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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 November, 2004, 15:22 GMT
Former Lord Mayor recalls attacks
Jim Eames, former Lord Mayor of Birmingham
Jim Eames co-ordinated a fund for the victims
Jim Eames was the Lord Mayor of Birmingham at the time of the pub bombings. He talked about his experience to BBC News.

Keeping anti-Irish feeling to a minimum was the most important thing Jim Eames, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham at the time of the bombings, felt he could do.

Anger towards the Irish community swept through the city in the immediate aftermath of the 1974 terror attacks on two pubs in Birmingham city centre.

Through the media Mr Eames appealed for calm towards the large Irish population to try and appease the unrest.

"It was quite clear we had a problem," Mr Eames told BBC News Online.

'Pulled together'

Mr Eames, now 86, said: "The police rang me and told me there had been two bombs in the city centre.

"They said there were heavy casualties and they were keeping all traffic out of the city centre.

"I soon learnt there were more than 20 deaths and the hospitals were straining with the amount of casualties and off-duty staff were coming in to help out.

"Even the taxis were ferrying the injured to the hospitals. Everyone pulled together."

Massive blow

Mr Eames joined Birmingham City Council in 1949 representing the Smallheath ward.

He believed the city was made up of a tolerant, generous and altruistic community which could survive such a massive blow.

The bombings - at The Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush - were the culmination of a IRA campaign in the area. There had been almost 50 explosions in the West Midlands over the preceding 15 months.

Colleague killed

Mr Eames was personally affected when it was confirmed a colleague from his days as a train driver at Birmingham New Station had been killed and another seriously injured.

He set about helping to co-ordinate a fund for the victims and saw about 400,000 being raised thanks to donations from the public and various organisations up and down the country, including large contributions by the Irish community.

"The Irish community was very distressed by what had happened and contributed a lot to the fund. I went to numerous functions they held to raise money," Mr Eames added.

"The assumption was it was an IRA bomb because they had been very active then.

'Very shocking'

"Local people became very anti-Irish and very angry.

"Generally speaking we are a well-balanced community in Birmingham and this was very shocking."

Mr Eames, made an Honorary Alderman in 1992 after 43 years with the council, said it was important a suitable memorial was erected in the city.

"We thought it reasonably wise not to make too big a thing about it, the council didn't seek to push it too much in the social life of the city.

Record history

"Sometimes it can cause a reaction. They serve to remind people of events such as that but they can also aggravate people.

"History needs to be recorded but it can do damage."

Along with other dignitaries and relatives of the victims, Mr Eames will attend the 30th anniversary of the bombings in Birmingham on 21 November.

"I hope we are stable enough to ride the problems we now face in the world," he concluded.

"But despite what happened, this is a good city, people are settled and underneath the heart of the city is still beating."




SEE ALSO:
Pain lives on after three decades
20 Nov 04 |  West Midlands
Ex-detective relives bomb memory
20 Nov 04 |  West Midlands



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