Lessons must be learned for future public tragedies

Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey, has welcomed an initiative which will see primary and secondary schools across Merseyside adopt a ‘Hillsborough Disaster Day’.

Ms Eagle said that it is important for schoolchildren to be taught “our history” of what happened on April 15 1989, where 97 Liverpool fans were killed.

But she also said that lessons must be learned for future public tragedies.

Ms Eagle said: “What we don’t want is for the victims of Grenfell to be blamed like the victims of Hillsborough were blamed for their own injuries and deaths, and for families to have to fight entire establishments about what happened to their loved ones.

“It’s important that people understand that, just because people are powerful, it doesn’t mean to say that they’re always right or truthful,” she added.

Angela Eagle on the Hillsborough Disaster Day
Labour MP Angela Eagle discusses the Hillsborough Disaster Day and what it means for future generations. Creative Commons Licence.

Hillsborough Disaster Day lessons

The new curriculum pack includes a special annual assembly to take place on the nearest Friday to the anniversary, plus a day of lessons to teach pupils the truth of what happened.

Ms Eagle said families were starved of proper support in their three-decade fight for justice, and pupils could benefit from learning about the cover up attempt.

She said: “The thing about Hillsborough is that it’s an example of how the establishment in the 1980s fought to blame the victims for what was a terrible, terrible occasion.

“And during all the subsequent years of fighting for justice, [the families] never had proper support in the legal system.

“Teaching lessons about failures of public policy like that and how unfair institutions can be to people who have suffered is an important lesson for anyone to learn as they’re growing up”, she added.

Hillsborough lessons a ‘tribute’ to Ian Byrne MP

Official picture of Ian Byrne MP
Ian Byrne, MP for West Derby by David Woolfall, Wikimedia Commons licence

Liverpool City Council voted unanimously in favour of Ian Byrne’s motion to introduce Hillsborough to the curriculum on January 26.

The vote was poignant for the West Derby MP as he survived the disaster at Leppings Lane when he was 16.

Ms Eagle called the initiative a tribute to his efforts and that it was important for politics to allow victims the opportunity to “give their own testimony about what happened”.

But beyond teaching future generations, Ms Eagle believes the lessons will empower people to stand up to those in power and will set a precedent in politics.

The Public Advocate Bill which is being spearheaded by her sister, Maria Eagle, MP for Garston and Halewood, would ensure victims of major tragedies would not face the same barriers to justice.

The Bill has gained cross-party support so far, including from Theresa May and Gordon Brown.

A Liverpool City Council spokesperson said about the Hillsborough Disaster Day: “We commend survivors and the families of the 97 fans who lost their lives as a result of the Hillsborough disaster for their three-decade campaign for justice.”

 

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