Wednesday 14 July 2021 / 8:14 AM Louise Haigh

Birmingham pub bombing families condemn “abhorrent” amnesty proposals

Birmingham pub bombing families condemn “abhorrent” amnesty proposals

Loved ones of the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings have warned the Prime Minister that an amnesty for terrorist atrocities carried out during the Troubles would be “abhorrent”.

Reports overnight suggested the Government were preparing to grant an amnesty, or ‘statute of limitations’ covering all offences carried out during the conflict including republican and loyalist atrocities. The Secretary of State will make a statement in the House of Commons today outlining the way forward.

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine, was murdered in Birmingham in 1974 along with twenty other people – cases which remains unsolved – has warned the Prime Minister that the Government risks losing sight of his “moral, ethical, and judicial backbone”. She said they had failed to have “even the common decency to discuss this with victims’ families and survivors”.

Julie Hambleton has led the Birmingham 21 campaign for justice for those murdered in the Birmingham Pub bombings.

She warned about the impact on deterrence, saying “how many more innocent souls would the IRA would have murdered had they known in future…they would be granted an amnesty?”

Commenting on the letter, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Louise Haigh MP said:

“This Government gave victims their word – they would deliver the proper investigations denied to victims and their families for so long.

To tear up that pledge would be insulting, and to do so without the faintest hint of consultation with those who lost loved ones would be staggeringly insensitive.

The Prime Minister should look victims’ families in the eye, and explain why he wants to close the book on their cases, and why they have been the last to be told about these proposals?”


Notes to Editors

Letter from Birmingham families:

Dear Prime Minister,

Re: Northern Ireland ‘Amnesty’ Legislation 

At what point did your government lose all sight of its moral, ethical and judicial backbone?

According to media reports, the government are preparing legislation to address crimes committed during The Troubles, which would:

“allow people who were involved in the conflict to testify about what happened without fear of prosecution, giving closure to families of those who were killed.”

Tell me Prime Minister, if one of your loved ones was blown up beyond recognition, where you were only able to identify your son or daughter by their fingernails because their face had been burned so severely from the blast and little of their remains were left intact, would you be so quick to agree to such obscene legislation being implemented?

You would do everything in your power to find the murderers and bring them to justice, which is exactly what we campaign for every day.

Can you imagine how many more innocent souls the IRA would have murdered if they had known that in the future, no matter how many thousands they killed and injured, it would not matter because they would be pardoned, granted an amnesty and let off Scot free?

How is this considered to be a deterrent for any future terrorist organisations? What your government is proposing is that no matter what city terrorists decide to wreak death and destruction upon, do not worry because the British government will let you walk away free without any fear of retribution of prosecution.

To add insult to injury, your government has taken it upon themselves to try and get this legislation through ‘under the radar’, where you have not even had the basic common decency to discuss this with the victims’ families and survivors of the horrendous atrocities that were committed against so many across Northern Ireland, England and beyond.

Please tell me, what is it about the lives and mass deaths of our loved ones that you appear to not have the courage to face the families to discuss such abhorrent ideas with?

Our sister, Maxine Hambleton was blown up alongside 20 other innocent souls, in the Birmingham Pub Bombings 1974. Our mother had difficulty trying to identify her young, intelligent, beautiful daughter because her injuries from the blast was so severe there was not much left to identify.

Yet, your government want to allow the cowards who committed this heinous crime to walk free and where one of your team is pontificating, that by allowing the murderers to admit their crimes this will bring us ‘closure’.

Before any decision for any legislation is discussed regarding The Troubles, such ideas must be discussed with the families impacted directly, because it is clear your government have no idea of how The Troubles has affected so many people and will continue to do so, until truth, justice and accountability is seen to be done.

Julie Hambleton