1. ITV Report

IRA bomber gives names to Birmingham pub bombs inquest

Inquests are being held into the Birmingham pub bombs that killed 21 people and injured hundreds more. Credit: PA

A convicted IRA bomber has given names of men he says were involved in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombs to an inquest, saying he was given permission by the current head of the IRA.

The man, identified only as Witness O and speaking over a secure video-link, said he had been given permission six months ago in Dublin.

Bereaved families have waited 44 years for fresh inquests into the blasts, in which 21 people died and 220 more were injured.

The inquests are now in their fourth week, but took a dramatic turn on Friday.

Witness O named the officer commanding the Birmingham IRA at the time as Seamus McLoughlan, and said he was the person responsible for selecting the targets.

He added that Mick Murray was “one of the bombers”, and claimed he recalled Murray telling him there would be “no harm” if similar bombings had been repeated, because of the “chaos” caused.

When pressed by a lawyer for the bereaved families, he said Michael Hayes and James Gavin were also part of the team.

On referencing Hayes, he added, in apparent reference to the Good Friday Agreement: “But he can’t be arrested.

“There is nobody going to be charged with this atrocity. The British Government have signed an agreement with the IRA.”

All the men have been named before in connection with the bombings, but not in a formal setting.

Twenty-one people died in the 1974 IRA bomb attacks on pubs in Birmingham city centre. Credit: PA

Witness O, who described the bombings as an “atrocity”, said he had nothing to do with the attacks as he had been remanded to Winson Green jail some time before.

He also claimed he had given McLoughlan’s name to two police detectives while in HMP Winson Green just days after the bombings, but heard nothing more.

He added that two other men, who he identified as “Dublin Dave” and “Socks” had also been involved, but that he did not know either man’s name.

Asked about whether Michael Patrick Reilly had been involved, he replied: “No, I don't remember him at all. Reilly? I would remember that.”

The barrister then used an alleged reference to Mr Reilly, used in the book Error of Judgement by former MP and journalist Chris Mullin, when he asked the witness: “Michael Patrick Reilly, sometimes referred to as ‘The Young Planter’?

“You know who he is, don’t you? He’s the one you’re protecting, isn’t he?”

The witness replied: “Who? Protecting who? No. My situation was I was in Manchester, and I came to Birmingham and I was only in Birmingham a couple of weeks.”

Reilly has always denied any involvement in the bombings.