Victims’ families react angrily to Birmingham pub bombing suspect’s apology

Update 9pm: Families of the Birmingham pub bombing victims have been reacting to an interview tonight in which self confessed IRA bomber and suspect for the bombings Michael Christopher Hayes has said he is sorry innocent people were killed.

Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine died in the 1974 atrocity, told BBC news that Mr Hayes had admitted nothing.

"He said he does not want to be an informer, he’d rather die? Oh, really? So he’s more than happy to help and take collective responsibility for those who were murdered and unarmed, innocents... but he won’t tell us who actually did it and also dismisses himself as being party to it?

Paul Rowlands, who lost his father John, went on to say Mr Hayes’s comments merely added to the rumours around the case.

"I’m not convinced of his role in the pub bombing," he told the BBC. "There’s information we’ve seen that can’t be made public that contradicts what he says.

Another relative, Brian Hambleton, suggested Mr Hayes was avoiding answering direct questions.

"I’d love to meet this man. If he is a brave soldier, he’d meet us if he had nothing to hide. It’s obvious in that interview, he’s avoiding all questions."

Earlier: A self confessed IRA bomb maker who was one of two men named in a landmark Granada TV programme in 1990 as one of those responsible for the Birmingham Pub bombings has issued an apology today.

In a wide ranging interview with BBC NI Michael Christopher Hayes said he was sorry innocents were killed.

21 people were killed when bombs exploded in two Birmingham pubs on November 21, 1974.

In the BBC interview 69-year-old Mr Hayes, dressed in combat fatigues, again refused to say who planted the bombs but said he was speaking out to give "the point of view of a participant".

Mr Hayes now lives in Dublin.

In the BBC interview Mr Hayes repeatedly refused to comment on who planted the bombs or elaborate on his own role but said he was taking "collective responsibility" for all the IRA’s actions in England adding that he was "a participant in the IRA’s activities in Birmingham".

"It was not the intention of the IRA to kill innocent people. That wasn’t meant. It wouldn’t have been done if that was the case."

"We were horrified when we heard because it was not intended. I personally defused the third bomb."

The former IRA volunteer then said he was sorry for for the hurt caused.

Mr Hayes went on to tell the BBC he would not be attending any inquest into the bombings.

"I would not go along to it. Why should I? What reason would I have to go there? I am just kind of giving this interview.

"That is sufficient. I’m not going back to England."

Concluding Hayes told the BBC he had a clear conscience.

"Very much so," he said. "I can sleep at night. Because I am not a murderer."

Read and watch the full interview here.

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