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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 November, 2004, 12:53 GMT
More help needed for bomb victims
Maureen Mitchell
Mrs Mitchell is now a member of a victims' and survivors' group
A survivor of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings claims support for the emotional trauma following a terrorist attack is still lacking in the city.

Maureen Mitchell, 51, says there is no organised team to help people caught up in similar tragedies.

However, the city council said it is setting up a unit of experts and officials to respond to future crises.

On Sunday there will be a service in St Philips Cathedral to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the bombings.

Mrs Mitchell was drinking with her then fiancé in the Mulberry Bush pub when one of two IRA bombs exploded in November 1974.

'Immediate attention'

Twenty one people died in the devastating attacks and almost 200 more were injured.

But Mrs Mitchell, who suffered internal injuries and spent three months in hospital, says even passers by had their lives changed by the bombings.

A casualty in an ambulance after the Birmingham pub bombings
Some people were affected years later, says Mrs Mitchell

"People like myself had immediate attention and were being recognised but there were other people with less-serious physical injuries who had more psychological needs," she said.

"Even now we haven't got any sort of plans in place if there is any sort of big terrorist incident. There is a need for immediate help for people."

Mrs Mitchell has since joined a group for victims and survivors of the Troubles, which she says has been vital in helping her coming to terms with the tragedy.

It has helped her to support others involved the more recent Ealing and Bali bombings.

But she is still angry the council refused to pay £18,000 to host a peace meeting in 2001.

"It would be nice for Birmingham to recognise what did happen and how many people were affected by it. I was angry they refused, it's nothing, a drop in the ocean for a council like Birmingham," she said.

It's like embarrassment because of the big Irish community they have got here in Birmingham, they are trying to keep a balance
Maureen Mitchell, survivor

Mrs Mitchell says no survivors group was set up after the bombings and she has always found it difficult to find anyone willing to talk about it.

She also claims she still has to battle for anniversaries to be acknowledged and says details of this weekend's commemoration were only confirmed to her a month ago.

"I definitely feel forgotten and pushed aside, it's like embarrassment because of the big Irish community they have got here in Birmingham, they are trying to keep a balance," she said.

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: "We set up a memorial to the victims of this tragedy in the precinct of St Philip's Cathedral where the Lord Mayor will be lighting a candle at a service to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the bombings this Sunday.

"We do understand and recognise major emergencies can have a profound emotional impact on survivors, witnesses and the bereaved and are in the process of setting up an emergency crisis support team that will provide emotional support in these thankfully rare occurrences."


SEE ALSO:
Pain lives on after three decades
20 Nov 04 |  West Midlands
Thirty years as a bomb survivor
20 Nov 04 |  West Midlands
Former Lord Mayor recalls attacks
20 Nov 04 |  West Midlands
Ex-detective relives bomb memory
20 Nov 04 |  West Midlands
1974 pub bombings 'were wrong'
18 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland
Birmingham bombings recalled
21 Nov 99 |  UK News


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