Birmingham pub bombings memorial offers 'peace and hope'

Image caption,
The memorial, close to Birmingham New Street Station, is designed to look like trees with the names of the 21 people killed carved into the leaves

A memorial to remember the victims of the Birmingham pub bombings offers "peace and hope", the city's Irish Association said.

Three steel trees were unveiled outside New Street Station exactly 44 years after the attack on 21 November, 1974.

The sculpture's "leaves" bear the names of each of the 21 victims.

Campaign group Justice4the21 said the unveiling was a "multi-faith event" as the "bombs didn't discriminate and neither do we."

Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine was killed in the bombings, said: "We are just overwhelmed with what has been produced for the memory of our loved ones.

"It is also part of a resolution to help us to heal the heart of Birmingham."

Image caption,
Hundreds gathered to see the sculpture unveiled

A minute's silence was held around the sculpture as it was officially unveiled at 20:17, the time the first bomb was detonated.

The two bombs which ripped through the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs were widely believed to be the work of the IRA.

Birmingham Irish Association, a charity providing welfare and cultural services to the Irish community who are behind the memorial, want the tribute to show that people "can recover from devastating events".

Its chief executive Maurice Malone told the BBC: "Obviously 21 people lost their lives that night. I think the Irish community died that night too.

"This is our opportunity to recognise those people who lost their lives that night, but also offer some peace and hope.

"To see the trees finally in place, in the setting, in the shadow of the two pubs is breathtaking really."

Image caption,
Twenty-one people died and 182 were injured when two bombs exploded in Birmingham in 1974

The project has been three years in the making.

Andhura Patel, the artist behind the sculpture, said: "I wanted to create something that was poignant and did justice to the memory of people who were killed, but also to inform the younger generation about what happened."

A plaque underneath the trees reads: "This memorial stands as a testament to our grief, in the hope that the 21 will be ever rooted in this place; and as a symbol of peace and unity at the gateway of our city."

Justice4the21 said in a tweet: "We have no interest in the heritage of the bombers, merely that they are caught, prosecuted & (hopefully) sentenced accordingly."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

No-one has been brought to justice for the attacks, but a recent ITV documentary by journalist John Ware identified two suspects.

Full inquests, lasting nine weeks, will begin in February next year.

It comes after the families said they would not appeal against a ruling not to name suspects in the hearings.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Ten people were killed in the Mulberry Bush explosion

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