Honours should be stripped for Hillsborough and Bloody Sunday - Durkan

Relatives of the Hillsborough Disaster families pictured on a fact-finding visit to Derry this week, on a trip to the Museum of Free Derry, where they met Bloody Sunday relatives. Pictured from left are ?????????????? SEE JULIEANN. 2007JM43
Relatives of the Hillsborough Disaster families pictured on a fact-finding visit to Derry this week, on a trip to the Museum of Free Derry, where they met Bloody Sunday relatives. Pictured from left are ?????????????? SEE JULIEANN. 2007JM43
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As the fall-out from a damning report into the Hillsborough tragedy continues, Derry MP Mark Durkan has called for the withdrawal of honours from anyone implicated in both Hillsborough and Bloody Sunday.

Such a move, Mr Durkan said, would underscore David Cameron’s acknowledgement of the lies, propaganda and wrongs committed in both tragedies.

An outpouring of grief at Anfield in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster.

An outpouring of grief at Anfield in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster.

“I am strongly urging the Forfeiture of Honours Committee to take action over the honours attached to the names of anyone who was implicated in this scandalous syndicate of deceit (the Hillsborough football disaster),” he said.

“This includes stripping former Sheffield MP Irvine Patrick of his knighthood and Senior Police Officers who were involved in the subsequent smear campaign and cover-up of the time and who have since received honours.

“And when the Committee do so, I also hope they consider the case of Colonel Derek Wilford of 1st Para who was clearly indicted by the Saville Report.

“One year after the murders on Bloody Sunday, Wilford was awarded the OBE. That was the reward for murder, injustice and lies.”

Mr Durkan said that, in the aftermath of Saville, the government should have pressed the Forfeiture of Honours Committee to take action. “However, thus far, the Committee have ignored the issue of Wilford.”

“It may have been easier to ignore people indicted in one report (Saville), but certainly not two.

“The British system should withdraw these honours to underscore David Cameron’s acknowledgement of the wrong that had been done in relation to both Bloody Sunday and Hillsborough,” he added.

The damning findings released by the Hillsborough Independent Panel on Wednesday came following the analysis of hundreds of thousands of previously unseen documents relating to the stadium disaster and its aftermath.

The report revealed an orchestrated conspiracy by both the British police and media to blame the football fans for their own deaths following the stadium crush on April 15, 1989. The report’s findings also indicated that as many as 41 of the 96 victims of the stadium crush could potentially have been saved if adequate emergency procedures had been followed on the day.

Profound empathy

Details also emerged earlier this week of a discussion between Mr Durkan and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Speaking in the House of Commons following his momentous statement on the Hillsborough report, Mr Cameron told the Derry MP that the Hillsborough disaster and Bloody Sunday share “common ground” - as an injustice which was covered up and allowed to continue for far too long.

In July this year, Mr Durkan facilitated a meeting in Derry between Hillsborough campaigner Andy Burnham MP, members of the Hillsborough Families Support Group (HFSG) and representatives of the Bloody Sunday relatives – to discuss their respective campaigns for truth and justice – ahead of yesterday’s publication of the comprehensive new report into the football stadium disaster.

Questioning David Cameron in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Durkan said: “The Prime Minister will know that Bloody Sunday families and survivors in my constituency (Derry) have a profound empathy with those Hillsborough families that have struggled with grief compounded by grievance, and endured injustice, insult and indifference.

“Does the Prime Minister recognise that this report will not only mean that Hillsborough families are overcome with a sense of vindication, but that it will also provoke many other mixed and difficult emotions and issues? Will he ensure that relevant services are supported and supplemented to help the families and survivors of Hillsborough with those needs?”

Mr Cameron replied: “I am sure that with his experience of Bloody Sunday and the Saville Inquiry, the honourable Gentleman is completely right to say that the families will need a lot of support and help as they digest what is in the report. The commonality, as it were, of the two things, is that a Government should not make an apology just because something bad happened some time ago. The apology should be in respect of the fact that there is new information that injustice took place and was allowed to lie for far too long, and that false stories were got up about what happened.

“That is why an apology is not only right, but the necessary and correct thing to do, and that is where there is common ground between the two issues raised by the honourable Gentleman,” the British Prime Minister added.