Calendar of Newspaper Articles dealing with Civil Rights issues, 1 Jun 1968 - 9 Dec 1968 by Alan Scott
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September: | 2-7 | 9-14 | 16-21 | 23-28 | 30 | Top |
£30 million dream to end Derry's homeless crux
Feature: Derry city council has built 14 houses in the past two years; 1,064 families are on the general housing list. Protest will continue until something is done. It stems from the 'growing revulsion against the local Unionist power system.' Nationalist councillor James Doherty admits that, if all goes well, the present housing plan for the city should relieve some of the worst stresses within a year.
'A further submission to extremists'
Report: A Belfast member of the NILP criticises the government's handling of the Dungannon civil rights march, arguing that 'every concession to the extremists' will lead to 'still further erosion in the freedom of people to express views contrary to those of the extremists.'
RBP men back Craig's peace move
Report: The co Antrim Black Institution welcomes the actions of Craig and the RUC over the Dungannon march. The press is accused of 'giving what amounts to tacit encouragement to irresponsible incitement designed ultimately to overthrow our constitution.' Catholics should not allow themselves to be exploited by those who apparently embrace left-wing policies to further their personal ambitions. At Strabane, Rafton Pounder MP, claims that the interim report of the Society of Labour Lawyers is 'partisan, provocative and pretentious.' He wishes to make it clear that, 'we will not tolerate either interference in our affairs or distortion of our position.' At a separate demonstration, press treatment of Northern Ireland is criticised, and the government asked to fight 'anti-Ulster propaganda.'
[BT, 31 August]
Young Socialists to picket prison
Report: Belfast Young Socialists plan to welcome, by means of a picket protest, the release of the DHAC protesters jailed for their Derry activities. The protest will also be against housing conditions in both Derry and Belfast. The chairman of Victoria NILP branch expresses the view that government restrictions on the Dungannon civil rights march marked a surrender to extremism and could lead to the erosion of free speech.
[IN, NL, 3 September]
3 September, 1968
Civil rights protest plans for Derry
Report: NICRA announces plans for a civil rights demonstration in Derry, the date to be decided. 'The demonstration would be in protest at the city's housing situation, employment, local government reform and freedom of speech and assembly.' The Belfast Young Socialists are preparing to welcome the release from a prison of the DHAC protesters held there, and plan a further picket of the prison in protest at housing conditions in Derry and Belfast.
Tenants seek mass protest
Report: A Dundonald tenants' association seeks a mass protest over housing rent rises. Meanwhile, NICRA plans a protest in Derry on housing, employment, local government and freedom of speech and assembly.
Young Socialists 'welcome' picket
Report: Belfast Young Socialists will welcome the two DHAC prisoners on their release in a further protest at housing conditions in Derry and Belfast.
[BT, 2 September]
The old story in minority political action
Letter: The lack of political unity among minority representatives harms the minority community as a whole, and this was demonstrated once again by the poor organisation that lay behind the Dungannon march: 'up to 30,000 people were expected; something little more than a tenth of that number participated.'
Tyrone protest 'a lost chance' - professor
Report: Prof James Scott of Queen's University argues in a letter to the press that the Dungannon civil rights protest was a missed opportunity - poorly organised and very disappointingly attended. He feels that anti-Unionists ought to concert their efforts in regard to discrimination. More people are now opting for Unionism 'in the hope that the prime minister would somehow, someday, get around to dealing with discrimination at the grass roots of his party.'
Dungannon demonstration [Letter]
[see BT, 29 August, Disorder at Dungannon]
Evidence for Mr Wilson
Letter: All those interested in civil rights should follow this writer's example in sending to Wilson and other important political figures local press cuttings on the position of the minority community.
Law and order in the North
Letter: If Stormont is, as it claims to be, a British institution, then it should allow a peaceful civil rights march to take place, especially in view of the other marches that it permits.
Resigns from orders
Report: A Lisnaskea man resigns from the Orange Order and Royal Black Institution, claiming victimisation over his attendance at a catholic funeral. He also claims to have been passed over on the housing waiting list.
Editorial: O'Neill's minor changes to government personnel may signal an early election, but a broader change in the 'Glengall Street machine' is desirable. Reaction to the Labour lawyers' interim report was 'unnecessarily sharp' from the Unionists, and constituted an example of 'hidebound' thinking. The party must adapt to changing political circumstances.
4 September, 1968
Government flayed in senate over handling of Dungannon rights march
Leader: The government is accused in the senate of having given in to extremism on the Dungannon march. Dr Patrick McGill believes that O'Neill's reformist sympathies are real, but are held in check by his party. Rights to free assembly and speech were denied the minority during the Dungannon affair, showing a clear double-standard. The demonstration was non-party and non-sectarian. Sen Patrick Mallon claims that demonstrations act as a safety valve for popular feeling, and should be permitted. Unionists justify the police action, and one claims that the demonstration was a vehicle not for nationalist grievances but for their aspiration towards a united Ireland. He warns that threats of force from the minority could bring retaliation. Sen Patrick O'Hare feels that the Unionist Party is ruled not by O'Neill but by faceless men in Orange lodges and on public boards, and he warns of the dangers of preventing legitimate constitutional expression. Sen William Stewart believes that community relations in Dungannon were 'never better,' and thus, 'people in the town resented groups coming in trying to disrupt these good feelings.' Lennon says that the government must firmly back O'Neill, arguing that 'the opposition…would do all in their power to bring about better community relations but that was difficult when, at the same time, they [the minority] were suffering indignity, injustice and the denial of fundamental democratic rights.'
'Trouble was in store'
Report: Sen John Andrews, leader of the senate, replies to Nationalist criticism of the handling of the Dungannon march, arguing that trouble could easily have ensued had not the police taken the action they did, in view of 'strong and widespread opposition in the Dungannon area to the march.' He says that the re-routing decision was taken by the police rather than the ministry of home affairs. Previous to this, McGill had put forward the view that 'the decent Unionist element had not objected to the march, but extremists had threatened violence that the authorities felt they would be unable to control.' David McClelland talks of the marchers carrying 'provocative placards,' using offensive expressions, and he raises the question of the call made 'to join the IRA.' Mallon warns that the 'safety valve' of marches must not be closed; Elder attacks 'implied utterances of force,' which could lead to retaliation.
March curbs called victory for 'lowest elements'
Report: Also, Sen O'Hare talks of 'faceless men' in Unionism wielding the real power. It is argued that 'serious consequences' will result from continued restrictions of the kind witnessed at Dungannon.
Housing protest at prison
Report: The Northern Ireland Young Socialist Alliance protests outside the prison where two DHAC protesters are held. The NDP group at Queen's University warns Unionists that the formation of a non-sectarian, non-political group in Derry, and the drift away from traditional political affiliations, could easily represent a threat not only to Unionism, but also to 'the whole social set-up in Northern Ireland.' Most Unionists are 'decent, well-meaning people,' who should be presented with the facts.
Protest at prison for Derry men
Report: The Young Socialist protesters turned up at the prison, but the release has not yet taken place.
The Dungannon civil rights demonstration
Letter: The Dungannon demonstration was a success, and in any case, it should not be assumed that the civil rights movement is 'some sort of nationalist splinter group.' Rather, 'the demonstration was not a protest against Unionism as such, but against Unionist methods, against discrimination, rigging of local elections, and undemocratic laws.' NICRA has 'no political aims,' nor is it 'a more cloak for anti-Unionist activity.'
Significance of Dungannon
Letter: The civil rights march was no failure; Unionist estimates of the numbers present are inaccurate. Nor did Gerry Fitt perform irresponsibly. There should be no dismay at the fact that 'A Soldier's Song' was sung, since 'nationally-minded people know that the only real guarantee of civil and religious freedom lies in a written republican constitution drawn up by a national government for all the Irish people.'
Exposure of discrimination in book form
Letter: Many constitutional methods of protest have failed, whether they be careful argument at Stormont or marches or sit-ins in the localities. There remains however another constitutional way forward: the facts can be exposed to outsiders. This will be an effective strategy, since 'Unionists fear exposure.' In order to achieve this, 'the best brains of the opposition must get busy in selecting the most effective methods of publicising Unionist injustice and unfairness.' The tactics used by Fitt, the CSJ and the CDU must be extended and carried forward in the form of a book of factual statistics, detailing 'authenticated facts of Unionist discrimination in franchise, housing and employment; the bias of the TV authorities; the contrasting actions of the police in regard to Unionist parades and processions and those held by non-Unionists; the stench of Derry; the shame of Dungannon,' and many more examples.
Letter: The minority acted with commendable restraint at the Dungannon march. In England, the opposing marchers would have been dispersed. If Wilson or Heath knew more of the facts about the Northern Ireland situation, then the Government of Ireland Act 'would be on the agenda.'
Growing move to Unionism
Report: Prof James Scott of Queen's University writes to the press indicating his belief that lack of unity among anti-unionists is causing many people to turn to Unionism in the hope that the prime minister will some day get around to dealing with discrimination at the grass roots of his party.' He criticises the Dungannon civil rights march for poor organisation and the resulting highly disappointing attendance.
[IN, BT, 3 September]
Concessions to the extremists
Letter: The victory for the extremists at the Dungannon march is deplorable: 'the threat of violence, after all, emanated from the extremists and not from the marchers. Concessions to extremism inhibit the freedom of those wishing to express views contrary to those of the extremists.'
Letter: Fitt's comparison of Northern Ireland with Soviet repression in Czechoslovakia is ridiculous; the marchers were allowed freedom of expression.
Editorial: A minor cabinet reshuffle signals no real change in Unionist policy: after all, why should it, when government is 'secure in the assurance of a built-in majority and a consciousness of power that is in no danger of erosion'? Government ought to show 'a greater concern for the injustices that abound; to cease being so flagrantly a protestant government; to promote as speedily and as strenuously as possible…social justice for the large catholic minority in the areas of local government, housing and employment.'
Youth tells court he was protesting against corrupt system
Report: A participant in the DHAC Craigavon Bridge sit-down protest appears in court. He pleads that he was protesting against a corrupt system and its 'denial of homes to 2,000 families.
Protest boy in court [Report]
Action committee on housing
Report: The central committee of the co Antrim Republican Clubs forms a housing action committee.
Don't drop PR voting, says Eire Labour
Report: Republic of Ireland Labour Party leader, Brendan Corish, argues against the introduction in the Republic of the straight vote system. 'The straight vote is the foundation upon which the Unionists have built a regime of oppression, discrimination and widespread injustice.' He cites Derry as an example.
5 September, 1968
What did police do? Question for Mr Craig
Leader: Fitt is to ask Craig at Stormont why police did not act to prevent the Dungannon UPV counter-demonstration when a notice advertising the gathering had appeared on the previous evening in the local press.
Probe sought on UPV advert
Report: Fitt plans to question Craig at Stormont as an advertisement that appeared in a local paper, calling for attendance at the Dungannon UPV demonstration. He wishes to know if notice was given to police of this demonstration, where it was given by the CRA for its own protest.
[NL, 6 September]
Fifty years of failure
Editorial: Prof Scott's recent expression of disgust at nationalist disunity and failure, and his admission that more people are now turning to Unionism, 'confirms the often disputed Unionist claim that the party enjoys support that cuts across sectarian barriers, and that it has the advancement of Ulster as a whole as its principal target.'
Party for released protesters [sic]
Report: The two imprisoned DHAC members are released. One states, 'we will continue to struggle for fair play in the allocation of houses in Derry and to obtain decent housing. Going to prison was our way of bringing this abuse to the notice of the public.'
Letter: Ultimately, the liberalism of O'Neill acts in defence of the indefensible housing situation in Derry. Conventional Nationalism too 'operates as a first line of defence for the entrenched bigots who run Derry.'
Letter: A previous correspondent is being inconsistent in condemning 'the shabby dragging years of unnecessary housing delay,' while at the same time continuing to vote Unionist. The Labour candidate at the recent local by-election advocated a crash housing programme and a fair points system based on need. What can be objectionable in these?
6 September, 1968
Republicans in van of fight for equal rights
Letter: 'Republicans are actively engaged in tackling the problems confronting the citizens of a fascist state,' being involved with such organisations as 'housing action committees and tenants' associations.' The movement's 'interest in securing equal rights for all is illustrated by the fact that it has more representatives than any other body on the present committee of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.'
A rosary is the 'open sesame'
Letter: Catholics receive 'more than justice' in Northern Ireland and cannot expect to obtain a privileged position. Their deliberate attempts to increase their population have put them in a position where it is more difficult to find jobs and houses. Protestants and Unionists face similar problems. It could be argued that there is discrimination in favour of catholics.
Did UPV give notice to police?
Report: Fitt is to ask Craig why police did not prevent the UPV counter-demonstration in Dungannon when a notice advertising the gathering had appeared on the previous evening in a local newspaper.
[IN, BT, 5 September]
Leader: Police have as yet taken no action in response to the planned UPV march through the mainly catholic town of Maghera, of which due notice has been given. Paisley claims that the demonstration is in response to comments made by Kevin Agnew on civil disobedience and 'Orange bigots.'
Housing critics 'no friends of Ulster'
Report: Faulkner hits out at 'malicious propaganda in housing cooked up by people who are no friends of Ulster's cause.' He defends Northern Ireland's housing record, while admitting that more yet needs to be done.
[IN, NL, 7 September]
Freed protesters are chaired [sic] through Derry
Report: The freed DHAC protesters receive a warm welcome on their return to Derry. A DHAC statement asserts that 'the failure of conventional political activity and conventional political operatives to achieve any amelioration of the housing situation has left those, who are willing to fight for change, no option but to present a frontal challenge to the authorities.'
Labour call for Royal Commission on Ulster
Report: A motion to be put before the Labour Party conference calls for a Royal Commission to be established to investigate religious and political discrimination in housing and employment, electoral malpractices, and the operation of the Special Powers Act. Another resolution calls for direct intervention from Westminster under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act, 'so that British democracy can apply in Northern Ireland.'
[BT, 24 July, 30 September, NL, 25 July, IN, 1 October]
Housing in Derry: need for radical action
Letter: The Nationalist Party in Derry has no clear programme for tackling the city's social ills; Nationalist representatives swing between a policy of moderation and one of 'semi-hysterical outbursts of "militancy".' The party's problem is that it is a catholic organisation; it is prepared to acquiesce in sectarian division, and does not see 'the basic truth that our problems are those of class not creed.' The protestant working class is fooled into believing that it occupies a privileged position. What is required in Derry is 'a points system based on present living conditions, the number of persons in the household and the medical history of the applicant and his or her family.'
[NL, 11 September]
'Withdraw Irish coinage from North' move defeated
Report: Faulkner defends the government's house-building programme and dismisses 'malicious propaganda' directed against it.
Faulkner lashes critics
Report: He denies that govt is dragging its feet on housing.
[BT, 6 September]
Jaundiced eye on Ulster
Editorial: The resolution on Northern Ireland that will be put to the Labour Party conference exemplifies the kind of attacks that are being made by opponents of the state and of Unionism. The government should provide nothing less than 'well documented and factual repudiations' of the attacks.
Extra police ready
Leader: Police re-route the planned Maghera UPV march away from predominantly nationalist areas. The UPV claims to have no objections to this decision.
9 September, 1968
Civil rights march for Derry
Report: The NICRA civil rights march planned for Derry will take place on 5 October. Police have been informed of the date and proposed route.
Another 'rights' march planned [Report]
October 5 is march date [Report]
Paisley's Maghera parade goes without incident
Report: The UPV march through predominantly catholic Maghera passes off peacefully, with the marchers accepting RUC changes to the route.
Facts about Dungannon
Letter: The Black Institution was making a mockery of Christianity in claiming that discrimination does not exist in Northern Ireland. The facts of the Dungannon situation demonstrate the contrary.
Claim that privy council ruling ends 'convention'
Report: A ruling by the privy council on parliamentary sovereignty over Southern Rhodesia, says Patricia McCluskey, has implications for Northern Ireland. Wilson should now consider intervention. She also says that Britain is to be called upon to answer at the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights, allegations relating to discrimination in jobs, voting and public housing. Questions will also be asked in regard to the Special Powers Act.
10 September, 1968
Uproar at Dungannon over housing and march
Leader: Two motions put down by opposition members are defeated at a meeting of Dungannon urban council. The first calls for the council to abandon its 'politically-motivated' policy of housing segregation, which is seen to be damaging community relations. The second condemns those Unionist councillors who 'assisted in organising' a counter-demonstration against a non-political march, that 'might have caused a serious breach of the peace.' The supporters of the motions claim that the restrictions placed on the civil rights march marked a Unionist surrender to pressure from extremists; Unionists condemn the civil rights demonstration as political, adding that 'the inflammatory, provocative and inciting speeches might have caused a serious breach of the peace.'
Noisy scenes at Dungannon [Report]
Uproar as Dungannon UDC debates rights march
Report: The police re-routing is seen by opposition councillors as 'provocative.' One Unionist councillor feels that equal rights should be enjoyed by all, but sees the march as political in character.
Party split lets Unionist into UDC post
Report: A split in the Irish Labour Party on Newry UDC allows a Unionist to gain a council post. One Irish Labour member states his disgust at the lack of allocations of housing on the basis of need.
Republicanism's positive and negative images
Letter: A republicanism that espouses senseless violence is negative and justifies Unionist counter-violence; positive republicanism fights injustice, whether in Dungannon, Derry or among the minority generally.
11 September, 1968
Senate walk-out by Dr Donaghy over minister's 'B' men stand
Report: Craig refutes opposition suggestions that the Ulster Special Constabulary should not be used to administer breath tests because of a lack of impartiality. Sen Nelson Elder accuses the Opposition of bigotry, a charge that it denies.
Housing in Derry [Letter]
[see IN, 7 September, Housing in Derry: need for radical action]
Enough is enough
Editorial: With regard to Dungannon, 'to the outsider looking in it is difficult to judge the rights and wrongs of the case at issue. Each side can and does produce impressive statistics to prove its point. The need now is not for recriminations and civil rights protests, but for a moderate approach.' The people of Dungannon should be left to work out the situation among themselves, free from 'outside influences and all who are tempted to make political capital out of the situation.' An escalation of tensions can only damage industrial progress and ultimately the ability to provide houses. 'More can be built with good will than is often immediately apparent.'
Why a Derry liberal voted Unionist
Letter: Unionism requires the support of people who care since 'Captain O'Neill is attempting to drag this Province into the twentieth century. He lacks the support of rabid Unionism.'
Reform Ulster constitution, Liberals urge
Report: A motion to be put before the British Liberal Party conference will call, among other things, for a reform of the Northern Ireland constitution.
[IN, 14 September, NL, 16 September]
12 September, 1968
Demonstrating our stability
Comment: The police helped maintain order at the Dungannon demonstration, but the civil rights movement does reflect the existence of real grievances. '[The demonstration] could be the forerunner of tenser occasions and possibly organised civil disobedience…The right to demonstrate is worth preserving in any democracy. But it is not the right to demonstrate anywhere, at any time and in any circumstances. There is an equal right…to be protected from demonstrations. Too often, their purpose seems to be to intimidate rather than to persuade.'
13 September, 1968
Labour seeks review of protest laws
Report: The Council of Labour for Ireland calls on both governments, north and south, to facilitate free speech and the right to demonstrate freely: the law should be applied 'with justice and impartiality regardless of faction, religion and political party.'
[IN, NL, 14 September]
14 September, 1968
For British Liberal Party conference
Report: A Northern Ireland Liberal Party delegation will attend the British Liberal Party conference. One resolution to be put before the conference will call for the reform of the Northern Ireland constitution so that it will protect minority rights.
[BT, 11 September, NL, 16 September]
Derry house allocation condemned
Report: The Council of Labour for Ireland condemns unjust housing allocation in Derry and calls on the governments of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland to reform any anti-democratic legislation.
'Apply the law with justice'
Report: The Council of Labour for Ireland urges both the government of Northern Ireland and that of the Republic of Ireland 'to apply existing law with justice and impartiality regardless of faction, religion and political party.' This request is made 'in view of the long history of restrictions on free speech and legitimate protest in Ireland, north and south, and of the provocative abuses by extremists and bigots which have taken place from time to time.' The situation with regard to housing allocation in Derry is also deplored.
[BT, 13 September]
Letter: Violence as a means to secure equal rights may be condemned: however, 'recent events have shown that the Unionist government is not particularly influenced by peaceful demonstrations…Long live pacifism - but not at the expense of democracy.'
Unionists form new branch in Tyrone
Report: At the inauguration of a new local Unionist branch in Coalisland, John Taylor accuses Austin Currie of reliance upon a sectarian policy to maintain his positions. The chairman of Dungannon urban district council, Sen William Stewart, expresses the feeling that most catholics are happy with housing in the Dungannon area; he points out that 53% of government-subsidised houses have gone to catholics.
16 September, 1968
CR body denies Mr Faulkner's allegation
Report: NICRA denies that its aim, as Brian Faulkner has suggested that it is, is the undermining of the Northern Ireland constitution. Opposition to Unionist methods, says McAnerney, 'is not anti-partition activity.' The CRA takes no part in the political struggle between unionism and nationalism: 'Let him [Faulkner] persuade his party to give Northern Ireland a Race Relations Bill, an ombudsman, a real reform of local government, and to abolish the Special Powers Act, and the Civil Rights Association will go out of business.'
Association 'not anti-partition' [Report]
Opponents 'sowing seeds of discord,' says Faulkner
Report: Faulkner feels that civil rights is merely the latest in a series of convenient guises behind which republicanism is to be found, designed to undermine the constitution and provoke Unionists. Another speaker joins him in emphasising economic progress, feeling also that the media 'seem to want to emphasise every march of protest and take as little interest as possible in Ulster's march of progress.' The report of the Society of Labour Lawyers was, from the start, designed to be one-sided and propagandistic.
Faulkner slams rights protest march [Report]
Don't rise to civil rights bait - Faulkner
Report: Faulkner tells a Lisnaskea meeting that the civil rights movement is merely the latest guise for anti-partitionism. The chairman of the Young Unionists feels that the press will make as much as possible of the situation, since conflict is always newsworthy. He resents the 'propaganda by innuendo exemplified by the Society of Labour Lawyers['] inquiry into Northern Ireland.'
Under the searchlight
Editorial: The facts about Northern Ireland are finally becoming known to the world, through the press and concerned individuals and organisations such as the Society of Labour Lawyers. For Unionists now, 'it just won't do to go on getting red in the face denying that there is discrimination or discrediting those who make the charges.' The civil rights movement is not a cover for nationalism, but is genuinely fighting for civil rights.
English statesmen have easy consciences
Comment: British government action on Rhodesia shows that there is no reason why there should not be intervention in Northern Ireland to deal with '(a) the position of government interference with the ordinary citizens' right of peaceful meeting; (b) discrimination in distribution of industry; (c) making public appointments; (d) housing; (e) gerrymandering of local government areas, enabling minority electors to return majorities to the councils.' The CSJ's strategy seems to be one of quickening the pace of reform in Northern Ireland by alerting opinion abroad to the situation.
Nationalists at Leinster House
Letter: Perhaps Nationalist grievances might find a solution if they were put before Dáil Éireann.
Liberals to get support from Ulster
Report: A delegation from the Northern Ireland Liberal Party will be present at the British Liberal Party conference. One conference resolution will call for the reform of the Northern Ireland constitution so as to protect minority rights
[BT, 11 September, IN, 14 September]
Hardness of heart
Editorial: The Unionist Party and its opponents are all in favour of decent social services; why then must the party continue to deny that there is a housing problem? Those who complain are not automatically 'republicans concerned to whip up petty strife.' A bi-partisan approach is desirable.
17 September, 1968
All are urged to back civil rights drive
Report: RLP branches urge support for the 5 October civil rights demonstration in Derry. the campaign should, it is said, remain free from manipulative political influences, and concentrating on securing 'basic human and political rights in Northern Ireland.' All 'decent people, regardless of class, creed or politics' should involve themselves in fighting the injustice borne by the working class in terms of housing employment and basic human rights.'
British MPs to attend rights rally?
Report: The Republican Labour Party has invited British MPs to attend the Derry civil rights march. A meeting of party branches in Belfast is told that the movement should not be used to the political advantage of any one party, and that support for it should come from 'all decent people, regardless of class, creed or politics.'
Preparations for civil rights march in Derry
Report: The CRA meets local groups and forms a co-ordinating body to concert action on the 5 October march. Police are said to have voiced no objections to the proposed route of the march.
Editorial: Injustice cannot be ignored by Unionists, for finding its remedy is elementary to a democratic system. 'The key element in all this is the power that resides in Unionism to proclaim justice and right for all citizens, irrespective of their political or religious creed. The intelligent use of that power is the only hope of change in the situation.'
18 September, 1968
Unionists fear civil rights marches - Currie
Report: Unionist misrepresentation of the Dungannon civil rights march is a sign of a fear of such protest, says Currie. He cites as evidence of this fear the re-routing of the march in order to imbue it with a sectarian character; 'the deliberate attempts to minimise the numbers taking part' and to exaggerate the strength of the opposing protest; attacks on the organisers; and every possible tactic. He feels that it is wrong to suggest that the civil rights movement has any other aim than civil rights, and argues that 'discrimination and gerrymandering were now too well documented' to be ignored. John Carron MP feels that Faulkner's choice of Lisnaskea as the location in which to make his speech was unfortunate, in that discrimination can be proven to exist in that area; a minority of Unionist voters returns a majority of the local political representation, while nationalists have received only one in four houses since the war, and are discriminated against in employment. The speech was ill-informed and made a mockery of O'Neill's ideas on better community relations.
Faulkner's civil rights speech hit
Report: McAteer says, 'apparently in Unionist eyes anyone who dares to claim the normal rights of a free man is in some way or other a thinly disguised enemy of the government.'
Permission for protest march
Report: McAnerney says that a co-ordinating committee has been set up in Derry to concert efforts in regard to the forthcoming civil rights march. Police have been informed of the route to be taken and, he claims, have made no objection. He says that the CRA 'will go out of business' if the Northern Ireland government provides for a Race Relations Bill, and ombudsman, 'real reform of local government,' and the abolition of the Special Powers Act.
'Lost ground,' says Sir Knox
Report: Sir Knox Cunningham expresses to a Unionist meeting the idea that the events at Dungannon have shown the 'more vocal and aggressive' approach adopted by nationalists.
'Things not too bad in Ulster' a delusion
Letter: The Northern Ireland state is most definitely rotten; the Dungannon civil rights march was a symptom of this disease, and was entirely justified, especially in view of the fact that the democratic process does not work: 'I believe in the democratic process. The difficulty is that those in control do not.' This is not a call for extra-constitutional activity; it is merely a sad fact of life that the Northern Ireland state is polluted with hatred and bigotry. This was evident from the scenes at Dungannon, where the police re-routing was an attempt to equate civil rights with catholicism, and where the actions of some demonstrators and counter-demonstrators were equally sickening.
19 September, 1968
'No danger if Nationalists win proposed new councils'
Faulkner was right about 'civil rights' protests
Letter: The Dungannon civil rights march contained representatives of republicanism, including those of Sinn Féin: 'A Soldier's Song' was sung by a section of the marchers. Surely Faulkner is right to suspect that there is something other than 'real concern and demand for houses' behind the movement.
[NL, 23 September]
Protests are the only way
Letter: There is nothing necessarily anti-partitionist about the civil rights movement; there is nothing wrong with a desire to secure fair standards for all within Northern Ireland, in order to bring them into line with the rest of the UK, of which Unionists are so fond of proclaiming they are a part. 'Does Mr Faulkner really believe that there is not a better, fairer way, of allocating houses to needy people than turning to the mayor's memory and sense of justice?'
Letter: Discrimination is a fact in Northern Ireland and 'it is the facts, not anti-partitionist propaganda that discredit Northern Ireland.'
20 September, 1968
Queen's Democratic group's retort to Faulkner speech
Report: The NDP group at Queen's University attacks what it sees as the Unionist strategy of making a republican 'bogeyman' out of the civil rights movement. The organisers of protest in Dungannon and Derry alike are to be praised; the new left has sown itself in these places. Protestants must be prepared to fight alongside catholics for social justice, even if they have to withstand Paisleyite abuse. 'So-called leaders, both orange and green' have nothing but sterile old ideas to offer. Dungannon marked the start of a new and radical movement.
Rights march 'a popular protest'
Report: Queen's University NDP group claims that the Dungannon march and housing action are 'genuine forces of non-sectarian action.' Faulkner is criticised for demonising the Dungannon march. Members of the unionist working class must realise that the system does not benefit them. Protestants must not fear to stand against injustice.
Malpractices behind the border that divides country and province
Report: The annual convention in Killiney, Co Dublin, of the Assurance Representatives Organisation, condemns the treatment of 'half the population of the Six Counties' as second-class citizens. Under-employment in nationalist areas is seen as a deliberate government strategy to enforce emigration, so reducing the number of opposition voters. The Special Powers Act, the convention is told, is applied only against nationalists, while gerrymandering has proven to be highly effective. The government is accused of maintaining a private protestant army, in the form of the 'B' Specials, and permitting discrimination in public appointments and housing allocations.
Editorial: 'The political aspect should not be allowed to be a stumbling block to reorganisation in local government.'
21 September, 1968
Call to reform constitution in North
Leader: A motion on a federal United Kingdom, calling for a reform of the Northern Ireland constitution so that it will protect minority rights, is accepted by the British Liberal Party conference.
Liberals urge reform for Ulster [Report]
Democracy is being stifled, says McElroy [Report]
Discrimination stronger among the ignorant
Comment: A UN-sponsored symposium on the Race Relations Bill and Northern Ireland is to be held at Queen's University. The Bill should not be extended to cover religious discrimination in Northern Ireland. 'There is certainly still a good deal of prejudice against Roman catholics, and in some cases protestants, getting certain jobs or houses, but it would be taking too gloomy a view to claim that discrimination is on the increase.' The extension of the Race Relations Bill 'might well give rise to a bigoted brand of militant protestantism which would set us back forty years.' Discrimination and prejudice are in decline. The solution is 'education in the broadest sense, including greater social integration' and the reduction of shortages in both jobs and housing. Prejudice stems from both ignorance and insecurity.
Keep religion out of jobs, Derry told
Report: Derry's town clerk opposes the active recruitment of catholics to the staff sub-committee of the corporation, feeling that religious affiliation should not enter into the question.
23 September, 1968
Editorial: Unionist victory at any Northern Ireland election to Stormont, and many elections to local authorities, is assured thanks to the early gerrymandering of the state and the abolition of proportional representation. There may be an early election, or so the utterances of some politicians would seem to indicate. 'All of us appreciate how long the prime minister has been on words and how short on action. But he is the one Unionist politician who expresses goodwill towards the minority. His precise problem has been how to carry some of his die-hard colleagues with him along the road of toleration and respect for minority rights.' Talk of an early election could be a sign that O'Neill wishes to replace some of the Unionist 'backwoodsmen' - or it could be a move designed to slow down the minority's current wave of protest.
PR in North would end electoral and franchise abuses
Report: Brennan expresses the NDP view that the extension of the local franchise and the introduction of proportional representation at all elections would end unfair representation. Gerrymandering 'and the injustices which resulted from the one ward system' could be eliminated.
Stormont MP attacks Eire move on PR
Report: Brennan argues that proportional representation in the Republic of Ireland should not be abolished: 'we in the North have bitter experience of undemocratic electoral and franchise laws - the restriction of the franchise in local government election to householders, the gerrymander which produces minority controlled councils, the one-ward system operating in some provincial towns which frequently results in a minority having no representation at all.'
Investigating US firms' alleged discrimination
Report: The American Congress for Irish Freedom is to investigate charges of discrimination against catholics 'or protestants who happen to be outside the Unionist Party' by American firms in Northern Ireland. The report resulting from Heaney's earlier survey into civil rights in Northern Ireland will be published in October, though he has already claimed that the Special Powers Act is used on a 'nightly' basis.
Behind the march
Letter: Faulkner was right to say that the Dungannon march was a front for republicanism. 'The marchers represented everything from republicanism to Sinn Fein itself,' and some sang the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland. 'Apparently, there was more behind the mach than real concern and demand for houses.'
[see BT, 19 September, Faulkner was right about 'civil rights' protests]
What about flag affair
Letter: The civil rights movement is 'backed by the Republican Labour Party, which protests against action to protect the civil rights of RAFA members at the Shelbourne Hotel.'
The Specials: what the spare-time policemen do today
Feature: The Ulster Special Constabulary is a favourite target for Nationalist politicians in their point-scoring exercises at Stormont. The force does admittedly not enjoy the trust of the whole community, but there is much in it for which people should be grateful. Its sectarian composition can be altered, given time and a peaceful climate. A more broadly-based force engaging in wider activities might be the result.
Don't let 'Specials' make breath tests
Letter: The USC should not be permitted to administer the breath test; as a semi-political and semi-amateur force, the results could not always be deemed accurate. The government's presently proposed strategy over this issue is discriminatory.
Picket protest at O'Neill's hotel
Report: A New York hotel in which O'Neill is staying is picketed by American protesters.
[IN, NL, 24 September]
24 September, 1968
Pickets protest against O'Neill and British occupation
Report: O'Neill's presence at a New York hotel is met by a picket protest. A spokesman for the protesters says that, 'Northern Ireland is the most bigoted state outside of communist Russia' and is occupied by 20,000 troops and 'the largest police force outside of Russia…recruited from the bigoted Orange Order.'
[NL, 23 September]
Pickets hit out at PM's US visit [Report]
25 September, 1968
Appoint catholic as sergeant-at-arms says McAteer
Report: McAteer and O'Reilly urge government to appoint a catholic to he position of sergeant-at-arms at Stormont, to prove the sincerity of protestations of a desire to see better community relations, relations which O'Reilly feels have been paid more than enough 'lip-service.'
The local councillor is the key figure
Feature: Housing allocation in Northern Ireland depends upon a family's present health, the conditions in which it is living, and where it wishes to live; but religion is also a factor in some areas, even if this is not overtly stated. In rural areas, allocations are often decided by gentleman's agreement, with the discretion in individual localities lying with the local representatives.
26 September, 1968
Nationalist statement on march
Report: The Nationalist Party will not take part officially in the Derry civil rights demonstration, feeling that it should be a non-political event. Individual members are however encouraged to attend.
Nationalist Party out of rights walk [Report]
North as model of gerrymander technique
Report: Republic of Ireland minister of agriculture, Neil Blaney, denies that the abolition of proportional representation in the Republic would lead to gerrymandering. He feels that gerrymandering is to be found in Northern Ireland, not because of a first-past-the-post system, but because of the 'rigging' of constituencies in such a way as to secure a predictable election result.
MP is 'staggered' by what he finds here
Report: Westminster Labour MP, Dr David Kerr, on visiting Northern Ireland, expresses the view that the situation in Dungannon and Derry in particular, is 'absolutely appalling.'
Call for inquiry into public boards structure
Report: The NILP candidate at the forthcoming by-election calls for reform to the system of appointment to public boards, the introduction of a points system for housing allocations and one-man-one-vote at local elections. He feels that his own party is 'dedicated to work for the welfare of the whole community and…completely free from sectarian strife.'
Probe Ulster's public boards
Report: The Labour candidate for south Antrim in the forthcoming by-election, calls for an investigation of public boards in Northern Ireland which, he says, are run on the basis of 'jobs for the boys.' He also believes that the system for allocating houses is corrupt, and argues that a points system would be easy to introduce, so that the whole housing issue could be removed from the field of party politics.
Has a points system any merit?
Feature: Urban councils tend to allocate houses by committee, though in rare cases something approximating to a points system is employed. Party allegiance or favouritism in many areas are factors in deciding allocations.
Re-shaping of local govt discussed at Newry meeting
Report: The Association of District Councils meets to discuss the reform of local government, one delegate raising the alteration of electoral boundaries to ensure fair representation.
We won't pay fines - Easter march men
Report: Six men fined for organising a 1916 commemoration in Armagh earlier in the year refuse to pay the fines, feeling that their actions were entirely justified. They feel that the ban on the commemoration was a denial of free speech to non-unionists because of their politics.
QUB Unionist joins mock parliament
Report: A second catholic Unionist has been appointed to the 'cabinet' of the Portrush mock parliament.
Questions for Sir Knox
Letter: Sir Knox Cunningham has spoken of the existence of a policy of appeasement towards the Republic or Ireland. His assumption that this is now being practised is incorrect: 'Captain O'Neill stands for a non-sectarian Unionist Party in accordance with British tradition.' More progress has been made under his leadership than during the previous years right back to the inception of Stormont.
[see NL, 4 October]
27 September, 1968
Leader of Fine Gael fears discrimination
Report: Fine Gael leader Liam Cosgrave warns against the abolition of PR in the Republic of Ireland, feeling that it would lead to abuses similar to those in Northern Ireland.
'The border maintains Unionism'
Report: Republic of Ireland minister for lands dismisses opposition claims that a change in the state's voting system would bring about the dominance of one party. He argues that this has resulted in Northern Ireland from the existence of the border, and from gerrymandering in the localities.
YU attacks 'unfair criticism'
Report: A Young Unionist meeting is told that Unionists can accept criticism, but not of the biased variety offered by the Labour lawyers. There is, says the speaker, more discrimination in Britain than in Northern Ireland; Unionists, whatever the circumstances, prefer change from within to marches and rioting.
Taylor slams Eire MPs
Report: Taylor condemns references made by politicians in the Republic of Ireland to the Northern Ireland electoral system, arguing that nationalists receive a fair, and in the cases of counties Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh, more than fair, political representation.
Ulster's vote system defended [Report]
Amend Race Act for the North call by Mr Currie
Report: Currie argues for the extension of the Race Relations Act to Northern Ireland, where is must also cover cases of religious discrimination. 'Discrimination, according to some misguided zealots, is necessary to preserve "our protestant heritage and the British connection"…The Government by its failure to denounce strongly such ideas and activities has, at the very least, given tacit support to them.' Another speaker suggests that religious discrimination in Northern Ireland is 'a function of power,' so that catholics suffer 'more than most.' He also suggests the extension of the Act and the appointment of a board to investigate individual cases. A prospective Unionist election candidate, Robin Bailie, feels that the Act would be inapplicable to Northern Ireland, and that the issue is being used for 'stirring up civil disobedience.' Any cases should be brought to court under the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, which prohibits religious discrimination. Currie argues that legal aid in such cases is turned down.
No need for Race Bill here
Report: Speaking at a Queen's University symposium, a prospective Unionist election candidate claims that there is no need for the extension of the Race Relations Bill to Northern Ireland, arguing that it would be irrelevant because there is not a great deal of immigration to the area. He stresses that valid cases of discrimination can be taken to the High Court, adding that legislation on housing and jobs is already in existence. Currie argues that cases have not been brought to court because legal aid is refused, and asserts that government refuses to recognise the existence of discrimination.
Safeguards needed here on race relations [Report]
Derry civil rights march
Report: The DHAC calls for participation by catholics and protestants in the 5 October civil rights march. It is claimed that those denied civil liberty are in the majority; Derry is and has been 'a by-word for anti-democracy.'
A party to change
Editorial: The Unionist Party is in need of reform; it is an electoral machine and little more, lacking in the ability to generate ideas. The new reformism of O'Neill is attracting capable people into the party; they must be elevated within it and their skills utilised in parliament, 'where their expertise and open-mindedness is sadly lacking.'
Defining need - and keeping systems above suspicion
Feature: None of the systems used for allocating houses in Northern Ireland are perfect. A rural councillor may know the needs of a particular area well, but may be subjected to religious or party considerations, or pressure from friends. A points system might however prove too inflexible in these circumstances. 'Even with points the final decision has at times to be a subjective one.' Nevertheless it 'offers less disadvantages than the majority of the procedures long used in Northern Ireland at the moment.' A change in the present system could help community relations, 'and, ultimately, the Province's ability to come to terms with its past and its future.'
Roman catholic in 'cabinet'
Report: A mock parliament at Portrush has seen the appointment of a catholic (Unionist) 'cabinet' member.
[BT, 26 September]
28 September, 1968
IRA joining trade unions
Report: Cathal Goulding, reportedly 'a leading member of the IRA,' states on a television programme that the IRA's present strategy does not encompass military action; the organisation is concentrating on social and economic issues by joining trade unions and involving itself in civil disobedience demonstrations.
IRA 'has no plans for a campaign' [Report]
Ulster keeps its harmony
Report: An Orange meeting in co Donegal is told by a Unionist speaker that Northern Ireland 'Nationalists did everything to discredit the country they lived in.' McAteer, for example, 'runs down his own city of Londonderry so that industrialists thinking of going there are naturally inclined to shy away.'
'Danger' if Eire ends PR - ICTU man
Report: The chairman of the Northern Ireland committee of the ICTU condemns plans to abolish proportional representation in the Republic of Ireland, arguing that it may lead to gerrymandering which, he feels, takes place in Northern Ireland.
Mrs Paisley protests to Lord Mayor
Report: A Belfast civic reception is given to the victorious Down GAA football team. Hopes are expressed that the event will help to improve community relations. A number of unionists find the reception objectionable.
[IN, NL, 30 September]
30 September, 1968
Belfast civic reception for all-Ireland champions, Down
Report: At the Belfast civic reception for Down's Gaelic football team, the club's chairman expresses the hope that the event will help improve community relations.
Anthem and 'Sash' greet Gaelic team
Report: A local Unionist critic of the reception expresses his distaste for the honour accorded to 'a strictly sectarian and narrow-minded body such as the GAA.'
Stormont was silent
Letter: The Stormont government should have aided the process of building friendship in Northern Ireland by sending a telegram of congratulation to the victorious Down GAA football team.
'I abhor the politics of disharmony' - Mr O'Neill
Report: O'Neill argues for a politics that does not 'set class against class, creed against creed and town against country.' He feels that Unionism offers positive policies and a decent standard of living for all working class people.
Prime minister slams 'politics of disharmony' [Report]
Unionism alone can guarantee a happy life [Report]
O'Neill lashes at critics in US
Leader: O'Neill replies to accusations made about Northern Ireland in a letter from a branch of the American Congress for Irish Freedom. He denies that Northern Ireland is a police state, and defends the existence of special powers as necessary to combat illegal organisations.
Get your facts right, PM tells Americans [Report]
Happiness under Unionism
Editorial: O'Neill's remarks on the benefits of Unionist policies for all working people are difficult to credit; 'after over forty years of uninterrupted Unionist rule, houses are still being allocated on a sectarian basis; Derry is still shamefully gerrymandered and ruled by a Unionist minority; religion is still a barrier to appointments.' Civil rights demands 'will not go away'; the movement is growing 'not only in power, but in respectability. As it gathers momentum here, and earns greater support at Westminster, it will become more vocal and more assertive…Human rights, civil rights, justice and equality…must be respected in practice as well as preached from the platform.'
The issues in Derry civil rights march
Letter: The DHAC is calling for participation in the Derry civil rights march; the issues do not affect the minority alone. The local government boundaries go against democratic principle, and the franchise favours the propertied, while excluding many of the working class. This keeps the local authority in power, enabling it 'to deny working class people full employment and decent housing while carefully fostering the harmful religious divisions in our society.' Not all exploitative landlords are protestant; not all slum-dwellers are catholic. 'The whole sectarian set-up' must be opposed. The march should be allowed to take place without harassment, since it represents the majority, and the right to march is accorded to the minority who wish to commemorate a historical event every year.
Civic weeks instead of civil justice
Letter: The English media has been very concerned about one instance of South African discrimination in sport recently; there are surely half-a-million more cases of discrimination that must be addressed in Northern Ireland. The English subscribe to a double-standard in this matter.
The federated off-shore islands
Comment: The Edinburgh assembly of the Liberal Party has passed a motion calling for a federal United Kingdom, including a reform of the Northern Ireland constitution to protect minority rights.
Autonomy no help to minority - McAteer
Report: McAteer says that Northern Ireland autonomy within the United Kingdom has not been favourable to the minority.
'New-style' Liberal conference
Report: Albert McElroy intends to address the conference of the Northern Ireland Liberals on the issue of civil rights, and will question the validity of special powers.
Clergy and politics
Letter: McElroy has preached the 'anti-Unionist and Northern Ireland dogmas of discrimination, religious bigotry, etc.' Catholics do find jobs, and are 'subsidised by British welfare state benefits.' This is a good reason why they remain in Northern Ireland.
Call for probe into bias in Ulster
Report: Resolutions likely to receive a hearing at the Labour Party conference will call for an investigation into the administration of government in Northern Ireland, 'with particular reference to allegations of discrimination in employment and housing on religious or political grounds.' Also to be investigated under the motion's terms should be 'allegations of electoral malpractices and…the continued existence of the Special Powers Act.' The resolutions also call for Westminster to employ the 1920 Government of Ireland Act to ensure 'that British democracy can apply to Northern Ireland.'
[BT, 24 July, 6 September, NL, 25 July, IN, 1 October]
'Minority is abandoning old stances'
Report: A clergyman at an Ulster Day church service says that some catholics are now taking up a more positive role in the state, 'breaking away from the old stances.' No state is perfect, and Northern Ireland 'can be changed by the recognised processes of democratic government.
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