**Posted by Seán

Times Online

The man behind the pub bombs in Birmingham that killed 21

By Sean O'Neill
November 18, 2004
The Times

Mick Murray was one of the ringleaders of the IRA unit that murdered
21 people in the Birmingham pub bombings 30 years ago.
Murray helped to choose the targets, the Mulberry Bush and Tavern in
the Town pubs. He was one of the bomb-makers, transported the bombs
to the city centre and handed them to the men who planted them.

Murray then botched the telephone warning that was supposed to allow
30 minutes for the pubs to be cleared. His warning, using the
codewords "Double X", came six minutes before the first explosion and
did not name either pub.

Murray, who was arrested in the aftermath of the bombings, admitted
being a member of the IRA. West Midlands Police never charged him
with murder, however, and he served 12 years in jail for conspiracy
to cause explosions.

On his release, he was welcomed back into the IRA and remained a
member until he died in 1999, without expressing remorse for the
bombings. Murray always argued against the decommissioning of the
IRA's arsenal. Today he is lauded as a republican hero and has been
praised by one Sinn Fein politician as "a brave freedom fighter".

The IRA never admitted planting the Birmingham bombs and, in the
immediate aftermath of the bombings, said that if its members had
been involved they would be court-martialled for a "violation of
operational policy".

The organisation's leaders at the time promised an internal inquiry
and said that they would make its results public.

That did not happen and some of the men who carried out the attacks
were not disciplined and continued to be involved in terrorism.

In 1974 "Big Mick" Murray was second in command of the Birmingham IRA
unit, which was commanded by a man known as Belfast Jimmy.

One associate said: "Mick was a hard man and, if anything, he was
more hardline when he came out of prison."

After his death, Larry O'Toole, a Sinn Fein councillor in Dublin,
described Murray as "a brave freedom fighter" and "a truly dedicated
Irish republican". A glowing tribute in An Phoblacht, the Sinn Fein
weekly newspaper, said that Murray had been "jailed for his
republican beliefs".

The newspaper said: "Captured in Birmingham in November 1974, he sat
in complete silence throughout his trial refusing to plead or take
part in the proceedings. He was described by the trial judge
as `having all the demeanour of a soldier' and commended for his
behaviour and manner.

"An Irish felon, he served the majority of his sentence in solitary
confinement and taking part in the blanket protest for political

"Excluded from England on his release, he immediately resumed his
place in the ranks of Oglaigh na hEireann (the IRA)." The article
said that Murray had spent his life "pursuing and working to achieve
the freedom and independence of Ireland".

Murray had helped to make the Birmingham bombs at a house in
Bordesley Green, then transported them to the city centre. On a
signal from the planters, he was to telephone a 30-minute warning to
the Birmingham Post.

Later he told two of the Birmingham Six — the men wrongly convicted
of the murders — in prison: "Sorry to see you lads in here. Nothing
went right that night. The first telephone box was out of order." By
the time that Murray had delivered the warning, which omitted the
names of the pubs, it was 8.11pm.

The Mulberry Bush pub was packed when the first bomb exploded six
minutes later. The Tavern in the Town was also crowded when a device
detonated there minutes later.

Two other alleged bombers were named in 1990 by the Granada World in
Action programme, but their current whereabouts are not known. The
present identity of another man who may have been a police informant
is also unknown.

The man known as Belfast Jimmy, the unit's leader, is now in his 50s
and lives in a block of flats just north of Dublin city centre.
Approached there by The Times he refused to discuss the Birmingham
bombings. He said: "I know nothing about anything that happened in


The 21 people killed in Birmingham were among 304 deaths linked to
the Troubles during 1974. The month before the bombings five people
died in the bombing of a pub in Guildford, Surrey, and earlier the
same month two died when a bomb exploded in a pub in Woolwich, South
London. Those who died in Birmingham were

Michael Beasley, 30
Lynn Bennett, 18
Standley Bodman, 51
James Caddick, 40
Paul Davies, 20
Jane Davies, 17
Charles Harper Grey, 44
Maxine Hambleton, 18
Ann Hayes, 19
John Jones, 51
Neil Marsh, 17
Marilyn Nash, 22
Pamela Palmer, 19
Desmond Reilly, 21
Eugene Reilly, 23
Maureen Roberts, 20
John Rowlands, 46
Trevor Thrupp, 33
Stephen Walley, 24
Thomas Chaytor, 28
James Craig, 34

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