Kevin Meagher reports on the continuing antipathy between Liverpool fans and Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper.
The travails of News International show no sign of abating. Mired in the current controversy surrounding the News of the World’s hacking of mobile phone messages, its sister paper, The Sun finds itself dogged by an earlier controversy.
The Hillsborough tragedy in 1989 saw 96 Liverpool football fans – men, women and children – crushed to death at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough football ground during a FA Cup semi final match on April 15th, 1989. Altogether, 766 people were injured, a result of the police’s failure to manage the crowd properly.
In its coverage of the tragedy, The Sun newspaper made a series of baseless allegations that Liverpool fans urinated on the dead and looted their pockets, attacking rescue workers trying to help the injured.
The memory of this appalling calumny sees Liverpudlians observe a boycott on Rupert Murdoch’s cash-cow newspaper to this day. The anger still echoes. Former Liverpool football legends Ray Houghton and Ronnie Whelan (both former Irish internationals) were due to appear on RTE television’s ‘Premier Soccer Sunday’ show on May 1st, a programme sponsored by the Irish edition of The Sun.
However. BBC Northern Ireland reported last night that both men will no longer appear on the programme. Liverpool fans had been incensed at the thought of anyone connected with the club being seen to endorse The Sun, especially in a week that saw the 22nd anniversary of the tragedy.
Pat McDermott, treasurer of West Belfast Liverpool Supporters Club, said his members had been discussing the issue on Monday night.
“From the feelings expressed there, I think people will be delighted that they aren’t taking part in the show.
“Non Liverpool supporters do not realise the levels of antipathy of Liverpool fans towards the Sun and by extension the Irish Sun.”
The background to the story is captured by Irish journalist Hugh O’Connell.
Uncharacteristically, the Irish edition of The Sun said it did not wish to make a comment; what a shame the paper was not similarly lost for words back in 1989.
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