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Calendar of Newspaper Articles dealing with Civil Rights issues, 1 Jun 1968 - 9 Dec 1968 by Alan Scott



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Text: Alan Scott

Introduction     1968:   | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |
November 1968:   | 1-2 | 4-9 | 11-16 | 18-23 | 25-30 |
4 - 9 November:   | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Top |

4 November, 1968

Belfast Telegraph

Votes key issue

Leader: Wilson will expect movement from the Northern Ireland government on the local franchise as soon as possible. O'Neill and the Northern Ireland delegation to the Downing Street talks are likely to stick by their position that such will have to be considered in relation to the restructuring of local government; he will indicate a willingness to deal with multiple votes and to speed the government's housing programme along. The Royal Commission on the constitution will also be discussed. The Connolly Association agrees with Lynch's assessment of the Northern Ireland problem, and calls on the British government to introduce a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.

News Letter

O'Neill flies out for Wilson talks

Report: O'Neill and his colleagues leave for the talks at Downing Street. A leading source reveals to the News Letter that Faulkner and Craig are not holding out against reform, but are seeking to accelerate the programme for the reorganisation of local government. 'Most progressive elements in the Unionist Party regard the current trend of the Roman catholic minority towards claiming the full rights of British citizenship (in spite of the fact that it is being exploited for different purposes by certain people) as a natural and healthy one.' The reform of local government is believed to be viewed by members of the government as the means for the putting in place of such citizenship. A note is handed in at Downing Street calling either for an independent Northern Ireland state or for full democratic government to be extended to the area.

Belfast Telegraph

'Social justice' memo to Wilson

Report: The CSJ outlines local government grievances to Wilson and Callaghan, and warns that the abolition of the company vote would not be sufficient remedy to the problem. A universal local franchise and the redrawing of local government boundaries are necessary. The Evangelical Protestant Society speaks of the necessity for O'Neill to maintain Northern Ireland's cause in his meeting with Wilson. The Ulster Young Unionist Council declares that all people of goodwill support O'Neill in his meeting with Wilson.

Irish News

Local government system's three defects

Report: The CSJ sends out memoranda to Wilson, Callaghan, the CDU and the press, identifying local government as the primary issue on which O'Neill and Wilson must focus in their talks. Ward boundaries, the franchise and plural voting must be addressed, in that order of priority. The Campaign feels that the presence at the Downing Street talks of Craig and Faulkner means that no concessions will be made, unless on the company vote. The Unionist delegation will talk of the reorganisation of local government, but in Fermanagh, where this has already begun, it has been entirely under the control of Unionists, and has worked to their advantage.

Window-dressing reform offer would be act of folly

Report: The CSJ warns that O'Neill should not simply offer up minimal reforms in his meeting with Wilson. Such a move would constitute an act of folly in a very dangerous situation. The Connolly Association will protest at Downing Street, having already taken part in a march that ended at the prime minister's residence, after which a note calling for a British Northern Ireland to enjoy full democracy was handed in. A demonstration encompassing a number of groups will be held in Oxford at the end of the month. The Oxford District Trades Council has already condemned the ban on 5 October march and police brutality used against it; the British government has also been asked to introduce safeguards for the minority in Northern Ireland, full democratic rights, and to abolish the Special Powers Act. Oxford Labour Party has called for a commission of inquiry into Northern Ireland to be established by the British government. The newly-formed Oxford CRA also condemns incidents in Derry and calls for British intervention. A PD demonstration and Paisleyite counter-demonstration will take place today in Belfast.

The meeting

Editorial: The talks at Downing Street will not be conventionally frivolous and polite. Callaghan and Wilson 'know that Mr O'Neill is a well-meaning man; they also know that he is not a strong man, otherwise many of the reforms about which he has descanted, in and out of parliament, would long since have been adopted and there would have been no need for civil rights movements and campaigns for democracy. Mr Wilson must tell Mr O'Neill that the Unionists cannot any longer have it all their own way all the time; that the end to double-talk is now long overdue; and it may, in fact, be a tribute to the civil manners of the minority that it has so long tolerated this double-talk as acceptable political action.' Some Unionists 'are finding it convenient to pretend that [partition] is the issue, rather than the more immediate constructive solutions to the problems of franchise, discrimination in housing and employment, and gerrymandering of local wards.' Unionist allusions to partition are not simply designed to deflect attention from the real issues; they are also a sign of fear.

News Letter

Two leaders face to face

Comment: O'Neill will be able to tell Wilson when the two meet of the Northern Ireland government's commitment to tackle one of the root causes of the present discontent - housing - and its determination to speed up the remodelling of local government. He can also lay emphasis on the fact that 'the multiple company vote is on the way out.' 'Outside this, the talks would enter the party political field, the question of the franchise, the influence of extremism, the matter of '"civil rights".'

Belfast Telegraph

Pickets greet O'Neill

Report: O'Neill and the Northern Ireland delegation accompanying him to the Downing Street talks are met by protesters on arrival.

Irish News

Students plan to lobby City Hall councillors

Report: When today's PD march culminates at Belfast's City Hall, members of the group hope to lobby councillors on the one-man-one-vote issue, which they feel may not be resolved by the meeting between O'Neill and Wilson. PD demonstrators will also hand in a letter at 10 Downing Street explaining their case.

News Letter

March in Belfast

Report: The PD calls a march in Belfast and another to Downing Street; Paisley will also hold a meeting in Belfast, and says that students should not march through the protestant Sandy Row area.

Support for Paisley

Report: The PD expresses its support for the civil right of Paisleyites to march in Derry.

Belfast Telegraph

Student rights marchers in clash with RUC

Report: PD marchers break through a police cordon when their march is redirected by police as the result of a UCDC counter-demonstration. One speaker claims that there are people in Northern Ireland who cannot any longer contain their frustration, but that the PD is a peaceful movement.

[IN, NL, 5 November]

Next civil rights parade is planned

Report: The DCAC thanks Derry citizens for their part in another peaceful protest, an illustration of the fact that such events need not lead to violence. A date for the next demonstration will soon be fixed.

Irish News

Action marchers state new claim for civil rights

Report: 'Fifteen men and an 11-year-old boy have shown that a demonstration for the rights of man need not end in baton-charges, beatings and bloodshed . . . even in Derry City.' Police were not needed, save to prevent Paisleyites from coming into contact with the DCAC demonstration. The Loyal Citizens of Ulster, led by Major Ronald Bunting, were prevented from disrupting the DCAC march, their own demonstration having been rearranged by police. A DCAC spokesman says that the peaceful protest highlights the needlessness of any bans on marches. Another march is planned within the next fortnight. Roughly 3,000 people were in the Diamond to hear readings from the Declaration of Human Rights. Craig commends the police for their handling of 'a very difficult situation.'

[BT, 2 November]

News Letter

No clash between marchers [Report]

Man who had something to say

Report: A catholic man tells a BBC reporter, once both have moved sufficiently far away from the DCAC demonstration: 'I just want to say…that there is great respect for the prime minister of Northern Ireland, Captain O'Neill. And I'm a Roman catholic.'

Belfast Telegraph

Change boundaries, say Derry Nationalists

Report: Nationalist members of Derry corporation will put down several motions calling for reforms with regard to Derry housing, among which are proposals that a points system be introduced and that religion play no part in deciding allocations. Another motion calls on government immediately to redraw Derry ward boundaries on a more representative basis.

Irish News

Derry Nationalists draw up housing plan for city [Report]

News Letter

Labour will put case for Derry housing

Report: At the special meeting of Derry corporation where these motions will be introduced, a deputation from the Derry Labour Party will also put across its views on housing. The party challenges Burns to repeat his comment on the 'work-shy' nature of Derry's unemployed to those very people.

Belfast Telegraph

Labour Party proud of Derry people

Report: Derry Labour Party expresses its pride in the fact that the two rival demonstrations in Derry passed off peacefully. This proves Craig's assumptions about a probable clash on 5 October to have been unfounded. The revelation has silenced the two guards sent with O'Neill to London.

Irish News

'A pact between Unionists'

Report: Coulthard accuses the Unionist Party in south Antrim of having entered a pact with Protestant Unionists to defeat the Labour challenge. This demonstrates that O'Neill's honeyed words are a con trick; Unionism stands only for sectarianism. Labour offers, unlike Unionism, a constructive policy for the whole community. He will press, if elected, for reforms, among other areas, in the electoral system, housing, and for fair representation on public boards.

Hopes revived by the civil rights movement

Letter: 'The civil rights movement is the first one in fifty years that has begun to stir the hearts of our people. Hearts benumbed by Nationalism, completely cynical of the ability of our Southern countrymen to take their heads out of the lion's mouth, faintly amused at the thought of justice from the Unionist cabal, but ever hoping, with an ever dwindling hope, that some day a nation will be born.' People should pray for justice, and should publicise as widely as possible the existence and nature of injustice. No action is expected to result from the forthcoming O'Neill-Wilson talks.

Local government voting figures

Letter: If Unionists can justify majority control in Belfast, why cannot they support it also in Derry? Additionally, Minford has stated that two-thirds of local government money comes from the coffers of central government. A voting system that allows some people to have two votes and others who contribute at least equally to the prosperity of the state to have none, is reprehensible.

Unwilling to face reality

Letter: Agnew has attacked various nationalist groups for their inaction over the years. He and his fellow republicans should be reprimanded for permitting some Westminster parliamentary seats in the west of Northern Ireland to go to Unionists by splitting the nationalist vote. If republicans had not done this, then perhaps injustices in Northern Ireland might have been highlighted at Westminster before now.

Belfast Telegraph

'If injustice has been done it ought to be remedied': canon

Letter: Allegations of injustice must be investigated and, if found to be true, the injustices must be remedied. O'Neill is working towards a fair deal for all, and sufficient numbers of people support him in this endeavour to make its success possible. Change cannot be brought about by force.

Irish News

A fair deal for all citizens [Letter]

[NL, 8 November]

Belfast Telegraph

Electoral anomalies

Letter: The fact that the NILP in Belfast received one-third of the votes of the Unionist Party at local election level, yet only succeeded in returning one candidate is, despite Unionist dismissals, scandalous.

English debt to Ulster

Letter: O'Neill has spoken of the financial debt that Northern Ireland owes Britain. Perhaps the British ought to remember the debt owed by themselves to Northern Ireland for its sacrifices during two world wars.

News Letter

Putting a foot down

Letter: Government should suspend grants to student 'law-breakers,' who clearly are not at university to learn.

Terrifying sight

Letter: The recent demonstration at Stormont 'must have made the blood of every decent Ulster man and women boil.'

Give these areas to Eire - speaker

Report: At a Unionist gathering, a speaker suggests that the Bogside and Creggan areas of Derry should be handed over to the Republic of Ireland, in view of residents' complaints about Northern Ireland, and the heavy drain on the state's resources that their presence within it constitutes. Perhaps Lynch will have more success in remedying the complaints of these areas. Other 'politically sick' areas should also be handed over. Fitzsimmons says that differences stretching back over hundreds of years cannot be healed overnight, and that many catholics will refuse to associate themselves with civil disobedience. Almost 100 Lisburn people send a letter of support to O'Neill, telling him that his economic and social policies have the support of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland. The situation in Derry is not seen as widely representative, though there are a number of similar areas in which 'improvements could be considered necessary.' Extremists receive much of the publicity, to the detriment of the moderates. The PD deplores what it sees as Lynch's attempt to reap political benefit from events in Northern Ireland, and advises him that he should concentrate on civil rights infringements in the Republic of Ireland.

[BT, 2 November]

Belfast Telegraph

TV blamed for tense political situation

Report: Mary Whitehouse, general secretary of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, blames television coverage of Northern Ireland for heightening political tensions there. Selective journalism only depicts the most controversial, and not necessarily representative events.

Minority's moves the 'cause of unrest'

Report: Norman Porter, director of the Evangelical Protestant Society, accuses catholics of stirring up trouble in Northern Ireland by their calls for civil rights. Protestants try to uphold civil and religious liberty, but 'when [they] stand up for their rights they are charged with all kinds of bigotry and discrimination.'

O'Neill support message rejected

Report: Coleraine borough council rejects a motion calling for a telegram to be sent to O'Neill, supporting his policies and deploring outside interference in Northern Ireland's affairs. Councillors do not wish to become involved with politics.

Bradford on the franchise

Report: Bradford says that the local franchise question will be considered as part of the overall investigation into a reorganisation of local government.

Injustices exist - church magazine

Report: A local presbyterian magazine claims that no matter that the civil rights movement has been infiltrated by IRA or communist elements, 'discrimination and social injustice exist, of this there is no doubt, and a large measure of the guilt for this is ours.'

Irish News

Protestant churches must speak out on burning issues

Report: A presbyterian minister feels that the churches should not fear to speak out on the issues of housing, voting and discrimination, even though some ministers have been victimised as a result of their expressions of concern.

[BT, 2 November]

4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Top

5 November, 1968

Belfast Telegraph

Period of grace

Editorial: Wilson has dismissed the issue of partition as irrelevant to the present situation in Northern Ireland. Unionism now enjoys the scarcely deserved luxury of a period of grace. It must give its full backing to O'Neill. 'The threat to Northern Ireland's future is not Mr Wilson or Mr Lynch or the IRA or even nationalism. It comes from protestant Ulstermen who will not allow themselves to be liberated from the delusion that every Roman catholic is their enemy.'

Irish News

Commitment from O'Neill

Editorial: Information on the O'Neill-Wilson talks is scarce, but it would seem plausible to suggest that Derry, and thus the franchise, housing discrimination, gerrymandering, 'and the reasons why Mr O'Neill has been so tardy in introducing the social and political reforms whose absence has led to the backbench pressure on Mr Wilson,' were high on the agenda. 'It is to be hoped that Wilson obtained from O'Neill a commitment to immediate and necessary changes. Failure to act will bring even greater pressures to bear against the British prime minister.'

Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill: next step

Leader: Wilson clearly recognises that reform cannot be brought about overnight, and that O'Neill must be given time to implement British standards in Northern Ireland. His task now must be to persuade his party, the attitudes of many members of which have hardened in the wake of recent events, of the necessity for reform. The introduction of an ombudsman for Northern Ireland would now appear a possibility, but the effectiveness of the office will depend upon how closely such an office would mirror its British equivalent. The issue of the local franchise will probably not be addressed immediately, but rather through an acceleration of the ongoing investigation of local government with a view to its reorganisation.

Irish News

Secrecy cloaks meeting of Wilson and O'Neill

Leader: At O'Neill's meeting with Wilson, it is understood that among issues discussed were the appointment of a parliamentary commissioner for Northern Ireland, the local government franchise, housing allocation, recent events in Derry, and the Special Powers Act. Wilson also reaffirms Attlee's 1948 pledge on the constitution of Northern Ireland. Faulkner interprets this as a pledge of Westminster non-interference in the affairs of Northern Ireland. Demonstrators assemble at Downing Street and hand in letters of protest to Wilson. The British prime minister is 'known to be impatient at the slowness of reform of local government franchise in the North.' McAteer asserts: 'as I sense the mood of Derry, there must be early evidence of real change. Delay is dangerous.' Fitt feels that reforms would have the support of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland. Robin Chichester-Clark expects one-man-one-vote to have been implemented by the time of the next election: O'Neill is 'moving as fast as he could on the matter.'

News Letter

Ulster given pledge

Report: Unionists have in the past argued against an ombudsman on the grounds that such a post is unnecessary given the closeness of MPs to their constituents in Northern Ireland. Pressure for an ombudsman is however likely to grow and it is difficult to see the Unionist Party adopting a hard-line stance on the issue. O'Neill, after his meeting with Wilson, tells a gathering of Westminster MPs that Northern Ireland's constitutional position should not be at issue. A meeting of the Unionist parliamentary party is likely in the near future to discuss matters arising from the talks. Wilson is also told at the Downing Street meeting of the Northern Ireland government's intentions in reshaping local government and of its desire to see an energetic housing programme, with allocation on the basis of need and a scrupulous Stormont eye kept on fairness. Representatives from more than 20 radical groups demonstrate on O'Neill's arrival, and a petition is handed in calling for no compromise on civil rights.

Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill back from London talks sees chief whip

Report: O'Neill meets with Bradford and leading Unionist officials to discuss the steps that will be taken in light of the exchanges that have taken place with Wilson. An early meeting of the Unionist parliamentary party would seem a likely possibility. McAteer welcomes the possibility of an ombudsman, but stresses that the office would have to carry with it the power to investigate complaints against local government authorities, and that this reform is not in itself sufficient. It is clear from replies given by O'Neill to a gathering of British MPs, meanwhile, that the Northern Ireland prime minister 'has not committed himself to any dramatic step-up of the pace of reform,' arguing instead that advances will take time. Fitt stresses the non-sectarian nature of the civil rights movement.

What they said today

Report: Wilson says that the issues of the local franchise, housing allocation, events in Derry, the Special Powers Act and the appointment of an ombudsman were discussed at the 10 Downing Street meeting. He feels that an impartial inquiry should be conducted by the government of Northern Ireland, and is sending the reports of the three Labour MPs who were in Derry to O'Neill. O'Neill himself has declined to comment on the talks. Lynch feels that the Northern Ireland prime minister is trying to secure civil rights.

Premier pleased by reiteration of Attlee pledge

Report: Wilson's reiteration of Attlee's constitutional pledge on Northern Ireland at the talks is believed to have gratified O'Neill. Wilson made clear the pressure to intervene in Northern Ireland to which he is being subjected; O'Neill is understood to have emphasised that intervention would only serve to fuel extremism. An ombudsman is also seen by him as less than essential, given the closeness of parliamentary representatives in Northern Ireland to their constituents.

Be guided by facts, not emotions, says Ulster premier

Report: O'Neill feels, in the light of Lynch's pronouncements on partition and of the forthcoming Royal Commission on the constitution, that people should engage in calm deliberation on Northern Ireland; a united Ireland is not an option.

News Letter

'Ulster has valid right of consent to change'

Report: O'Neill tells Westminster MPs of the extreme similarity between the Stormont and Westminster franchises, and adds that the university seats and business vote in this regard are to be abolished. The boundaries of parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland are such that in some cases a smaller number of electors return opposition MPs from some areas than vote for Unionist members in others. 'Candidates who support the existing constitutional position have greatly out-polled all others.' He defends Northern Ireland's constitutional position.

Setting the record straight

Editorial: O'Neill has outlined to a gathering of Westminster MPs Northern Ireland's history and put its constitutional status in context, defending its right to remain part of the UK. This is a useful retort to the distorted facts and figures about Northern Ireland advanced over the previous months. O'Neill has put Lynch in his place and 'exposed the pretensions of Mr Fitt who protests about electoral anomalies and yet represents the tiniest constituency in Northern Ireland.'

Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill's speech 'appeal to the past'

Report: The Irish Times feels that Wilson's reaffirmation of Northern Ireland's constitution will enable O'Neill to go ahead with his attempts at reform. The Daily Telegraph asserts that while reform in Ireland is necessary, it cannot easily be achieved while nationalists can continue to look for support to Dublin and to a vocal lobby at Westminster.

'Low level sniping' by enemies of Ulster, says Kirk

Report: Herbert Kirk feels that tensions in Northern Ireland make police action to prevent violence all the more necessary. 'I have no doubt there are perfectly sincere people who wish to see changes in present practices but unfortunately their protests are seized on by unscrupulous politicians and others who have no object but notoriety - allied, of course, with the overthrow of the constitution.' Bad publicity has damaged industrial prospects.

News Letter

Minister criticises his critics [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Unionists and Fitt clash in Ulster debate

Report: Fitt says at Westminster that if civil rights are not granted in Northern Ireland, then people will take to the streets. Thorpe feels that O'Neill is trying to control the more hard-line elements in his administration, but that, even bearing this in mind, it is difficult to credit the good intentions of his government when it continues to refuse to extend the Race Relations Act or the powers of the parliamentary commissioner to Northern Ireland, and when Murnaghan's Human Rights Bill is opposed. Fitt feels that Westminster must acknowledge its ultimate responsibility for human rights under Stormont. He also charges that 'the only violence used [in Derry] was by the police force.' He adds, 'the present situation is in no way geared towards the achievement of an Irish republic. The question of partition does not enter into it. It is a demand for civil rights.' The central issue is the local government franchise. Reforms would be supported by all sections of the community. Robin Chichester-Clark says that Thorpe's remarks will drive people in Northern Ireland into entrenched positions, and speaks of progress towards reconciliation. Fitt's speeches are 'an incitement to violence.' Wounds cannot be healed overnight, and Fitt deliberately caused trouble by leading a civil rights march into an area where people holding similar beliefs do not normally go.

Irish News

Fitt puts 'Ulster' record right for British MPs

Report: Robin Chichester-Clark accuses Fitt of being more interested in ending partition than in civil rights. Catholics who try to make a valuable contribution to the Northern Ireland community are often singled out for vilification by their co-religionists, as indeed are protestants who wish to see catholics playing such a role. Intervention will only serve to destroy moderation.

Unionist MPs' [sic] flay Fitt in Westminster debate

Report: Robin Chichester-Clark says that the Derry parade was not banned, but was simply re-routed away from areas where it was not wanted.

Belfast Telegraph

Stop rights march in Armagh: councillor

Report: An Armagh councillor calls on people to do everything in their power to prevent a civil rights march through the city, and to communicate the message that discrimination is not practised there. Trouble and damage to property must be avoided. An opposition councillor deplores violence but feels that people should be permitted to exercise their right to march.

Irish News

9 arrests as students, police clash in City Hall march

Report: When police redirect a PD march in Belfast because of a Paisleyite counter-demonstration, protesters break through a police cordon and some minor clashes ensue.

News Letter

9 arrested in marches [Leader]

[BT, 4 November]

Belfast Telegraph

Students plan another City Hall rally

Report: A further PD demonstration outside Belfast City Hall is planned; the Loyal Citizens of Ulster declare their intention to hold a march in Derry.

Placards at court as nine are charged

Report: PD protesters demonstrate outside the Belfast court where participants in yesterday's march are charged with regard to their conduct. Eight of the nine are represented by members of the Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers.

[IN, 6 November]

Methodist support for Capt O'Neill

Report: 'Junior ministers of the methodist church in Ireland have expressed their support "for the progressive policies of prime minister Capt O'Neill," and called for electoral reform to take place at an early date.'

News Letter

'Our people rise above bitterness'

Report: A local Church of Ireland publication claims that bad publicity about Northern Ireland has made people strongly aware of its faults; its good points must be more strongly emphasised.

Irish News

Attitudes to the partition issue

Letter: The attacks made by the PD and particularly by the National Democratic group at Queen's University on Lynch's statement that the root of Northern Ireland's problems lies in partition, are to be deplored.

No letters of support?

Letter: Has the Irish News received no letters agreeing with the recent call by prominent people for support for O'Neill?

Editorial reply: The newspaper has received no such correspondence.

Belfast Telegraph

British liberalism

Letter: Certainly, it is true to say that UK citizens have the right to examine what is taking place in any part of the kingdom, but those living in Britain should recognise the shortcomings of their own areas as well as those of Northern Ireland.

News Letter

Minority enjoyment

Letter: 'The underprivileged minority has been conspicuously enjoying unlimited abundance in the form of family allowances and other state benefits,' while contributing nothing in return but a higher birth-rate. 'Housing should be for sale and not governed by a couple's capacity to breed children. Education is a state concern and must be free from religious indoctrination and segregation. The reorganisation of local government is urgent - six local authorities, one for each county, would be generous and should be elected by voters on the parliamentary register of electors; staffing and allocations of housing to be the responsibility of the central government.' Northern Ireland should have more independence, not less, and should be free from London interference. Those who wish to leave are free to do so.

Student grants

Letter: Students should consider how relatively well-off are all the people of Northern Ireland before they protest.

Irish News

Ballycastle UC suffrage call

Report: Ballycastle urban council calls on government to introduce 'the principle of one-man-one-vote with universal manhood suffrage for all local government and parliamentary elections.' Discrimination should also be ended and employment opportunities increased.

Councillor's notice of motion

Report: Hassard is to call on Dungannon UDC to hand over control of the house-building programme to the Housing Trust.

Armagh's 'forgotten 26' still waiting for new houses

Report: The plight of 26 catholic Armagh families who have been living in squalid conditions for years without being allocated new houses is seen by many as a vivid illustration of the existence in the area of blatant discrimination.

A Labour view on civil rights drive

Report: McCann, speaking to NUU students, says that the struggle for civil rights has forged a broad alliance stretching from the far left of politics to a position to the right of the Nationalist Party. He feels that the civil rights issue has offered reactionary elements a cloak of respectability. They are prepared to campaign for fairness in electoral practice, housing and jobs, but not for a redistribution of wealth. 'The greatest achievement of the civil rights campaign has been its success in involving thousands of ordinary people in significant political events, and, by taking the struggle outside normal constitutional channels, thereby short-circuiting the political process. It is this achievement which we must, in the next few weeks, safeguard. Diversion of the struggle back into the reformist ruts of parliamentary manoeuvre and silly shuffling between official and unofficial opposition - as if it mattered - will hand the initiative back to those whose failures created the need for the movement in the first place. I would say, therefore, that we need a Housing Action Committee rather than questions in the house.'

News Letter

'We need a mass march' - McCann [Report]

4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Top

6 November, 1968

Belfast Telegraph

Wilson may tighten aid to Ulster

Report: Wilson's statement that, under certain circumstances, the British government would have to make 'a very fundamental reappraisal of its relations with Northern Ireland' is being seen as a warning that financial pressure may eventually be placed on Stormont should an accelerated programme of reform not be put in place. He calls for a public inquiry into the Derry disturbances, with particular reference to the actions of police. He also emphasises more strongly than ever his support for O'Neill. The political temperature however has undoubtedly been raised by these comments; it is likely that some Unionists may adopt more entrenched positions in opposition to reform. Even some strong O'Neill supporters deem the comments damaging. Another possibility raised by Wilson's comments is the removal of some powers from Stormont to Westminster. O'Neill is expected to make a full statement in the commons of his government's position as soon as possible. Craig remains opposed to an inquiry into police methods in Derry, to an ombudsman, which post he considers unnecessary for Northern Ireland, and to the abolition of the Special Powers Act. Boyd and Simpson will put down motions at Stormont calling for the appointment of an ombudsman and the establishment of a broadly-based development commission in Derry. Secretary of the Unionist '66 committee, Austin Ardill MP, asserts that an ombudsman would achieve little, but making such an appointment may be worthwhile if it placates a small, vociferous minority. He sees the real problem as a need for more houses and more jobs. Present Unionist policies of progress, he says, should be continued, and there will be no danger to O'Neill's leadership of the Unionist Party.

Wilson warns, 'if O'Neill is ousted'

Report: Wilson says that if O'Neill or his policies are overthrown, then the British government will have to conduct a fundamental reappraisal of its relationships with Northern Ireland. He calls for an impartial inquiry to be conducted by the government of Northern Ireland into events in Derry. He adds that his discussions with O'Neill centred on the immediate future, rather than on the role of the constitutional commission, an issue which was not raised. Labour MP Frank Judd feels that many British people consider conditions in Northern Ireland to be an affront to democracy. Wilson stresses the importance of the local government franchise, but admits that progress may take time.

Irish News

O'Neill remains tight-lipped but Wilson speaks out

Leader: O'Neill reveals little about the Downing Street talks with Wilson, but will brief his cabinet tomorrow. Wilson warns against the overthrow of O'Neill, which he says could bring about a serious reappraisal of Westminster-Stormont relations. He is most concerned about issues of discrimination and the Special Powers Act, and calls for an inquiry into recent events in Derry. Labour MP Frank Judd speaks of 'much in Northern Ireland which is an affront to standards of democracy and human rights.' Wilson feels that addressing the local franchise problem will take time. He will send the report authored by three Labour MPs on the Derry disturbances to O'Neill. Heath calls for support for moderate policies.

News Letter

MPs' row over Ulster talks

Report: Additionally, Wilson praises the Northern Ireland government's housing record, but says that discrimination should be ended.

Wilson's warning shocks Ulster

Report: 'Political circles in Northern Ireland were in turmoil last night' following Wilson's remarks. Craig 'categorically' rejects the call for an inquiry into Derry, feeling there to be no 'evidence or reasonable grounds' for such an investigation. 'Political agitation' is not sufficient reason for it. A source reveals that the idea of an inquiry was raised at the Downing Street talks, where Craig argued strongly against it. The Stormont cabinet will meet tomorrow; additionally, a meeting of the Unionist parliamentary party is expected in the near future. O'Neill reveals little about the Downing Street talks or the course of action that his government may now take.

Belfast Telegraph

Time for cool heads

Editorial: Wilson has made it evident that he will brook no further delay over reform, and has warned of a serious reappraisal of relationships between Britain and Northern Ireland, should the Unionist Party drop O'Neill or his reform programme. This could mean anything from the curtailment of the powers of Northern Ireland MPs at Westminster to the curtailment of Stormont's power, or a tightening of the British purse-strings. Unionists must acknowledge Wilson's determination, together with the possibility of more strife in Northern Ireland, and must make a credible statement of intent that is capable of securing widespread backing. 'The cabinet will be judged not on its pugnacity but on its statesmanship.'

Irish News

What, and how soon?

Editorial: Wilson has clearly decided that reform is necessary in Northern Ireland, and has placed pressure on O'Neill to secure it. The Northern Ireland prime minister will have to confront those still opposed to change. If he can do this soon, then there may be cause for some optimism.

News Letter

Case for an ombudsman

Editorial: It is reassuring that Wilson has chosen to disregard Lynch's arguments, and it is clear that he does not intend to 'intrude in Northern Ireland affairs.' While there is not an overwhelming need for the appointment of a parliamentary commissioner, such a move may prove useful in allaying some, notably English, fears.

Belfast Telegraph

Faulkner puts stress on bread and butter

Report: Faulkner, speaking at a pre-election rally in south Antrim, says, 'it is time, and more than time, to come down to solid ground from the clouds of distortion, exaggeration and prejudice in which we have all been enveloped for the past few weeks. Discrimination, gerrymandering, civil rights, Irish unity, may be the stuff that martyrs are made of, but they will not put butter on the bread or one penny in the pay packet.' Boyd, at a separate meeting, accuses Unionists of wanting to break the link with Britain: 'they don't want either British standards or the British way of life here. What they really want to do is renounce everything British and declare UDI to maintain their undisputed control over every facet of Ulster life.' Coulthard says that he favours a universal local franchise, and sees its denial as a significant cause of much unrest. Houses should be allocated on the basis of need alone.

News Letter

Faulkner slams the 'martyrs'

Report: It is employment, he feels, that provides people with the opportunity the enjoy a decent standard of living. He also lauds progress in house-building.

Banner-carriers not real patriots - O'Neill

Report: O'Neill criticises those who carry banners and cause inconvenience in time of peace, and compares their false patriotism to be real sacrifice made by the men at the Somme in 1916, who wanted 'to make Ulster…a part of the United Kingdom held in high respect by all.' Lord Dunleath says, 'I think the voice of the more extreme element has been heard out of all proportion to the body of opinion which it represents. The vast majority of the people in Northern Ireland are basically of moderate outlook and they don't tend to express their views so loudly. But if the need came the extreme element would be surprised to find the solid support for the prime minister and what he is trying to do.'

Irish News

British and proud of it, says O'Neill [Report]

News Letter

'They were the true patriots'

Report: O'Neill talks of the true patriotism of the men who gave their lives in defence of freedom, and feels that people in today's society are fond of making demands of the state, but give back little in return.

Belfast Telegraph

Catholic support must be welcomed - Unionist

Report: Duncairn Unionist Association is told that the Unionist Party should be prepared wholeheartedly to accept as members responsible catholics. Unionism's future depends upon an acceptance at grass-roots level of liberal reforms in the political and social spheres. O'Neill receives a vote of confidence and is sent a telegram of congratulation.

[NL, 7 November]

Presbytery supports PM

Report: East Belfast presbytery expresses support for O'Neill and deprecates those who stand in the way of an atmosphere of goodwill. Opponents of the government should however speak and act with restraint.

Bishops' statement welcomed

Comment: The statement by the Church of Ireland bishops on community relations has been widely welcomed; it is a sad comment on Northern Ireland life that such a pronouncement had to be made at all, and that it had not been made long before.

News Letter

Vital for security of Ulster

Report: It is sad to see social justice lacking in any part of the UK, comments a writer in a local presbyterian publication. It was wrong for Derry demonstrators to force a confrontation with the police, a confrontation that showed signs of having been engineered, nevertheless, Craig must take his share of the blame for subsequent events. Communists or the IRA may have infiltrated the movement, but the 'the rights and wrongs of the movement can be argued till the cows come home, but does this advance a solution to the underlying grievances by one iota...What are the grievances? There are three - allocation of houses (the impressive building figures shed no light on the problem whatsoever); electoral rights in local council elections, and the arbitrary fixing of ward boundaries. There is ample evidence of available to substantiate housing, the rightness of the other two are [sic] self-evident.' Houses and jobs should be obtainable on merit. 'To hear a prospective Unionist candidate say it is open to anyone to take legal proceedings who thinks he has been discriminated against and in the next breath to suggest that since none has been taken none exists must be very naive...Discrimination and social injustice exist. Of this there is no doubt, and a large measure of the guilt for this is ours.' The Christian way ahead is to tackle this social injustice.

Irish News

Taoiseach expects 'some improvement'

Report: Lynch tells the Dáil that he expects improvements in the civil rights situation in Northern Ireland in the wake of the O'Neill-Wilson talks. He says that he outlined to Wilson his belief that partition is the root cause of the recent problems. He believes that O'Neill is 'anxious to promote civil rights.'

Appeal for full anti-Unionist vote today

Report: Coulthard calls for votes in favour of reform on the eve of the south Antrim by-election, and pledges his support for an ombudsman, fair representation on all public boards, an end to political patronage and a genuine improvement in community relations, that can be brought about only be a non-sectarian party. He also wishes to see the introduction of a universal franchise in local government, and of a points system for housing allocation.

News Letter

Polling today in south Antrim

Report: Coulthard argues that an improvement in community relations can be achieved by a non-sectarian party representing ordinary people.

Irish News

Reject UDI philosophy, asks Mr Boyd

Report: Boyd says that some Unionists would rather declare UDI than face any degree of control in Northern Ireland, an idea which he condemns.

Housing conference 'dismays'

Report: A Strabane meeting of the NDP is told by a speaker of his disappointment with the recent housing conference, which largely failed to address the real issues. 'I regret to say that much more pressure is needed on the government before they change their ways and who can deny that the only voice that is listened to is the roar from the streets?' It would seem that O'Neill would like to see fair play in housing but, as usual, is not prepared to press for it.

Police strength at civil rights march

Report: Currie tells Craig in the commons that large numbers of police were not required to deal with the Dungannon march. Diamond accuses the reserve force of possessing a reputation for brutality. Craig says that demonstrators did not necessarily wish to maintain the peace, and that inciting speeches from the platform had not helped matters.

List of desired reforms in PD letter to 'no. 10'

Report: A PD letter handed in at 10 Downing Street calls for universal franchise in local government, from participation in which many taxpayers are excluded; the establishment of machinery to deal with discrimination; allocation of housing according to a points system, possibly administered from the centre and thus more immune to local prejudices; the reduction of powers vested in the executive by the Public Order Act, so that such powers may be exercised in the interests of public order alone; the repeal of the Special Powers Act, in view of the fact that the ordinary law is capable of dealing with extremists; the eventual re-drawing of local government boundaries, though this is a process that should not slow up universalisation of the franchise; and an end to the rife practice of political patronage. These issues can be addressed within the framework of the Union.

Nine accused after march in Belfast

Report: PD demonstrators protest outside the Belfast court where nine people face charges for their part in the most recent PD march.

[BT, 5 November]

Bunting and Paisley blamed by PD

Report: The PD states that the cause of trouble at its last march was the action taken by supporters of Paisley and Bunting. The PD wished to show solidarity with fellow-demonstrators at Downing Street, and to lobby Belfast councillors on the local franchise issue. The claim is advanced that the group has always co-operated with police.

Belfast Telegraph

Violence not our fault - statement

Report: The PD dissociates itself from the violence which occurred on its most recent march. The intention of the demonstrations was to show solidarity with fellow-demonstrators in London, and to lobby Belfast councillors, highlighting to them the inequity of the franchise.

News Letter

Votes in Derry [Letter]

[see IN, 27 October, Voting in Derry wards, BT, 30 October]

Democracy

Letter: Those condemning student protest should accept that free expression is a democratic right.

Belfast Telegraph

The People's Democracy

Letter: The Belfast Telegraph's reporting of the recent PD demonstration was mostly fair, but students were at no point urged to adopt particular tactics. The PD has no leaders as such, and is a thoroughly democratic body.

Tighten up purse strings on those students

Letter: Student demonstrations are not only causing disruption and inconvenience, but are also costing public money. Higher education is a privilege, and students should be forced to realise this; action should be taken by the granting authorities.

Ashamed to be a student

Letter: PD demonstrations are insincere, brought about by boredom and egotism. All views have been expressed regarding the present situation in Northern Ireland. There is no need for more disruption.

News Letter

Mere justice

Letter: It is shameful that students who speak out in favour of justice did nothing to prevent Queen's University from depriving children of playing space.

Cause of strife

Letter: O'Neill's success at promoting improved community relations is unwelcome to nationalist and republican leaders, who wish to destroy the Northern Ireland constitution. They have turned to the fashionable cause of civil rights to perpetuate division. 'The point I am trying to make is that selfish extremists on both sides have ruined O'Neill's attempt to solve the "Irish question" whereby he aimed at stabilising an amicable and loyal Ulster community wherein he could safely legislate to get rid of problems which exist and so establish a fully democratic and law-abiding state.'

Crafty move

Letter: The press, with unconcealed political sympathies, provides a proper forum for the debate of issues such as the recent events in Derry. The sensation-seeking coverage offered by television offers only propaganda of which Goebbels would be proud.

False image

Letter: Television, by concentrating on sensationalism, has portrayed Northern Ireland in a false light.

Thanks Yank

Letter: 'God bless our RUC men, the finest force in the world.'

The offenders

Letter: Mr Justice Lowry has pointed out that the trouble in Derry was caused by outsiders. The march had clearly been infiltrated by opponents. If police had not stopped it when they did, they would have permitted more trouble than actually took place. Craig's decision on the march is vindicated.

No coercion

Letter: The British Labour Party is willing to barter Northern Ireland's constitutional position within the UK to appease republicanism. Civil rights demands are merely a fashionable means to achieve the republican end.

Offer the Bogside

Letter: An end might be put to the Derry affair if the Northern Ireland government was to hand over the Bogside and Creggan areas of Derry to the Republic of Ireland. It was a mistake on the part of Lord Craigavon not to implement the findings of the Boundary Commission in the 1920s.

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7 November, 1968

Belfast Telegraph

Votes gap widens

Leader: A Bill published in Britain today will, is passed into law, lower the voting age to 18, abolish non-residential and thus multiple votes in all areas of Britain bar London. Such a measure would widen the legislative gap between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

[IN, 8 November]

Belfast Telegraph

Callaghan to see MPs on Ulster

Report: Callaghan will meet with the parliamentary Labour group on Northern Ireland on 21 November. He has told the parliamentary party that some things will have to be done in Northern Ireland that cannot wait for the proposed constitutional commission.

Irish News

Matters here 'needn't await constitutional commission'

Report: Callaghan tells a gathering of British Labour MPs that some changes in Northern Ireland need not await the findings of the constitutional commission established by the British government.

News Letter

Crucial cabinet meeting today

Report: The cabinet meets today to discuss the Downing Street talks. Unionist backbenchers are unsure of what reforms will be asked of them, but feel that O'Neill must be supported in attempts to mend strained relations with Westminster. Many believe the government will agree to the appointment of an ombudsman. Some feel that a re-examination of the Special Powers Act may be necessary, while others subscribe to the harder line adopted by Craig. It is thought that government will accelerate its programme for the re-shaping of local government, but many feel strongly that the one-man-one-vote issue cannot be considered independently of this review. Proponents of a points system for house allocation feel that government has the right to demand such a system, in view of the considerable public expenditure on this area. Wilson's warning is being taken to indicate a preparedness to tighten Westminster's purse-strings if liberal Unionism is obstructed. Craig calls for cool heads on the Unionist side, so that a crisis can be avoided. He also dismisses speculation on a Unionist split. Boyd and Simpson table a motion at Stormont, calling for the appointment of an ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

Unionist MPs to be told

Report: The Unionist parliamentary party is to meet soon to hear a report on the Downing Street talks. The cabinet is meeting today to discuss the same issue. It is unlikely that O'Neill will be ready with a definitive statement of government policy. Today's cabinet meeting may be the most important since O'Neill came to power.

News Letter

The wrong way to help

Editorial: Wilson's latest words on Northern Ireland 'carried an unnecessary hint of duress' that is embarrassing rather than helpful to O'Neill. They will not make the prime minister's task of persuasion any easier. 'At this stage the least [sic] that is said in Westminster or in public in Northern Ireland the sooner it should be possible to reach a solution, which, if it is not acceptable to all, will have the endorsement of the mainstream of Unionist thought.' O'Neill requires the solid backing of his party. Craig was right to turn down Wilson's request for a public inquiry into events in Derry, and he knows best the reasons for the retention of the Special Powers Act. Wilson is to be commended for his reassurance on the constitutional issue.

Belfast Telegraph

Something more than words is needed now

Comment: For all the rush of events over the past week, little appears to have changed in Northern Ireland politics. O'Neill, it would appear, has once more been given time by Wilson. 'This is hardly going to satisfy the civil rights marchers, whose faith in Capt O'Neill's goodwill has largely been exhausted.' It seems that peaceful marches gain much less British media attention, and it would appear that British politicians, given half the chance, would rather forget about Ireland. With so many demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, tragedy is turning to farce, as illustrated by the LCU counter-demonstration in Derry. No-one really takes student demonstrations very seriously, because students tend to feel strongly about almost anything. 'There is, I think, within the civil rights movement, a core of practical people who are concerned with the concrete realities of poor housing and lack of jobs. They are not trying to make political capital out of religious discrimination, or to advance themselves personally, but merely to tackle specific areas in Ulster life.' O'Neill must find something concrete to offer these moderate people.

Craig hits 'onslaught on Unionism'

Report: Craig talks of a great onslaught on the Northern Ireland constitution, conducted by way of a propaganda smear campaign. Unionists must not permit tensions to escalate. Issues within the competence of the government and parliament of Northern Ireland will be dealt with by those bodies, in accordance with the wishes of the people. The leader of the Unionist Party will be chosen by the party on the basis of merit. 'There is no power struggle within the Unionist Party.' A resolution is passed supporting Craig's defence of peace, order and the constitution.

News Letter

Unionists warned 'to play it cool' [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

'Unasked for intrusion into our affairs' Boal says

Report: Boal criticises Wilson's recent comments on Northern Ireland as an 'unwarranted and unasked-for intrusion into the affairs of the Ulster Unionist Party, who can have whatever leader they want [sic] at any given time they want.' The interference is not only constitutionally improper, but also comes from 'a member of another party.' Phelim O'Neill describes Diamond as an extremist on the one side, and Boal as an extremist on the other.

News Letter

Mr Wilson gets a Boal broadside

Report: In addition to Boal's comments, Diamond asserts that the constitutional issue has nothing to do with the demand for civil rights. O'Neill has said much but done nothing over the course of his period in office; he should now put together a timetable for reform and put it to the electoral test. Craig's actions have ruined O'Neill's policies, and it is difficult to understand how they remain in the same cabinet. O'Neill replies that the government must consider carefully what its next step should be.

Irish News

It has to be cabinet first on London talks

Report: Diamond, speaking in parliament, argues that the constitutional issue is at the present time a political red herring; the real issue is that of civil rights, and it must be addressed. A definite timetable for reform, much more than liberal sentiment, is now required. Craig's conduct has left O'Neill's policy 'in ruins.' O'Neill retorts that he is entitled to defend Northern Ireland's constitutional position, in view of Lynch's intervention. He adds that no decisions were taken at the Downing Street meeting. Boal accuses Wilson of constitutional blackmail, and feels that the British prime minister has no right to interfere in the affairs of the Northern Ireland parliament or of another political party. The Unionist Party can have whichever leader it chooses. O'Reilly plans to test the government's good intentions by the introduction of an Ombudsman Bill. He expresses concern about partiality in the administration of the law. No marches should be permitted to pass through areas where their presence is unwelcome, and counter-demonstrations should not be used as an excuse for banning the originally-proposed march, so long as fair notice has been given. Phelim O'Neill accuses both Diamond and Boal of extremism, a charge which both deny.

Belfast Telegraph

Paramilitary suggestion far-fetched - Craig

Report: Craig refutes a suggestion made by Diamond that the LCU is a paramilitary group.

Irish News

Diamond's query on existence of paramilitary force

Report: Boal wonders why Diamond has not in the past asked similar questions about the IRA. Craig blames student demonstrators for the recent trouble in Shaftesbury Square, Belfast.

News Letter

Far-fetched conclusions on Derry [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

LOL backs Mr Craig

Report: A Belfast district Orange Lodge lends its support to Craig and to the police for their handling of the 'riotous mob' in Derry, and condemns MPs and others who 'while masquerading as leaders in the cause of civil liberty, are fomenting civil strife.' Paisley, writing in reply to a British Legion request calling upon him to cancel a march, argues that his demonstration will not in any way detract from activities organised by the Legion.

'Paisley for ombudsman'

Report: Bunting suggests that the role of ombudsman for Northern Ireland should be filled by Ian Paisley.

Civil rights protesters under fire

Report: Student demonstrations which disrupt traffic are criticised at a meeting of Belfast city council police committee, students being accused of denying others their civil rights.

[NL, 8 November]

News Letter

Welcome to RCs

Report: Duncairn Unionist Association is told that the party should be prepared to welcome more catholics to its ranks.

[BT, 6 November]

Belfast Telegraph

'Housing bias' sets problem for churches council

Report: The Irish Council of Churches, meeting in Belfast, discusses means whereby it can address the problem of housing discrimination.

Paisley and workless to hold Derry meetings

Report: An Unemployed Action Committee in Derry plans a teach-in on housing and unemployment, closely coinciding with a Paisleyite rally, though it is emphasised that it is not intended as a counter-demonstration, and Paisley has been invited to speak. Bunting has served notice of a march, planned to take place before the Paisleyite meeting.

Irish News

Derry jobless for action committee [Report]

News Letter

Paisley gets invitation from jobless [Report]

News Letter

Long winter of protests

Report: It would appear that there is likely to be little slackening in the pace of protest and counter-protest in the near future. The PD plans a public meeting for Belfast City Hall; the UCDC will hold a rally in Derry, 'which will be one of the largest ever held in the Maiden City,' while Bunting has given notice of a parade on the same day; NICRA plans a rally in Armagh on 16 November.

Summonses for Fitt, - McAteer?

Report: It is rumoured that both Fitt and McAteer will receive court summonses for their part in the 5 October civil rights demonstration. Observers feel that this is a victory for the extremist faction in the cabinet over O'Neill's desire not to raise the political temperature further.

Derry Labour Party man calls for Mr Craig's dismissal

Report: McCann, addressing a PD meeting at Queen's University, says that if O'Neill is serious in his desire for improved community relations, then he must dismiss Craig from his government post. It is impossible for the minority to feel any confidence in a government of which Craig is a part. The idea that liberal schemes are likely to be held back by extremists if O'Neill is not supported ignores the fact that the extremists are already in control of the Northern Ireland government. Liberal talk has not been matched by reformist action. Paisleyism is a paper tiger used by government to justify its unwillingness to change. 'A few derisory sops - like the abolition of company votes or the appointment of a so-called "parliamentary commissioner"' are not sufficient. The campaign for civil rights should continue with another mass-march in Derry.

News Letter

'Scared pants off the govt' [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

QUB group advised on speaker

Report: The vice-chancellor of Queen's University advises organisers at the Students' Union not to invite McCann to meetings on a regular basis, since he has previously been expelled from the university. McCann speaks at a Queen's gathering of O'Neill's reformist words and lack of corresponding actions.

McAteer promises new attitude

Report: McAteer says that when discrimination is removed, Nationalists will have to think deeply about a new approach to their ideological goals.

Irish News

Forecast of startling changes in Nationalist thinking

Leader: The Stormont cabinet also meets today to discuss the Downing Street talks. Craig urges people to use their influence to keep the situation in Northern Ireland cool. He says that the Unionist Party is not divided by a power-struggle.

[NL, 8 November]

Scottish call for government inquiry

Report: The East of Scotland Irish Association calls for a British government inquiry into the situation in Northern Ireland, for which it believes Craig carries a substantial weight of the blame. British standards of democracy must be implemented and be seen to be implemented in Northern Ireland.

Majority rule for Ireland

Letter: Some people tend to favour the concept of good government over national government; others tend to believe that good government is practically impossible without national self-determination for Ireland as a whole.

Support for those who deny rights

Letter: Those now calling for support for O'Neill should realise that they are asking those who have been deprived of rights to support the regime that is responsible for this deprivation.

News Letter

'It was last straw'

Letter: Students, as citizens, have the right to free expression.

That open-air birth

Letter: If civil rights supporters hate everything British, why are they demanding British rights? Additionally, Orange and Paisleyite marches have enjoyed police protection, while demonstrators in Derry were defenceless.

Belfast Telegraph

RUC accused of brutality

Letter: Police made no effort to restrict the Paisleyite protest in Belfast, while making sure that the PD had not the same freedom. The force engaged in some brutal conduct towards PD protesters. The government is under the thumb of the extremists, but rather than having broken the civil rights movement, Stormont's actions have strengthened it.

Sympathy for police

Letter: The PD does its cause no service with its continuous demonstrations and disruptions. The organisation is practically a front for the QUB Republican Club, and has made the terms 'democracy' and 'civil rights' meaningless. Sympathy must be extended to the police, who have to endure 'abuse and provocation,' and who have been forced 'to put up with cancelled leave.' Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for these students or for the disruption they cause.

News Letter

Open letter to the Yank

Letter: A recent letter from an American discussing events in Derry should be sent to some leading English or American publications as a corrective to 'biased press and television.'

Change of heart

Letter: 'Let the prime minister know that we will never be united under his weak and compromising leadership which has brought Ulster to its present sorry state.'

Fitt's success

Letter: 'Ulster loyalists will never unite under [O'Neill's] leadership, but only when he has been replaced by someone with the stature of Craigavon or Brookeborough.'

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8 November, 1968

News Letter

No moves yet on Ulster reforms

Leader: No decisions have yet been taken by the government on reform. The cabinet will meet once again, before a wider gathering of the Unionist parliamentary party, though this meeting can expect to hear no more than an interim report. Some ministers are said to be unhappy at the way majority opinion in the cabinet is moving. Wilson's words on Northern Ireland are being interpreted as unquestionably a threat to Northern Ireland's financial position. Fitzsimmons calls for calm and reason to prevail on all sides, with fewer protests, charges and speeches from all, which serve a destructive rather than constructive purpose. He talks of the progress that has been made under O'Neill, and lauds the prime minister's efforts towards a 'just and prosperous society in which all its citizens can play a full and equal part in which it is the intention to see that justice is done and is seen to be done.'

Local watchdog would need to have more teeth

Comment: 'On the face of it the appointment of an ombudsman could meet a lot of the grievances of the socially and politically discontented faction in the community. But to do so, Ulster's watchdog would need to have more teeth than his British counterpart, a view which Mr Wilson might very well have expressed to Capt O'Neill and his two cabinet colleagues in London.' Additional powers would have to include an ability to investigate malpractices in local government.

Belfast Telegraph

Force of destiny

Editorial: Claims of Unionist Party unity behind O'Neill are farcical and disguise the position of some hard-liners whose views are difficult to differentiate from those of the Paisleyite faction. Some are simply unwilling to make the effort to convince bigoted constituency parties of the merits of progress. The catholic community may be seen to have 'repaid its portion [to the Northern Ireland state] by being law-abiding and showing a patient spirit in face of penalties and exclusions that have caused many decent men and women to plumb the depths of bitterness and hurt.' A better society will be built, whether the Unionists try to resist it by holding onto the past or not.

Irish News

'Votes-at-18' Bill adds to Fitt's 'count'

Leader: The proposed reduction of the voting age in Britain to 18 will 'add more urgency to the study by Stormont of electoral reform in Northern Ireland.' Diamond calls for all electoral disparities between Northern Ireland and Britain to be eliminated.

[BT, 7 November]

Spirit of goodwill will prevail, says Lynch

Report: Lynch believes that O'Neill is seeking a fair deal for all the people of Northern Ireland, and that a 'spirit of goodwill will prevail.'

Belfast Telegraph

More talks at Downing Street within weeks?

Report: Wilson's clearly hardened stance on Northern Ireland, and his recent hints in the commons of a restriction on financial assistance, may mean that another set of talks between the two prime ministers can be expected soon. Even leader of the opposition Edward Heath has talked of progress to be made in Northern Ireland 'in the way which most members want.' The British Society of Labour Lawyers is being urged to speed up work on its report lest it be overtaken by events.

Ulster has to stand firm - Sir Knox

Report: People should not be ashamed of Northern Ireland, Cunningham says, and should prepare to stand firm on the difficult road ahead.

News Letter

We must stop apologising for Ulster [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

2 dangers confronting Ulster - Capt Orr

Report: Orr warns an Orange gathering of two dangers to the future of Northern Ireland. Panic measures of half-baked reform must be avoided, as must a tendency towards UDI. The Northern Ireland government should maintain its present course of progress, and if there are real injustices, it should tackle them, while preserving what needs to be preserved. Intimidation from within or without must not succeed. He says also that opponents of Northern Ireland have switched their fire from the partition issue, because they cannot receive great support from the minority on the ground; instead, they are now attempting to discredit the Unionist government. John Maginnis MP feels that angry protesters in Derry and Belfast are typical of those who wish to see Northern Ireland's downfall.

News Letter

'Leave us alone' plea

Report: 'The Voice of Ulster's Christian Ladies in a letter to Mr Wilson says that his government is pressing for…majority rule in Rhodesia, but in Ulster he appeared to disregard majority rule by the only people who were in a position to solve her difficulties…The letter deplores interference by threats, using the tactics of blackmail, merely to satisfy Irish republican voters in England.' It is also felt that birth control is the only solution to the housing problems in Derry; such problems do not exist in Derry alone, but in other parts of the UK also.

Belfast Telegraph

Reform: cabinet undecided

Report: Faulkner's absence during the coming week means that no final cabinet response to the Downing Street talks is likely within the next two weeks. Thus, any statement made by O'Neill to the Unionist parliamentary party can be only provisional in character.

News Letter

Unionist resolution criticises the NDP

Report: The North Tyrone Unionist Association criticises the NDP for failing to give the government credit for its achievements in the local area, an attitude that is viewed as detrimental to community relations. A further resolution passed by the association reads: 'we are behind Captain O'Neill in his stated endeavour to have more harmonious relations in our Province and put an end to malpractices. We deplore any manifestation of violence or extremism and call for tolerance and agreement to differ where difference cannot be resolved.'

Belfast Telegraph

No bowing of knee [says] O'Neill

Report: O'Neill views the result of the south Antrim by-election as a victory for the kind of Unionism that he is trying to promote - 'a decent, sane, orderly march towards social and economic progress in which we ask all citizens…to play a part.'

News Letter

PM on victory in south Antrim

Report: Simpson criticises extremists on both sides. The vice-chairman of the Ulster Young Unionist Council says that threats from Wilson will not help O'Neill, and any financial sanctions will not aid social and economic progress in Northern Ireland.

Irish News

Unionist extremists rapped by O'Neill

Report: O'Neill condemns Unionist extremism as unrepresentative and out of step with the kind of Unionism that he advocates.

Belfast Telegraph

All MPs respect O'Neill - Clark

Report: Henry Clark, Westminster MP for north Antrim, tells a Unionist meeting that O'Neill is held in great regard by members of all parties at Westminster, especially in view of the recent speech to some of them. 'It is common among the prime minister's critics to complain that little has been achieved in the past five years, but Capt O'Neill's real achievement is that there is a change in the minds and hearts of people…This is far greater than anything which can be achieved by laws and statutes.'

Need for houses, jobs 'greatest'

Report: The vice-chairman of the Young Unionist Council feels that Wilson could only harm progress in Northern Ireland were he to impose financial sanctions on Stormont. The priorities of more houses and more industry require continued aid from Westminster.

Minister pleads for calmness

Report: Fitzsimmons calls for 'fewer speeches, statements, comments, charges and counter-charges, protests and counter-protests which are likely to raise further the political temperature so that we can all get down to doing the things that really matter.' He speaks of progress in the economy and in community relations, and says that he is 'firmly and squarely behind the prime minister in his declared policy of building in Ulster a just and prosperous society in which all its citizens can play a full and equal part and in which it is the intention to see that justice is done and is seen to be done.'

Labour treats us well - Dr Nixon

Report: Robert Nixon, MP for north Down, calls for greater respect from Unionists for Wilson, who has treated them well. He suggests the appointment of an ombudsman and the allocation of public housing according to a points system. There is little sympathy in the Conservative Party for Unionist intransigence. He admires the idealism of the Belfast students.

Urgent need for reforms - churches

Report: 'Further demonstrations which threatened public peace would tend to impede reform progress - but the government and local authorities must more urgently consider the need for reforms, especially in respect of work opportunities, allocation of housing and local franchise, said a statement of the Irish Council of Churches.'

Irish News

Appeals for restraint welcomed

Report: The Irish Council of Churches states: 'we wholeheartedly support…appeals for restraint and for the urgent investigation and remedy of authentic grievances…We believe that further demonstrations which threaten the public peace will tend to impede progress in reform, but that both the government and local authorities must now the more urgently consider the need for reforms, especially in respect of work opportunities, allocation of housing and local franchise.' Catholics and others for their part ought to reconsider policies that tend to divide.

Belfast Telegraph

Plea against prejudice in new Belfast

Report: A Belfast councillor expresses his desire to see a new Belfast where religion is a private affair. He feels that supporters of O'Neill's policies ought to stand up and be counted.

Extremists attacked

Report: The prospective NILP candidate for the Shankill constituency calls on O'Neill to purge his party of extremists, who he argues are placing Northern Ireland's constitutional position in danger.

Exorcise extremists - plea

Report: The chairman of the Northern Ireland human rights committee calls on ordinary decent people to take their place in the structures of Northern Ireland politics, especially in the Unionist Party. The extremists must be exorcised and pressure utilised to secure human rights for all.

Solve housing 'or Derry goes out of control'

Report: Cooper warns that the situation in Derry will 'get out of control' unless the city's housing problem is solved within 18 months. He demands an immediate points system, rent assessment officer and crash housing programme. Beatty talks of the achievements of the city's existing housing programme; in addition, 'the mayor, who allocates houses himself, said that he took into consideration a points scheme devised by the ministry and other pertinent factors brought forward by the housing manager.'

Nationalist motion on Derry houses passed

Report: 'A Nationalist-sponsored motion calling on the housing sub-committee to base the allocation of houses on a points system approved by the council was passed unanimously at a special meeting of Londonderry corporation today.'

[IN, NL, 9 November]

News Letter

Alderman attacks protesting students

Report: A Belfast councillor criticises student demonstrations for their recent disruption of traffic in Belfast, which he says constitutes a denial of civil rights.

[BT, 7 November]

'Protestant is second class'

Report: A Unionist councillor on Newry rural council expresses the view that, in the light of the breaching of a gentleman's agreement on housing by the council, protestants on one estate in the rural district are being treated as second-class citizens. The allegation is rejected; houses in the area are allocated on the basis of 'need rather than creed.' A catholic councillor argues that catholics are second-class citizens because they are denied better jobs and democratic representation. The Unionist councillor in question retorts that no protestants are employed by the council. A motion calling for the introduction of a points system for housing allocation will be put before the council by another member.

Irish News

Plan for mass civil rights march in Derry

Report: The DCAC announces a mass civil rights march for 16 November in Derry. Civil rights supporters are urged to avoid being provoked by or offering provocation to the forthcoming Paisleyite demonstration in the city. Belfast and District Trades Union Council expresses the hope that Wilson's concerns about Northern Ireland will be addressed by the Northern Ireland government. The council fully supports the cause of civil rights for all, as the only means whereby sectarianism can be eliminated. PD meetings will tomorrow be held in Belfast and Newry, as part of a 'Plan to Inform the People.' North Tyrone Unionist Association condemns extremism on both sides, and argues that extremist protestant interference with legal marches demeans the Unionist belief in 'civil and religious liberty.' 'We are all behind…O'Neill…in his stated endeavour to have more harmonious relations in our Province, and put an end to malpractices. We deplore any manifestation of violence of [sic - or] extremism, and call for tolerance and agreement to differ where the differences cannot be resolved.'

Belfast Telegraph

Keep away from Paisley parade, Derry people told

Report: Hegarty tells Derry people to stay away from the Paisleyite parade that is to take place in Derry, both to demonstrate their tolerance and their abhorrence of Paisley's disruptive activities. The DCAC invites NICRA to attend a 16 November march planned for Derry. The teach-in planned by the city's unemployment action committee is still to go ahead the Saturday before, and will encourage Poppy Day collections. A demonstration is planned in Lifford against the 'denial of basic human rights in the Six Counties.'

Support for civil rights meeting

Report: The CRA wishes to receive support from 'all sections of the community' for a meeting to be held on 1 December in Belfast, its purpose being 'the extension of the movement in Northern Ireland.'

Irish News

Statement on minister's letter

Report: The QUB Republican Club condemns Craig's written reply to its letter concerning the relationship of Rory MacShane to the club. Full civil rights cannot be established in Northern Ireland while the present Unionist administration remains, since it thrives on 'dictatorship, sectarianism and bigotry.' Such rights can only be obtained in a 32-county socialist republic.

News Letter

McAteer forecasts changes in party

Report: McAteer predicts that the removal of discrimination will engender a change in the Nationalist Party's approach to the achievement of its ideological aims.

[IN, BT, 7 November]

Speed up change in local areas, plea

Report: O'Reilly urges Fitzsimmons to speed up the reform of local government, but Fitzsimmons replies that the process requires time. O'Reilly feels that the local franchise issue cannot be ignored while the review proceeds; action must be taken soon.

[IN, 9 November]

Belfast Telegraph

Wilson replies

Summary: Wilson replies to a telegram from Derry Trades Council alleging police 'excesses' during the disturbances in the city.

Fitt to ask about RUC men on charges

Report: Fitt will question Craig at Stormont as to whether any police have been charged over their role in the Derry disturbances. Brooke will ask whether charges are to be brought against marchers. Gormley will call for talks with the government on an inquiry into the Derry disturbances.

Irish News

Diamond raps Burns over 'job-shy Derry catholics' speech

Report: Burns' comment on the 'job-shy' catholics of Derry, who receive more in benefits than they would in wages, is criticised by Diamond, who deems it insulting, provocative and damaging to community relations.

News Letter

Speech is described as insult [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Protest at 'queen' on Falls Road

Report: The Hospitals Authority receives a telegram calling for the removal of a statue of Queen Victoria from the Falls Road side of the Royal Victoria Hospital in the interests of good community relations.

Bullet head sent to Mr Paisley

Report: Paisley receives a threatening letter purporting to come from 'Queen's University Republicans.' The QUB Republican Club denies involvement. Paisley is to stage a march in Belfast prior to a protestant rally.

Irish News

'Strange plea'

Letter: Those who call for support for O'Neill do not understand what it is to be homeless or voteless. They should be ashamed of their support for a man who recently claimed in Stormont that there is no discrimination in government appointments.

News Letter

Step by step [Letter]

[see BT, 6 November, 'If injustice has been done it ought to be remedied': canon, IN]

Belfast Telegraph

Time for hierarchy to give Stormont full recognition

Letter: Examples of good community relations are more representative of life in Northern Ireland than the distorted image portrayed by the press. The refusal of the catholic hierarchy fully to recognise Stormont means that normal politics cannot flourish. Catholics are increasingly taking up their places in the community.

'Outrageous interference'

Letter: Wilson's threats to Northern Ireland amount to nothing less than political blackmail.

News Letter

Queries for Mr Fitt

Letter: Does Fitt really advocate British citizenship for all the people of Northern Ireland? Does he advise his electors of its many benefits? Will he condemn the IRA?

[see BT, 11 November]

Freedom of worship

Letter: Lynch should be asked to sign the PD petition on civil rights, since civil rights are infringed by the pre-eminent position enjoyed by the catholic church in the Republic of Ireland.

Derry employment

Letter: In Derry, 'the system of discrimination [in employment] is sewed [sic] up tight,' as the figures clearly show. 'Emigration or the dole are the only choices.'

Judge was right

Letter: Lowry was right in saying that the trouble in Derry was caused by outsiders: 'that was obvious from Lynch's talk on the radio when he said there were some people from the South. They blame the police for brutality and also if they take no action. Do they really know what they want?'

Praise for Scots

Letter: Scottish support for loyalists has been generous and their warning against interference by Wilson is to be welcomed. It 'should make some of our lukewarm loyalists get a grip of themselves and stand with the same determination with most Ulstermen who will not be dictated to by outsiders and professional upstarts whose aim is to disrupt.'

Student marchers

Letter: Students are no better equipped to solve the world's problems than any other group; some participate in marches without knowing what are their purpose. Why should they be allowed to get away with causing trouble and damage?

Cut their hair off

Letter: Good tax-payers' money is being used to support unruly and 'un-law-abiding' students, who should be rounded up in order that their hair can be cut.

Rusticate them

Letter: Those in authority at Queen's University should act 'to prevent a minority of both students and university staffs endeavouring to disrupt the life of the ordinary and orderly citizen.'

4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Top

9 November, 1968

Irish News

About-face on housing in Derry

Report: Derry corporation accepts six Nationalist motions calling for housing allocation according to a points system and a crash housing programme with a definite timetable for change. It is agreed that a committee should be formed to prepare guidelines for local authorities regarding methods for allocation. The Nationalist motion calling for an immediate review of ward boundaries is however rejected. Beatty talks of Derry's good housing record, but councillor James Doherty calls for a system free from 'all suspicion of political or religious privilege.' Notice of a motion calling for a points system is given at a meeting of Dungannon UDC.

News Letter

The home seeker wins on points

Leader: Nationalist councillors send telegrams to O'Neill and Wilson informing them of the defeat of the motion calling for the reform of ward boundaries.

[BT, 8 November]

Belfast Telegraph

Forward step

Editorial: Derry corporation's acceptance of a points system for housing allocation and of a crash housing programme is encouraging. It is to be hoped that a fair system can be worked out, and that it can be implemented equitably. There was no similar acceptance of the Nationalist motion on ward boundaries, and it is this issue, along with that of the local franchise, that is key. However, 'it is impractical to look for boundary changes until the proposed new pattern and Londonderry's place in it are known.'

Bomb scare on train

Leader: The train carrying Paisleyites to Derry is halted temporarily while police search for a bomb. Between 300 and 400 marchers take part in the Paisleyite march in Derry. The Unemployed Action Committee teach-in is attended by around 150 people. Further demonstrations of this kind are planned. PD meetings will take place today also in Belfast and Newry. NICRA lodges plans for a civil rights demonstration in Armagh on 30 November.

[IN, NL, 11 October]

'Followers' of march in scuffle

Report: At the UCDC march in Belfast, a scuffle breaks out after a young man is heard to shout 'something about civil rights.'

News Letter

Paisley parade quiet [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

150 turn up at the City Hall

Report: The PD holds a meeting outside the City Hall in Belfast.

Irish News

Civil rights march in Armagh

Report: NICRA calls a civil rights march for Armagh for 30 November. Notice of the march has been handed in to the RUC.

[NL, 11 November, BT, 13 November]

News Letter

Eire minister flays Fitt

Report: Blaney launches a scathing attack on partition, and chides those who pretend that the sole issue is one of civil rights alone, rather than the root cause of such abuses, partition.

Belfast Telegraph

Blaney speech 'ill-timed' says McAteer

Report: Republic of Ireland Minister for Agriculture Neil Blaney's hard-hitting speech, critical among other things of a 'bigoted [Unionist] junta,' is not welcomed by nationalist politicians in Northern Ireland. Fitt feels that it is damaging to both the cause of civil rights and that of Irish unity.

Cross-border talks futile says Eire minister

Report: Blaney also asserts: 'Capt O'Neill never backed his talk with action. And his bluff has been finally exposed by the disgraceful scenes which we witnessed recently in Derry City when defenceless people were batoned for attempting to march through the streets.'

Irish News

Blaney blasts O'Neill over the border

Leader: Better housing and a reformed franchise, adds Blaney, are not enough. What is required is the ending of partition.

Irish News

'Craig has failed'

Report: The Six County regional executive of the Republican Clubs reaffirms its support for the civil rights cause and says that Craig has failed in his attempt to convince people that the movement is under republican or communist control. Republicans should support the 16 November march in Derry.

Belfast Telegraph

RVH statue

Summary: Copies of the call for the removal of a statue of Queen Victoria from the Falls Road side of the Royal Victoria Hospital have been sent to the police and the ministry of health and social services.

Irish News

Co Fermanagh holds its own in housing discrimination

Comment: Fermanagh county council clearly drew no lessons from the Caledon housing controversy, only weeks after which it made a similar allocation to an unmarried protestant man instead of one of two catholic families. This is no new practice; it was originally made possible by the gerrymandering of the county in 1924. The area in which the allocation was made is strongly nationalist, and no housing projects have been undertaken there since the inception of the Northern Ireland state. On the other hand, extensive building went on in Unionist areas. For example, 'Tempo, in a catholic area, has the unique total of 12 council houses erected since partition, and 10 of them given to Unionists and two to catholics.' Police batons in Derry were required to wake the UK and the world to such 'criminal neglect and injustice.' 'And Mr O'Neill may ponder, too, whether it is enough merely to express in words a pious hope that they [local authorities], steeped in the sins of housing commission and omission, will miraculously mend their ways and see the light of true charity through the dark clouds of bigoted sectarianism which have enshrouded them for half a century.'

Fitzsimmons is urged to speed LG reform

Report: O'Reilly urges government to speed up its programme for local government reform. He also feels that, because it will take some time to resolve the issue, the local franchise question should be treated separately, since it must be tackled soon.

[NL, 8 November]

Belfast Telegraph

Derry housing drive to get 'utmost help'

Report: Fitzsimmons welcomes the decision reached by Derry corporation on housing, and pledges government assistance for the newly-agreed crash housing programme. McAteer welcomes the corporation's actions but expresses disappointment at the lack of movement on ward boundaries. Nationalist members of the corporation send telegrams protesting against the decision to O'Neill and Wilson.

'Co-operate no more'

Report: Molyneaux claims that Lynch 'has let the cat out of the bag and revealed what his fifth column in Ulster tried to conceal - that violent agitation[s] about houses, jobs and votes are only weapons in the battle to end partition and destroy Ulster…[Now] there must, inevitably, be a halt to concessions which will now only be hailed as witness and submission to blackmail.'

TV critic explains

Report: Mary Whitehouse apologises for having appeared to take sides on Northern Ireland affairs when she criticised media distortion of facts. Her comments did not relate specifically to Ireland.

Irish News

Facing - and accepting - the facts

Letter: Partition may not be palatable, but it is a reality nonetheless. Those aggrieved by the present system cannot expect a miracle to change it. The task is one in which people must engage.

McAteer on rethinking

Letter: McAteer's courageous ideas on rethinking Nationalist policies should be implemented now, beginning with greater respect for institutions held dear by Unionists, all of which sprang from European roots, nurtured in Ireland during the middle ages. Protestants and catholics can unite around their common heritage.

Belfast Telegraph

Segregated education charge 'political gimmick'

Letter: Robin Chichester-Clark's claim in the Observer that segregated education in Northern Ireland is divisive ignores the fact that the practice is not confined to Northern Ireland, and that its existence in other places does not result in sectarian strife.


Introduction     1968:   | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |
November 1968:   | 1-2 | 4-9 | 11-16 | 18-23 | 25-30 |
4 - 9 November:   | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Top |

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


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