Windrush scandal: James O'Brien challenges public to put themselves in shoes of victims

22 June 2020, 13:05

By Seán Hickey

On the anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, James O'Brien appealed to the public to support victims of the scandal.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May issued an apology two years ago to victims of the Windrush scandal, who were told that they were illegally settled in the UK.

James O'Brien was pointing out that there has been little coverage of the event on the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush and called on listeners to put themselves in the shoes of victims.

"Just imagine it was you, wherever you're from whatever your star sign is, whatever the colour of your skin may be wherever your parents were born, you had every right to be here and you wake up one morning to find out that the authorities didn't think you did and they were gonna do everything they could to get you out.

"This is where I struggle at the moment with the absence of empathy in British discourse at the moment, surely everybody should have been outraged, same with Grenfell Tower.

"Imagine if you'd burnt to death in you home and they were very very important questions that needed to be answered by authorities and people in your home had been warning for years that a catastrophe was on the horizon.

The Empire Windrush arrived in the UK 72 years ago carrying hundreds from Jamaica
The Empire Windrush arrived in the UK 72 years ago carrying hundreds from Jamaica. Picture: PA

"Surely the human reaction would be identical, you'd just imagine if it had happened to you and respond accordingly but no, this is the big gap in my understanding of humanity, it just doesn't work like that."

James told listeners that 1,275 claims for compensation were made and to date, only 60 people received compensation. He reminded listeners that victims of the Windrush scandal were unable to work after being contacted by the authorities.

He called for a unified response to the scandal but stated that "you can't get that when you're still treating a section of the country as second class and denying that it happened."

"How after two years, two years after an apology can so few of the people whose lives were torn to pieces, how can they still be waiting for proper recognition and recompense from this government?"

An apology to victims of the Windrush scandal was issued two years ago
An apology to victims of the Windrush scandal was issued two years ago. Picture: PA

"Ask yourself how you'd feel if it was you" James concluded adding that is putting himself in the situation of the victims.

"If you're struggling to see why I find this story so troubling is because I find it very very easy to imagine what it must feel like and I just think it's unforgivable and disgusting."

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