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Monday, October 17, 2011

Hillsborough Parliamentary Debate

Twenty two years after that fateful day in the spring of 1989 the families involved in the Hillsborough campaign for justice finally heard the cross-party support for the truth to be revealed reverberate around the very heart of government, the chamber in the House of Commons.

Walton MP Steve Rotheram, who secured the debate, delivered a passionate speech in which he eloquently delivered the grievances of the families of the 96; a speech in which he revisited the lies, the denials, the lengths to which the authorities went to so that they could blame anyone and everyone except those who were culpable. Steve’s speech culminated in his reading out of the names of the 96 in order that they may be recorded for posterity in Hansard. When Steve sat down he received the rare accolade of a round of applause.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, confirmed that all government papers, including uncensored cabinet papers, will be handed to the independent panel chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool.

Well known Evertonian Andy Burnham spoke passionately and honestly from the opposition benches; he admitted that successive governments, including his own, had failed the families and that the time had come to address these failings. He put forward his view, to a clearly compliant home secretary, that the information released should be presented without redaction and that it should be up to the panel to comply with issues of data protection and personal information of those who perished.

MP after MP from Merseyside and Sheffield, and many other areas, delivered fervent and descriptive speeches but perhaps the most passionate and emotional speech came from Wirral South MP Alison McGovern who delivered a heart wrenching speech and ended up in tears.

Time and time again, the press, with particular venom reserved for The Sun and editor Kelvin MacKenzie, were thoroughly castigated by MP after MP, many demanding the apology that he has failed to deliver for over two decades.

The debate concluded with Steve Rotheram declaring that Hillsborough would not go away. He told MP’s that “members across all sides of the house have tonight all made the difference”; he thanked all present and made a specific mention of Andy Burnham for his tenacity in delivering the means to gather the truth; he also singled out David Moyes for his support of the campaign.

At the vote the house agreed unanimously that ministers should release all government documents related to 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

This will hopefully signal the beginning of the end for the families’ pursuit of the truth.

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