Families of the Hillsborough 96 see justice at last

After 27 years of a struggle for the truth, the inquests into the deaths of 96 people at the football match in Hillsborough in April 1989 determined that they had been unlawfully killed. This decision represents a damning indictment of the South Yorkshire Police force.
Margaret Aspinall (left) and Sue Roberts at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2013. Photo (c) Martin Duggan

Margaret Aspinall (left) and Sue Roberts at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival 2013. Photo (c) Martin Duggan

For the families of the 96, this decision brought to a conclusion one of the longest campaigns to expose the truth of the massive establishment cover up in Britain and the nature of unaccountable powerful interests and represented full vindication for those women and men who battled to clear their loved ones names and reputations. Margaret Aspinall whose son James (18) died at Hillsborough and Sue Roberts who lost her brother Graham (24) played a key role in campaign waged by the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
Richard T. Cooke of the Cork Mother Jones Committee presenting the Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2013 to Margaret Aspinall. Photo (c) Martin Duggan.

Richard T. Cooke of the Cork Mother Jones Committee presenting the Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2013 to Margaret Aspinall. Photo (c) Martin Duggan.

On behalf of the Cork Mother Jones committee, we extend our warmest congratulations to Margaret and Sue. These two extraordinary women have fought through many dark days for truth and justice and humanity, their efforts on behalf of the 96 who died have been inspirational and their efforts on behalf of James and Graham have been heroic.
We recall Margaret and Sue speaking at the 2013 Spirit of Mother Jones summer school on Tuesday 30th July in the Firkin Crane Theatre. Those who witnessed Margaret’s stunning account about events at Hillsborough and afterwards will never forget it. We were proud to present the inaugural Spirit of Mother Jones awards to Margaret and Sue that evening .
We salute you Margaret and Sue and all the Hillsborough families and justice will prevail.   
 Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts with the Cork Mother Jones Committee.   Photo (c) Martin Duggan

Margaret Aspinall and Sue Roberts with the Cork Mother Jones Committee. Photo (c) Martin Duggan

Hillsborough, the torment of injustice

The Annual service of remembrance brings the families and friends of the 96 men, women and children who were killed at Hillsborough to Anfield each year. (95 died on that day and one later).

The thousands, who attend the service, fall silent at 3.06 on the 15th April. It was the exact time that the referee at the FA Cup semi final stopped the match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on that faithful afternoon in 1989. It is a symbolic, moving and painful moment.

96 Banner

Justice for the 96 Banner at a Liverpool match (photo Manchester Wired)

Back in 1989, it was Everton V Norwich at Birmingham and Liverpool V Nottingham Forest so a possible Merseyside Cup Final was a prospect. The stand at the rear of Leppings Lane end held 4500, while the terraces could hold 10,100. The disaster unfolded at this terrace when fans, who were given no direction by police, made their way down the tunnel into already overcrowded pens on the already packed terrace

For those on the Leppings Lane terrace it was a matter of life and death and for those family and friends, many watching the game, it was the beginning of a long nightmare.

Phil Scraton in his excellent book…….. “Hillsborough……. the truth” has identified why this disaster was different from many others….

“Hillsborough however remains unique in that the victims, their families and the survivors were subjected to a concerted attack on their reputations which added to the denial of their rights”

This compounded the tragedy for the families and friends and for the people of Liverpool, the fabrication of the truth in the infamous Sun newspaper on 19th April, the terrible insensitivity of the authorities, the taking of blood alcohol levels of the dead, even of the children, the pursuit of “enemy within” by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the failure of the legal and administrative processes and most of all the cover up by many officials who walked away from their responsibility.

Football hooliganism was to Thatcher part of the enemy within and some of the police operated a policy of force and coercion when it came to football fans. But it did not stop there…….basically the figure of blame was placed on the supporters and the people who died. A miscarriage of justice does not even begin to describe what took place.

Continue reading

The “Spirit of Mother Jones” Festival 2013

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is delighted to announce the holding of the 2013 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Shandon from Tuesday 30th July to Thursday 1st August 2013.

This international “Shandon Summer School” event will see speakers from Ireland joined by participants from both the United Kingdom and the United States, who will attend to discuss issues associated with social justice, labour history and trade union struggles. These were issues close to the heart of Cork born Mary Harris known throughout the world as Mother Jones, after whom the event is named in honour.

In 2012 Shandon was the location for the inaugural Mother Jones Festival which celebrated the 175 Anniversary of the birth of Mary Harris nearby. The festival was hugely successful, receiving coverage throughout Ireland and America and placing the historic Shandon area in international focus.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee felt Shandon should continue to honour Mother Jones by highlighting and providing a platform for discussing labour history, trade union actions for fair working conditions and social issues in the setting of the birthplace of Mother Jones.

“What better way to remember the great Mother Jones that by listening to, learning of and discussing the struggles of ordinary workers and people in an annual Summer School format in this area?” stated Jim Nolan of the committee.

“It would be a fitting tribute to an extraordinary Cork woman”

The Shandon festival/summer school will have a mixture of speakers, lectures discussions, films and music and songs associated with these struggles over three days.

On Tuesday evening, 30th July the Chairperson of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, Margaret Aspinall will speak on the traumatic events which took place at the Hillsborough Stadium on the 15th April 1989, when 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives. Margaret’s son James was among those who never came home from that game. Margaret will give an account of the families long 23 year campaign to highlight the injustice and untruths which surrounded the real causes of this appalling disaster.

Wednesday afternoon 31st July will see Ken Fleming of SIPTU and an Inspector with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) give a lecture on the exploitation of seafarers on vessels operating under Flags of Convenience. Over the past 4 years Ken has recouped over a million euro in unpaid wages for foreign seafarers in Irish ports, six vessels were detained and over 100 seafarers repatriated.

Later that evening Padraig Yeates, journalist, writer and author of the book “Lockout”, an account of the bitter workers strike in 1913, will give the Centenary lecture on the Dublin Lockout. The Lockout was a watershed in Irish political and labour history and began a chain of events which led eventually to the 1916 rebellion. Padraig Yeates is a renowned expert on this period in Irish history. His Centenary lecture will take place at 7pm on Wednesday 31st August at the Firkin Crane.

On Thursday 1st August, Mother Jones Day, we are honoured to present Professor Simon Cordery of Western Illinois University who will deliver the annual Mother Jones lecture. Simon has written extensively on the activities of Mother Jones and recently completed a history and analysis of Mother Jones entitled Mother Jones “Raising Cain and Consciousness”.

“All the speakers will present in their different ways a common thread through history of ordinary people and families fighting for basic rights whether in their work places or in their daily lives as epitomised by the spirit of Mother Jones who spent most of her life defending the rights of workers and their families in the United States of America.” continued Jim Nolan.

The festival will see Andy Irvine return to Cork to perform a special concert in honour of Mother Jones at the Firkin on Thursday 1st August. There is limited capacity and tickets will need to be pre purchased.

Richard T Cooke is organizing a Mother Jones tribute concert also at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 31st July.

Noted actor Jer O’Leary will perform a Jim Larkin monologue while the famous Cork Singers Club will perform a series of labour and trade union songs at the Maldron Hotel.

All are welcome to attend this unique event which forms part of the Gathering events in Cork City in 2013.

For further information contact:

Jim Nolan 0861651356
Michael Lally 0868540896
Gerard O’Mahony 0863196063.