British police arrested a man on Wednesday in Northern Ireland in connection with the 1974 bombings of two pubs that killed 21 people and injured more than 200 in Birmingham, England.
Officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, working with colleagues from the Northern Ireland Police Service, have arrested a 65-year-old man at his home in Belfast, West Midlands Police said. The man was arrested under UK Terrorism Act and his home searched, authorities said.
The arrest came days before the 46th anniversary of the two explosions of November 21, 1974 which tore apart the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs in the city of Birmingham. The explosions were one of the worst attacks by the Irish Republican Army during its armed campaign to get Britain out of Northern Ireland.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said a month ago she would consider conducting a public inquiry into the bombings.
Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine died in the bombings, said the arrest was “the most monumental event” in the criminal investigation into the attacks since the murder convictions 1975 six Irishmen, commonly known as the Birmingham Six, were expelled in 1991.
Hambleton said she broke down in tears when a senior West Midlands Police official called her to tell her of the arrest.
“I couldn’t speak. I was just inconsolable and just looking at Maxine’s picture, ”she says. “It’s good news. This is overwhelming news. “
Hambleton, who is part of an advocacy group called Justice for the 21, said that whatever happens to the arrest “does not diminish our desire for a full public inquiry.”
She said there were “broader questions” that need to be considered, including “why six men were arrested for a crime they did not commit”. “How come for so long, after 21 people were blown up and over 200 other innocent souls were injured, no one was looking for the perpetrators?”
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