Calendar of Newspaper Articles dealing with Civil Rights issues, 1 Jun 1968 - 9 Dec 1968 by Alan Scott
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October: | 1-5 | 7-12 | 14-19 | 21-26 | 28-31 |
1 - 5 October: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Top |
'Investigate North' call for Labour conference
Report: The Labour Party conference is likely to hear resolutions calling for an investigation of the administration of government in Northern Ireland, with regard to discrimination in housing and employment, electoral malpractices and the Special Powers Act. The resolutions also call on Westminster to use its powers under the Government of Ireland Act where necessary.
[BT, 24 July, 6 September, 30 September, NL, 25 July]
YU's [sic] attack council's 'behaviour'
Report: Newry Young Unionists condemn the suggestion that the town should be administered by a commissioner, and that housing allocation should lie in the hands of the housing manager alone.
[NL, 10 October]
2 October, 1968
'Press urgently for reforms in NI'
Report: A Connolly Association member urges the British
Labour movement to press urgently for reforms in
2 in court after civil rights march
Report: Two men receive fines resulting from their actions during the Dungannon civil rights march.
[NL, 3 October]
3 October, 1968
Fitt makes five demands for the North
Leader: Fitt, speaking to a meeting of the CDU, claims, 'all I am asking for is that the same rights and privileges which are enjoyed by the people in Doncaster should be afforded to the people of Dungannon and Derry.' He demands a British franchise for Northern Ireland; the extension of the responsibilities of the parliamentary commissioner to include Northern Ireland; the extension of the Race Relations Act, modified to encompass religion; and an investigation of discrimination. If such reforms are not extended, he argues, then Northern Ireland cannot be considered an integral part of the UK. The 'oppressed minority' is now prepared to 'take steps to remedy the situation.'
'Civil trouble' warning by Fitt
Report: Fitt warns of a possible escalation
of civil strife in Northern Ireland unless reforms
are introduced quickly. Without one-man-one-vote, house building
and allocation cannot be conducted on
a fair basis. He also warns the CDU-organised
meeting at which he is speaking at the Labour Party conference,
of possible trouble following the forthcoming civil rights march.
He is hoping to bring six Westminster MPs to Derry to witness
events. Rose condemns the Special Powers Act
and the restricted local government franchise.
Stanley Orme, Westminster MP, calls on the British government
to instruct the Northern Ireland government to 'put its house
in order.' The gathering is to send a resolution of support to
the Derry civil rights marchers.
British MPs being invited to see what can happen in Derry
Report: Fitt is inviting six British
MPs to the Derry civil rights march, 'to witness what can happen
in what is allegedly an integral part of the UK.' At the meeting,
praise is extended to the civil rights movement, and its restraint
at Dungannon is lauded. Fitt says that the CRA
embraces members of all religious denominations, all of whom share
the desire to fight government abuses. He claims police brutality
at Dungannon, and expects more police intervention in Derry -
hence his invitation to the MPs.
Devolution inquiry must take in North
Report: NILP chairman
Paddy Devlin feels that the devolution inquiry
promised by the Labour government must take in Northern Ireland,
in order to further expose the abuses that exist there. He says
that O'Neill is stalling for time,
hoping that he will not have to implement his promises in light
of the possible fall of the Westminster government and the return
of the Conservatives.
Devolution inquiry may include North
Report: The inquiry into devolution promised by Callaghan
may encompass Northern Ireland. Unionist sources claim that such
an inquiry would look only at the machinery of government, but
McAteer is hopeful that it would probe deeply
into the working of the arrangements in the past, and would thus
consult the minority community.
Human rights committee
Letter: A recent human rights conference
failed to tackle 'Unionist injustice.' Perhaps civil rights activists
could do better in facing the issues.
Civil rights march in Derry
Letter: All believers in human dignity and inalienable rights should participate in the Derry march. 'The Derry working class must participate in any action which openly challenges the relatively small clique of exploiters.' Other groups should follow the example set by the DHAC, and forge a party truly representative of the people, and one opposed to 'the oppressive economic and political system.'
Two fined in civil rights case
Report: Two men are fined for their behaviour during the Dungannon civil rights march.
[BT, 2 October]
Notice given of Derry parades
Report: An Apprentice Boys
parade has been announced for Derry on 5 October, its route closely
coinciding with that of the proposed civil rights march, organisers
of which expect an attendance of 3,000 people. The Governor of
the Apprentice Boys claims to have no knowledge of the parade,
but states that he is not always informed by local clubs of their
decisions. He also stresses that the route chosen has been used
by the Apprentice Boys before.
The hawks and the doves
Comment: Shrewd observers believe that there is a growing
tension within the republican movement over the use of violence.
The leadership's peaceful approach, reflected in a recent speech,
may not be finding favour at the grass roots level. Charges of
communist infiltration of the republican movement would appear
to have some basis in reality, and many of the rank and file do
not like this departure either.
4 October, 1968
Indignation at ban on 'rights' march
Leader: Craig's decision to ban the Derry civil rights march causes 'shockwaves of indignation throughout Northern Ireland.' CDU members condemn the decision as 'monstrous' and will meet with Wilson and Callaghan to discuss the issue. The move may 'trigger action by the Labour Party in Britain into the Northern Ireland administration.' Fitt speaks of 'seething discontent particularly in Derry.' He feels the ban to be 'a deliberate attempt to provoke a peaceful demonstration.' The ban was imposed because of an Apprentice Boys demonstration, but the civil rights organisers were not told of this by police, and the Governor of the Apprentice Boys of Derry has said that he 'knew of no parade or march planned by his organisation.' NICRA sees the ban as an 'incitement to disorder' and has sent a telegram to Wilson calling for his intervention.
Derry rights march banned
Report: Craig bans the proposed Derry civil rights march and an Apprentice Boys ceremony in the city to avoid possible 'serious public disorder.' The civil rights march had planned to march through the predominantly protestant Waterside district of Derry. McAnerney claims that the chosen route has been used by other organisations, and that the civil rights movement should likewise be able to parade along it in light of its non-political nature. He also asserts that it is Craig's duty to prevent public disorder rather than the march. McAteer claims 'Mr Craig obviously regards any procession other than an Orange procession as hostile.' Albert Anderson supports Craig's ban. Fitt tells the CDU that he is inviting Labour MPs to the proposed march. The Shankill UPV issues a statement deploring the ban on the Apprentice Boys parade, and states 'we fear that this sets a dangerous precedent in that in future the rights of loyalists and protestants to parade may be disrupted by a proposed civil rights march.' Some organisations supportive of civil rights intend to defy the ban on the Derry march; NICRA will meet with local organisers to decide on the next move. A telegram of protest is sent to Wilson.
Derry parade ban 'will be defied'
Report: Some groups have signalled their intention to defy the ban imposed on the Derry civil rights march by Craig. Police reinforcements are being brought into the city. Fitt says that five British MPs will come to Derry no matter what happens. Callaghan has had meetings with several MPs to discuss Northern Ireland. Two Apprentice Boys members deny that their parade was conceived only recently. Craig has banned the marches for fear of a clash, on police advice. He describes NICRA as 'a republican-nationalist organisation,' which wants to march outside areas customarily understood to be its own territory. Derry Labour Party condemns 'this scandalous denial of freedom.' The DHAC challenges the authenticity of the claim that the Apprentice Boys march is traditional, and asserts that no clash would in any case erupt between the two marches in view of the fact that the Apprentice Boys demonstration will take place in the morning while the civil rights march is scheduled to begin in the afternoon. NICRA sends a telegram of protest to Wilson, calling on him to investigate the ban.
McAteer tells of protest to Craig
Report: McAteer says that the ban
on the Derry march was predictable. He telephones Craig
to protest at the decision, but the minister for home affairs
expresses the opinion that the march is 'a nationalist-republican
parade.' He adds that, while the Apprentice Boys
parade is 'a traditional thing,' it is also unfortunately subject
to the ban. McAteer says that this highlights the exclusive power
of Unionism within Northern Ireland.
O'Neill's words 'an empty statement'
Report: Paddy Devlin argues that the
ban shows O'Neill to be 'the greatest
hypocrite in Northern Ireland politics.' He has talked of a middle
ground in politics, yet his government is cutting away that middle
ground. People, from whichever community, should enjoy the right
to protest at social conditions. The use of the counter-demonstration
as an excuse to ban the march is a re-run of a cynical tactic
that has been used before. It is being used this time in order
to prevent Westminster MPs from witnessing the realities of Derry.
The move will only serve to promote rather than inhibit the growth
of the civil rights movement.
'Dismay' at action of minister
Report: The Belfast and District Trades Union Council will
bring the ban decision to the attention of the Labour Party conference,
of O'Neill and of Callaghan.
A resolution calls for the respecting of the right to demonstrate,
especially in view of the fact that the very same right is extended
to organisations with which the government is linked. Discrimination
should be brought to an end, for then the government would not
be in the embarrassing predicament in which it now finds itself.
Decision 'a put-up job' say Derry Labour men
Report: Derry Labour plans to go ahead with the civil rights
march. This is necessary because, 'the landlord class had managed
to blinker the public conscience, because every issue was seen
in sectarian terms, and because the so-called
opposition guides all expressions of discontent along sterile
"constitutional" lines, where over-emotional ranting
passes for militancy.' Unionism will fall
when protestant workers realise that they are not privileged -
hence the government's attempt to smear the civil rights movement.
Civil rights is a non-sectarian workers' movement.
'Blackmail pays' in 6 counties - NDP
Report: Joe McCann sees the ban on the march as an example
of 'democracy Unionist style
where blackmail pays.' The
Young Socialists consider the Apprentice Boys
demonstration 'a feeble excuse' for the ban. Fundamental rights
must be defended, and the Young Socialists still intend to take
part in the march.
Report: The civil rights march scheduled for 5 October
will not be permitted under the Public Order
Act. [Official government statement is reproduced.]
'Irish question' debate by Labour
Report: The Movement for Colonial Freedom has chosen to debate the topic of 'democracy and civil rights in Northern Ireland.'
March of protest
Editorial: 'It is difficult to see how there can ever be an honest expression of protest in this part of Ireland by those who not only disagree politically with Unionism, but also want to proclaim the burden of social injustice which makes them second-class citizens, when any proposal for public expression of their feelings can be so quickly put in jeopardy by elements who suddenly emerge with counter-proposals, thus leading to ministerial restrictions in the interests of public order.' Not only Unionists should enjoy rights, and those who do not possess them should be permitted the outlet of constitutional protest. 'Pious disclaimers of discrimination and the denial of civil rights are no longer acceptable. They are insolent as well.' The tactics employed by the government are undemocratic, and Derry represents 'the supreme example of an anti-democratic regime That is why the majority of its citizens will be marching in protest on Saturday.'
Editorial: Craig's ban on the Derry
civil rights march may prevent trouble, but it has brought wider
attention to Northern Ireland. 'To let any semi-political body
march on any street involves a degree of risk, and one might well
when this risk will be taken with anti-unionists?' It
is unfair of Craig to label in anti-British terms those who disagree
with a franchise and housing system different from that existing
in Britain. 'In some ways, it is the movement's misfortune that
it is so closely associated with such strident personalities as
Mr Gerry Fitt, who can often be accused of exploiting
a situation for his own political ends, but that it is founded
in sincerely-held grievances is undeniable.' Derry's housing
record is nothing to be proud of, and the problem at least has
its partial root in Unionist unwillingness to upset the status
quo. Not all Unionists favour the maintenance of such a system.
A time for vigilance
Editorial: The IRA says that
it is now concentrating on the infiltration of trade unions and
civil rights demonstrations; however, vigilance against a return
to violence must be maintained.
O'Neill's speech 'utterly false,' says Labour man
Report: The Labour candidate for the forthcoming south Antrim by-election says that O'Neill's claim that Unionism meets the needs of working people is untrue. Both the Unionist and Nationalist Parties are sectarian in their approach. Only Labour, and possibly the Liberals, can claim a non-sectarian stance.
Coulthard hits at main parties [Report]
O'Neill's claim for Unionism
Letter: Belfast city council was wrong to honour the GAA,
a 'politically motivated society,' with a civic reception for
the victorious all-Ireland Down football team. Despite attempts
to improve community relations, 'Irish
nationalism continues without compromise to exact its insatiable
Fairness, impartiality, and tolerance are acceptable
prerequisites of any democratic system. These however, should
not be confused with, or result in, the surrender of principles.'
Letter: O'Neill's brand of Unionism is non-sectarian and progressive, and Sir Knox Cunningham is to be condemned for speaking out against improved relations with the Republic of Ireland.
[see BT, 26 September, Questions for Sir Knox]
5 October, 1968
'Rights' march goes ahead as planned
Leader: A meeting of NICRA and the local organising committee decides unanimously to go ahead with the civil rights march in the city. One NICRA spokesman claims regret at the defiance of the ban, but argues that the march is necessary for the people of Derry, and that not enough notice was given of the ban in order for the marchers to find an alternative route. Westminster MP Stanley Orme condemns the decision, and claims that Westminster and Britain as a whole are well-acquainted with the situation in Northern Ireland. The CSJ makes an appeal to Wilson to help in the campaign for civil rights. Charles Brett, a former chairman of the NILP, says that by banning such demonstrations, 'Mr Craig is, in effect, sitting on the safety valve of the engine and if an explosion results he will have nobody but himself to thank.' The Derry Labour Party commends the organisers of the march for their refusal to abandon their enterprise, saying that workers have every right to march anywhere and at any time. 'We are not asking for our rights - we are taking them.' The DHAC questions the precedent for the Apprentice Boys initiation ceremony, and argues that the authorities would be to blame for 'anything that might happen during the march.'
Rights marchers to defy minister's ban
Leader: The NICRA
executive decides to go ahead with the civil rights march in Derry;
extra police are being drafted into the city to deal with what
Craig sees as a 'dangerous and provocative'
situation. He emphasises that civil rights groups have every
right to meet, but not in areas where this would be likely to
cause provocation. If another meeting-place is not acceptable
to the organisers, this only further supports the view that their
intent is to provoke. The DHAC
challenges the Apprentice Boys
to find a precedent for their march. The group will march, but
stresses that 'we are not seeking, and earnestly hope we will
not encounter, any violence.' The Committee feels that Craig
will be responsible for any trouble that occurs. It is understood
that Callaghan would prefer Labour MPs
who have been invited, not to travel to Derry. The NILP
Young Socialists and the Young Socialist Alliance condemn the
government's 'pure dictatorship' with regard to Derry.
Go home: plea to Derry crowd
Leader: Police tell civil rights demonstrators in Derry
to disperse as tension mounts and a stand-off situation continues
between marchers and police. Faulkner says
that he is in favour of free expression, 'but no government worth
its salt will allow provocation to cause civil strife among the
people it is elected to protect.' The participants in the Apprentice
Boys ceremony are earlier transported
to their destination by car. Heatley claims that matters are
now in the hands of the police, but any trouble will be Craig's
responsibility, since 'we are prepared for a peaceful march.'
The CSJ has protested to Wilson
about the ban. Charles Brett, chairman of the NILP
policy committee, says that 'Mr Craig's dismissal as nationalist
and republicans of all those who want Ulster citizens to have
the same rights as other British citizens is intolerable. Marches
and meetings, whoever may take part in them, are an entirely legitimate
form of protest and by banning them, Mr Craig is in effect, sitting
on the safety valve of the engine and if an explosion results
he will have nobody but himself to blame.' The Ulster Young Unionist
Council backs Craig's decision, feeling
it necessary to maintain order. It is not a ban, but rather a
sensible restriction designed to prevent provocation. The NILP
is criticised for siding with 'the republican-nationalist block.'
Civil rights not aim - Faulkner
Report: Faulkner sees civil rights as a republican flag of convenience, although there are, he admits, those who are sincere in their adherence to the cause. Investment in Northern Ireland is endangered by the distorted picture painted by recent events. Nationalists enjoy a growing stake in the state's prosperity and in society as a whole. So-called civil rights marchers in Dungannon ended their demonstration with a republican song; their goal was clearly not reform, but the weakening of the constitution.
October: | 1-5 | 7-12 | 14-19 | 21-26 | 28-31 |
1 - 5 October: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Top |
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