Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 21, 2014
Mulberry Pub after the bombing

Mulberry Pub after the bombing

November 21, 1974: Two Birmingham, England pubs are bombed. Both bars were located in central Birmingham with the Mulberry Bush near the Rotunda and the Tavern in the Town on New Street. The explosions went off at 8.25 and 8.27 PM. Ten people were killed at the Mulberry Bush and eleven at the Tavern in the Town. Another 182 people were injured in the blasts. A third bomb was placed outside a bank on Hagley Road but did not detonate. It was the most serious incident in Great Britain since World War II and had the most people injured since the war.

The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) was immediately blamed. They denied responsibility for the bombings. A small militant group called Red Flag 74 took credit for the violence but their claim was not given credence. Five Belfast born Roman Catholics and a sixth man born in Derry were arrested. Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power, and John Walker were brought in. All but Callaghan had been traveling toward Belfast to attend the funeral of James McDade, an IRA member. They left from the New Street Station shortly before the explosions went off. Callaghan had seen them off. They were detained at Heysham where Special Branch had set up a stop and search team.

On the morning of November 22, the Birmingham Criminal Investigation Department took the men from Morecambe where forensic tests had been run. The men were deprived of food and sleep and were beaten. Four of them confessed to the bombings under duress while Hill and Hunter never signed documents. Their trial began on June 9, 1975 and they were charged with murder and conspiracy to cause explosions. Three others were charged with conspiracy. Forensics were inconclusive. Legal arguments were presented to Mr Justice Bridge about the unreliability of the confessions, but they were deemed admissible. The six men were found guilty and sentences to 21 life sentences.

After a number or appeals, the Court of Appeal overturned the convictions as unsafe and unsatisfactory on March 14, 1991. The six men were later awarded compensation ranging from £840,000 to £1.2 million. The IRA has maintained they were not involved. Thirty years after the events, Joe Cahill, a former IRA chief, said the IRA played some role and Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein, said he had regrets about the killings. Patrick Hill, in April 2012, said the Six knew the names of the real bombers and claimed it was common knowledge among the upper ranks of the IRA and the British government.

This atrocity was one of the terrible horrors of the troubles stemming from Northern Ireland and those who caused It merit the most severe condemnation.

We believe that the six Irishmen condemned to life Imprisonment for the bombings are innocent. Their lives and the lives of their families can be added to the long list of Innocent victims of those diabolic explosions.

Power alleges that he was interviewed by Birmingham police between 7.a.m. and 9.a.m. Friday morning. He describes the beating, punching, kicking, vocal abuse he received.

The trial then. really rested on the admissibility of the police evidence, verbal statements and the “confessions.” – all from The Birmingham Framework by Fr. Denis Faul and Fr. Raymond Murray

Also on this day: Missing Link – In 1953, the Piltdown Man was declared a hoax.
North, to Alaska – In 1942, the Alaskan Highway’s completion was celebrated.
Senator Rebecca – In 1922, the first female US Senator took her seat.
Revolting – In 1910, the Revolt of the Lash took place.

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