Durkan salutes Hillsborough families on ‘tortuous journey to justice’

Members of the Hillsborough Families Support Group holding the book Setting the Truth Free by Derry journalist Julieann Campbell on their visit to the city in 2012. The visit was facilitated by Foyle MP Mark Durkan. Also pictured is current Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham MP.

Members of the Hillsborough Families Support Group holding the book Setting the Truth Free by Derry journalist Julieann Campbell on their visit to the city in 2012. The visit was facilitated by Foyle MP Mark Durkan. Also pictured is current Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham MP.

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Speaking on behalf of the Bloody Sunday families in the House of Commons, SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has saluted the Hillsborough families on their journey ‘from victimhood, through vilification, to vindication’.

Addressing the Home Secretary Theresa May in yesterday’s Commons debate on Hillsborough, Mr Durkan said: “Not only do I salute my fellow Members in this House who represent the families of the Hillsborough victims, but, on behalf of the Bloody Sunday families in my constituency, I want to salute the Hillsborough families. They have made that journey from victimhood, through vilification, to vindication – that tortuous journey to justice that my constituents faced.

“The right hon. Gentleman (Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham MP) brought the Hillsborough families over to Derry to meet the Bloody Sunday families in advance of the panel report, for solidarity and mentoring, and I know that the Bloody Sunday families would give the biggest hugs they could possibly give to the Hillsborough families today.

“We need to learn other lessons, rather than just comparing what has happened in this case and in other cases. Points have been made about what the families still had to go through even after what the panel report told us—the fact that they had to sob and seethe inside, and yet still show calm in the chamber as they listened to callous cynicism about the deaths of their loved ones, no less cruel from the paid lips of counsel.

“We also need to address, once and for all, this insensitivity and arrogance of power, and this default setting of system defensiveness that the Home Secretary has rightly identified.

“On the questions about possible charges that arise, one issue occurs to me, and it arises from the Bloody Sunday experience as well. Could we get clarity soon on whether or not the law officers in this situation are applying the same rubric that they have applied to the Bloody Sunday situation: that any question of charges of perjury, perverting the course of justice or anything else cannot be considered until the issues of any possible charges relating to the events of the day have been? That rubric is deeply troubling to Bloody Sunday families.”

Home Secretary Theresa May replied: “I will take that point away and look into it. I thank the hon. Gentleman for the remarks he made about the importance of a justice system. We are rightly proud of our system of justice in this country, but sometimes it has failed to get to the truth, as we have sadly seen. On Hillsborough, it is once again the families who have been prepared to fight over 27 years who have got, first, to the truth from the independent panel’s report and now to the clear verdicts which have vindicated what they have said about the fans and about their loved ones all along.”