Hillsborough cover-up depressingly familiar
By Allison Morris (for Irish News)
Rather than bring closure, the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel have left the families of the 96 victims of the 1989 tragedy demanding that justice be finally done.
The most appalling aspect of the report released last week was that 41 people could potentially have been saved after the 3.15pm cut-off point at which the original inquest was told the injured would have been brain dead and therefore not able to be resuscitated.
Among them was Kevin Williams, the 15-year-old child of Anne Williams, who opened his eyes at 4pm and called out ‘Mum’ before dying in the arms of a nurse.
As a mother I cannot even begin to understand how Anne Williams feels or how she controls her anger at those who left her young boy to die, his last word to call out in desperation lor his mother.
Two Liverpool lans had asked a police officer to help Kevin at 3.38pm but the officer walked away, leaving the injured child dying on the ground.
The families of the 96 men, women and children who lost their lives in the most horrific and, more importantly, preventable of circumstances deserve better.
David Cameron was forced to apologise last week for the sins of his Tory predecessor Margaret Thatcher, who Willingly accepted a version 01events that blamed the victims and Liverpool supporters lor the tragedy. West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison, who was an off-duty inspector at the game, is under pressure to resign after releasing a statement putting some of the blame on fans.
So many people neglected to live up to their duty on that awful day and in the days, weeks, months and years that followed.
It would be easier to find a Man United supporter on Merseyside than a Tory voter. The bereaved and injured held no electoral worth to the Conservative administration of the time and so were abandoned to their grief. The blame game was in full swing within hours, police officers briefing journalists with horrific inaccuracy, heaping misery upon the families’ pain.
The Sun, under the editorship of Kelvin MacKenzie, printed the front-page headline ‘The truth’. The allegations in that particular article were anything but.
The Sun told of fans pickpocketing the dead and drunkenly urinating on bodies.
In a song released last year Billy Bragg sang “the Scousers never buy The Sun” and 23 years after the Hillsborough tragedy that’s still the case.
It may be Britain’s bestselling tabloid but not in Liverpool where the paper has been boycotted for more than two decades.
Its apology last week may have been profuse but it is unlikely to change the opinion of many in the city.
An inquest held in 1991 ruled that the 96 deaths, 41 of which we now know may have been preventable, had been ‘accidental’, thus removing all responsibility from the state.
Collusion, cover-up, state mismanagement, an obliging media fed misinformation -all sounds depressingly familiar, doesn’t it?
It is 23 years since the shameful actions at Hillsborough. It is more than 40 since similar tactics were used to cover up the bombing of McGurk’s Bar in north Belfast.
On that occasion victims were also demonised, friendly press briefed misinformation, the government was apathetic to the suffering of those involved and the real culprits were allowed to escape prosecution.
Liverpudlians and the Irish have always had a very close relationship.
A glance down the list of surnames of those who lost their lives that awful day shows the connection -- O’Neill, Kelly, Gilhooley and Fitzsimmons all victims of the tragedy.
Liverpool is full of descendants of Irish emigrants and no-one more than the Irish can relate to the anger at the injustice they have suffered.
The Hillsborough victims now have official confirmation of the facts - facts they knew to be the case all along.
South Yorkshire Police are conducting a review of their original investigation. It could result in charges of corporate manslaughter or misconduct in public office for those who failed in their duty.
What is certain is there were will be no positive reassessment of Mrs Thatcher on Merseyside and regardless of grovelling apologies, Scousers will still never buy The Sun.