Birmingham pub bombing survivor Maureen Mitchell has asked those responsible for the 1974 atrocity to come forward so she can forgive them.
The 55-year-old said she wanted to meet whoever planted the bomb that nearly killed her 34 years ago so she can get “final closure”.
And she called on Government leaders to do more to try and understand the background that fuels today’s terrorists.
Ms Mitchell spoke exclusively to The Birmingham Post at the launch of an art exhibition and book at the Mailbox, to celebrate the heritage of Birmingham’s Rotunda.
Ms Mitchell, whose surname was previously Lord, was hurled into the air with the force of the explosion that ripped through the Mulberry Bush at the foot of the Rotunda on November 21, 1974.
She was in intensive care for five days, underwent five operations and at one point was given the last rites.
Despite the ordeal, she says she does not harbour resentment to the bombers. No-one has admitted responsibility.
“I have never felt anger towards anyone because I felt that would hurt me more than anyone else,” she said. “So I have tried not to be bitter about it.”
The bomb, with a second one minutes later in the nearby Tavern in the Town on New Street, killed 21 and injured almost 200.
Despite bearing the physical scars of her injuries, Ms Mitchell said she felt a need to sit down and talk with the perpetrator.
“I would love to meet the person. I am not sure what I would say or do. Nobody has claimed responsibility. I think it would be nice to meet them face-to-face and ask why?
“You can’t forgive someone you don’t know. There is nothing there to forgive. There is no closure. I would want the person to come forward and meet me.”
Ms Mitchell was having a drink with her then fiancé Ian Lord – the couple have since divorced – when the bomb went off.
“I don’t remember hearing it, but I remember floating through the air and landing again,” she said. “I remember ambulances. Once I got to hospital they took me to theatre and the next week is a bit vague.”
Along with many injuries to her legs and arm, a piece of metal speared her hip and lodged in her bowel.
Remarkably Ms Mitchell – 21 at the time – sees the experience as a positive one. Now living in Acocks Green and working at a children’s centre in Ladywood, she has been an active figure in the Northern Ireland peace process.
“In recent years I have met extremists that openly admit to causing death in Ireland,” she said. “Talking to these people face to face I try and have an open opinion and question them as to why and how they got involved.
“A lot of the work is about dialogue. It is to talk to them face to face and see how they felt about what they do and would they do it again. A lot of them have got into youth work in Ireland to try and teach the youth to keep on the right track.”
Ms Mitchell, since remarried, said Government ministers might have more influence in tackling terrorism if they were prepared to talk to terrorists.
“It certainly helped me understand why people get into it. I am not saying I condone the action but it helped me understand how they got into such situations and the reasoning behind it. Having gone to Ireland and talked to these people and met people who have been affected, you have to ask if you put yourself in that position of growing up there maybe you would have got involved.
“It’s the raw emotions when you are really looking into people’s feelings and thinking ‘these people are sharing this with me’.
“Some of them are still quite hardened and would say they would do it again. But others have turned their lives around.”
Ms Mitchell is, however, aware not everyone affected by one of the worst atrocities carried out by the IRA on British mainland will be ready to forgive.
But she added: “It was such a long time ago. If I had been bitter these 34 years it would only harm me. I have moved on.”