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Sunday, 21 November, 1999, 19:49 GMT
Birmingham bombings recalled
The Birmingham Six - freed after 16 years

More than 250 people have attended a memorial service to remember the victims of one of the worst terrorist atrocities carried out in England.

It is hard when you don't know who you are forgiving
Bishop Peter Hall
Among them were at least 50 survivors and family members of those killed when bombs exploded in two city centre pubs 25 years ago to the day.

The attacks left 21 people dead and scores more injured.

The Mulberry Bush pub at the foot of the city's Rotunda tower and the nearby Tavern in the Town, were both destroyed within minutes of each other on 21 November, 1974.

Survivor Jeanette Ashworth, 38, was just 17 when the blast took place.

"It may be 25 years ago but the memories are as clear as yesterday - it is something we can never forget," she said.

Bombers never found

Six men - who became widely known as the Birmingham Six - were later convicted of the bombings, but were freed on appeal 16 years later.

The IRA said it carried out the attack, but the real bombers have never been prosecuted.

Bishop Peter Hall, who was the Rector of St Martin's in the Bull Ring Church at the time of the atrocities, addressed the service in St Philip's Cathedral.

He said: "There have been questions about why have a remembrance service like this. It is to remember those who were killed, to remember those who were bereaved and to remember those whose lives were wrecked."

"It is hard when you don't know who you are forgiving as in this case of the shadowy figures behind this terrible atrocity. "

"Just try asking God if you are struggling with this to ask that He will let His forgiveness flow through you and there will be comfort for you if that happens."

Victims' anger

The service was disrupted slightly when one survivor - 50-year-old Nicola Lee, from Erdington, Birmingham - stormed out of the cathedral.

She said she had been angered by the tone of the bishop's address, which she felt had not enough emphasis on the victims.

Other survivors also said the felt there was too much said about the perpetrators of the atrocity in Bishop Hall's sermon, which had the theme of forgiveness.

Ian Lord, 47, who suffered leg injuries and whose wife was maimed as they drank in the Mulberry Bush pub, said: "I didn't think much of the service. I came to remember the 21 who died, not hear about the people who killed and injured everybody."

Following the 45-minute service, prayers were said and wreaths laid at a permanent memorial outside the cathedral.

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17 Dec 98 |  UK
A long line of miscarriages of justices

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