Thank you Madam Mayor
Madam Mayor I was just 3 years old on the 15th April 1989. As a 3 year old I was at the centre of an ongoing conflict between my Mum and Dad over whether I’d end up a red or a blue. I’m happy to report that being the Mummy’s boy I remain to this day that my Mum won on that occasion and I became a Liverpool supporter.
Eventually I would go to the match with my Mum and Grandad and watch my footballing heroes from the Main stand, and It was whilst attending one of these matches that I first became aware of Hillsborough - I remember being handed a postcard which encouraged people to write to the then Home Secretary in support for the campaign for justice, and when I got home I did just that, of course at that age I didn’t comprehend the scale of what happened at Hillsborough, but as the years went by and the chants of ‘Justice for the 96’ continued to echo around Anfield, I became more and more aware of the huge injustice 96 families, countless fans and many in Merseyside and beyond were battling to overcome.
And speaking of the fans, Madam Mayor, may I use this opportunity to applaud the courage of the Liverpool fans who did return home that day, who were collectively faced with the most depraved defamation by malevolent elements of the media but who have stood steadfast with the families of the 96 in their campaign for justice and accountability.
Madam Mayor given this concerted campaign to besmirch the character of fellow Liverpool fans I feel moved to re-state the verdict of the jury in the Coroner’s Inquest last year when asked: was there ANY behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? The jury's answer was NO. These lies now indisputably silenced thanks to the campaigning of many of the guests here today.
Madam Mayor today we remember each of everyone the 96, the 96 who were unlawfully killed in 1989, we bestow upon each of them posthumously the highest honour which is within our gift and I hope that the dedication of the memorial gardens, on the steps of this historic Town Hall, overlooking the great City of Liverpool and fittingly the Anfield stadium, will bring some comfort to the families of the 96, as it is a further physical reminder of the eternal memories of those they have lost and of their constant place in the prayers and thoughts of the people of Wirral.
Madam Mayor it is also crucially important that we acknowledge the campaign for justice tonight, It surely cannot be over emphasised how the tenacious pursuit for truth and justice by many in this hall, in the face of such immeasurable grief and adversity is proof to the world that justice is not just a wooly notion, the preserve of academic theorising in stale lecture theatres, it is etched on the faces of those who have fought for it and we could certainly hear it in the chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone sung outside the Coroner’s court in Warrington in April last year.
Madam Mayor I second this motion.
Councillor Paul Hayes was a member of the All-Party Working Group on the Freedom of the Borough for the 96, representing Wirral's 21 Conservative Councillors.