A MEMORIAL event held near the site of the Birmingham pub bombings saw schoolchildren honouring the 21 people killed in the attack which took place 45 years ago.
Held in front of Birmingham's New Street Station, close to where the two bombs went off at The Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town pubs on November 21, 1974, the emotional event was organised by the Birmingham Irish Association, led by Maurice Malone.
It saw the families of the 21 victims brought together, as well as representatives from across the community in Birmingham.
Opened by Gavin Schaffer from the University of Birmingham, the event included a reading from Birmingham-based poet Benjamin Zephaniah, by one of his brothers.
Following the speeches, the choir from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School in Tile Cross sang the first of two songs, before the names of the 21 bombing victims were read aloud.
One by one, 21 schoolchildren came forward with an illuminated candle to greet a representative from each family.
Each candle was then placed under one of three memorial trees that were erected last year, on the 44th anniversary of the attack, to honour the victims.
The leaves of the sculptured metal trees bear the name and age of each person that died as a result of the bombings.
Despite the time that has passed since the attack, the killers have yet to be brought to justice.
An inquest, which took place in April 2019, found that an “inadequate” IRA warning call caused or contributed to the deaths, and that there were no errors in the response of the police to the attacks.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, who was among those in attendance for the memorial service, used the opportunity to call for a public enquiry into the bombings.
He said: “We come together with the victims’ families, many of whom are here today, but also with the people of Birmingham.
“Our city remains wounded by what happened on that fateful night.
“I know that’s still the case as since I’ve been Mayor I have joined the families on this day every year, and each year the sadness and anger grows that justice has still not yet been served.”
He added: “Those who lost their lives were all younger than I am now. With so much to look forward to, their dreams and aspirations were snatched away in an instant.
“45 years on, and this remains the largest unsolved murder in the United Kingdom’s recent history. As far as we know, the perpetrators of this heinous crime are left free to live their lives. The 21 killed when the bombs went off at the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in the Town are not.
“Nothing we say or do can bring those innocent victims back, but we can still try to achieve justice for their families, and for a city that has many unanswered questions.
“Of course we had the coroner’s inquest earlier this year which was unable to provide answers as to who the perpetrators were – despite ruling that the 21 were killed unlawfully. “An active police investigation remains open.
“But we face another anniversary where we are still without closure for the families, a situation I have discussed with the last three Home Secretaries.
“Against that background I have now come to the conclusion that the time is right for a panel-led, open public inquiry into the pub bombings.”