Today (Sunday 22 May) marks the fifth anniversary of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, in which 22 people died and more than 800 were injured after an explosion tore through the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.
The mother of victim Martyn Hett, Figen Murray, who has campaigned tirelessly for new anti-terrorism laws at large venues, told Access she was optimistic about the legacy of the new Protect Duty set to come into force this year.
There is currently no legislative requirement for organisers or venues to implement any anti-terrorism measures at the vast majority of public places, but new rules could apply to any venue with a capacity of more than 100 people.
The draft Protect Duty bill, known as Martyn’s Law, was one of the 38 new laws proposed in the Queen’s Speech on 10 May.
Murray said, “Five years is obviously a big anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been five years. For me it feels like yesterday. It is so much on my mind and he is dearly missed and I’m sure all the other families feel that just as strongly.
“But there’s a lot of love and support and the progress on Martyn’s Law is really positive.
“I’m obviously quite happy that the Protect Duty was mentioned in the Queen’s Speech. That’s a big step in the right direction, although there are still a lot of parliamentary processes to go through.
“I feel optimistic and my feeling is that more and more people already implementing measures before the laws come in.
“I heard from someone who had been to see The Script at Liverpool Arena and said that the security was really good.
“That’s pleases me immensely that venues are doing this of their own accord.”
In Manchester the local authority has made it a licensing condition to complete ACT counter terrorism training.
“That to me is phenomenal,” said Murray. “It’s really important. I’m so grateful and proud of what Manchester is doing, but it is great to see the effects are reaching much further.”
Next week Murray is travelling to Washington DC to continue campaigning for a version of Martyn’s Law in America.
Murray spent Saturday celebrating her 29-year-old Coronation Street-loving son’s life with his friends and family.
Today (Sunday) she will spend the day quietly alone.
“I will not go into Manchester for the actual anniversary,” she said. “I never have done. I don’t find that an easy day to deal with. I will spend the day to myself and switch off social media.”
Commemorations will be held at the Glade of Light memorial to the victims in Manchester and at Manchester Cathedral.
Councillor Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, said, “22 May 2017 is one of the darkest days in this city’s history. It’s hard to believe that five years has passed since those terrible events. We will never forget those whose lives were so cruelly taken, or those whose lives were changed forever that day. But nor should we forget the remarkable spirit shown in the aftermath of the attack as the city came together in solidarity, compassion and a refusal to give in to hatred and fear. Love proved stronger.”