“I hated all Irish people”

Posted By: July 05, 2018

Allison Morris. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, July 5, 2018

Julie Hambleton and her mother Margaret Smith as families of some the 21 victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings visit Belfast on Wednesday.

Margaret Smith mother of Maxine Hambleton as representative of the 21 victims of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings visit Belfast.Picture by Hugh Russell.

Maxine Hambleton (18) who died in the 1974 Birmingham bombing.

 Blast: The wreckage of the Mulberry Bush pub in Birmingham after an IRA bomb exploded

Relatives of some of the 21 people who were murdered in the Birmingham pub bombings.
Margaret Smith says she hated all Irish people following the murder of her 18-year-old daughter in the IRA bombing of Birmingham in 1974.

Maxine Hambleton had been in the Tavern in the Town bar and died at the scene from her injuries. More than 180 people were injured in the attacks on two bars.

Along with her son and daughter Brian and Julie Hamilton, Paul Bodman, Bill Craig and George Jones who all lost loved ones in the atrocity that claimed 21-lives, Margaret was in Belfast yesterday to meet Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill yesterday.

The relatives have been campaigning for justice since the court of appeal released six men in 1991(known as the Birmingham Six) who had been wrongly accused of carrying out the attacks.

“I hated the sight of anyone Irish if I even heard the accent I wanted to put one on them,” the straight-talking 84-year-old said.

“I’ve been here two or three times now, and we couldn’t ask for more respect than we get, I’d come every week if I could.

“During the trial when the police came and said to me ‘do you want to see the six men,’ I said no at first and then I decided I would.

“I pointed at Paddy Hill and said ‘that’s him, that’s who killed my daughter’ since then I’ve meet Paddy Hill, I’ve talked to Paddy Hill and I believe him – I’d rather believe him than the police because the police were just down and out rats.

“All we want is truth and justice. You hear of people who fight for money; if the government said to me we will give you a million pounds, I’d say you know what you can do with it.

“How could you spend that money? All we want is the truth, but I don’t believe we’ll ever get it.

“Maxine was just a normal teenager, all right one minute and mad the next.

“Julie keeps praising her up, and I’ve said don’t do that, tell the truth, she was a normal teenager, a pain at times but we loved her.”

The families campaigned for a fresh inquest, having been turned down for legal aid and having to fight with the security agencies for disclosure, the inquest is now scheduled to start in September.

Kevin Winters, whose firm KRW Law have been representing a number of Birmingham families for the last five years, said the visit to Northern Ireland during the ongoing legacy consultation “was an important one.”

“The families would say this is important in terms of giving them profile to their case; the other point is the Birmingham families are experiencing the same retraumatizing process that hundreds of families have already gone through in this part of the world.

“The various institutions to deal with the past essentially excluded families from the Republic of Ireland and England and it’s important to highlight that with the senior politicians they are in Belfast to meet,” he added.

Julie Hambleton, a sister of Maxine, has spearheaded much of the justice campaign for the Birmingham families.

“It’s almost as if the victims, families, and survivors of terrorism in England have literally been forgotten by the government,” she said.

“It’s as if the British authorities wish they could bury us next to our dead and how dare we raise our heads above the parapet.

“Even though we are not political they have made it political and continually try and block us at every turn, when fighting for our inquest we had West Midlands Police, MI5, and MI6, the Federation of Police all arguing for us not to be granted an inquest – you have to ask why what is it they are


“When the Birmingham Six had their conviction squashed, no-one said let’s have a new inquest, let’s go looking for evidence, let’s catch the murderers, we have had to push for all that ourselves.”