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IRA Birmingham bomb victim's sister urges Gerry Adams to help victims of terrorism 'move forward'

The sister of a victim of the IRA Birmingham pub bombings has rejected condemnation of the attack from Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams urging him to use his influence to help her and others in their fight for justice and truth.

Julie Hambleton was speaking on the BBC Stephen Nolan show after the outgoing Sinn Fein president addressed the 1974 atrocity in an interview on Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show.

Julie’s sister Maxine was among 21 people killed when two bombs detonated in Birmingham city centre just after 8pm. Over 200 people were injured in the attack. 

Six people - known as the Brimingham six - were later wrongly imprisoned for the attack and spent almost 17 years in jail before they were entirely exonerated.

Asked what the moral difference was between the IRA bombings and last year’s Manchester Arena attack, Mr Adams said he had “no compunction” in condemning either and had done so in the past.

“The Birmingham pub bombings were wrong.

“I would have wished no one, no one, had been killed or injured in the course of the conflict.

“The IRA have gone, I did defend the IRA, but I was also critical of the IRA. I don’t condone everything the IRA did.”

Julie Hambleton said it was the first time she had heard Mr Adams condemn the Birmingham pub bombings.

“Why now?” she asked.

“Why didn’t he condemn it in 1974 when it happened or in 1975, 1976, 1991, when the Birmingham Six were released ... they were allowed to sit and rot in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.”

“He must have an ulterior motive. Gerry Adams doesn’t do or say anything without having an ulterior motive.

“What has he done for the victims of terrorism?”

She added: “We are the surviving relatives of 21 people who were killed in cold blood for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

“We’re going into our 44th year where we are still having to fight for truth, justice and accountability.

“It is within his sphere of influence to to encourage the IRA to tell us if they did it, who did it, why they did it and provide the information so we can move forward.”

Mr Adams, who has been president of Sinn Fein since 1983 is to be replaced by Mary Lou McDonald later this month. He said the republican movement turned away from violence because “we were able to create an alternative”.

“When you can put forward an alternative then sensible people will embrace that,” he added.

“No one sensible wants to be either supporting or part of armed action. You can only make moral judgements about people when you walk in their shoes and thankfully we are talking about history.

“We are talking about something that has passed.

“How could anyone - even if it is accidental -  stand over the killing of a child or stand over the killing of a civilian?

“It’s a different matter entirely if it’s soldier v soldier.

“But in the awfulness and horror of war you can not stand over some of those incidents.”

In an extended interview Gerry Adams discussed how he missed Martin McGuinness “every single day”,  how Brexit would be a “disaster,” his legacy and on how Tony Blair made a significant contribution to peace.

When asked if he had failed in his campaign to unite Ireland he responded “no” and said if he lived long enough, he would see a united Ireland.

Asked if it was worth keeping to the abstentionist policy given the possibility Sinn Fein taking their Westminster seats could have a major say on British and Irish matters Mr Adams said he could not “betray” those that voted for his party.

“People always ask ‘what will your legacy be?’,” he added “I won’t be around.”

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