Families of Birmingham pub bombings victims receive apology over Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

The armoured Raging Bull was a central part of Thursday's Opening Ceremony- but many viewers missed the tribute to the 21 victims of the IRA atrocity whose names were written on its head. Credit: PA Images

Families of the Birmingham pub bombing victims have received an apology after their loved ones names' were featured in the 2022 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony without their consent.

The huge Raging Bull was a central part of Thursday's opening ceremony- but many viewers missed the tribute to the 21 victims of the IRA atrocity whose names were written on its head.

The mechanical Bull, which was designed to reflect the city's history, stands at 10 metres tall and 2.5 tonnes in weight and can emit smoke and cry tears of blood. Julie Hambleton, whose sister Maxine was killed in the attack, said it was a 'huge missed opportunity' to highlight relatives' ongoing 48-year fight for justice, given that more than a billion viewers tuned into the opening ceremony at Alexander Stadium.

In a tribute the names of the 21 victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings were featured on the head of the Raging Bull Credit: PA Images

In a letter, organisers reportedly admitted that not involving the families had been a mistake.Organisers said their "Intentions were honourable and respectful" but apologised unreservedly' for not seeking families' permission beforehand, the BBC reports.

It is reported the artistic director of the opening ceremony contacted families to apologise.In November 1974, IRA terrorists targeted the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town, killing 21 people and injuring 182 others.

21 people were killed in the 1974 bombings and more than 180 people were injured. Credit: ITV News

Campaign group Justice4the21, made up of friends and relatives of the bombing victims, continue to demand a public enquiry so that the terrorists responsible for the attack are brought to justice.Since the release of the wrongly convicted ‘Birmingham Six’, no further charges have been brought against anyone and West Midlands Police say their investigation into the bombings is still ongoing.Campaigner Julie Hambleton said that while she was 'touched' by the tribute, the decision not to inform the families was "an incredibly sad and distressing oversight."

She said she, and many other bereaved families, "didn’t know anything" about the planned tribute at the Commonwealth Games opener and came across it by "pure fluke".

Ms Hambleton, speaking a day after the ceremony told Birmingham Live: "None of the families were aware of it.

"It’s only because one of our supporters put out a message on social media that we were able to capture it.

"I can’t begin to tell you how upset I was yesterday. I was watching, all the families were, but nobody knew it was happening."I was quite emotional last night. Some of the other families have been in touch and they were just as upset as I was.

"No one had the decency to contact us - I live a 15 minutes walk away from Alexandra Stadium."Following the spectacular Games launch, calls have been made to save the 10-metre-high mechanical bull as a permanent testament to the event.

Its creator has said the bull isn't built to last, however Birmingham City Council has said it's keen to find it a permanent home.A Birmingham 2022 spokesperson said previously: "The artistic intent behind the bull was to represent the historical hurts of the city, as shown by the headpiece that was inscribed with names of individuals who have faced injustices, and are firmly part of the fabric of Birmingham."The creative team included these names to represent these stories in visuals that are seen by millions of people around the world.

"We wanted them to be remembered and acknowledged, and to spark discussion about important issues.”