The court heard the Provisional IRA had “broadly” admitted responsibility for a campaign of bombings in the West Midlands in 1973 and 1974, which ended abruptly after the pub attacks.
The coroner acknowledged that no such admission immediately followed the blasts, but later added: “There will be indications that the (Provisional) IRA did claim responsibility for the bombings.”
Then, he revisited a “perfectly ordinary evening in Birmingham”, where two bars barely 50 yards apart were bustling with their usual young crowd.
The coroner said: “Just after 8.15pm, all of that changed.”
A call had been placed to the offices of the Birmingham Post and Mail warning of devices below the Rotunda building and the tax office on New Street, which sat above the respective bars. The caller used the IRA code name, “double x”
Conveying the scale of the destruction that followed, the coroner said: “These were massive explosions.”
Nineteen people died that evening, with two more later succumbing to their injuries.
More than 200 others were caught up in the explosion, many of whom were left with life-changing injuries. It was one of Britain’s worst post-war bombings.
“This is something that the city of Birmingham has suffered now for many years,” the coroner said.