Northern Ireland

NI political reaction to Birmingham pub bombing apology

Victims
Image caption Twenty-one people died in two explosions in Birmingham in November 1974

Northern Ireland's political parties have been reacting after a former IRA man who said he was part of the group responsible for the Birmingham pub bombings issued an apology.

Michael Christopher Hayes is a self-confessed republican bomb-maker.

He said he was sorry that 21 innocent people died in the attack in 1974.

Bombs exploded in two pubs in Birmingham, in what was one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.

Sinn Féin statement

"What occurred in Birmingham was wrong and should not have happened and Sinn Féin extends our sympathy to the families of those killed and injured.

"The comments from Michael Hayes are a personal matter for him but they do underline the need for a comprehensive process to deal with the legacy of the past.

"All victims of the conflict have a right to the truth and Sinn Féin supports the process as agreed in the Stormont House Agreement.

"Our focus as a political party for almost three decades has been on building and defending the peace process. Sinn Féin is absolutely determined that the failures of the past are never repeated."

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP MP

"It's difficult at this stage to know whether there is validity to what this man is claiming.

"But given the seriousness of the crimes involved and the large number of innocent people who lost their lives, I think it is now vital that the opportunity is now given to the police to question this man.

"I think the police in Great Britain should apply for the extradition of this individual from the Irish republic so he can be questioned about what he has done."

Dolores Kelly, SDLP MLA

"This apology will bring little comfort to the families searching for justice.

"The case for truth, justice and reconciliation here is just as pertinent today, as it was 40 years ago.

"I urge the PSNI to follow up on the comments made alongside the apology."

Doug Beattie, Ulster Unionist Party MLA

"What Michael Hayes has done is stick two fingers up to the families, the justice system and the search for a legacy solution.

"I call on the UK government to seek [his] extradition from the Irish Republic to face questions about his role in the Birmingham bombing.

"I also ask the Dublin government to commit to investigating these shocking admissions from both men and take some action as opposed to being merely a passive bystander."

Stephen Farry, Alliance Party MLA

"There is now a need for police to follow up these comments and to further investigate these atrocities.

"It is also incumbent upon Michael Hayes to name those he was working with when these bombs were planted.

"These revelations further reinforce the ongoing need for justice and truth recovery to always remain on the agenda."

Jim Allister, Traditional Unionist Voice leader

"Hayes... should be extradited to face charges of conspiracy to cause explosions.

"His admissions are sufficient to warrant such action and it would be beholden on the BBC to cooperate with such an investigation.

"A European Arrest Warrant should be issued for his arrest."

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