Calendar of Newspaper Articles dealing with Civil Rights issues, 1 Jun 1968 - 9 Dec 1968 by Alan Scott
[KEY_EVENTS] [Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
CIVIL RIGHTS: [Menu] [Reading] [Summary] [Background] [Chronology] [Main_Pages] [Newspaper_Articles] [Sources]
November 1968: | 1-2 | 4-9 | 11-16 | 18-23 | 25-30 |
18 - 23 November: | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Top |
18 November, 1968
The dam bursts
Editorial: The more government displays its reluctance to face reform, the stronger grows the civil rights movement, and the greater the tensions in Northern Ireland. This unhappy situation is something of an indictment of self-government and of the political development of Unionism.
Derry is for ALL citizens
Editorial: The civil rights leaders deserve praise for
their responsible handling of the Derry march. The breaking of
the ban shattered the old idea that all of Derry's citizens are
not entitled to march anywhere in their city. The minority is
no longer prepared to accept double-talk from O'Neill.
The time for Westminster non-intervention has passed, and the
Unionist Party must now face the necessity
After Derry - Ulster
Editorial: Craig's bans on 5 October
and 16 November demonstrations must be questioned. The tension
that they created did not balance out the potential gains. In
particular, the requests of church leaders with
regard to the most recent ban should have been heeded. The police
deserve congratulation for their admirable handling of the situation.
O'Neill must rid himself of UDI
thinking within the cabinet ranks and within the party, since
it is damaging to Northern Ireland and to the economy. Any cabinet
member who cannot stand behind O'Neill must resign; the latest
retrograde step taken by the Nationalist Party
- its adoption of civil disobedience - only adds weight to this
Hopeful watch on rights march
Report: In Belfast, there is genuine concern at how events
might develop in Derry. One woman criticises extremists 'for
deliberately going to Londonderry to incite young people.' She
feels that MPs have done little to solve the problem. A man claims
that there is nothing wrong with conditions in Derry, and that
those demanding civil rights are ill-informed. Another man asserts
that there is genuine discontent in relation to housing in Derry,
but feels that it will disappear once the Housing Trust has completed
new dwellings. Lynch later expresses satisfaction
that the march has passed off peacefully, and hopes that reforms
will soon be implemented.
Like soccer fans - but this was not a game
Report: The DCAC demonstration is told of the peaceful intent of the event, and confrontation is initially avoided by dint of a face-saving formula that enables a symbolic penetration of police lines by four men. Some marchers attack police, but stewards intervene. Finding an alternative route into the walled city, some protesters are attacked by extreme protestants. Fitt calls for a pause in agitation until the terms of the queen's speech are known. Craig praises the RUC. Whether the situation calms significantly in Derry, it may be that the city will not return to full normality 'before a Roman catholic takes the mayoral seat.'
Four men cross barriers - and Derry is for all citizens
Report: Trouble is largely avoided on the DCAC march, though
there are some flare-ups when police refuse to allow the general
body of marchers to defy the ban, and when loyalist elements attack
marchers. Cooper does not envisage any demonstrations
in Derry in the near future. Hanna endorses the symbolic breaching
of the barriers. Although some marchers wished to rush the barriers,
these were contained by the stewards. Hanna feels that there
must be substantial concessions in the queen's speech if the frustrations
of the people of Derry are to be allayed. Fitt
says that the situation is not one of 'the government versus the
catholics' but rather of 'the government versus the people.'
Derry's prayers were answered
Report: The DCAC march passes off relatively peacefully
in a tense Derry. Violence flares among some demonstrators when
they are denied access by police to the area within the city walls
to which Craig's ministerial order has forbidden
access. Incidents also ensue between loyalists and civil rights
marchers. The ban is symbolically broken by four men at the police
barrier, and demonstrators make their way into the walled city
by another route to hear speeches.
15,000 march in peace on behalf of civil rights
Report: That the march passed without bloodshed is a remarkable
achievement. This is entirely to be adduced to the responsible
arrangements made by the DCAC. The police must also be praised
for their 'restraint and commonsense.' The general secretary
of the NCCL praises
the conduct of marchers and police, and asserts that the peaceful
nature of proceedings indicates that there is no need for the
Special Powers Act.' The rector of Christ
Church Derry praises the peaceful outcome of the
demonstration, and commends the part played by the churches in
promoting it. McAteer commends the police,
while Lynch hopes that reforms
will now be forthcoming. Craig justifies
his ban and congratulates the RUC.
Don't use force, RUC told at rights march
Report: Police are ordered to use minimum necessary force
in enforcing the march ban: 'a very critical audience of press,
radio and television persons will have their sights focused on
the dignity, firmness and tact of our police
force must be clearly evident.'
Unionists are invited to join Derry action
Report: All sections of the community including Unionists,
are invited to a DCAC meeting. 10,000-15,000 are believed to
have participated in Saturday's march. No marches are planned
in the near future, though not as a result of Craig's
ban, but because the committee wants 'to tackle other things,
such as housing, unemployment and electoral reform.'
Cooper praises the work of stewards in controlling
the demonstration. 'Mr Vincent Hanna, secretary of the Northern
Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers,
who acted as adviser to the committee, endorsed the token breaking
of the ban by four committee members who clambered over police
barriers at Carlisle Square.' Hanna feels that responsible people
in the movement will be undermined unless concessions are granted
in the queen's speech. Unless such changes are forthcoming, Fitt
remains 'pessimistic about peace.' NICRA
calls for charges relating to the 5 October march to be dropped,
and praises the latest demonstration, feeling that Craig should
be dismissed from office. Mid-Down Labour Party praises the DCAC
and Derry police, and says that Northern Ireland's constitution
is being endangered by Unionists; Craig's position should be considered.
A presbyterian church
in north Belfast is told, 'from the great mass of the people there
goes out a cry for peace, and the urge that if changes must be
made let them be made without bitterness and strife.'
Dublin praises marchers - hits at Craig
Report: The Irish Times praises the conduct of the DCAC demonstrators, and the Nationalist Party decision to countenance civil disobedience if the necessary reforms are not granted. The paper feels, as does the Irish Independent, that the march stewards, more than the police, deserve congratulation for preserving law and order. The Irish Press asserts that the 'tactical retreat of the police' was necessary to avoid a repetition of the violence of 5 October.
Ban was a success, says Craig
Report: Craig asserts that his ban
in Derry has been a success. He professes to be surprised at
the number - 2,000-3,000 - of counter-demonstrators who took to
the streets, and particularly at the presence among them of some
people who would ordinarily be classed as moderates. He feels
that numbers would have been greater had it not been for his ban.
He praises the work of police in maintaining order. The DCAC
indicates that 'there could now be an ease-up in parades.' Among
anti-Unionists, 'such is the intensity of feeling at present that
only really "concrete" reforms can be expected
to placate those in support of the civil rights platform.'
Saturday's leaders may be prosecuted
Report: Prosecutions may be brought against leaders of
the 16 November DCAC demonstration; the event passed largely in
peace. The cabinet will now return to discussion of reform,
and will then put its proposals to the parliamentary party. A
programme of reform may be ready in time for the opening of a
new session of parliament on 17 December. There is still considerable
feeling on the Unionist backbenches against the reconsideration
of the franchise before the overall reform of local government
has been completed - a view divergent from that of the Westminster
government. 'Reform of the franchise is one of the seven key
points in the "minimum immediate demands" announced
by the Nationalist Party at the end of
its conference at which it was decided to adopt a policy of non-violent
[This step] does not foreshadow a wholesale
and widespread campaign of civil disobedience to be implemented
at once. The party has retained a freedom of manoeuvre by stipulating
that it will be put into operation "at such times and under
such circumstances as may be considered expedient".' The
Nationalists, and possibly Derry's civil rights campaigners, may
await the queen's speech at Stormont before considering any further
800 Derry workers defy ban
Report: Derry workers stage a march in defiance of Craig's
ban on marches within Derry's city walls.
Protest as 46 are charged at Derry
Report: 46 people appear in court in Derry facing charges
relating to their involvement in the civil rights march of 5 October.
Demonstrators gather outside the court building. The cases are
adjourned. Scuffles between demonstrators and police later develop.
Maghera solicitor challenges RUC in Derry court
Report: 'The police were today challenged by Maghera solicitor
Mr Kevin Agnew to investigate statements by
50 people who, he alleged, admitted they took part in the Derry
riots on October 5 but were not among 46 summoned at Derry Magistrate's
Court today as a result of the incidents.'
Derry court cases to be adjourned
Report: Hanna will apply for an adjournment of the court
cases against those charged with offences in relation to the 5
October civil rights march. A letter will be sent to the ministry
of home affairs stating that 'it will not be possible to have
the cases tried by any RM who has been a member of a political
Bishop's thoughts as Derry prayed
Report: The Church of Ireland bishop of Derry and Raphoe speaks of the night of prayer preceding the Derry march, praises the uniting power of prayer, and feels that the Church of Ireland stands for reconciliation.
Packed cathedral prayed for peace [Report]
Derry bishop grateful for peaceful city
Report: The catholic bishop of Derry expresses his thanks
for the peaceful outcome of the DCAC march.
Civil rights decision tonight
Report: A meeting will be held in Armagh to decide on plans for a civil rights gathering after the 30 November march, following a decision that will prevent a meeting from being held in the City Hall.
[IN, BT, 19 November]
'Drop the charges against 46'
commends the DCAC for its peaceful demonstration, calling on O'Neill
to sack Craig and see to it that proceedings
against the 46 accused in connection with the events of 5 October
are dropped as a gesture of goodwill.
Anti-march campaign at Queen's
Report: A new committee is established at Queen's University
to express opposition, which it says is felt by the majority of
students, to the string of protest marches held by a minority,
which only raises strife in the community.
Nationalists adopt civil disobedience
Report: The special Nationalist Party conference held on 17 November endorses the adoption of non-violent civil disobedience, together with a seven-point programme of 'minimum immediate demands' - the repeal of the Special Powers Act; one-man-one-vote; justice in all areas of local government; the establishment of a Public Appointments Commission; 'the allocation of public authority housing on an equitable points system'; the extension of the Race Relations Act to Northern Ireland, together with an expansion in its scope to encompass 'the conditions and circumstances existing in this state'; and the appointment of an ombudsman for Northern Ireland. 'The conference declared its willingness to support the exercise of non-violent civil disobedience "at such times and under such circumstances as may be considered expedient to cleanse a system which has as its basis a deliberate policy of denying equal treatment and equal opportunity for all".' McAteer says the party is demanding not concessions but rights, and stresses that there has been enough double-talk on the part of government. Though Currie feels that party tactics should be kept secret, 'it is believed that the civil disobedience could involve the support for meetings and marchers of all kinds, squatting, non-payment of rent and rates and possibly the token occupation of certain public buildings.'
Nationalist Party goes over to civil disobedience
Leader: The Nationalist Party's decision is 'the most dramatic and momentous step in the fight for civil rights for the minority in Northern Ireland.' The decision is welcomed in Nationalist circles as 'the strongest challenge yet made to the Unionist government in the 50 years' struggle for civil rights for the minority.' The party, says Currie, 'will not be bought off by a few miserly changes such as the abolition of the company vote in local government elections.'
Nationalists decide on civil disobedience
Leader: In addition, 'Last night the reaction of rank and
file Unionists was one of dismay and there was a strong feeling
that the Nationalists' "all or nothing" declaration
may force a reciprocal hard-line attitude on the part of many
Unionists.' Craig describes the decision
Irish CDP aims to form branches in the Six Counties
Report: The Christian Democratic Party of Ireland intends
to establish branches in Northern Ireland in view of the perceived
ineffectiveness of the Lynch government in tackling
the issues of partition and injustice in Northern Ireland, which
are inextricably linked. Party chairman Sean Loftus talks of
a letter he as received from the British Conservative Party executive
that indicates that party's refusal to urge an inquiry into injustice
in Northern Ireland. He feels that the CDP could help mobilise
the Irish vote in Britain for Labour if the Labour government
would move on the issue of partition.
Apartheid fighter interested in Ulster situation
Report: A South African anti-apartheid campaigner is visiting
Northern Ireland on a speaking tour, and hopes to learn more about
the state's problems.
Baptist invites Fitt to rally
Report: The Baptist minister heading the newly-formed Ulster Constitution Reform Committee invites Fitt to speak at a London rally, and challenges Paisley to a television debate, accusing him of adopting un-Christian attitudes.
[IN, 19 November]
Pressure group on reform
Report: An English baptist minister forms a committee 'to bring pressure on the British government for reform of the Ulster constitution.'
No date yet for bishops-PM meeting
Report: No date has yet been specified for a meeting between
Derry church leaders and O'Neill,
at which the former will call for an investigation into the underlying
causes of ongoing unrest.
Church must take sides - Withers
Report: Withers feels that the church can no longer afford to sit on the fence with regard to human rights issues.
'Church in politics is great tragedy'
Justice must be seen, says Dr Martin
Report: A former presbyterian
moderator calls for fair government, and adds: 'it grieves us
to think that a train-load from Belfast, headed by Mr Paisley,
marches with bands and banners on one Saturday and the natives
of Derry are debarred a week later.' The Nationalist Party
and catholic church should also
do their part to dispel protestant fears. South Belfast presbytery
supports the right to demonstrate, but feels that further demonstrations
can only prove harmful.
Summary: A local Women's Unionist Association
passes a vote of confidence in the RUC
and the government.
Suggested 'radical reforms': the need for vigilance
Letter: The abolition of the business vote would be virtually
meaningless; an inquiry into the events of 5 October would either
confirm what people have learned from television pictures or whitewash
the whole affair; an ombudsman would be just another piece of
progressive symbolism without real powers. Meaningless reforms
that fail to address the central theme of social injustice are
What has been reformed?
Letter: Wilson has said that the pace
of reform in Northern Ireland is too moderate. Where
is the evidence of this reform of which he speaks?
Demonstration in Derry a 'turning point'
Letter: The Derry march may well be a turning-point for the civil rights movement, which can gain nothing but credit for its conduct. The breach of Craig's ban may weaken the minister's position and allow O'Neill to dismiss him.
'A human right'
Letter: Students have the right to demonstrate for one-man-one-vote,
a basic human right, especially if this is the only way in which
the message can be communicated.
Letter: If Cunningham truly believes in the value of the
United Kingdom, then he cannot label the concerns of the duly
elected UK government as 'interference' in Northern Ireland affairs.
'Sir Knox is like many Ulstermen of all parties; he is not for
anything. He is against almost any attitude that might work,
including compromise, seeing the other point of view and living
in the present.'
Letter: Rhetoric such as that of Pounder against the Labour
government alienates 'about 50 per cent of the British public'
from Northern Ireland.
Student's plea to PD
Letter: Unruly protests by the PD are harmful to the cause
of civil rights, in that they serve to alienate the wider community.
A large body of students is disturbed by the demonstration mentality.
Student debt to community
Report: Student demonstrations do not advance the cause
of human rights. The majority of students
are however using their time to learn, and will later use that
knowledge for the benefit of society.
Letter: British critics of Northern Ireland's housing situation should concentrate on their own housing problems.
[NL, 22 November]
As a visitor saw it
Letter: At the 9 November Derry demonstrations, the police
showed commendable restraint, as indeed did the Paisleyite
Empty houses - but none for Belfast family of seven
Report: A number of families living in poor conditions are not being rehoused by Belfast city council despite the temporary availability of some housing. One mother says of her plight that 'anything's good enough for white niggers.'
19 November, 1968
Reform outline soon?
Leader: The government now hopes to be in a position, it
is understood, to outline its plans for social and political reform
by next week. O'Neill reiterates
his refusal to hold an inquiry into 5 October disturbances. A
statutory commission is expected to be appointed to administer
the Derry area plan, though its powers are not yet clear. Among
the other anticipated reforms are the allocation
of public housing in accordance with a points system,
and the appointment of an ombudsman. It is unclear what measures
will be taken on the local government
franchise. The '66 committee will meet with some Westminster
Unionists. Diamond will ask O'Neill if he
has reconsidered his attitude towards an inquiry, and will invite
him to make public the programme for reform.
Means to an end
Editorial: The government's move towards stating its intentions
on reform is to be warmly welcomed. A Derry development
commission is vital in the pursuit of housing and jobs, which
are just as important as the franchise and boundary issues. The
announcement of a plan to provide a universal franchise would
take much of the heat out of the situation both in Northern Ireland
and at Westminster. The appointment of an ombudsman with powers
to investigate local government and a
review of the Special Powers will also contribute considerably.
Implementation of the Nationalist policy of civil disobedience
at an early date could however only damage prospects.
Parliament will decide
Editorial: 'Extra-parliamentary activities in any country
carry a danger to democracy, for it is only in parliament that
a full and equitable representation of the people is found. However
forceful, however clamant, indeed however successful action in
the streets is, it is still a sectional movement and, for that
reason alone, cannot express the will of the community. Two further
threats arise. The first is that extremist opinion tends to harden
on both sides and increases the difficulties of those men of moderation
who are trying to find a middle way. In the second place, authority
that lies in the hands of constitutional leaders is weakened and
their successors are invariably "hard-liners" whose
policies can never produce an amicable solution.' The Nationalists'
adoption of non-violent civil disobedience can only worsen the
situation. It is a victory for Currie and
a defeat for the wiser approach of McAteer.
Derry area plan is to get 'high priority'
Report: 'The government is to seek ways to speed up the implementation of the Londonderry area plan and has called for an end to further disturbances in Londonderry so that rational discussion of positive steps can take place.' One measure under consideration is a statutory commission to implement the plan. Beatty says that the underlying causes of the present unrest must be addressed. McAteer sees the government's statement as 'a first grudging instalment of good news.' He also feels that appeals for calm do not mix well with the recent 'shower of summonses.' Hegarty argues that Unionist offers of a long-term solution to Derry's problems are insufficient in addressing the immediate sense of frustration that exists in the city.
Call to move top RUC men from Derry
Report: McAteer calls for the removal from Derry of a number of high-ranking RUC officers, whose conduct, he claims, has brought the law into disrepute. The Stormont government promises a comprehensive statement soon on the action it intends to take, and calls for calm. McAteer sees this as 'the first grudging instalment of good news,' though appeals for calm do not mix well with summonses. He adds that he has warned the British home office of the dangers inherent in the Derry situation. The government statement speaks of the possibility of a statutory commission to administer the Derry area plan, but Hegarty feels that immediate problems cannot be addressed via a long-term solution, especially with anger in the city increasing on a daily basis.
Cabinet's pledge on Derry
Report: The cabinet states that it is giving consideration
to the establishment of a statutory commission for the co-ordination
and administration of the Derry area plan. 'The statement shows
the measure of support which the prime minister
now has from
his cabinet colleagues.' The government calls for an end to disturbances
so that the plan can be implemented. The underlying causes of
unrest are being examined, and a statement outlining remedial
measures will be forthcoming soon. A period of calm in which
rational discussion can take place is deemed essential. It has
yet to be decided whether prosecutions will be brought against
civil rights bodies which defied Craig's
ban. Additionally, 'employers are to approach the Ulster cabinet
today to express the hope that the situation in the city will
soon be eased. The cabinet is to be told of the concern felt
at the growing tension in some establishments between employees.'
Just 'instalment' - McAteer
Report: McAteer says that the government's
pledge on the Derry area plan is 'merely an instalment of good
news' and does not address the issue of votes or that of ward
boundaries. Hegarty says that the people of Derry will not be
satisfied until they can elect a corporation representative of
the majority of the people in the city. Beatty says that the
underlying causes of unrest should be tackled as soon as possible.
O'Neill refuses Derry probe
Report: O'Neill claims that
an inquiry into Derry would undermine police confidence, but adds
that any accounts gathered by Wilson will
be examined in detail. Murnaghan feels that the institution of
an inquiry will help restore calm. O'Connor asserts that the
need for an inquiry will be obviated by a government declaration
that everyone will be given their just rights.
Confidence in PM
Summary: A committee of the Ulster Women's Unionist Council passes a vote of confidence in O'Neill.
Confidence in govt
Report: Victoria Unionist Association expresses its confidence in the government and condemns the Nationalist Party's approval of civil disobedience.
[NL, 20 November]
Summary: Duncairn Unionist Association
protests to the vice-chancellor of Queen's University
at the behaviour of 'extremist student groups,' which serves to
alienate ratepayers. The university authorities are asked to
take action to prevent further demonstrations.
Report: Pounder criticises what he perceives as the political irresponsibility of the Nationalist Party which, in embracing a policy of civil disobedience that is 'coldly calculated to raise the political temperature,' is only polarising the community. He is also critical of hooliganism by a minority of students.
'Root out' trouble raisers
Report: Responsible student leaders, says Pounder, should
exercise their influence to root out the less reasonable element
who are giving students as a whole a bad name. He accuses the
Nationalist Party, by its adoption of
civil disobedience, of further polarising the community. He feels
that it poses a threat to the progress that has been achieved
Protesting students criticised
Report: Members of Londonderry county council criticise
student protesters, particularly in view of the recent demonstration
against O'Neill. The suggestion
is made that scholarships or grants made to participants should
be reviewed. Fermanagh Education Committee discusses similar
ideas, and is rebuked by one member.
Loyalists to form action committee
Report: A 'Londonderry Loyal Citizens' Action Committee' is to be formed; those who wish to join must be 'loyal to the constitution and interested in the true welfare of the city.' The organisers' statement adds, 'we support the government and we feel time must be given - in all common sense for the government to work out its programme in the city.'
[BT, 23 November]
UPV plan Maghera parade
Report: The UPV plans
a parade in Maghera, and will resist any ban peacefully. It is
intended to march through an area in the town from which a previous
parade was excluded. Steps are being taken to form a UPV division
Craig's ban again defied in Derry
Leader: 'The ministry of home affairs' ban on meetings
inside the walls of Derry was broken several times yesterday during
a potentially explosive period when the civil rights movement
virtually took control of the city.' Allegations of excessive
police force are made following a demonstration outside the court
building, where proceedings relating to the 5 October disturbances
are underway, proceedings which are later adjourned. A number
of Derry workers join the protest; police do not intervene in
their meeting. Hume states, 'the evidence of
yesterday and the weekend has been that of a constant peaceful
defiance of Mr Craig's ban. It is quite
clear it will have to be lifted long before the month is up.'
Melaugh calls for a rate strike in Derry to protest at the treatment
of citizens by Derry corporation.
Maydown workers march
Report: A group of Derry workers stages a march in the
city, but marchers are prevented by police from passing within
the city walls.
Bottles thrown at workers
Report: A number of Derry workers are attacked in a unionist area, some of them participants in a recent civil rights protest.
Shirt factory workers attacked
Report: Workers coming home from their place of employment are attacked by a unionist crowd in Derry.
Bottle blitz on workers outside Derry factory
Leader: Bottles are thrown at workers as they emerge from
the factory at which Ivan Cooper is general
Charges issued against Craig
Report: Four summonses are issued in the name of Cooper and Hume against Craig, in relation to his conduct on 3 and 5 October. He and the governor of the Apprentice Boys may be summoned as defence witnesses during McCann's trial.
Craig to be served with four summonses [Report]
Citizens' action against Mr Craig
Report: Meanwhile, further ban-breaking demonstrations
take place in Derry, but pass off peacefully, though there are
some scuffles between demonstrators and police following the appearance
in court of those charged in connection with the 5 October disturbances.
Derry workers take part in spontaneous protests. The DCAC plans
a meeting for this evening. Melaugh calls on others to follow
his own strategy of withholding rate payments.
'Disorderly' cases again adjourned
Report: PD demonstrators facing charges in a Belfast court
have their cases adjourned for the second time.
Riot police query for Craig
Report: Craig will be asked further
questions at Stormont on the police, in relation to events in
Rights venue in Armagh
Report: A NICRA
meeting will take place today in Armagh to discuss
the proposed civil rights march.
Armagh civil rights march meeting
Report: A public meeting will be held in Armagh to discuss the forthcoming NICRA march.
[IN, 18 November]
Speed up reforms move
Report: Derry businessmen are making moves to arrange a
meeting with O'Neill, and are expected
to urge a quickening of the pace of reform lest events
in Derry degenerate.
Baptist minister challenges Paisley to TV debate
Report: The chairman of the Ulster Constitution Reform Committee calls on Paisley to appear with him on television to debate Northern Ireland issues, accusing him of adopting un-Christian attitudes. The committee hopes to collect 100,000 signatures for a petition to be presented to Wilson. It will hold a rally at Westminster at which Fitt will be present as a speaker.
[BT, 18 November]
The meaning of Derry
Editorial: Nationalist people, by standing up for their
rights, are already half-way to victory. The Nationalist Party's
proposed course of non-violent civil disobedience can be used
to help 'reveal the exploitation and prejudice which, for too
long, has passed for local government,
and by which too many people are being hurt.' Overdue government
rethinking is at last beginning. 'If he is courageous enough,
the prime minister must eliminate from around him those who insist
on preserving the Unionist status quo, as they have known
and enjoyed it for so long.'
The week's faces
Comment: O'Neill's televised
appeal for calm might have been more effective had he not called
for it on the pretext that it would help restore normality. 'I
am not a politician but the whole essence of the civil rights
movement is that the normal is the normality of injustice, corruption,
discrimination and a second-class citizenship.'
Lord Erskine's call for love and charity should be heeded by
Labour Lawyers at Derry demonstration
Report: Hanna professes to be impressed by the peaceful conduct of the DCAC demonstration, though this statement, he stresses, is made in an informal capacity. He feels that, while Craig's ban was technically breached, this was with the acquiescence of the RUC.
'Dignified and moving' civil rights march
Report: The mid-Down branch of the NILP
praises both DCAC marchers and the RUC
for their restraint in Derry, while criticising Craig
and calling for his dismissal. The Unionist Party
is ironically placing the Northern Ireland constitution in danger.
We must accept all British standards - Brett
Report: Shankill NILP
branch is told that Unionists, especially Craig,
are adopting an anti-Unionist stance. If Northern Ireland is
to enjoy the economic and social benefits of UK membership, then
British standards of democracy must also be embraced.
'Sack Craig' demand by Derry Labour
Report: The Derry Labour Party says that Craig
and his extremist allies are making a travesty of the law. What
is not required is a cooling-off period or the examination of
grievances; what is needed is the redress of grievances that are
very real. O'Neill must redeem his
sullied reputation, and Craig must be dismissed 'before he leads
the people of Northern Ireland into a sectarian
Derry plea on wards change fails
Report: A Nationalist motion put before Derry corporation's
law committee, calling for a change in the city's ward boundaries,
Letter: The treatment of the civil rights issues by the
Irish News is worthy of commendation.
Praise for Derry stewards
Letter: The DCAC stewards prevented trouble at the demonstration;
they and the marchers are to be commended for their conduct.
The RUC does not deserve praise,
for despite being equipped with a considerable armoury the force
failed to control Bunting's extremist
Tribute to CR leaders
Letter: The civil rights movement, and especially its Derry
leadership, deserve thanks for their sterling efforts.
Letter: If O'Neill is truly
a liberal reformer, he should implement Wilson's
suggestions now, and if the cabinet stands in his way, should
put the issue to a referendum.
People who have large families are not being 'irresponsible'
Letter: The separate education of catholics does not breed
sectarianism; if anything, it is a symptom
of the same. Catholic bishops removed their ban on catholic attendance
of Queen's University in 1908,
so this factor can have had little influence on the current imbalance
in the professional classes. The local franchise should not be
restricted only to those who contribute financially to local government:
rights are about more than being in possession of money. Housing
allocation does not depend on family
size alone, but on present living conditions also. Small families
admittedly should not be penalised, but neither should their larger
Letter: Bunting should have
used his energy on 10 November to place a wreath on his local
cenotaph in honour of the dead.
Benefits are not refused
Letter: It seems that the Nationalist Party
has decided on a policy of non-payment of rents and rates; it
is noticeable that state benefits are not also rejected. 'This
is in line with their policy: "we want all the benefits without
Let's all be honest
Letter: In the Armagh village of Charlemont,
conditions for protestants are worse than those in Derry, yet
there are no marches or speeches from local people; catholics
living in nearby Backwatertown are living in good conditions,
and do not talk about how well-off they are. 'Let us all be frank
and say what we really mean for a change and let the rest of the
world know that there is no discrimination
here, but that when protestants are badly off they just keep quiet
and do the best they can for themselves. We have our pride and
as an old RC neighbour of mine said to me, "we live in the
best country in the world and I have visited and worked in many".'
Jobs in Derry
Letter: Figures quoted in a recent letter detailing job
distribution according to religion in some areas of employment
in Derry are ludicrous and omit to mention the small numbers of
protestants employed by nationalist businessmen in the city.
'Emigration or the dole is the only answer [writes the previous
correspondent]. How does he explain the fact that while the Republic's
population is decreasing every year, Northern Ireland's is increasing,
mostly by people coming from the South, need I say.'
Only in England
Letter: It is not only in Northern Ireland that violent
demonstrations take place, as recent events in England have shown.
Letter: The student movement is attempting to rise above party politics, and contains people of differing political affiliation. It has publicly attacked Lynch as well as Craig, and is fighting on the non-party issue of human rights. 'I plead with all your readers to show their loyalty to Ulster by seeking an end to anomalies in our democracy, ie, to the ward system in Derry and an end to the Special Powers Act which, once a must, is now obsolete and offensive.'
Letter: People should be more patient with the antics of
QUB students, who obviously require psychiatric treatment.
Letter: Ratepayers, not protesting students, should decide
who governs Northern Ireland, and this is a view held by the majority
Letter: QUB students are behaving like spoiled children, and should be educated in the virtues of 'patriotism, self-sacrifice, manners, modesty and tolerance.'
20 November, 1968
MPs debate reforms
Leader: The backbench '66 committee meets with Westminster Unionist MPs, while the Northern Ireland cabinet again meets to discuss reform. The signs are that two opposing camps are drawing their battle-lines, though there is, as yet, no sign of a leadership challenge. Those who want a swift declaration of reformist intent to calm the situation both within Northern Ireland and at Westminster will face at the next meeting of the parliamentary party those who dislike outside interference, and who do not wish to be seen as caving in to demonstrations. The latter group argues that government does not have the electoral mandate to introduce significant changes - particularly changes to the local franchise. Many within the Unionist Party are worried at the impunity with which Craig's Derry ban is being defied, and fear loyalist retaliation.
Meeting today seen as crucial
Report: The cabinet meets again to discuss reform
and the continued breaking of the Derry ban. The government's
proposals for reform are expected to be published soon. The '66
Committee, meeting today with Westminster Unionist MPs, will learn
of attitudes towards Northern Ireland prevailing in the British
parliament. Rumour has it that an intransigent attitude will
be resisted by many backbenchers at Stormont. Fitzsimmons
meets Derry corporation's mayor and the chairman of the RDC to
discuss swift implementation of the area plan, which may include
the establishment of 'a statutory commission to co-ordinate and
administer the Londonderry area plan.' Taylor
says that Unionists do not have an electoral mandate to introduce
sweeping changes and feels that an elections should be called
before government gives in to the demands of street demonstrators.
For or against Ulster
Editorial: The '66 Committee would be wise to back the cabinet's reform plans; the alternative is a course damaging to Unionism, and to Northern Ireland's security as part of the UK.
Promise of reform
Editorial: The government's proposals, when they are made
known, must be substantive. The first priority must be Derry,
and the government 'must realise the futility of trying to implement
the Derry area plan with the aid of people who have done their
best to relegate the plan to the limbo of forgotten visions.'
Extreme Unionists who stand in the way of change must be opposed.
Summary: In correction of a previous report, Victoria Unionist
Association did not pass a vote of
confidence in the government, but in Craig.
Unionist annual meeting
Report: Victoria Unionist Association 'expressed its confidence and support for Mr W Craig and condemnation of the proposed civil disobedience. Mr Roy Bradford outlined government plans to provide more houses and jobs in the Londonderry area.'
[BT, 19 November]
Summary: Pottinger Unionist Association
passes a motion of confidence in Craig and
the police for their handling of the Derry situation.
Factions cause of trouble - Craig
Report: Craig feels that trouble on
5 October was caused by factions willing to exploit Derry's problems.
Party must face facts says Unionist MP
Report: The Marquis of Hamilton calls for support for O'Neill,
arguing that Unionism must face change or
remain politically stationary, thus losing support. Support for
change does not entail any compromise on constitutional principle.
'More strife' warning as PM rejects inquiry
Report: On O'Neill's continuing refusal to hold an inquiry into events in Derry, Diamond asserts that government has done nothing to calm the situation. He rejects Taylor's suggestion of an election, which he says would not be decided on civil rights but on the border issue.
O'Neill says no to Derry inquiry
Report: O'Neill rejects opposition calls for an inquiry into the Derry situation, which Murnaghan insists might better serve to cool tempers than any ban. O'Connor asserts that no inquiry would be unnecessary were the government to commit itself to reform. O'Neill feels that an inquiry would undermine police confidence.
Inquiry would affect police confidence - PM [Report]
PM to meet Labour men on reforms
Report: 'Prime minister, Capt O'Neill, has agreed to meet representatives of the NI committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Labour Party next week to discuss civil rights in Ulster.'
[NL, 23 November]
Election hint on reforms
Report: Taylor feels that government does not have the mandate to carry through far-reaching reforms on the basis of its last election platform. Gradual social and economic progress, benefiting all the people of Northern Ireland, was the government's stated aim, and the demands of street demonstrators should not be permitted to force government to abdicate its responsibility.
If government yields to street demonstrators [Report]
Civil rights movement being used - McMaster
Report: McMaster contends that some wish to use the civil rights movement for seditious purposes, while others in Britain want to distract public attention from British government failures. He stresses that some of these critics underestimate the financial contribution to the British state of Northern Ireland's people and industry, and urges support for O'Neill's 'ambitious programme of reform' and industrial expansion. 'Demonstrations which lead to attacks on the police and deliberate attempts to flout law and order and the authority of the government can only play into the hands of our critics and enemies both at home and overseas.'
Periods of adversity and unrest
Report: McMaster believes that Northern Ireland is facing
its most serious threat since 1920, and calls for support for
O'Neill's 'ambitious programme of
reform, coupled with essential industrial expansion.'
Paisley 'not at meeting with baptist'
Report: Paisley hits back at the
chairman of the Ulster Constitution Reform Committee,
whose 'efforts against Ulster are not worthy of consideration
at all.' Norman Porter sends the same man a telegram: 'Ulster
needs the prayers and good will of all true Christians, not a
stab in the back by a professing protestant minister who associates
with the Irish Roman catholic republican MP, Mr Gerry Fitt.'
Reports to be made on area plan
Report: The chairman of Derry rural council will report
back to his own council and Derry corporation on talks with Fitzsimmons
at Stormont on the implementation of the area plan.
Mr Fitzsimmons in Derry plan talks
Report: Fitzsimmons meets
with the mayor of Derry and the chairman of the Derry rural council
to discuss means for achieving the quick implementation of the
area plan. The two latter will report back to their respective
Derry workless rally
Report: Several hundred unemployed Derry people meet to
decide whether or not to stage a march. Cooper
appeals for no independent action to be taken.
Bottles fly in Derry
Report: Clashes between rival factions in Derry, leading to confrontation with police, result in some injuries and damage to property. DCAC stewards help control the crowd.
9 police, 9 civilians taken to hospital after new Derry clash
Leader: The DCAC is re-elected and calls for an end to
further marches while it decides on future strategy. Its secretary,
Michael Canavan, states that the support gained from the churches
indicates that 'the protestant people of this city would [not]
deny their fellow-citizens fundamental human rights.'
Cooper asserts that people are sick of promises
and want to see action on reform. McCann feels that
the people of Derry have shown Craig that
a mass-movement can be organised without inciting sectarianism;
he stresses that opponents of the movement should be made to see
that they themselves are suffering a deplorable denial of civil
rights. Hegarty calls for immediate rather than long-term reform.
Hume says that when the minority is granted
civil rights, it will not take revenge: social injustice should
be perpetrated upon no-one.
Derry workers again on the march to defy Craig ban
Report: Further breaches of the ban on marches within the
walls of Derry occur when workers stage a number of protests,
and a few minor incidents take place between demonstrators and
police, and demonstrators and loyalists. A Loyal Citizens' Action
Committee is established in the city. A statement issued by the
group's organisers says, 'we support the government and we feel
that time must be given for the government to go about its programme
in the city.'
Batons used again in Derry battle
Leader: Further confrontation in Derry follows more breaches
of the ban imposed by Craig. Hume
appeals for a maintenance of peaceful and dignified methods by
civil rights supporters. Stewards do their best to keep demonstrations
Protest parade cases are adjourned
The cases brought against 9 people for disorderly behaviour on a recent PD demonstration are adjourned.
Parade incidents: cases against 9 adjourned [Report]
March: girls to lose pay
Report: Those who missed work in order to attend yesterday's
civil rights demonstration will have appropriate pay deducted.
Ivan Cooper forced to quit home
Report: Cooper is forced out of his
home by threats. He deplores recent violence in Derry. The DCAC
calls for an end to spontaneous marches while it considers what
its next strategy should be.
Call for a halt on unplanned marches
Report: At a DCAC gathering, Cooper
calls for an end to spontaneous marches while the committee decides
on its future plans. Hegarty asserts that a long-term programme
of reform is not acceptable.
Placards in Newry
Report: A small group of demonstrators in Newry
calls for the dismissal of Craig.
Armagh rights route motion is rejected
Report: A motion advocating defiance of any ban or re-routing decision on the Armagh civil rights march is heavily defeated at a meeting in the city.
Armagh march [Report]
Armagh gets ready for 'rights' march on November 30
Report: An Armagh meeting, called to decide
on plans for 30 November march, expresses overwhelming support
for the concept of a peaceful and proud display. A motion favouring
the idea 'that all decisions on the route, and reaction to any
ban or re-routing, should be taken by the meeting' is heavily
defeated. Lennon stresses the cross-community intention of the
march, but warns, 'there must be no toleration of the piecemeal
procrastination offered by Captain O'Neill
and his government as the remedy for the unrest which his government
and their predecessors have begotten and bred by injustice out
of bigotry.' He asserts that Armagh is gerrymandered and that
employment is denied those who do not support
the Unionist Party. The limit of the people's
patience has been reached. Kevin Boyle pledges
PD support for the Armagh march.
Report: Hassard says that if reform is extended to Derry, Dungannon must not be overlooked: 'if we are, then we will have Derry all over again in Dungannon.'
'To ensure that we are not bypassed' [Report]
Churches asked to 'act now'
Report: South Belfast presbytery urges the churches
to call for restraint on all sides, feeling that further demonstrations
can only damage community relations
and the cause of reform. The presbytery also calls
for 'equal opportunity for all citizens'; just administration
that is manifestly seen to be just; and an allowance for diversity
of religious and other beliefs. Its own members are asked 'to
speak out as individuals and with others, in support of public
policies marked by tolerance and magnanimity, and to exert every
effort to secure such policies.'
A new-found sense of unity
Comment: The current unrest has brought the churches closer together by revealing what they share in common. The recent stance adopted by the Church of Ireland bishop of Derry and Raphoe is particularly commendable.
Comment: The recent outburst of protest from previously
docile QUB students is surprising. Most students who have become
involved have become so because of their moral indignation at
injustice, though admittedly there are dogmatic extremists present
in the student movement also. 'It might have been expected that
the mob orators would take over the civil rights movement and
sway the debates arranged by the People's Democracy. There has
indeed been a serious attempt by ex-student demogogues [sic] to
move in, but so far they have been kept in check by the large
numbers of moderates attending and voting
The danger is that
the public tendency to lump all students together will force the
moderates to withdraw and leave the fold of action to the extremists
and the demogogues [sic].' Both traditional Unionism
and Nationalism are under attack from the 'militant moderates'
Iron Curtain story with an Ulster moral
Comment: The pre-war Czechoslovak state provides some interesting
parallels with Northern Ireland. Sudeten Germans, as a minority
group, were accorded equal rights by the state, but lived in areas
particularly hard-hit by industrial depression. A small minority
of Czech extremists wished to treat these ethnic Germans unfairly,
and the resulting irritations were built up by Sudeten German
leaders into a set of emotional grievances.
Let the minority press hard, but keep the peace
Letter: 'No person on terms with reality can be in any
doubt that the Orange-Unionist power clique
is not prepared to move on these matters [of reform]
unless it is pushed.' The minority must press hard for its rights,
while keeping the peace.
Instructions for police in Derry
Letter: It is notable that police received instructions
for dealing with the last civil rights march in Derry, whereas
on 5 October, the force was left to vent its own feelings in its
own way upon the marchers. Television pictures of events on that
day have clearly had an effect upon the government.
Letter: The effectiveness of student demonstrations should
not be lessened by the pronouncements of ill-informed speakers.
Won't be 'suppressed'
Letter: It is a shame that student demonstrators are in
the minority. With so much apathy towards injustice, demonstrations
are needed, since conventional methods of political expression
were not being utilised effectively.
The need for moderation
Letter: 'The earlier demonstrations organised by Queen's
students made their point with seriousness, self-control and sense.
But the point taken, it must not be lost to militant activity
which is nothing but making a row.'
Letter: 'I would like to apologise on behalf of the silent
majority in QUB for the childish, rude behaviour of fellow students.'
Letter: The News Letter's reporting of the rowdy
demonstration against O'Neill was
sensational and has only further strained relations between students
and the general public.
Letter: O'Neill was met at
Queen's University by protesting
students, but none of these protesters were from Methodist
College Belfast, the students of which establishment gave the
prime minister a warm welcome.
Letter: 'The more respectable section of the undergraduate
community at QUB' dissociates itself from the 'juvenile behaviour'
of some students, who do not consider the implications of their
demands or the inconvenience that their demonstrations cause.
Letter: Demonstrators should organise, and learn from, a teach-in on manners and courtesy.
[NL, 22 November]
21 November, 1968
O'Neill has still not indicated his reforms
Report: 'With no concerted anti-reform move
having emerged at yesterday's meeting of the Unionist backbench
'66 Committee, the prime minister and his cabinet were last night
regarded as being in a reasonably strong position to push ahead
with a programme of social and political reform.' However, it
has not yet been made clear to backbenchers what the scope of
proposed reforms might be, so that a challenge is still possible.
If one-man-one-vote is proposed, it will be resisted by a strong
element in the party. The view of many is that the issue cannot
be considered in isolation from the overall reform of local government.
Speculation about a possible leadership challenge is dismissed.
The Marquis of Hamilton 'said that he realised there was a fundamental
resistance to change. The truth of the matter was that no-one
liked change. But he felt that change was inevitable.' O'Neill's
qualities of 'courage and statesmanship' should be recognised
and his policies embraced. A group of hard-line MPs meet, supposedly
to discuss a motion on law and order that is supportive of the
actions of Craig.
Opening round at Stormont
Editorial: The group of Unionist hard-liners are blind
to reality. There is no alternative but to accept the government's
proposals when they come, since they will have Northern Ireland's
best interests as their aim.
Reform policy ready
Leader: The government will announce its reform
proposals tomorrow. A meeting of the parliamentary party will
also take place, as a result of backbench pressure. Immediate
moves on the local government franchise
are not expected, though an acceptance of the principle of a change
is possible, a move that some hard-liners may accept provided
that no concrete decision is taken independently of the review
of local government. Action is also expected on a housing points
system, an ombudsman, and the Special
Powers Act, though the abolition of the
latter is unlikely. A statutory commission to implement the Derry
area plan is another possibility.
Orangemen back Mr Craig
Report: Co Antrim Grand Orange Lodge
affirms its support for O'Neill and
Craig, and will not remain indifferent, it
says, to attempts to remove the minister of home affairs from
his post. It is believed that 'a deliberate attempt is being
made to undermine the position of the legally-constituted authorities.'
Support for Mr Craig
Summary: A Young Unionist Association
passes a motion of confidence in Craig and
condemns the Derry churches for their support of
the recent DCAC march.
Report: A letter from the vice-chairman of the Ulster-Irish Society in New York states that the image of Northern Ireland in the United States is being smeared, particularly by the American Congress for Irish Freedom. The Northern Ireland government, it is stressed, should respond by setting up an information service in America in order to refute such scandalous charges as those of repression, a police state, or concentration camps.
[see BT, 6 December, Ulster 'image']
Support for PM
Summary: Two local Unionist Associations
pass votes of confidence in O'Neill
and Craig. North Down NDP
commends the people of Derry on their stand for civil rights and
calls for Craig's dismissal.
200 sign support for O'Neill
Report: Only 200 people have come forward to sign a declaration
of support for O'Neill, proposed
by the mayor of Ballymena. The resolution 'stated that only a
united community prepared to rise above its present historical
difference would be able to make the social and economic progress
which all their citizens sought.'
Calm, then consider change - MP
Report: Brooke tells Cromac Unionist Association
that there can be no change in government policy whilst law and
order remain under threat. The association passes a vote of confidence
Brooke against votes change and dislikes use of word 'reform'
Report: Brooke says that certain problems in Northern Ireland can be considered when law and order have been established in Derry. He denies that he is being critical of the Unionist leadership 'at this stage.' The franchise cannot be looked at before the reform of local government structures has been completed. He refutes accusations of discrimination in house allocation in co Fermanagh, a point on which Carron later challenges him to produce evidence. Carron cites his own figures, which he says prove anti-catholic bias.
Firm stand on question of franchise
Report: Brooke says that law and order must be established
before consideration is given to the causes of unrest in Northern
Ireland. The franchise cannot be altered independently of the
ongoing examination of local government.
The delay continued
Editorial: The unusually large number of Unionist meetings
currently taking place would lead to the conclusion that O'Neill
is facing considerable opposition to reform from
within his party. Hard-liners may succeed in diluting some of
the proposals that are necessary to remedy discontent.
NDP motions on flags and 'B' Specials
Report: 'The abolition of the "B" Specials
and their replacement by a new force founded on a non-sectarian
basis' is the substance of one motion to be put before the forthcoming
NDP conference. Other motions
call for the dismissal of Craig; 'legislation
to make illegal the party political or other provocative use of
the "flag", colours or national anthem of the United
Kingdom'; approval of the civil rights movement; criticism of
the government; and the adoption of a points system
for housing allocation.
Fitt asks PM for reforms and sacking of Mr Craig
Leader: Diamond, in calling for an investigation into events in Derry, asserts that a change in the franchise would do much to cool tempers in the city. He deems necessary a crash housing programme. Fitt feels that if the government is confident about the good behaviour of the police on 5 October, and that trouble was stirred up by republican, communist or anarchist elements, then it should have nothing to fear from an inquiry. The reputations of many decent members of the RUC would be cleared were such an inquiry to be conducted. O'Neill should introduce reforms and dismiss Craig. O'Neill however refuses an inquiry and argues that the government is going ahead with reform already, having announced the speeding up of the implementation of the Derry area plan. The government will also investigate any evidence sent by London; but a Derry inquiry would serve to undermine police confidence. Murnaghan feels that so much criticism of the police, as is currently being voiced, is much worse for the force than an inquiry designed to uncover the truth about who specifically was at fault for the Derry disturbances. The civil rights movement, she says, is a mass-movement, despite some republican and communist involvement. Boal suggests that order is paramount, and that opinion in Derry has been manipulated by outsiders. Craig welcomes Hume's desire to see a cooling-off period, which the minister still sees as essential if retaliation is to be avoided. He asserts that there is still no evidence to justify a Derry inquiry, and commends the lack of police response to provocation and violence on the latest DCAC march. The great majority of demonstrators, he acknowledges, behaved peacefully, but 'there was within them a substantial element intent on creating disorder.' 'The threat to law and order, he said, did not stem from the political differences between the government and the [then] official opposition but from factions which sought for their own purposes to exploit the difficulties which undoubtedly exist in [Derry].'
Inquiry would affect police confidence - PM [Report]
Ban needed as cooling-off period - Craig
Report: Craig speaks of the necessity
for a cooling-off period and says that clashes since the ban illustrate
the level of tension in Derry. He welcomes Hume's
desire to see the situation cool, and criticises opposition MPs,
who he accuses of incitement. He praises the conduct of police
since 5 October and feels that there is no evidence to necessitate
an inquiry into Derry.
Civil unrest to be studied
Report: The Council of Labour in Ireland will meet to discuss civil rights, electoral reform and civil unrest in general in Northern Ireland. The Society of Labour Lawyers will make submissions on the behaviour of police in Derry on 5 October.
[IN, 22 November]
Derry has quiet night
Report: A heightened police presence in Derry helps ensure a trouble-free night in the city. McAteer appeals for complete obedience to the DCAC, without which the cause of civil rights will be put at risk by sectarian outbreaks.
Extremists in Derry foiled by 'Operation Side-Door'
Report: Additionally, the DCAC is now clearly evincing
a desire for no further spontaneous marches. Its new plans will
probably be revealed soon. More anger is likely to be generated
in Derry by the area plan scheme to house significant numbers
of catholics outside the city. Cooper, having
received loyalist threats, leaves his home. McAteer
calls for discipline and obedience among Derry citizens to the
DCAC; he feels that spontaneous demonstrations are stoking community
tensions. Hume says that those who cause trouble
in the name of civil rights are not true civil rights supporters.
The voice of peace booms out in Derry
Report: Hume and Cooper
appeal for an end to spontaneous demonstrations in Derry in the
interests of the city's people. Cooper has received threats.
O'Leary is shouted down by demonstrators,
one of whom accuses him of fomenting civil war. The San Francisco-based
Citizens for Irish Justice group plans a nationwide petition on
civil rights, to be passed to President Nixon in the hope that
he will urge action on Wilson.
Woman may join action committee
Report: With new officers to be elected to the newly-mandated
DCAC, it is expected that a woman will be co-opted onto the committee.
Its plan of action, according to Cooper, will
be announced soon.
Derry citizens talk with premier
Report: A group of Derry people meet with Faulkner
and O'Neill to express their concerns
about the immediate future. Diamond will
ask Craig at Stormont about the proposed
UPV march through Maghera and
the threats made against Ivan Cooper.
Meeting on civil rights booking
Report: A special meeting of Armagh council is called to consider the application for a civil rights meeting in the City Hall.
[IN, NL, 22 November]
Bid to defy ban is beaten
Report: An Armagh meeting rejects a call to
defy any ban or re-routing of the proposed 30 November civil rights
march. Lennon says that there must be no violence despite
Plan to defy
Summary: A UPV division
plans a march through Maghera, which it says will go ahead even
should a ban be imposed.
Civil rights campaign stepped up in Province
Report: The PD arranges public meetings for Dungannon and Omagh, and adds to its demands 'one man, one job' and 'one family, one house,' in order to demonstrate the cross-community need for civil rights. More leaflets will be distributed in Belfast to this effect. The group will also participate in and provide stewards for the NICRA march in Armagh. Three further pre-Christmas rallies are planned.
[IN, NL, 22 November]
Rights: baptist pledges support
Report: The Ulster Constitution Reform Committee holds its first meeting. It plans to make the situation in Northern Ireland widely known throughout Britain and will lobby MPs as well as collecting signatures for a petition to be presented to Wilson. Rallies will be organised, at the first of which Fitt and a Westminster Liberal MP will speak. The committee chairman criticises Paisley, saying that he 'and his colleagues are fanning the flames of religious hatred to gain political power for themselves.' Paisley says he has met the chairman of the committee previously, but not under the circumstances reported.
'To uncover the Ulster pit' [Report]
Westminster urged to take control of the Six Counties
Report: The East of Scotland Irish Association calls on
the British government to assume control over Northern Ireland,
'in the interest of civil rights and democratic freedom of protest.'
The Northern Ireland government is seen by the Association to
be under the control of extremists such as Craig.
Sinclair tells a Glasgow meeting that the
fight for civil rights will go on to the bitter end.
QUB Students' Council condemn[s] 'rights' violence
Report: Queen's University
SRC condemns the use of violence in the cause of civil rights,
and makes reference to recent scenes on O'Neill's
visit to the university. The feeling is expressed that such displays
only damage the cause. A letter of apology will be written to
O'Neill, among others. The council is also to look at the composition
and working of the PD.
'Cannon' humane, says Craig
Report: Craig justifies the use of
water-cannon in Derry, and also states that proceedings are being
brought against three people implicated in trouble with reference
to the Strabane-Derry civil rights march.
USC men may be mobilised
Report: The ministry of home affairs announces that the
USC may be mobilised if trouble
in Derry persists, in order to release more members of the RUC
for duty should an emergency situation arise.
Housing allocation defended
Report: The secretary of Fermanagh Unionist Association
refutes comments by the catholic bishop of Clogher on housing
allocation, and argues that almost three-quarters
of houses in Enniskillen have been allocated to catholics since
MPs' [sic] deny bishop's allegations
Report: The catholic bishop of Clogher praises the discipline
of Derry demonstrators and alleges housing discrimination in rural
parts of county Fermanagh. Brooke and West reject the criticism,
and castigate the bishop for his failure to speak out against
anti-protestant discrimination in employment
in co Monaghan.
Letter: Police brutality did occur in Derry on 5 October;
thousands of people cannot be lying.
A month of reform now!
Letter: Unionists have stoked the boiler of nationalist
resentment for years, and now Craig is removing
the safety valve of marches. What is needed urgently is not a
month-long ban, but a month of reform.
Student 'outraged' by grants threat
Letter: Those who wish to deny students their grants on
the basis of what they choose to do with their own free time are
attempting to suppress freedom of expression, which is an essential
ingredient for change in any society.
Letter: Students are by no means ungrateful for the grants
they receive; however, they are surely to be permitted their leisure-time
as well as the necessary time for study.
Responsibility for 'not an inch'
Letter: It is the task of responsible students to control
those of their fellows who are less responsible in order to preserve
their good name. Most protestants are not against reform,
but the Republic of Ireland's constitutional claim over Northern
Ireland inhibits progress towards a more tolerant society.
Let church leaders be seen together more
Letter: Feelings are running high on all sides of Northern
Ireland, and must not be allowed to lead to violence. No-one
can justify the denial of one-man-one-vote at local elections;
an ombudsman could investigate charges of discrimination
on both sides of the community. Religion should also be removed
from the political sphere, and real issues leading to better government
examined. Church leaders should come together
more often to highlight similarities rather than differences.
Letter: Paisley and a number of
other influential figures in Northern Ireland should be given
the opportunity to defend their views on television.
Use the Specials
Letter: If criminals are benefiting from the stretching
of RUC forces on the days of demonstrations,
would it not be reasonable to supplement the regular RUC with
Time of restraint
Letter: Demonstrations are heightening tensions in Northern
Ireland: Craig's ban therefore is welcome,
though perhaps it should be extended to encompass the whole of
Northern Ireland. Demonstrations should not be seen as 'the most
effective and constructive instruments for mooting opinions and
attractive public sympathy and support.'
22 November, 1968
Today will tell what plans for reforms
Report: The government's reform proposals will be made public today. 'The scope of the statements, it is felt, will indicate how successful the premier was in convincing his party, particularly the intransigent elements, that the new reform must be speeded up Leaders and supporters of civil rights have shown in unmistakable terms that they will not be fobbed off by a government statement of promises. Derry especially will be looking to Stormont today for clear signs that the urgent measures needed to relieve tensions in the city will be forthcoming.' Craig's decision to deploy the USC in unaffected areas may be an ominous sign that the RUC is expected to be required again in strength for Derry. The DCAC wants no further public action before it has had time to consider the government's proposals. Currie warns of an escalation into violence if civil rights demands are not met. 'Currie said the majority of civil rights workers were catholic, which was natural, since there was more discrimination against catholics. But one reason why the Unionist Party was afraid of the movement was that protestants were involved in it.' He argues that 'catholics who accept the constitutional position cannot be treated equally with protestants because catholics cannot be members of the Orange Order,' which controls all important positions within the state. Closing off the safety valve of marches is more likely to lead to violence. MacGiolla states that republicans are taking a back-seat in the civil rights movement, because of allegations that it is an IRA conspiracy.
Day of decision for government
Leader: The cabinet view, shared by many Unionist backbenchers,
is understood to be that the franchise question 'is not in itself
the root cause of the discontent in Londonderry and other areas.'
It would appear that there will be no acceptance of the principle
of one-man-one-vote. This should help avoid a bitter battle within
the Unionist Party. It is increasingly evident
that the government intends that the proposed development commission
should replace Derry corporation and RDC. When the corporation
meets next week, the local Nationalist Party
will expect 'an absolute guarantee of something solid - nothing
less will do at this time.' Other expected reforms
are the introduction of an equitable housing points system,
the appointment of an ombudsman, and the amendment of the Special
Powers Act. Many MPs are prepared to
accept the amendment of the Special Powers Act; but a significant
number within the parliamentary party fear that a housing points
system could discriminate against protestants in view of the generally
large size of catholic families. 'At lease 12 Unionist backbenchers
are known to be against "one-man-one-vote" and four
cabinet members are also thought to be opposed to change in this
direction.' There are now at least 16 backers for a motion supportive
of Craig, and Taylor has
indicated that he will support legislation that does not ignore
the principles of defence of the constitution, unity of the Unionist
Party, and a fair deal for all sections of the community.
Time for decision
Editorial: Pressure from demonstrations and from Whitehall
has undoubtedly forced the Northern Ireland government to move
on the issue of reform; now, Stormont must reveal
as soon as possible what it proposes to do about grievances.
O'Neill must choose between a divided
Unionist Party and a divided community.
Premier quizzed at long, tense meeting
Report: The cabinet outlines to Unionist backbenchers its
agreed programme of reform. The programme is expected
to include the adoption by local authorities
of a points system for housing allocation,
the appointment of an ombudsman with similar powers to those wielded
by the British equivalent office, the institution of machinery
to fulfil a similar role for local government affairs, no consideration
of the local government franchise until local government reorganisation
has been completed, and the placement, whenever feasible, in 'cold
storage' of the Special Powers Act, which
will then be used only in an emergency situation. Additionally,
a statutory commission to speed implementation of the Derry area
plan is envisaged, a commission that will perhaps ultimately supersede
the Derry corporation and Derry rural council. A number of MPs
fear that a lack of movement on the franchise will perpetuate
unrest in Derry; others feel that an announcement of the terms
of reference for the statutory commission will suffice.
Opposing forces within the party
Comment: There are two distinct schools of opinion in the
Unionist Party on the issue of reform.
The first advocates immediate and effective reform; the other
opposes any scheme which could be construed as a concession on
the part of government. The cabinet's policy has been shaped
not only be the O'Neill-Wilson
meeting, but also by events in Derry and the opinions held by
Unionist backbenchers. One MP was heard to advocate reform undertaken
willingly, feeling that pressure will in any case bring it about,
so that the government must try to take some credit before it
is too late to do so. Another argued against concessions under
duress. One MP remarked on the local franchise: 'if the government
said now that it intended to bring forward legislation to introduce
one-man-one-vote before the reorganisation of structure and functions
of local authorities is decided it would
split the Unionist Party from top to bottom.' In any case, the
MP argued, the government has no mandate to make such a change.
With the government's decision not to raise the franchise issue
however, a backbench revolt would appear unlikely.
Agitators plan to take over
Report: The secretary of the Ulster Young Unionist Council feels that the choice must be made between parliamentary democracy and rule by agitators.
'Government by duress or democracy?'
Report: She feels also that civil rights organisations
are not necessarily representative, though they do promote the
aim of agitators who cloak their true motives.
Only 'antics' of few make headlines
Report: At a school prize distribution ceremony, pupils are told that the antics of those seeking publicity always make good headlines, but that those in search of change should bring it about slowly. The existing system does not need to be torn down.
Summary: Taylor says that he will support
any legislation consistent with three principles: 'the defence
of Ulster's constitution
unity of the Unionist Party
a fair deal for all sections of the community.'
Use all your powers, Craig told
Report: 'Antrim County Grand Lodge of the Independent Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland has passed a resolution calling on the minister of home affairs to "use all the powers at his disposal" to insure the maintenance of law and order in the community.' The disturbances are deplored. Randalstown Unionist Association passes a vote of confidence in O'Neill and in Minford. East Down NDP congratulates 'the people of Derry for their stand for civil rights,' and demands Craig's resignation, and a full programme of reform including the repeal of the Special Powers Act, the establishment of British electoral standards, the removal of housing and employment anomalies and the appointment of an ombudsman.
[NL, 23 November]
Nationalists' civil disobedience will be met - Craig
Report: Craig says that the Nationalist Party's civil disobedience policy will be dealt with by 'all the force the law can muster.' Of the 5 October march, he says, 'I cannot recall at any time when in any gathering there was such a large group of rogues and rascals from many parts of the country using the occasion for their own ends - ends which deliberately envisaged public disorder and riot.' He says also that Nationalists favoured a similar government ban on marches in Belfast when Paisleyites had been raising tensions; everyone has the right to march so long as this activity does not threaten the peace. Coat-trailing demonstrations and provocation cannot be permitted.
Rascals want disorder and riot, says Craig [Report]
Craig claims Oct, 5 ban 'right decision'
Leader: In addition, O'Reilly feels that civil disobedience
will be carried out within the law. O'Connor says that Craig's
5 October ban made a success of the demonstration. Craig replies
to the opposition that its civil disobedience will be dealt with
by 'what forces the law can muster.'
Won't be judged by court - Craig
Report: O'Connor calls for an amendment to the law such
that ministerial orders under the Public Order
Act may be challenged in the courts. Craig
refuses to consider a change in the law.
History and use of RUC water cannons
Report: During a discussion of the history and use of the water cannon in Northern Ireland, opposition MPs assert that a more positive attitude towards reform would make such devices obsolete.
Protests disgust majority, says MP
Report: Scott condemns marches and civil disobedience, for which punishment should be meted out. Government should however ensure that it dispels the impression 'that fair and just treatment is withheld from a large section of the community.' Existing reforms should be hastened and measures taken to address complaints where these are genuine.
Mob rule warning
Report: He also feels that the Unionist Party
is unjustly blamed for all the divisions in the community, and
must act to show that justice is being done.
Warning from Currie
Report: Currie warns that unless the
immediate demands of the civil rights movement are met, violence
will inevitably ensue. Marches are a safety-valve, and closing
that valve off can only produce violence.
Derry group cautious on area plan talks
Report: 'Nationalist members of Derry corporation have given a cautious welcome to a special council meeting next Monday for a report from Beatty on his talks with Fitzsimmons on the Londonderry area plan.' However the party's statement makes clear that 'all necessary reforms [must] come before time runs out.' The proposals must therefore contain 'something absolutely guaranteed.'
Getting a move-on in Derry [Report]
Report: A Dublin meeting of the Irish branch of Amnesty
International is told that the situation in Northern Ireland is
explosive, and that Craig has made matters
worse by employing a private army against the people. This is
dangerous, and may help bring the gun back into Irish politics.
Ombudsman debate next week
Report: A private Bill calling for the introduction of
an ombudsman will be debated at Stormont next week. Diamond
will also ask what reforms the government plans before
the next general election.
The imbalance of Belfast's old ward boundaries
Comment: Derry is by no means the only local government area in Northern Ireland in which boundaries need to be redrawn. In Belfast, for example, the existing outdated boundaries do not provide for fair representation and in some areas permit religion rather than politics to be the deciding factor in municipal elections. Reform must be undertaken now, since Stormont's local government reorganisation will not envisage any action on the Belfast situation.
Housing bias retort
Report: An Enniskillen councillor challenges Brooke and
West to answer charges of housing discrimination
Crowd chants as Newry houses go on free vote
Report: 'Newry urban council allocated 126 houses on a free vote last night to very audible calls of "houses on need" - "points system" and other slogans chanted outside by placard-carrying members of the local [P]eople's [D]emocracy committee.'
Pickets at Newry council house letting meeting
Cases arising out of march
Report: Court cases arising out of incidents that took
place on the Strabane-Derry civil rights march
Fast change in Ulster - Callaghan
Report: Callaghan tells concerned
MPs that he expects rapid improvements in the Northern Ireland
Debate on Northern Ireland
Report: A Westminster commons debate on Northern Ireland
may be held in the near future.
Labour MP's civil rights plan
Report: Whitaker puts forward a five-point plan for civil
rights in Northern Ireland: '(1) a multi-religious commission
to investigate and rectify alleged religious discrimination
in Northern Ireland; (2) the Race Relations Act should be extended
to prevent religious discrimination, and to include Northern Ireland;
(3) there should be an ombudsman for Northern Ireland; (4) there
should be universal adult franchise for local elections; (5) the
Special Powers Act should be repealed,
since the normal law provided sufficient protection against violence.'
He asserts that Britain's financial contribution to Northern
Ireland should be conditional upon the removal of discrimination.
Strabane civil rights officers
Report: The new CRA
branch in Strabane pays tribute to the work of
Lawyers to report on 'October 5'
Report: 'A detailed report on the behaviour of the police in Derry on October 5 will be submitted by the Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers at a meeting in Belfast tomorrow of the Council of Labour in Ireland.' The meeting will see discussion of civil rights, electoral reforms and all aspects of civil unrest in Northern Ireland.
[BT, 21 November]
Strabane to Derry march - 3 summoned for attack
Report: Craig reveals that three summonses
relating to the attack on the Strabane-Derry march
have been served, and says that he is satisfied with the precautions
taken by police on the day.
Two PD meetings tomorrow
Report: The PD announces its plans for civil rights activities
in the lead-up to Christmas. These include public meetings in
Dungannon and Omagh tomorrow, as well as three
further rallies, some in Belfast. Demands for 'one man, one job'
and 'one family, one house' are also to be made, in order to demonstrate
the cross-community nature of the civil rights cause. More leaflets
will be distributed in Belfast to this effect. The PD will also
take part in and provide stewards for the forthcoming march in
PD plans ahead [Report]
[BT, 21 November]
Action, or 'another Derry on your hands'
Report: Hassard predicts trouble in Dungannon
unless Stormont reforms include a crash housing and
jobs programme for the area. He also insists, 'unless a points
system is introduced soon there will
be a revolution in the area.' Patricia McCluskey
echoes the call for jobs and houses.
Council calls special meeting
Report: A special meeting of Armagh council is called to decide on whether or not to grant civil rights demonstrators the use of the City Hall on 30 November.
Now before instead of after
Report: Also, the PD has already announced the format of its continuing campaign, including a number of public meetings and rallies. 'One man, one job' and 'one family, one house' have been added to the list of the group's demands, in an effort to promote the cross-community appeal of civil rights issues. The PD also plans to take part in and provide stewards for the forthcoming civil rights march in Armagh.
[BT, 21 November]
March: vote may be disregarded
Report: NICRA member Frank Gogarty says that a recent meeting in Armagh had not the power to decide on whether or not a ban on the proposed march should be defied. Concern is also expressed at a CRA meeting at the 'growing pressure' being placed on QUB authorities to stifle the free speech of students.
'Concern' at 'intimidation of students' [Report]
Appeal for calm in Derry
Report: Hume says that the DCAC does not
rule out future non-violent action, though such action, he feels,
should not be taken in the near future, while the committee is
considering its strategy.
Halt to rights action in Derry
Report: 'No further action on civil rights in Londonderry
should be taken until the government has had an opportunity to
put its case for reform, the campaign organisers
agreed last night.'
The Derry record is still on
Comment: Wearisome opposition demands have continued at
Stormont this week. The Nationalist Party's
declaration in favour of non-violent civil disobedience has not
helped the political atmosphere. One Unionist backbencher says
'that the policy decision was made less to force change on the
government than to reinvigorate a disillusioned Nationalist grass-roots.'
But in the end, it would seem reasonable to conclude that both
sides must share the blame for inaction; government has not pushed
ahead with necessary reform, while opposition has
engaged in destructive criticism.
Jesuit praises non-violence
Report: A Belfast meeting is told by a Jesuit of the merit of a non-violent policy of resistance to social injustice, including the possibility of civil disobedience.
'Social injustice retards community progress' - Jesuit
Report: A Jesuit talks of the harm done by social injustice
to the whole community, and the aggression it can breed. He feels
that injustice can arise from institutional defects, and can lead
to a vicious circle of increasing discrimination.
He adds that civil disobedience, if properly controlled, can
be a highly effective approach.
TV programme on Ulster
Report: The BBC will tonight broadcast a special programme
on the political situation in Northern Ireland.
Dangers of sectarian and party distrust
Letter: The border issue can be put aside while difficulties
in Northern Ireland are worked out. The civil rights movement
provides a vehicle for such an approach.
PM should dismiss the reactionaries
Letter: The people of Northern Ireland are not trapped
by the bitterness of the past; O'Neill
should draw confidence from this fact and dismiss the reactionaries
from the cabinet.
Letter: With ideas of reform in the air, it
is time that the Unionist Party reformed
itself, in an attempt to make itself more broadly-based.
Ecumenism at Christmas
Letter: The churches have done good work
in their statements on the Derry situation. They should promote
the spirit of ecumenism over the Christmas period.
The Diamond desecrated
Letter: There is only one road to peace, and that is not
appeasement but righteousness.
'Cathy Come Home' [Letter]
[See BT, 18 November, People in glass houses]
Appeal to students
Letter: 'A short time ago many people approved of the ideals
of student, and other demonstrations while condemning the violence
which inevitably accompanies them. Now, however, large sections
of the rate-paying public would support more strenuous control
over student activities and even the removal of student grants
would, therefore, appeal to student demonstrators to consider
the damage that will ultimately be done to their colleagues and
indeed to their cause if they persist in marches, sit-ins and
Letter: Demonstrations curtail the rights of police and
inconvenience ordinary people. They should be dealt with accordingly.
Student protesters should be warned to cease their activities
or lose their grants.
Letter: A teach-in should be held in order to inform PD and other demonstrators of the merits of good manners and courtesy.
[see BT, 20 November, A teach-in on manners]
Letter: Craig should ban all marches for good, and those students involved in protests should be deprived of grants.
23 November, 1968
'We fight on' - pledge
Leader: The DCAC states that it will continue its campaign until one-man-one-vote is granted, in light of the government's five-point reform programme. Whether and when demonstrations will be resumed is as yet unclear. The committee welcomes the government's statement on reform, though criticises its vagueness and lack of commitment to a change in the franchise, which is the 'root cause' of present discontent. The Nationalist Party will consider whether or not to revert to the role of official opposition, and McAteer acknowledges that O'Neill has 'some difficulties.' However, 'what is beyond doubt after the flurry of political activity during the past few days is that any immediate move [on franchise reform] would have split the Unionist Party completely and precipitated a leadership crisis which Capt O'Neill could not have survived.' There is increasing recognition nevertheless that such a reform must come with the reorganisation of local government. The government can only hope that the now statutory commission will reduce immediate pressure for franchise reform. The reform plan does not meet all of Wilson's requirements, but is likely to reduce intergovernmental strains. The proposed ombudsman will enjoy powers similar to those exercised by the occupant of the British equivalent office; with regard to local government concerns, one option under consideration may be some form of complaints tribunal at the local level. Action is to be taken on a housing points system, and the Special Powers Act can be looked at, according to government, when 'this can be done without undue hazard.'
[IN, NL, 25 November]
Five-point reform is 'a triumph for O'Neill'
Leader: 'Delighted [Unionist] Party officials were looking on the crisis of the past few weeks as definitely over and hoped now for an atmosphere of co-operation throughout the Province behind the government's programme of reforms and communal justice and harmony.'
Disappointment at Stormont 5-point plan for reform
Leader: 'When the flood of talk from Stormont, television
and radio finally ended last night there was the distinct impression
that the government's proposals for social and political reform
in Northern Ireland were a big disappointment
concessions made to the clamant demands for justice and fair play
in the public life of the community were seen as meagre and falling
far short of what was expected.' McAteer
and Hume express disappointment at the lack of
franchise reform, though McAteer does recognise O'Neill's
difficulties. Lennon feels that the Northern Ireland government
is trying to give the impression of reform while retaining as
much as possible of the status quo. He decries the lack
of action on one-man-one-vote, justice in all areas of local government,
a public appointments commission, an immediate repeal of the Special
Powers Act or any mention of the Public
Order Act, or of the Race Relations Act. He
sees the programme offered by the government as 'far too little
far too late.' A cautious welcome is given to the proposed housing
points system, but it is felt that
this should be imposed on reticent local authorities. The lack
of power over local government of the ombudsman is also deemed
a disappointment. Sinclair expresses doubts
as to the probability of a fair reorganisation of local government.
Cooper says that the proposals do not go far
enough, but expresses confidence that further marches in Derry
will not be spontaneous, and will not take place unless organised
and publicised by the committee.
'Unity' on reform
Report: O'Neill says that the decision in favour of reform was taken by a united cabinet and then by a united party, and that no vote on the subject was required. He adds that, while the new ombudsman will not be empowered to examine local government grievances, government may well consider other means of addressing the issue. He hopes that the programme of reform will put an end to unrest in Northern Ireland. Craig says that the Special Powers Act will be amended only on police advice. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland states its resentment at Wilson's intervention, which it feels will undermine the Stormont administration and promote violence. The statement continues, 'we call on all brethren within Northern Ireland to impress upon their parliamentary representatives the seriousness of the situation and to take all lawful and effective steps to resist this encroachment upon our constitutional rights under the crown.'
O'Neill is guarded at press probe
Report: O'Neill says that
the duties of the ombudsman might possibly be extended to local
government, or similar duties be carried
out by a separate official. He reveals that the Derry development
commission will have the power to take over administration in
the area. He hopes that the programme will bring unrest to an
Five pointers for reform
Report: The parliamentary Unionist Party approves the five-point programme of reform worked out by the cabinet, but warns against further defiance of the law. It is felt that progress will be set back by further action outside the normal constitutional channels. Allegations that new industry has been sited by government with sectarian considerations in mind, and that government appointments are made according to principles other than merit, are refuted. Valid criticisms will however be dealt with. Few of the many house allocations made each year are deemed unfair, but a points system will be introduced in order to ensure fairness. The local government company vote will be abolished at an early stage, but the wider franchise question will not be examined before the overall reorganisation of local government has been completed. Those who continue with agitation from this point are concerned not with change but with disruption, and the government, says the statement, should be supported by all moderate-minded people in its efforts to deal with such elements.
The five-point plan for reform [Report]
Government states its intentions [Report]
Nationalist chief in Derry 'happy about ombudsman'
Report: Hegarty welcomes news of government plans for an ombudsman and a development commission for the Derry area, so long as the latter is not 'just another Unionist junta.' Hume and Cooper feel that the government has not gone far enough, though they welcome any efforts toward change. Cooper adds that the ombudsman idea, as set out in the government's statement, is 'vague'; he expresses his disappointment at the lack of movement on the franchise. Currie feels that the programme offers 'too little, too late' - 'one-man-one-vote is the kernel of the problem, and the programme announced is based on the lowest common denominator in the Unionist Party.' O'Neill, he says, has once more given in to the extremists. Fitt also feels that the franchise issue should have been dealt with. Napier opines that government has performed a volte face over the idea of a Derry development commission, in face of pressure. He asks why government has to be pushed into granting reforms. Murnaghan agrees that the programme is a step forward but questions the lack of movement on one-man-one-vote. Lennon feels that only a 'meagre concession' has been offered. Sinclair offers a noncommittal response the programme. In addition, 'The Irish News says today there surely can be nothing sweeping about a programme of political reform which does not call for the implementation of the principle of one-man-one-vote, the basis of every normal democratic system.' More reform must come now. The Irish Times feels that the programme has been whittled down by the extremists, and hopes that the government can back up its words with sincere actions, and more reform. The Irish Independent says that reforms should be given a chance: 'it will not strengthen Captain O'Neill's hand if his nearest opponents are able to claim that reforms do not avert trouble.'
Cautious reaction in Derry
Report: Unionists are quiet in Derry, while Nationalists
are cautious in their reaction to the reform proposals.
The DCAC defers comment until it has had the opportunity to meet.
Hegarty is cynical about the proposed points system,
since the corporation has already decided to adopt such a system,
and feels that the decision taken on the Special Powers Act
is designed to 'keep Wilson quiet for a couple
of years.' On the proposed commission, he is cautious, but says
that a Unionist 'junta' will not be acceptable. He asserts that
taxpayers should enjoy a say in local government,
since 80% of local expenses are met out of central government
Long way to go yet, says Mr McAteer
Report: McAteer welcomes the government's
reform programme in as far as it goes, but contends
that 'the biggest weakness in the government's package' is the
lack of movement on the franchise. Doherty agrees that the reforms
do not go as far as moderate people would like. Cooper
is disturbed that there is still to be no majority rule in Derry.
Hume is dissatisfied that another election,
to be held in 1970, will still take place in the context of a
'gerrymandered' ward system. George Currie
MP contends that the reforms were forced on government by Wilson's
pressure, and asserts that housing allocation
in the Enniskillen area has favoured catholics. He is opposed
to a non-ratepayer franchise in local government.
The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland condemns
the 'ultimatum backed by financial threats' issued by Wilson,
which it feels undermines the Northern Ireland government. Orange
brethren should 'take all lawful and effective steps to resist
this encroachment upon our constitutional rights under the crown.'
Changes welcomed by most
Report: Most people in the street appear to welcome the
government's programme. Three interviewees argue that the changes
are not enough; one asserts that they have been brought about
United front on reform
Editorial: The Unionist Party, not
without some difficulty, has been brought firmly behind O'Neill
and his reform package, which had full cabinet backing.
It now remains to be seen whether Wilson
and those to whom the programme is directly addressed will be
satisfied with less than their full demands. It would be unwise
for anyone to push for too much too soon by way of reform.
Too little and too late
Editorial: 'Too little and too late is a verdict which, history teaches us, has had to be passed time and time again upon the concessions finally and reluctantly wrung from autocratic regimes or the entrenched upholders of privilege when they felt that they could no longer withstand the pressure of forces outside their control Had they [the proposals] been issued in the first year of Mr O'Neill's premiership, when we were all riding high on hopes inspired by his ecumenical addresses - novel indeed on the lips of a Unionist politician up to then - about the dawn of a new era in community relations, they might have been taken at their face value. And let us add, real progress in community relations would have been made had they been issued then. But even then they would never have been described as "sweeping." There surely can be nothing sweeping about a programme of political reform which does not call for the implementation of the principle of one-man-one-vote, the basis of every normal democratic system We want more, and we want it now. We want full democracy for everyone - and not in the seventies or eighties.'
Report: East Down NDP passes a resolution commending the people of Derry. Craig is called on to resign and demands are made for a programme of reform incorporating the repeal of the Special Powers Act, the establishment of British standards of electoral qualifications, an end to anomalies in local government housing and employment and the appointment of an ombudsman for Northern Ireland.
Report: East Down NDP congratulates
the people of Derry for their stand on civil rights.
Tremendous victory - Sinn Fein
Report: MacGiolla sees concessions
from Stormont was a tremendous victory, and asks that the civil
rights movement step up pressure until full democratic rights
have been achieved. In practice, Craig does
not intend in any way to alter the Special Powers Act.
Resolution condemns police brutality
Report: A resolution condemning police brutality in Derry
is adopted by Monaghan UDC, with the one dissenting voice coming
from the vice-chairman, a member of the Protestant Association,
who objects to the resolution on the grounds that 'we shall put
our own house in order before we interfere with another country.'
'Out with British troops' says [sic] San Francisco Irish
Report: 'Concern at the present unrest in the Six Counties
and a demand for the withdrawal of British troops are expressed
in resolutions passed recently by the Irish Freedom League in
San Francisco.' The root cause of civil rights abuses is identified
as partition. Police brutality is condemned.
Orr asked to 'meet['] the people
Report: Newry PD invites Orr
to a meeting where he would hear the grievances of ordinary people.
At this same public meeting, resolutions will be considered which
will call for a march by the unemployed of the town to meet Faulkner;
for the group to make clear its willingness to investigate grievances,
to express its support for the Armagh civil rights
march, and to assert citizens' rights to march; a further resolution
will call for pressure to be placed on government to amend the
Public Order Act.
Newry PD branch has 14 motions for next meeting
Report: Pressure is also to be placed on Stormont to build
Professor on the strange phenomenon of student revolt
Report: Prof James Scott, discussing the topic of student
revolt, mentions in passing the role of the PD at Queen's University,
and argues that the ongoing change must be a component part of
Trouble at meeting
Report: A Dungannon PD meeting is disrupted
by a crowd of loyalists. Police make some arrests after minor
Workless answer to MP critic
Report: A group of Derry unemployed, planting saplings to mark National Tree Week, says it is also engaging in a protest at Burns' comment that the unemployed of Derry are 'work-shy.'
[IN, NL, 25 November]
O'Neill to meet deputation on citizens['] rights
Report: O'Neill will meet various labour organisations' representatives for discussions on civil rights. The contents of a document presented to the government in 1966 are likely to be raised; 'the document called for electoral reform, boundary revision, and redistribution of seats at Stormont and local government elections, the representation of minority groups on government-appointed public bodies, measures to diminish discrimination on religious or political grounds in employment, measures to diminish discrimination on religious grounds in the allocation of houses, the appointment of an ombudsman, and measures to bring trade union law into accord with that in Gt Britain.' At the previous meeting, it is claimed that some of the listed reforms were considered by ministers to be unjustifiable.
[BT, 20 November]
Backing for Craig
Report: Antrim Unionist Association passes a unanimous vote of confidence in Craig and his 'firmness' in handling recent disturbances.
Resolution deplores disturbances
Report: The Antrim county lodge of the Independent Orange institution calls on Craig to preserve law and order, protecting loyal citizens from 'the activities of those who seek to destroy the peace and prosperity of our country.'
[BT, 22 November]
Anti-partition losing appeal - MP
Report: Henry Clark MP says that O'Neill's
leadership is weakening the anti-partition cause. The chairman
of the Iveagh Unionist Association
says there is a need for the re-shaping of the Unionist Party
in the light of the events of the past weeks. The grass-roots
should be given a greater say. Robert Porter welcomes the announcement
of the Derry commission, and feels also that a housing points
system will remove a lot of groundless
criticism. Magowan feels that the Unionist Association has insufficient
funds for publicity purposes.
Is UN interested?
Letter: The British government seeks reform
in Northern Ireland because of financial difficulties at home
and prestige considerations overseas. A fight should be undertaken
on all fronts to free the six north-eastern Irish counties from
'Let us march again'
Letter: McAteer may be prepared to accept crumbs from the
Unionist table, but 'what is needed now is not a servile acceptance
of these Unionists['] handouts but a full acceptance by the government
of all our demands. What is needed now is not an Eddie McAteer
but a Martin Luther King.' Marches should go on until full rights
have been achieved.
'One big bluff'
Letter: The government reform programme is
'one big bluff,' and is tailored to Derry while failing to address
issues elsewhere in Northern Ireland. 'It is also very clear
that never again if Unionists have their way will the people of
Derry have control of their city. They will be liquidated by
immersion in the greater Derry area plan, and that was the trump
card played by O'Neill to buy unity
for his party. There is no victory in this for the people of
Derry. Nothing has yet been won.' Civil rights organisations
should continue their struggle.
Letter: The government reforms are to be welcomed, but are unsettling in their vagueness. If the section referring to the Special Powers Act means nothing to Craig, then what does the rest of the package mean to him? 'The deferment of the franchise reform, without even promise of reform, is a dangerous symptom of no real change of heart in the Unionist Party.' The powers of the proposed ombudsman are insufficient.
[BT, 25 November]
Voice of the moderates
Letter: Media coverage often tends to concentrate on the sensational, and this is true also of the situation at Queen's University, where the vast majority of the student body does not espouse the extreme views of those who are placed, particularly by television, in the spotlight.
November 1968: | 1-2 | 4-9 | 11-16 | 18-23 | 25-30 |
18 - 23 November: | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Top |
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.
Last modified :