“I expect a full and complete apology from Mr Darmanin”, announces Labor MP Ian Byrne

“I expect a full and complete apology from Mr Darmanin”, announces Labor MP Ian Byrne

As the hearings of the prefect of police of Paris Didier Lallement, of a contingent of the French Football Federation but also of the mayor of Liverpool, whose speaking out is eagerly awaited, the scandal after the incidents at the Stade de France crossed the Channel to ignite the whole of the United Kingdom.

Sunday, in front of the British Parliament, Ian Byrne, the Labor MP for West Derby, in Liverpool, a constituency which adjoins Anfield, criticized the management of the file by the French authorities and denounced “the lies” of the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin. Before attending Steve Rotheram’s hearing before the French Senate from his constituency, he agreed to answer questions from 20 minutes.

How did you react when you heard the words of Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, last Wednesday, during his hearing before the Senate Law and Culture Committee?

I was extremely disappointed to see that Mr. Darmanin remained on the same line of defence, that he repeated more or less the same lies even though he had not the slightest proof of what he was saying. . The saddest thing about it in my opinion is to dare to hide your own mistakes by putting it on the backs of Liverpool supporters who, by their behavior, prevented the worst from happening.

What do you expect from the Minister of the Interior?

Full and complete apologies for his slander and lies, despite the evidence that has since been provided by the work of journalists and the many testimonies of supporters present on the spot. I think that would be a good start. Next, we would like an independent, truly independent investigation to be set up into the way things happened, the management of the crowd by the public authorities, the police charges, the use of tear gas against children, families, and generally everything that happened near the access gates of the Stade de France, people crushed against the barriers, etc.

And what do you expect from the authorities and the French government more broadly?

We need to know the truth about the responsibilities of the various parties, to understand how we got there, so that it never, ever, ever happens again. And if he doesn’t do that, he’s not doing his job properly, right? What happened that evening cannot be, must not be politically exploited by the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Sports. And I think that the President of the Republic must get personally involved in this file. I do not hide from you that I am afraid just at the idea that the Olympic Games could be organized in this way. When you organize such international events, you want to show the best of your country. But for that you must first know how to admit your mistakes, look in a mirror, carry out investigations and learn from them.

You were there, as you were already in 1989 during the Hillsborough drama. How did you feel throughout the evening?

I had never seen anything like it in my life, I had never seen children being gassed like that, I had never seen the police tear gas into the midst of panicking crowds. We were treated like animals… This is not how you can claim to maintain order and security around a football stadium. Here too, the methods of the French police must change radically. Those in charge must sit down and face their own mistakes to learn from all this, because it is inconceivable to see this again one day near a football stadium, especially with such a large crowd and which does not showed no animosity. We had already seen such images of the French police during demonstrations and I never thought I would see this with my own eyes during a football match…

You explained to the British parliament that this evening could have been more dramatic than in Hillsborough, facing the police, if it had not been for Liverpool supporters.

Yes, I said it and I’ll say it again, if it hadn’t been for the Reds fans, if they hadn’t shown such composure, from their experience and their collective memory after Hillsborough, I am convinced that things could have taken a turn for the worse, that there would have been more deaths [97 à Hillsborough]. They did everything not to panic in the midst of such chaos, mousetraps, traps created by the police, faced with the suspicious behavior of stewards, the total absence of information, queues totally crazy, not to mention tear gas, pepper spray. Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong…. It could have become the greatest sporting disaster ever seen in Europe and it’s only thanks to the Liverpool fans that it could have been avoided. So you understand the sadness, the disgust, the anger they may have felt when hearing French politicians maintain that they were the main responsible for this chaos, all that to cover up their own incompetence in crowd management.

You who have been able to speak with supporters since their return to Liverpool, can you tell us what mental state they are in today?

Many people are still traumatized and will probably be for years. Many of them tell us that they will never go to see an away football match again. For example, my father was with me in Paris, he is 70 years old, he was caught in a crowd movement during one of the many bottlenecks created by the police, he was jostled, crushed. Today he suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, like so many other survivors, and he told me himself that he would never go to see football games away again after that. .

Liverpool Mayor Steve Rotheram will speak to the Senate on Thursday. What do you expect from this testimony?

He will deliver his feelings, his experience on the spot, he too had a horrible experience and he will not hesitate to tell the senators. I don’t think he will hesitate either to highlight the lies of your ministers, the prefect and all those who lied to cover themselves. He will be the perfect spokesperson for Liverpool fans because he too was present at Hillsborough and he has great experience in everything related to the Liverpool club and its supporters.

In a recent public speech, Steve Rotheram sent a strong message to the French authorities saying: “You have chosen the wrong supporters, the wrong city, the wrong club [à qui vous en prendre] » .

Yes, and he’s absolutely right. It’s nothing to say that the Liverpuldians have quite an experience in this area. They fought for decades to expose the lies of the British police and authorities in the Hillsborough drama and, despite the lies and attempts to destabilize, they finally got justice. Liverpool and their supporters probably have more experience in this area than any other club in the world and we won’t stop until the full truth is out, justice done and an apology given.

Do you have a message for our ministers in charge of the file?

The ball is in their court and we will see if they decide to persist in lies and dishonor. My message to Mr. Darmanin and Mrs. Oudéa-Castera: do the job for which you are paid, for which your citizens elected you, do whatever it takes to ensure that what happened that evening does not never happen again.

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