In all the countless pages of commentary on the Hillsborough enquiry findings I could find just one fleeting mention of Britain's colonial war against Ireland and that was from Simon Jenkins who deigned to mention Bloody Sunday in one of his pieces. Hooray for Mr Jenkins. For the rest of Britain's rabid pro-imperialist media, Britain's long running war against Ireland had absolutely no connection what-so-ever to the tragedy that befell those Liverpool football fans all those years ago. And yet, if we care to remind ourselves, Britain, at the time of the Hillsborough tragedy was at the height of its bloody campaign to crush the body and spirit of those brave Irish republicans who had the temerity to claim self-rule for not just 26 counties but for all 32 counties of Ireland. So what exactly is the connection between the two? The linkage may be circumstantial in some commentator's eyes, but the more one dwells on the political realities of the day, the more the linkage becomes tangible and intelligible.

Consider this; the very same British establishment that sought to obscure and deceive for so very long over the Bloody Sunday massacre of unarmed Irish nationalists by British soldiers, was up to exactly the self-same tricks when the Hillsborough tragedy exploded onto our TV screens. The fact that the victims were principally from Liverpool, a city with a strong Irish linage, may have subliminally compounded the British establishment's initial response, but the key point to be made here is the prevailing culture of deceit and criminality that permeated all levels of British society at that time.

Britain, at the time of Hillsborough, was waging a brutal war of repression against the completely legitimate demands of Irish republicanism. It was a simple demand for self-determination  a demand that Britain regularly gives lip service to on a daily basis. Yet when it came to Britain's oldest and nearest colony, no such inaliable right of self-determination was to be accorded. Instead the Irish people were treated to concentration camps, internment without due legal process, a shoot to kill policy of those who dared to resist, and a deadly secret policy of collusion with loyalist gangs that were openly advocating a fascist ideology. All this repressive and highly illegal apparatus could not but led to a culture of British state criminality that eroded like a festering cancer what little democratic norms Britain had managed to secure for itself in the post war era. The result was simple; whenever the state was found to be wanting, as was patently the case at Hillsborough that Saturday afternoon, the automatic default position of police, government and media was to obfuscate and lie. They had been doing it for decades in respect to Ireland so it came as a quite natural response. 

Of course the essence of Britain's hostile attitude to Ireland is not just one of national chauvinism but of class antagonism. Irish republicanism had, by the 1970's, morphed into a militant working class movement with links to other proletarian and radical movements across the globe. Irish republicanism had come to represent, at least in an embryonic way, an existential threat to British class rule. Imagine, thought the establishment, if English, Scottish and Welsh workers were to pick up arms and threaten the status quo. That would be the nightmare scenario. No wonder the full repressive machine, so well-honed in the north of Ireland, was quickly and ruthlessly employed against the striking mine workers. So, by the time of Hillsborough, the British police state was in full swing so to speak. One more state sponsored deception would hardly be noticed. Or so they thought.

So where are we now? Britain's secret and repressive state can hardly be said to have been dismantled. The Labour Government under Tony Blair, led us to a wholly illegal war against Iraq. The Labour government acquiesced to the illegal US policies of rendition and torture in their so-called war against terror. And of course Labour, like their Tory counterparts, acquiesced to Rupert Murdoch's criminal media empire which saw government and police totally compromised by his global ambitions, ambitions that have always been anti-Irish, anti-republican, anti-democratic and of course, anti-working class.

Hillsborough certainly had its own particular contours and these, out of respect to those that perished, should not be forgotten. But Hillsborough should also be seen as part of a bigger tapestry, one firmly with its roots in Britain's Irish colonial war. And you know what the old adage has to say about war: the first casualty is the truth! 

Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 May 2018 07:44 )