Gardai plea to interview IRA bomb maker as families boycott Birmingham pub blasts` inquests

An Garda Síochána has been urged to interview self-confessed IRA bomb maker Michael Hayes by lawyers acting for the Birmingham pub bombings inquests.

Jul 27, 2017

An Garda Síochána has been urged to interview self-confessed IRA bomb maker Michael Hayes by lawyers acting for the Birmingham pub bombings inquests. Earlier this month Mr Hayes, 69, said he accepted “collective responsibility” for the 1974 double bombing but did not know who planted the devices which killed 21 people. A pre-inquest review in Birmingham on Thursday (July 27) was told by lawyers for coroner Peter Thornton QC that “a request to the Irish Gardai” to formally speak to Mr Hayes had been made. Peter Skelton QC, counsel to the inquests, added: “We`re discussing our involvement in any interview with West Midlands Police.” The force also confirmed in the hearing that it was “considering an application for Mr Hayes to be interviewed”. Footage of the interview has already been requested. The news came as the campaign group Justice4the21, whose work brought about the fresh inquests, announced it was boycotting the hearings. In a statement, campaigners said they will “no longer participate” after Mr Thornton ruled out naming alleged suspects in evidence at the inquest. The group said its decision was based on the fact that material held by Devon and Cornwall Police, who reviewed the original criminal investigation, had not been disclosed to the families. The relatives also made reference to the recent BBC interview with Mr Hayes, saying “it remains unclear how the information provided by PIRA (Provisional IRA) bomb-maker Mick Hayes will be investigated and by whom”. It added: “Until the material held by the coroner relating to the investigation by the Devon and Cornwall Police is disclosed, we can no see point in endorsing through our presence, and through the presence of our legal team, this inquest.” Lawyers for ten of the bereaved families, KRW Law-LLP, said they would try to crowd-fund a judicial review of the coroner`s ruling on what is known as the perpetrator issue. In a statement it said: “We made this request on the basis that we asked the coroner to disclose to all the interested persons – including our clients – the material he examined from the Devon and Cornwall Police investigation of the bombings and the subsequent West Midlands Police inquiry. “The coroner relied on this material in part to rule out of scope the issue of perpetrators, which would include the recent comment by self-confessed PIRA bomb-maker Mick Hayes.” It concluded: “As this is the final opportunity for an independent human rights compliant investigation into the bombings, this inquest must be as inclusive as possible, otherwise our clients fear it will deliver only what is already in the public domain. “Important issues such as perpetration of the bombings will be allowed to remain a matter not subject to public scrutiny and remain at the fringes of society subject to myth and rumour for years to come. “This position would be most detrimental to our clients and to wider society.” The legal team representing the family of brothers Eugene and Desmond Reilly were present for the latest inquest review hearing. Also present was the youngest victim Jane Davis`s brother Brian Davis, from Ilkley, near Leeds. He spoke of his “dismay” the other families had decided not to attend but understood why. Mr Davis, who left Birmingham in the 1980s, “absolutely” welcomed the decision to ask the Gardai to interview Mr Hayes. He told the coroner: “It seems bizarre to me that journalists and serving MPs can track down these people and name them publicly, on TV, but the police and judiciary fail to be able to do the same thing.”

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