500 people, most of them in Northern Ireland, were killed during three decades of violence on both sides that became known as "The Troubles".

Bloodshed was largely ended by the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, although concern remains about the continued existence of paramilitary groups and rising sectarianism.

Northern Ireland's majority Protestant unionists favour continued British rule. Largely Catholic republicans want reunification with the rest of Ireland.

In 1970, the IRA began a campaign of bombings and shootings, mainly targeted at British troops but also against civilians.

The violence was reciprocated by loyalist paramilitaries, driving a wedge between the communities.

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Birmingham pub bombings: Who are the Birmingham Six? What happened in the IRA attack? Everything you need to know

The inquest into the 1974 Birmingham Pub bombings has been reopened by a coroner stating there is a "wealth of evidence" not yet heard.

Until the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, t he Birmingham bombings was the worst ever terrorist attack on the British mainland .

The bombing of the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs on 21 November 1974 in the centre of the city resulted in the death of 21 people and the injury of 182 others.

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Here are the main facts of the bombings, their impact and the aftermath:

What happened?

On the evening of 21 November 1974, a man with an Irish accent called the Birmingham Post and Evening Mail newspapers to say two bombs were planted in the Rotunda building and in a tax office on New Street.

He finished the warning by saying the then-official code word the Provisional IRA used to authenticate a warning call.

According to its own code of conduct, the IRA would provide adequate warning to the police to allow civilians to be evacuated.

Former IRA officials have since said there was a delay in issuing the warning due to nearby phone boxes being vandalised.

The caller failed to provide the specific location of the actual targets, the Mulberry Bush pub in the 17-storey Rotunda office building and the basement Tavern in the Town pub on New Street.

West Midland Police officers rushed to the Rotunda but were unable to locate the Mulberry Bush bomb before it went off at 8:17pm, killing 10 people. The accompanying bomb in the Tavern in the Town went off 10 minutes later killing 11 people.

Seven women and 14 men were killed aged between 17 and 51. 13 of the victims were aged under 30, including five in their teens.

A third bomb that failed to detonate was found in the doorway of Barclays Bank on the Hagley Road, two miles from the pub bombings.

What was the immediate impact of this attack?

Birmingham had a large Irish population of over 100,000 who found themselves shunned, with some even physically assaulted, as a result of the bombings.

In Northern Ireland, Loyalist paramilitary groups launched retaliatory attacks leaving five Catholic civilians shot dead within two days of the Birmingham attacks.

In addition, the Provisional IRA was declared illegal by the then-Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, who then introduced the Prevention of Terrorism Act on 27 November.

This allowed police to arrest, detain and question individuals for up to seven days if suspected of planning or involvement with an act of terrorism on the British mainland.

Have the IRA admitted responsibility?

The Provisional IRA never officially accepted responsibility, while forensic examination of the bomb suggested the components were similar to those used by the IRA in other incendiary devices found across the Midlands.

It has been reported the alleged perpetrators were members of the IRA who were made immune from prosecution as a result of the 1997 Good Friday agreement.

Who were the Birmingham Six?

In 1975, six men were found guilty of carrying out the bombings.

Hugh Callaghan, Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, Billy Power, and Johnny Walker spent 16 years in prison before their convictions were finally overturned by the Court of Appeal in May 1991.

They were released on the basis of police fabrication of evidence, unreliability of scientific evidence and the suppression of evidence.

They collectively received millions of pounds in compensation.

Since his release, Paddy Hill has since campaigned alongside the families of those killed for the inquest into the bombing to be reopened.

What could this inquest find out?

The families of some of the those killed have claimed that authorities had prior knowledge of the double bombing before they were carried out.

Louise Hunt, the senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, said the decision to hold fresh inquests was made after the families put forward their claims in a series of recent review hearings.

Setting out her ruling, Ms Hunt said there was evidence of two tip-offs to the police before and on the day of the attack, which were not followed up.

They included an overheard comment made by men linked to the IRA that "Birmingham would be hit next week".

A witness reported the comment to police on 10 November but, Ms Hunt said, there was "no indication that the police took any active steps in response to it".

Birmingham Six member, Paddy Hill told reporters outside the Coroner's Court: "I've known the truth all along. It's about time the British public knew the truth."


21 November 1974

Bombs have devastated two central Birmingham pubs, killing 19 people and injuring over 180.Police have said they believe the Provisional IRA planted the devices in the Mulberry Bush and the nearby Tavern in the Town.

The explosions coincided with the return to Ireland of the body of James McDade, the IRA man who was killed in Coventry last week when the bomb he was planting blew up prematurely.
The two blasts were only seconds apart and happened at about 2030 GMT, when the bars were packed with mainly teenage drinkers.

Police attempted to clear both pubs, but the bombs went off only 12 minutes after a man with an Irish accent telephoned the Birmingham Post newspaper with a warning.The first attack was in the Mulberry Bush, which is located on the ground-floor of the 17-storey Rotunda office block.

The second device exploded 50-yards (45.7 m) away in an underground bar, the Tavern in the Town.Michael Willis, 18, was in the Tavern when the bomb went off.”I was going to put a record on the juke box when there was an explosion.

“There were bodies everywhere and I had to clamber over them to get out – the screaming and groaning from the injured was terrifying,” he said.Many of the injured were ferried to nearby hospital in taxis and private cars, and dozens of ambulances from all over the West Midlands were called in.

Assistant Chief Constable for West Midlands Police Maurice Buck said the carnage caused by the bombs was “disastrous and appalling”.


Birmingham pub bombings: Man arrested over 21 murders in 1974 attacks

The 65-year-old was arrested in Belfast by counter-terror officers under the Terrorism Act in connection with the 1974 atrocity.

Wednesday 18 November 2020 19:58, UK

A man has been arrested in connection with the murders of 21 people in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings, West Midlands Police has said.

The 65-year-old was arrested in Belfast by counter-terror officers under the Terrorism Act.

His home is being searched and he will be interviewed under caution at a police station in Northern Ireland.

In April 2019, an inquest jury found a botched IRA warning call led to the deaths of 21 people on 21 November 1974, when two bombs planted in the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town pubs exploded, and injured up to 220 others.

Although the IRA's protocol was to provide a 30 minute warning in advance of bomb attacks, reportedly the phone box which was intended to be used had been vandalised, delaying the time for the warning to be issued.

Just six minutes before the first bomb exploded at the Mulberry Bush, the Birmingham Post newspaper received a call from a man with a distinct Irish accent.

The caller stated: "There is a bomb planted in the Rotunda [the location of the Mulberry Bush] and there is a bomb in New Street [the location of the Tavern in the Town] at the tax office [the floor above the pub]."

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"This is Double X," they added, delivering the IRA code word.

A third bomb was discovered by a police officer later that day, but fortunately did not explode when he investigated the plastic bags it was concealed in with his truncheon.

As part of the inquest which concluded this April, a convicted IRA bomber, known as witness O, told Birmingham Coroner's Court that he had been given permission "six months ago" to reveal the names of those behind the bombings by the current head of the IRA in Dublin.

The names he revealed in court were not those of the six men who were wrongly convicted of the bombings in 1975 and sentenced to life imprisonment, before those convictions were eventually quashed in 1991.

Following the bombings, the Provisional IRA officially denied having conducted the attack and claimed that an internal investigation was being carried out to identify whether rogue members were responsible.

However, Michael Christopher Hayes, who has admitted to manufacturing bombs for the IRA, apologised for the atrocity in 2017.

He said the loss of lives was unintentional, and claimed to have personally defused a third bomb after becoming aware of the death toll from the initial blasts.

Wednesday's arrest comes just a month after Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would look into calls for a public inquiry into the bombings.

Ms Patel also wanted to visit Birmingham to meet campaigners, including Julie Hambleton, who is a member of Justice for the 21 and lost her 18-year-old sister Maxine in the pub bombings.

Responding to news of the arrest, Ms Hambleton called it "the most monumental event" in the criminal investigation into the bombings since the quashing of the convictions of the Birmingham Six in 1991.

When she was telephoned by a senior West Midlands Police officer with news of the arrest, she told of how she broke down in tears.

"I couldn't speak, I was just inconsolable and was just looking at the picture of Maxine," she said.

"It's welcome news. It's overwhelming news.

"It's tangible progress," she said, and "something we have been waiting a long time for".

"Having this development - whatever happens - does not in any way lessen our desire for a full public inquiry to be held," she said.

"There are wider issues which need to be examined, and so much that went wrong, like why six men were arrested for a crime they didn't commit."

She added: "How was it that for so long, after 21 people were blown up and more than 200 other innocent souls were injured, nobody was looking for the perpetrators?"

Nobody has ever successfully been brought to justice for the attack.

The false convictions of the so-called Birmingham Six, all men from Northern Ireland who had been living in Birmingham since the 1960s, ultimately led to the establishment of the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates alleged miscarriages of justice.

The men claimed that the police had forced them to sign false confessions through mistreatment, including physical violence - beatings and being burned with cigarettes - sleep deprivation, and threats against their families.


There are several ways of delivering the bomb to its intended target. Some of these methods include, the bombers hide a time bomb in something like a bag or holdall, walk into a pub and blend in with the crowd and draw as little attention to themselves as possible and will place the bomb in an unnoticeable spot, the bombers will usually leave at least 10 minutes before the bomb detonates so they are safe away from the blast and can give themselves time to get away. If the intention was causing harm to people then the bomb is usually laden with shrapnel to cause maximum casualties, if the intention is just to cause destruction then the bombers will usually leave between 45 minutes–1 hour before the bomb detonates so they can give the police a warning so that the building has enough time to be evacuated.

Early Loyalist bombs were quite crude and usually they would involve just lighting a fuse on a bomb, and either opening the door of a pub and simply throwing the bomb in and running away, or leaving the bomb at the front door, or sometimes the side of the building, then light the fuse and run away. Or by building a fragmentaton grenade which is small but heavy enough to throw through a public house window, this method was usually favoured by the Balcombe Street Gang who carried out several pub bombings in England in the mid-1970s.

The vast majority of pub bombings were carried out during Northern Ireland's "Troubles" conflict. The attacks were carried out by Irish republican and Ulster loyalist paramilitary groups, such as the Republican Provisional IRA (PIRA), Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and the Loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force UVF and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). There were some pub bombings carried out by other European urban guerrilla movements around the same period.

One of the first pub bombings of the Troubles in Northern Ireland was the PIRA bombing of the Bluebell Bar in the Sandy Row area of Belfast a staunchly loyalist, Protestant area of Belfast. Almost 30 people were injured in this bombing which occurred on the 20 September 1971. [1] A few weeks later the Loyalists carried out their first pub bombing when the UVF bombed what they believed to be a Republican owned pub called the Fiddler's House Bar on the 9 October 1971, to were hoping to hurt Catholics but instead killed a middle aged Protestant women & injured several others. [2]

The worst pub bombing in Northern Ireland happened early on in the conflict. The McGurk's Bar bombing which was carried out by the UVF claimed the lives of 15 civilians and 17 others were badly injured. [3] At the time it was the highest death toll from any attack in the North, until the PIRA's Warrenpoint ambush which killed 18 people in August 1979.

The worst pub bombing in the UK was the Birmingham pub bombings of the 21 November 1974. 21 people were killed and 182 others were injured many of the seriously. It was the PIRA's worst attack of the conflict in terms of civilian deaths and it was the highest death toll from a pub bombing during the conflict. [4]

The worst pub bombing attack in the Republic of Ireland during the conflict was the bombing at Kay's Tavern which occurred in Dundalk in County Louth. Two people were killed in this attack and 20 more injured. The Red Hand Commando (RHC) a UVF link group claimed they carried out the attack, it is believed [ by whom? ] the UVF linked group carried out the attack with help from rogue British security forces. [5]

During the 1970s, loyalists stepped up their bombing campaign against pubs and it was said they were helped allegedly by the security forces, in an alliance of UVF, UDR, UDA, RUC, RUC Special Branch, RUC Special Patrol Group and a small number of British soldiers. Between 1973 and 1977 they bombed a long list of pubs and other places.

Journalist Anne Cadwallader described some of the attacks in the 1974–75 period as being "the height of their campaign" which also included not just bomb attacks but shootings as well, known as "spray jobs" in Northern Ireland. The group these people belonged to was the infamous Glenanne gang.

  • 1 – 17 January 1974: Daniel Hughes was shot dead in a UVF gun attack on Boyle's Bar, Cappagh.
  • 2 – 14 February 1974: The Glenanne Gang attack Traynors bar.
  • 3 – 29 November 1974 – A loyalist bomb explodes at a bar called Hughe's Bar in Newry, fatally injuring John Mallon, and in another bomb attack on McArdles Bar, near Crossmaglen injuring Thomas McNamme who died less than a year later.
  • 4 – 10 February 1975 – The UVF attack Haydebs Bar and they killed Eugene Doyle and Arthur Mullholland.
  • 5 – 27 April 1975 – a loyalist gang attacked Bleary Dart's club and kill three people, Joe Toman, Brendan O'Hara and John Feeney were all killed playing a game of darts.
  • 6 – 4 September 1975 – The UVF attacked McCann's bar near Ballyagan killing Margaret Hale in the attack.
  • 7 – 22 August 1975 – The UVF destroys the "McGleenan's Bar". Many were injured and some lost legs and limbs in the attack, John McGleenan, Patrick Hughes and Thomas Morris were all murdered.
  • 8 – 19 December 1976 – The UVF planted a car bomb outside a pub in Dundalk and it exploded killing 2 people and injured 22 others.
  • 9 – 17 March 1976 – The UVF planted a large car bomb outside a bar called the Hillcrest Bar,on St. Patrick's Day. The UVF car bomb explodes, and killed Andrew Small, Patrick Baranard, Joe Kelly, James McChauey. Many more were injured.
  • 10 – 16 August 1976 – The Step Inn pub in Keady, Armagh is bombed by members of the Glenanne gang, killing Betty McDonald and Gerard McGleenan. [6]

The reason pub bombings were so common during the Troubles was because pubs were a regular place for people to gather socially in Ireland and Britain and they were easy targets to injure or kill a large number of people in one go. In other European countries a cafe or nightclub would have been more of a target for guerrillas rather than a public house.

Year Event Location Perpetrator(s) Deaths Injuries Comments
1971 Red Lion Pub bombing Belfast, Northern Ireland Provisional IRA 3 30 Part of IRA campaign
1971 McGurk's Bar bombing Belfast, Northern Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 15 17 Part of UVF campaign
1972 Benny's Bar bombing Belfast, Northern Ireland Ulster Freedom Fighters 2 12 Part of UFF/UDA campaign
1972 Capitol Bar in Belfast bombing Belfast, Northern Ireland Ulster Freedom Fighters 1 12 Part of UFF campaign. [7]
1972 Hole In The Wall pub attack County Donegal, Republic of Ireland Ulster Freedom Fighters 0 0 Part of UFF/UDA campaign. UDA members ordered everybody out of the pub & then badly damaged it with a grenade
1973 Stage Door public house bomb London, England Provisional IRA 0 1 Part of IRA England campaign
1973 North Star public house bomb London, England Provisional IRA 0 6 Part of IRA England campaign
1973 Cloughfin car bomb County Donegal, Republic of Ireland Ulster Freedom Fighters 1 0 Part of UFF/UDA campaign. A UFF member died when the bomb he was priming exploded prematurely outside Kirk's Bar in Cloughfin, Donegal. [8]
1974 Rose & Crown Bar bombing Belfast, Northern Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 6 18 Part of UVF campaign
1974 Guildford pub bombings Surrey, England Provisional IRA 5 65 Part of IRA England campaign. First attack carried out by the IRA's Balcombe Street Gang between October 1974 - December 1975
1974 Woolwich pub bombing London, England Provisional IRA 2 40 Part of IRA England campaign
1974 Talbot Arms pub bombing London, England Provisional IRA 0 8 Part of IRA England campaign
1974 Birmingham pub bombings Birmingham, England Provisional IRA 21 182 Part of IRA England campaign
1975 Mountainview Tavern bombing 1975 Belfast, Northern Ireland Provisional IRA 5 50 - 60 Part of IRA campaign
1975 1975 Conway's Bar attack Belfast, Northern Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 2 15 Part of UVF campaign
1975 Bayardo Bar attack Belfast, Northern Ireland Provisional IRA 5 50 - 60 Part of IRA campaign
1975 Strand Bar bombing Belfast, Northern Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 6 50 Part of UVF campaign
1975 Caterham Arms pub bombing Surrey, England Provisional IRA 0 33 Part of IRA England campaign
1975 Hare & Hounds pub bombing Kent, England Provisional IRA 0 2 Part of IRA England campaign [9]
1975 Biddy Mulligan's pub bombing London, England Ulster Freedom Fighters 0 5 Part of UDA/UFF campaign
1975 Donnelly's Bar and Kay's Tavern attacks Dundalk, Republic of Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 2 21 Part of UVF campaign (1st part of double attack)
1975 1975 Central Bar bombing County Down, Northern Ireland Irish National Liberation Army INLA 3 30 Carried out by INLA members using the covername "People's Republican Army"
1976 1976 Step Inn pub bombing County Armagh, Northern Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 2 20 Part of UVF campaign. One of a number attacks carried out by the Glenanne Gang around the Irish border between 1972 - 1977
1976 Hillcrest Bar bombing County Tyrone, Northern Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 4 50 Part of UVF campaign
1976 Castleblayney bombing County Monaghan, Ireland Ulster Volunteer Force 1 17 A car bomb exploded outside the Three Star Inn pub, Part UVF campaign
1979 Glasgow pub bombings Glasgow, Scotland Ulster Volunteer Force 0 8 Part of UVF campaign
1982 Droppin Well bombing Ballykelly, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland Irish National Liberation Army INLA 17 30 Bombing against British soldiers
1982 Pub Saint-Germain bombing Paris, France The Orly Group 0 2 Campaign by ASALA to "compel the Turkish Government to acknowledge publicly its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide in 1915, pay reparations, and cede territory for an Armenian homeland" [10]
1992 Sussex Arms pub bombing London, England Provisional IRA 1 7 Part of IRA England campaign
1999 Admiral Duncan (pub) nail bombing Soho, London, England Neo-Nazi David Copeland 3 70 Neo-Nazi terrorist hate campaign, many people injured badly from shrapnel & nails, some lost limbs.
2003 Mike's Place suicide bombing Tel Aviv, Israel Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades affiliated British citizens 3 50 Part of Second Intifada

Another attack unique to The Troubles in Ireland was paramilitaries shooting customers inside public houses. This tactic was mainly used by the Loyalist paramilitaries during the later stages of the conflict but sometimes Republicans carried them out as well. Usually the shooting would include a 3–4 member active service unit, one member acting as a getaway driver, one as a lookout and two as shooters, usually one of the shooters would use a machine gun or automatic rifle to spray the pub with gunfire, and the other shooter would use a smaller gun like a pistol or revolver to shoot any customer who tried to attack or stop the main shooter. Some instances of pub shootings include:


Birmingham Six released from prison

In the face of widespread questioning of their guilt, British authorities release the so-called 𠇋irmingham Six,” six Irish men who had been sent to prison 16 years earlier for the 1974 terrorist bombings of two Birmingham, England, pubs.

On November 21, 1974, two Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombs exploded in two separate Birmingham pubs, killing 21 people and injuring hundreds. The bombing attacks were part of the ongoing conflict between the British government and the IRA over the status of Northern Ireland. Days after the Birmingham bombings, the British government outlawed the IRA in all the United Kingdom, and authorities rushed to arrest and convict the IRA members responsible. Six Irish suspects were arrested and sent to interrogation, where four of them signed confessions. The IRA, which claimed responsibility for the Birmingham bombings, declared that the six were not members of its organization.

During the subsequent trial, the defendants maintained their innocence, claiming that police had beaten the confessions out of them. Prosecutors denied this and also came up with forensic evidence that apparently proved that the Birmingham Six had handled explosives shortly before their arrest. They were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

In 1985, the forensic evidence was exposed by scientists as unreliable at best, and in 1987 an appeals judge conceded that the same results could be obtained from testing people who recently touched playing cards or cigarette paper. However, it was not until March 1991, with people across Britain and Ireland calling for their release, that the Birmingham Six were freed after years in prison. Seven years later, a British court of appeals formally overturned their sentences, citing serious doubts about the legitimacy of the police evidence and the treatment of the suspects during their interrogation.


Birmingham pub bombings inquest is 'only the beginning'

On the evening of 21 November 1974, 18-year-old Maxine Hambleton was preparing to meet some friends in Birmingham city centre to give out handmade invitations to her housewarming party.

Maxine was a student at Sheldon Heath grammar school and had aspirations to be a lawyer. She had recently returned from a stint working with her friend Jane Davis in vineyards in France, where she had gone to improve her French.

That evening, her older brother Brian agreed to give her a lift to the pub in return for her ironing his shirt. “I will always remember her closing the car door and walking away from me, waving at me,” he said. “My joyful, carefree, upbeat, talented sister I would never see again.”

Brian and Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was killed in the Birmingham bombings, arrive at Birmingham civil justice centre on the first day of the inquest. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Maxine was one of 21 people killed that night when two IRA bombs ripped through two pubs in Birmingham city centre – the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town. She died alongside her friend Jane.

The description of Maxine as “larger than life, funny and intelligent” was one of many tributes to the victims read to the jury in the opening days of an inquest into their deaths, which on Friday found they were unlawfully killed after a botched IRA warning call.

The court heard how “practical joker” John Rowlands, 46, died alongside his friends Michael Beasley, James Caddick, Stan Bodman, Trevor Thrupp and John Clifford Jones as they stood in their favourite spot by the bar in the Mulberry Bush.

The jury was told how Neil “Tommy” Marsh, at 16 the youngest of the victims, had a zest for life and loved to draw, while his friend Paul Davies – who died aged 17 – was known for being unusually handsome and charming. Brothers Eugene and Desmond Reilly, 23 and 20, were out celebrating the pregnancy of Desmond’s wife.

Lynn Bennett, 18, and Stephen Whalley, 21, died at the Tavern in the Town while on a blind date, after meeting through a lonely hearts column in NME magazine. Whalley’s mother, who was too elderly and frail to attend the inquest, said in a statement that she found it too traumatic to remember her only son.

Six men were convicted for carrying out the bombings the following year. They became known as the Birmingham Six and the story of the gross miscarriage of justice and the campaign that led to their acquittal 16 years later has become almost more famous than the atrocity itself.

For years, many of the families continued to believe the six men were guilty. For Julie Hambleton, Maxine’s sister, it was only when she met Paddy Hill – one of the six – in 2011 that she was fully persuaded of their innocence. “Now he’s one of our staunchest supporters,” she told the Guardian as the six-week inquest was drawing to a close. “He’s a gentleman.”

A policeman standing outside the Mulberry Bush after the explosion on 22 November 1974. Photograph: BIRMINGHAM INQUESTS/HANDOUT/EPA

Although Brian Hambleton had been campaigning for years to get the criminal investigation into the bombings reopened, the Justice For the 21 campaign was created only in 2011. It was Andy Richards, a journalist at the Birmingham Mail who had what Julie describes as “the eureka moment” and pointed out that they had never had inquests.

In 2015, the families applied to Louise Hunt, the senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, to have the inquests reopened. Their lawyers argued that new hearings would serve as “a mechanism to seek truth, justice and accountability for the loss of their loved ones, to establish who was responsible, what was known, what went wrong and whether these losses could have been prevented”. Hunt agreed and ordered fresh inquests in 2016.

Proceedings were delayed further by disputes over whether the hearings should examine who might be responsible for the bombings. In January 2018, the high court overturned a ruling by the coroner Sir Peter Thornton that alleged perpetrators would not fall within the framework of the inquest. Thornton appealed against that decision the following July and the court of appeal ruled in his favour in September.

Relatives of the victims of the bombings gather around a memorial to the 21 killed in the grounds of Birmingham Cathedral. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

That was not the end of the legal wrangling. The group was rejected for legal aid multiple times, before some of the families were finally awarded a sum of money they say still leaves them £60,000 short. “We are not by any stretch of the imagination on an even playing field,” said Hambleton. “If we were, why is it that we need to go out on to the streets to raise urgently needed funds?”

The inquest has not been easy for the family. “What we’ve had to listen to and stay calm through, you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy,” said Julie. The worst moment came for her with the evidence of Kenneth Boffard, a professor of surgery who was working at Birmingham accident hospital on the night of the bombing. He explained to the court how a bomb blast could sear through liquid in the body faster than air, damaging internal organs.

“I just fell apart,” said Julie. “I collapsed and my sister walked me out and I just couldn’t breathe because I was so upset. What he had described was Maxine’s injuries. She was only 18 and she had her whole life ahead of her. It’s just such a waste of life.”

Although the scope of the the inquest did not formally include the consideration of who might have carried out the attack, in evidence given over a secure video link a convicted IRA bomber known as Witness O named four men he said were responsible for the bombings as Seamus McLoughlin, Mick Murray, James Gavin and Michael Hayes. McLoughlin, Murray and Gavin have since died.

It is unclear whether those responsible for the bombing are immune from prosecution under the Good Friday agreement. Hambleton argues that they are not because the crime was committed in England and not Northern Ireland.

“The inquest is only the beginning. This not the end,” she said. “An inquest isn’t for criminal proceedings. An inquest is just an inquest. However, what has come out, which is more than we could ever have hoped for, has just helped to further solidify our fight and determination. Because if Maxine was alive and one of us had been killed, she would have been screaming from the hilltops.”


21 November 1974

Bombs have devastated two central Birmingham pubs, killing 19 people and injuring over 180.Police have said they believe the Provisional IRA planted the devices in the Mulberry Bush and the nearby Tavern in the Town.

The explosions coincided with the return to Ireland of the body of James McDade, the IRA man who was killed in Coventry last week when the bomb he was planting blew up prematurely.
The two blasts were only seconds apart and happened at about 2030 GMT, when the bars were packed with mainly teenage drinkers.

Police attempted to clear both pubs, but the bombs went off only 12 minutes after a man with an Irish accent telephoned the Birmingham Post newspaper with a warning.The first attack was in the Mulberry Bush, which is located on the ground-floor of the 17-storey Rotunda office block.

The second device exploded 50-yards (45.7 m) away in an underground bar, the Tavern in the Town.Michael Willis, 18, was in the Tavern when the bomb went off.”I was going to put a record on the juke box when there was an explosion.

“There were bodies everywhere and I had to clamber over them to get out – the screaming and groaning from the injured was terrifying,” he said.Many of the injured were ferried to nearby hospital in taxis and private cars, and dozens of ambulances from all over the West Midlands were called in.

Assistant Chief Constable for West Midlands Police Maurice Buck said the carnage caused by the bombs was “disastrous and appalling”.


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