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Harefield Gazette - - YOUR SAY - POST: Let­ters, Uxbridge Gazette, Stoke Mill, Wok­ing Road, Guild­ford GU1 1QA ON­LINE: www.getwest­lon­don.co.uk/send-your-story

Ev­ery week BAR­BARA FISHER looks at is­sues that af­fect us all – the is­sues that get you talk­ing. You can join in by email­ing bmail­bar­[email protected] I WAS in­vited to an event last week to mark an in­ci­dent which hap­pened more than four decades ago. It was al­most un­bear­ably poignant and un­like any­thing I’ve ever been to be­fore.

In 1974 my lovely, friendly, home­town Birm­ing­ham was blown apart when the Pro­vi­sional IRA planted bombs in two city pubs, The Mul­berry Bush and the Tav­ern in the Town.

Twenty-one peo­ple died and around 200 were in­jured. As no one has yet been found guilty of the crime, the pain en­dured by fam­ily and friends re­mains raw.

Who could for­get the Birm­ing­ham six, who served 16 years of a life sen­tence, but who were even­tu­ally re­leased – ap­par­ently a huge mis­car­riage of jus­tice which had in­volved vi­cious beat­ings of the Ir­ish sus­pects and forced con­fes­sions. It left peo­ple on both sides an­gry and sad.

The beau­ti­ful me­mo­rial un­veiled last week, in the shape of three stain­less steel trees, con­tained the names of the vic­tims on its branches.

What was par­tic­u­larly poignant and highly un­usual – was that this was or­gan­ised by the Birm­ing­ham Ir­ish As­so­ci­a­tion along with the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.

Fol­low­ing ter­ror­ist at­tacks whole com­mu­ni­ties are of­ten de­monised, and my par­ents told me that for the Ir­ish in Birm­ing­ham there was a ter­ri­ble back­lash. This event on Wed­nes­day was fi­nally a time to heal. Many of the city’s re­li­gions were rep­re­sented and there was no pub­lic angst, just a long­ing fi­nally to bring about an emo­tional truce. Par­tic­u­larly sym­bolic was when Angli­can and Catholic min­is­ters read a prayer to­gether.

Also, when a poem, read in both English and Ir­ish Gaelic, de­liv­ered the line, ‘Through an­guish, blame and dis­cord, we found a seed’.

Most mov­ing mo­ment of all though was the Roll call of Re­mem­brance, dur­ing which can­dles were lit by rel­a­tives of the 21 who died.

The ex­pres­sion ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ came home starkly to me when I spoke to a woman after­wards.

Anne had worked in the Tav­ern in the Town pub, so had lost friends and col­leagues in the blast. But one of those names on the sculp­tures could eas­ily have been her. “It just hap­pened to be my night off,” she said.

I’m glad to fin­ish with con­trast­ing news – and much closer to our Hilling­don home – of a very happy an­niver­sary: the 60th year of the Sine Nomine Singers.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Hilling­don’s long­est run­ning cham­ber choir. You can see them per­form at a cel­e­bra­tion con­cert on De­cem­ber 1 in All Saints Church, Rye­field Av­enue, Hilling­don at 7.30pm.

The me­mo­rial un­veiled in Birm­ing­ham last week

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