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Ex-IRA man ‘accepts collective responsibility’ for Birmingham pub bombs

Michael Christopher Hayes said two men planted the bombs but refused to name them or say if he was one of them.

A self-confessed IRA bomber has said he accepts “collective responsibility” for the Birmingham pub bombs.

Michael Christopher Hayes, 69, said he was in Birmingham on the night of the 1974 attacks but declined to comment on whether he was directly involved.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Hayes also reiterated an apology he made to the families of the 21 victims in a newspaper interview last year.

He also repeated a claim that he defused a third bomb that had been planted in the city once he heard of the carnage the first two explosions had caused.

He also stood by his refusal not to give evidence to the forthcoming inquest into the Birmingham bombs.

Mr Hayes, who was named as a suspect in the Birmingham attacks in a TV documentary in 1990, repeatedly refused to comment when asked if he had any direct involvement in the attacks.

The former IRA man, who lives in south Dublin, said two men planted the bombs, but he refused to name them or say if he was one of them.

“No comment,” he said when asked.

Mr Hayes said: “I was a participant in the IRA’s activities in Birmingham.”

Relatives of the 21 victims of the IRA Birmingham pub bombings met Home Secretary Amber Rudd in 2016 (Yui Mok/PA)

He added: “I take full collective responsibility for all operations carried out in the West Midlands. I take collective responsibility for every IRA operation carried out in England, let alone Birmingham.”

On the night of November 21 1974, the IRA planted two bombs which ripped through the Tavern in the Town and nearby Mulberry Bush pubs, killing 21 and injuring 182 others.

The botched police investigation into the attacks led to the wrongful convictions of the Birmingham Six – one of the most infamous miscarriages of justice in British legal history.

Billy Power, Paddy Hill and Hugh Callaghan - three members of the wrongly convicted Birmingham Six. (David Westing/PA)

No-one else has been convicted of the attacks.

Asked what his message to the victims was, Mr Hayes said: “My apologies and my heartfelt sympathy to all of you for a terrible tragic loss that you have been put through.

“And for all these years they have been trying to find closure I hope at last God will be merciful and bring you closure.

“And I apologise not only for myself but I apologise for all active republicans who had no intention of hurting anybody and sympathise with you.”

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the IRA pub bombings in 1974 (Yui Mok/PA)

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was killed, dismissed the apology.

“An apology? Please, don’t insult us,” she told the BBC.

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