A regional daily has warned a terror attack on its patch that claimed 22 lives must “never happen again” after a report found some of the victims could have survived.
The Manchester Evening News says those who died in the Manchester Arena terror attack “deserved better” after an inquiry found a series of failings in the way the emergency services responded to the incident.
The report found 28-year-old John Atkinson should have survived the bombing, while there was also a “remote possibility” Saffie-Rose Roussos, the youngest victim of suicide bomber Salman Abedi, could also have lived.
The MEN splashed on the report’s publication on Friday with an image of a worker bee, the symbol of Manchester that became synonymous with the city’s resilience in the wake of the attack, and the date of the 2017 tragedy.
In an accompanying opinion piece written jointly, features editor Chris Osuh and journalist Beth Abbit wrote: “Ultimately it was an act of evil that was responsible for taking John and Saffie’s lives. The evil of suicide bomber Salman Abedi, and his brother, Hashem Abedi, who has been jailed for life.
“But there are people and organisations who are supposed to try and protect us – and on that night, they failed. As one survivor put it: ‘I could hear the sirens close by, but help never came.’
“The long-awaited report into the emergency services’ response to the bombing of Manchester Arena has found that John should have survived, and there was a ‘remote possibility’ Saffie could have.
“But for the failings of those systems bound to protect us, summed up in just six of Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders’ words: “Many things did go badly wrong.”
“That isn’t to say there wasn’t heroism – from uniformed staff, members of the public; rays of hope and courage on the darkest of nights.
“But the scale of the failure that night let John and Saffie down. It let everyone at Manchester Arena that night down. It let Greater Manchester down.
“They all deserved better. Greater Manchester deserves better. And it must not happen again.
“The failures were big, the failures were small. The cumulative effect was devastating.”
More than £20m was raised in an MEN-backed campaign to help the victims and families, while the newspaper has also been instrumental in calling for the adoption of ‘Martyn’s Law’, a campaign by the family of victim Martyn Hett to tighten up security checks at concerts
Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders found in his report that “none of the emergency services had gripped the response to the attack as they should have”, with the different services making separate risk assessments and reaching different conclusions.
Chris and Beth added: “There is a dizzying array of detail in the chairman’s devastating findings, but the message is stark. None of the emergency services – not the police, not the fire service, not the ambulance service, responded to the incident the way we would expect them to.
“People bled to death while things fell apart. And these are just the failures of the emergency services revealed by the conclusion of this part of the inquiry.”
“Five years, five months and 12 days since that fateful night at Manchester Arena, there is palpable anger. Anger at the excuses made, the lack of preparedness, planning, coordination and communication. As a lawyer representing many of the families says: “Almost everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.”
“If we are to see real change, change that can save lives, those in power need to take collective responsibility. No scapegoats. No excuses.”