Mack’s Craic

The Hillsborough Memorial at Anfield

The Hillsborough Memorial at Anfield

You’ve got to admire the families if the 96 Hillsborough victims. For twenty-three years, they’ve fought for justice. Last week, they got closer.

Since April 15th 1989, two judge-led inquiries, an inquest, police investigations and a private prosecution have been carried out, but the families’ story has been largely dismissed by the establishment.

Many of the details of this new report have been known by the families for years, including the police cover-up, but the scale of that cover-up has taken everyone by surprise.

I have to admit that I didn’t think the truth would ever be known nationally because it had been so long and the conspiracy went all the way up to the top.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when I watched the Prime Minister give his speech on Wednesday. I burst into tears when he said “The families were right!”. I had to keep reminding myself that the words I was hearing weren’t coming from a justice campaigner; this was the Prime Minister speaking in the House of Commons.

When you look at the list of names on the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield, the thing that always stands out is the number of children that died. The youngest was 10, and almost half were under the age of twenty-one. The new report says that as many as 41 of them could have survived but for the failings of the police and the ambulance service.

The lies that were told about Hillsborough were repeated so often that millions of people believed them. The lies had become the truth. I’ve been at matches and heard vile chants from opposing supporters. I’ve been in social situations and had people say to me, “Your fans were at fault and you blamed the police”.

The lies were believed because of prejudice. The victims were football supporters, not everyone’s favorite group in society. It was 1989, Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. Going to football matches was still a largely working class pastime and Liverpool has always been a hotbed of socialism. The lies were believed because the victims were not only football supporters, they were Liverpool football supporters.

There’s no denying that there is a prejudice against people from Liverpool, and it’s accepted in Britain. On hearing a Liverpudlian accent it’s perfectly acceptable for someone to shout, “Look out, lock up your valuables, the scousers are here!”.  Substitute the word “scousers” in that last sentence with “blacks”, “Jews” or “gypsies” and you’d be breaking the law.

The families of the Hillsborough victims are an example to us all. We must never accept prejudice in any of it’s forms. It doesn’t matter if the prejudice is based on gender, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality or whatever; it keeps us from the truth.

Well the truth about Hillsborough is out there now and the truth will set us all free.

Thank you to those brave families, you never gave up and you’ll never walk alone.

Craic on! 

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