Northern Ireland

Birmingham Six member Paddy Hill says apology 'insult'

Paddy Hill
Image caption Paddy Hill spent 17 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of involvement in the Birmingham pub bombings

One of the six men wrongly convicted of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings has said an apology from a man who says he was part of the group who planted the bombs was insulting to those bereaved.

Paddy Hill was speaking after Michael Hayes told the BBC he took collective responsibility for the attack.

The Birmingham Six spent 17 years in prison before their convictions were quashed in 1991.

Mr Hill said Hayes speaking out earlier would have done nothing for them.

Explosions at two Birmingham city centre pubs - the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in then Town - killed 21 people in November 1974.

Mr Hill said that in the aftermath of the attacks, an IRA spokesman said that if any of their members were found to have been involved in the bombings they would be court martialled.

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Media captionMichael Hayes said he was speaking out to give "the point of view of a participant"

"That's why they all [the real bombers] denied it when they went home," he said.

"They were interrogated. They all denied that they had anything to do with the bombings. It was two years later when they actually found out the truth."

He said that if Hayes had handed in himself in at that time it would not have helped the Birmingham Six.

"No, it wouldn't have done, because we'd already been convicted," Mr Hill said.

"It wouldn't have helped us at all. All the British establishment would've said is that it was an IRA plot to get us out."

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Image caption Ten people were killed in the Mulberry Bush explosion

Mr Hill described Hayes' apology as "ridiculous".

"That to me is an insult to the people, the families of those who are dead, after all this time," he said.

"I'm just surprised that coming out at this stage 40-odd years later and admitting it, I just don't understand why he's done it now.

"But nonetheless I welcome it, at least it might do something to stop the whispering campaign that it was all about the Birmingham Six from within the British establishment."

Hayes, who now lives in south Dublin, refused to reveal who planted the bombs in the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town but said he was speaking out to give "the point of view of a participant".

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Media captionFamilies of those killed said that Hayes' apology was gutless

He claimed the bombs had not been intended to kill people, and that he was sorry innocent people were killed.

Relatives of those killed have rejected the apology as "gutless and spineless".

An inquest into the bombings has been re-opened following a campaign by victims' families, who feel they have been denied justice and that their loved ones have been forgotten.

West Midlands Police said their investigation remained open and they would respond to "any new significant information to bring those responsible to justice".

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