Extracts from 'The People's Democracy 1968-73'
|Appendix A:||People's Democracy's Reasons for Contesting the General Election of February 1969|
|Appendix B:||People's Democracy Statement: West Tyrone|
|Appendix C:||Manifesto of the People's Democracy, February 1969|
|Appendix D, E:||Party Performance in NI General Election 1969 - Contested Seats|
|Appendix F:||Statement of Policy Broadcast over Radio Free Derry - January 1969|
|Appendix G:||Reject Stormont Repression|
|Appendix H:||People of Dungiven: About the Orange Order|
|Appendix I:||Workers' Civil Rights|
|Appendix J:||Socialist Alliance - Statement of Aims|
|Appendix K:||Broadcast from Radio Free Belfast, August 1969|
|Appendix L:||People's Democracy Conference, October 12th|
|Appendix M:||PD Standing Orders|
|Appendix N:||Belfast Housing Crisis|
|Appendix O:||The Revolutionary Socialist Students Federation|
|Appendix P:||PD Political Programme|
|1.||One man one vote. This means not only the introduction of universal adult franchise at Local Government level, but also the redrawing of boundaries in a fair manner so that all votes have equal value; it means a swift end to the Londonderry commission and direct control by majority decision in that city and throughout the Province.|
|2.||An end to repressive legislation and partial law enforcement by repeal of the Special Powers Act; the existing Public Order Act and the proposed amendments to it; and by the disbanding of the Ulster Special constabulary.|
|3.||A centrally drawn-up points system, based only on need, for allocation of houses with a central board of appeal. The drafting of a housing list open to inspection by the public. An end to social and religious segregation in housing. That there be freely elected democratic councils to control the estates.|
|4.||The declaration of a housing emergency and the diverting of financial and physical resources to a crash housebuilding programme and away from unnecessary or prestige buildings. All vacant housing accommodation must be requisitioned, the Housing Trust debts to the central Banks must be cancelled.|
|5.||An emergency programme of direct state investment in industry to provide permanent full employment and to halt emigration. A massive injection of capital by the Government to set up industries under workers' control in those state-owned factories vacated by short-term private industrialists. The extension of workers' control to all branches of industry.|
|6.||The transfer of responsibility for all educational functions to a democratically elected central government. The grouping together of schools - both state and voluntary - into a comprehensive system, integrated on a social and religious basis, involving parents, students, and teachers in the government of such schools. Cast-iron guarantees that there will be no discrimination in the appointment of staff and that there will be no political indoctrination in education.|
|7.||we oppose the existing agricultural policy of the Government which involves the clearing of large numbers of farmers from the land in the west and South of the Province and advocate the provision of employment in their own area for all members of the Rural community. We feel that the situation where a few people control huge estates while many others barely exist on very small holdings is intolerable and suggest that these huge estates are broken up and the land used to form co-operative farms for those small-holders who are willing to move into them.|
|8.||Since we are making our demands for civil Rights within Northern Ireland and recognising that the people of Northern Ireland have the right to determine their own political future, we regard the border as irrelevant in our struggle for civil Rights. Our view on the Republic of Ireland is that many of our demands in the North are equally relevant in the Republic and we support those who are working for full civil Rights there and elsewhere.|
|9.||This election presents us with an opportunity of furthering our demands for full civil Rights in Northern Ireland; we shall continue to make our demands by all peaceful, non-violent methods both inside and outside Parliament until they are attained.|
In a matter of months, the Civil Rights movement has succeeded in bringing its grievances to the notice of a sympathetic world. Its tremendous success to date has been due more to the brutal and repressive response of an arrogant regime than to any other single factor. The brief hard-fought campaign on the streets has exposed to the world, and to an embarrassed British government, the corrupt infra-structure of Unionist rule. It has shattered dramatically the self-confidence that has come from half a century's monopoly of power, and has rent the Unionist Party with internal strife. It is at this very moment, however, that the Civil Rights movement is in great danger of betrayal.
All who have worked so intensely over the past six months - and the few who have been diligent over the years - are tempted from sheer physical exhaustion to let up for the moment and be content with the sops so begrudgingly conceded under pressure. But this is the moment when the movement must maintain its impetus; when the advantages gained must be pressed home with greater urgency. To let up now would be nothing less than fatal. The Unionist regime, consolidated over the years, and entrenched at every level of society, has resources and machinery so powerful, that given any breathing space at all, it is capable of complete recovery. The recent speech of Captain O'Neill, which was written by Dr Doyle in 1822, exactly 146 years ago, and addressed to 'the deluded and illegal association of Ribbonmen' is having the very same effect on public conscience as the Bishop's pastoral had in his day. This must not be allowed; and just as Dr Doyle failed in the end to discredit the Ribbonmen, the Buachailli Bana, and the right of the people to possess the land, so must all those active in the Civil Rights movement continue to maintain pressure, and, in the course of time, make the name of O'Neill as repugnant as that of Dr Doyle's is in our own.
At the same time a new danger, and from within the movement itself, must also be recognised. This comes from those who appeal for moderation. Their voice grows daily louder, and unfortunately, is being heeded. But theirs is the voice that was so long silent over the years when injustices were the normal pattern of life in Northern Ireland; and they who cry loudest are the false champions of old who seek only to assert their former power. They, like the Unionists, fear change most for what it means to their privileges.
But to return to the present campaign, however, it must be pointed out that it is very doubtful if marches, as such, will achieve much more than what has been won to date. The time of year is also against them and an unfavourable public reaction is not unlikely. To continue a programme of marching, and nothing else, shows not only a paucity of ideas but would perhaps be pushing luck too far. That is not to say that marches should be abandoned but rather that they should be an adjunct in a more positive programme, and their timing and location planned in accordance with the strategy of that programme.
Marches to date have achieved another important end; they have shaken the people out of their lethargy and made them aware of their own strength. A new spirit has been born, and with it, an eagerness to participate in the struggle for civil and social reform. Goodwill exists that was never seen before. To sit back now and do nothing, to merely wait for a reluctant government to concede reforms would not only be rank stupidity but would be the very betrayal of the people's trust. A new programme and more positive action is an urgent necessity. Such a programme could be 'Civil Disobedience.'
To most of us the words 'civil disobedience' conjure up the post-war resistance of the Indian people to British over-lordship. It brings to mind the Land war and the Young Irelanders of the last century, and, in more recent times the Negro resistance in the United States.
But Civil Disobedience must always be adapted to the local scene. An overall plan for universal application is not possible and just how and when any co-ordinated action of disobedience can be effectively implemented in Northern Ireland will require the advice of experts. Nor will these specialists be required only to educate the mass of the people in such a programme but also to guide and advise the activists in the Civil Rights movement itself who are, perhaps, as equally ignorant of the know-how and the potentialities of a positive and integrated civil disobedience programme.
The following remarks are by no means intended as a programme and are suggested more as a guide line, high-lighting some of the more obvious actions in such a programme. It must be stressed, that in order to be wholly effective, a campaign of civil disobedience should be initiated only in those specific areas where success can reasonably be guaranteed, that is, it should be restricted to areas where the mass of the people, by their concerted effort, with a common and equal interest at heart, can give it their united and full hearted support. This does not necessarily mean, however, that the isolated protest of Professor Huxley, for example, in his declaration of intent to withold payment of taxes is to be disdained. To quote Fintan Lalor:
'Somewhere, and somehow, and by somebody, a beginning must be made. Who strikes the first blow?'
It remains, for such rural areas as Tyrone, .Fermanagh and South Armagh, and specifically the urban districts of Derry, Newry and Dungannon, for example, to initiate and implement the new campaign.
A passive form of disobedience would be the delayed payment of rates and taxes for the maximum length of time. Were this to be organised on a large scale in an entire city, or even in a housing estate in one of the ghettos, its consequences could be significant.
Of more importance, is a policy of active civil disobedience which
can best be summarised under the following:-
To deal with these specifically:-
(1) Boycott has been successful in the past and is still one of the most powerful forms of pressure in that it requires little or no sacrifice on the part of those who use it while severely crippling the victim. It can be used against the small firm or businessman, for example, who is aggressively engaged in perpetuating undemocratic practices against his fellow citizens. The larger businessman can best be hurt at trade union level but is not necessarily immune to boycott.
Allied to boycott is ostracism, older in time than the boycott and for centuries the only form of punishment that could be executed in an Ireland that had no police force or means of punishment. John D Stewart recently declared his intention to adopt a form of ostracism when he publicly stated that he would no longer associate with any person who openly professed the right-wing Unionist view, and not only would he turn down public engagements where such people were likely to gather, but he would leave any company which included such people. This was a brave declaration, by a very brave man, whose sole means of income depends to a large extent on the goodwill of those who control communication media and who, for the most part are those very people corrupted or pressurised by right-wing Unionism. In recent years he has suffered materially for having expressed his honest opinions in that the TV medium, a source of income, is now virtually closed to him. In fact, a form of ostracism has been, and is continuing to be used against him. Like Professor Huxley he too fights a lone battle. They, both of them show an example in courage.
(2) Industrial strike: This is probably the most effective weapon of all and possibly the most difficult to evoke. One can only despair at hearing of demarcation disputes, however legitimate, when considered against the background of disinterest shown when a man's religion or political affiliation is a barrier to his obtaining employment. It is disheartening, therefore, when on the verge of a breakthrough, when the Dockers, the Factory girls and others from the Maydown Estate came out, with loss of pay, and marched for democracy through the streets of Derry, they were hastily ushered off the scene by the Derry Action Committee, the very people who set themselves up to be the arbitrators of the people.
(3) Hunger strike: Another form of protest that comes through the centuries from the Brehon Code down to the present day. This should be the final act of peaceful protest after all other means have been exploited. The classical example in modern times was the supreme protest of Terence McSwiney when, true to his words - 'Not all the armies of all the world can conquer the spirit of one true man, and that one man will prevail,' he focussed world attention on the Ireland of his day. No other single factor at that period made more impact on British public opinion. His hunger strike brought an end to the Black and Tan reign of terror.
(4) Non-payment of Rates: Most people even in a normal democratic society are loath to pay rates at the best of times. It should not be difficult, therefore, to persuade a majority to withold payment altogether, or better still, to pay them into the account of a Citizens' Committee to be held in trust for the people until such time as a democratic council or corporation is elected.
(5) Disruption of Public Transport: This can be brought about by various means. There can, for instance be total boycott as was done in one city in America with the result that the local Transport Company, brought to near-bankruptcy, was forced to yield to the demands of the protesting negro population.
Another tactic is the mass sit-down in a city or town centre, or at strategic junctions. This could be augmented by sympathetic motorists converging on such areas at peak traffic hours. This tactic has the additional effect of disrupting the normal business of a city or town.
The People's Democracy very recently annoyed Belfast Corporation when they implemented a scheme of bus-fares. Their gallant effort, in spite of a lot of goodwill from bus crews, failed from lack of public support; but that is not to say that as a tactic it should be abandoned. It is still very much one to be considered for future action in the appropriate area.
(6) Picketing: Although the most common form of protest, picketing is not always taken seriously. Its success would seem to depend to a big extent on the element of surprise, on its unexpectedness as when, for example, the Young Socialists picketed Crumlin Road Gaol.
For the most part, however, picketing seems to take place when the issue of protest is no longer news. It seldom makes news. It can be, and often is, effective. Genuine grievances have, in fact, been highlighted by picketing alone. As a form of protest it is easily organised and simple to execute; but it could and should take a more aggressive form.
(7) Squatting: This has been going on spasmodically for a number of years but it was not until Austin Currie with the aid of TV proved that it could effectively be used as a propaganda weapon. The Derry Housing Action Committee has been doing more frequently and for a longer period of time what Austin Currie did in a single day and achieved less from the point of view of rousing public conscience. That is not to say, however, that the efforts of the Derry Housing Action Committee and the Derry Labour Party are not successful. A recent court case when a fine of only one shilling was imposed was, in a way, a sympathetic gesture from the bench, and a measure of their success in this humanitarian field.
There was a token occupation of flats in London last month which
gained national network TV coverage. Neither the Derry Housing
Action Committee nor the Derry Labour Party got little or any
publicity at all. That is a pity. These people, in concerning
themselves in a practical programme solely of housing the needy
have not time, it seems, to pay any attention to establishing
a TV image. Be that a failure or not, the good work they are doing
must not only be continued, but be encouraged as well. In any
overall programme of civil disobedience such bodies as the Derry
Housing Action Committee must play an essential part and all the
machinery of publicity exploited for their support. The expertise
of this and all other housing committees must equally be made
available to everyone actively concerned with civil and social
reform throughout Northern Ireland.
(8) Civic Weeks: The civic week with its false picture of a happily integrated community rollicking in a prosperous Unionist paradise must be exposed for the lie that it is - an O'Neill inspired gimmick designed to entice the entire community into the Unionist fold. The committees for these weeks are Unionist dominated and their programmes Unionist orientated. Very often these civic weeks are used to promote recruiting for HM Forces. But the mass of the people, ecumenically minded, are only too anxious to participate for the sake of good neighbourliness. For one week in the year they are allowed to get together, then it's back to the ghettos for another twelve months.
There is no doubt that the egotism of O'Neill will drive him in the forthcoming year into an even greater promotion of his PEP brainchild. This he must not be allowed to do. Civic weeks must be boycotted. 'No civic weeks without civil rights' must be our answer to O'Neill. The lick-spittle Nationalists who do not appear to resent O'Neill's sneering at our Gaelic traditions, and who feel privileged to be allowed to participate must be denounced for what they are - a gutless, unprincipled lot just as capable of exploiting the people as their Unionist counterparts.
When in t967, Danny Moore protested on the steps of Newry Town Hall against the local civic week being used for recruiting, he received a month's imprisonment. His case barely merited notice in the press far less than produce an outburst of indignation from an outraged Nationalist front.
(9) Local Elections based ha on Universal Adult Franchise: In every area where a Unionist minority returns a Unionist majority that election must be regarded as null and void and rejected by the electorate. An election committee, therefore, should be set up to organise a new election based on universal adult franchise and this election should be seen to be carried out dramatically, the co-operation of the entire electorate being sought. A council so elected, (the Council of the Majority) having a clear mandate from the people, should assume office immediately, should occupy the local town hall and proceed to carry out its functions of office. This will result in a situation where two rival councils will be in existence at the one and the same time, the Council of the Minority and the Council of the Majority. The people should be encouraged to recognise only one, that is, the Council of the Majority, and all local rates and taxes be paid to it alone.
(10) Organisation of the Unemployed: For the present, at least; there would appear to no direct end towards which the unemployed should be organised for civil disobedience unless it be along such lines as a citizens' police force to protect demonstrators and property, and to give aid to squatting families. Another function they could usefully serve could be in the capacity of election personnel.
Eamon Melaugh and Matt O'Leary of Derry have already organised the setting up of an Unemployed Action Committee with the sole purpose of looking after the interests of the unemployed. The advice of this committee should be sought at this stage.
In conclusion, it must be stressed, that even if the civil rights movement is not at present contemplating a programme of civil disobedience, it is still the clear duty of those who are directing the movement to be aware, at least, of the full scope and potentialities of such a programme. From this very moment, by lecture, symposium, and public meeting, the general public should be educated in all its aspects in order to be prepared if and when the occasion should arise that there is no alternative other than civil disobedience. That time could be very close.
The purpose of this talk is primarily to stimulate and promote an interest in the subject.
21st December, 1968.
Since the above talk was given the courageous march of the People's Democracy to Derry has made the need for more knowledge of civil disobedience a matter of urgency. It is to be hoped, that this paper will be used to further the interests of civil disobedience.
As a foot-note to marches, it seems almost unfair to expect people to come out and march if they are to be left defenceless against organised and well-armed thugs. Is it not time that marchers were defended - not by stewards - but by a volunteer body of citizens' police?
The aim of the People's Democracy is the establishment of a socialist system of society in Ireland and throughout the world. The first step towards that objective is the establishment of a Workers' and Small Farmers Republic in the 32 counties of Ireland, But, since complete socialism cannot be established in any one country, or so long as the great imperialist powers like the USA remain capitalist, the PD will readily co-operate and render every assistance to socialists in all other countries.
Believing that both parts of Ireland today suffer from the twin evils of capitalism and imperialism the PD is firmly committed to the removal of British troops and Anglo-American economic control from Ireland, and to breaking the stranglehold of grasping native capitalists over the Irish people.
The Workers' Republic will be a society in which all natural resources, major industries and financial institutions will be publicly owned and jointly controlled by those who work in them, or use their products. It will guarantee to each citizen a home, a livelihood and a job, plus an adequate medical and educational service. It will encourage the development of cultural activities and end the tyranny of commercialism over art and culture. Believing that progress can only come about through intellectual freedom and the right to question the established order, the Workers' Republic will also guarantee to all its Citizens freedom of political and religious belief and freedom to disseminate political and religious views, It will not grant a special position or privileges to any religious group. The Workers' Republic will be based on a mutual respect for the different cultural tendencies in Ireland, and will work to create one unified community out of a synthesis of what is best in the different traditions in Ireland, rather than by the destruction of one tradition by another.
The Workers' Republic will be a thoroughly democratic society
in which governmental functions will be shared by representatives
elected on a territorial basis by all citizens over 18 and by
delegates from councils of workers, tenants and farmers. All public
representatives will be subject to re-call and re-election by
their constituents. As much decision-making as possible will be
devolved from the centre to local factory councils, tenants associations
and farmers' co-operatives.
Methods of Achievement:
The PD believes that the Workers' Republic can only be achieved with the consent of the majority of the Irish people. The PD hopes to win that support by building a mass political organisation throughout Ireland committed to the establishment of the Workers' Republic and totally opposed to both Green and Orange Toryism, and to sham Labourism. This organisation will work for the immediate improvement of the conditions of the working class and small farmers, but will constantly attempt to show that only a socialist society can ultimately free working people from poverty and want and give them the opportunity to develop their personality to the fullest extent.
To secure its Objectives the PD will use both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary means as appropriate. Recognising also that grasping employers and exploiting imperialist powers rarely give up their ill-gotten gains without a struggle and that the law, the police and the imperialist troops constantly defend the exploiters, the PD will not be intimidated by the threat of force and recognises that a certain degree of counter force may be necessary to carry Out the wishes of the people.
While anxious to stimulate increased political awareness and political activity among working people, the PD recognises that haphazard and directionless activity will not overthrow the highly-organised forces of imperialism and capitalism. A well-organised political movement with a clear political strategy, whose members have a sound understanding of socialist theory, is the best weapon of the working class in the struggle for socialism.
The PD believes that the following measures are necessary both immediately to improve the living conditions of the working class and to lay the foundations of the Workers' Republic by wresting control of the economy from the profiteers and exploiters. Some of these measures could be taken by a socialist administration. The PD will campaign for the implementation of this programme both by harrassing the existing government and by winning the public support necessary to socialism to come to power. These measures could be applied in the 26 Counties as in the 6 Counties.
|1.||Nationalisation or handing over to co-operatives of all mines, inland fisheries, forests and other natural resources including large estates.|
|2.||Nationalisation of all Banks, Insurance Companies and Financial Institutions.|
|3.||Nationalisation, or handing over to co-operatives, of all firms and farms employing over 25 people.|
|4.||All nationalised resources or industries to be handed over to co-operatives or to be managed by workers' councils.|
|5.||A ban on the export of profit from any part of Ireland.|
|6.||All remaining privately-owned firms to publish annually a full statement of accounts including the salaries of all involved in the firms.|
|7.||A minimum wage of £20 per week for all full-time workers and guaranteed work of full maintenance for all. An upper wage-limit for all workers.|
|8.||An upper-limit on all privately-owned farms. Encouragement of the growth of co-operatives among small producers (privately owned firms and farmers) by a re-structuring of grants and subsidies and by a programme of education in the value of co-operation.|
|9.||Massive state and municipal investment in new industry, taking account of people's social and environmental needs as well as economic requirements.|
|10.||The abolition of all ground rent and absentee landlordism.|
|11.||No-one to own more than one dwelling house. Local housing authorities to be given first option on buying all vacant housing and housing authorities to have the power to order the sub-division or re-allocation of unusually large houses.|
|12.||The provision of a universal free health service, ie. the abolition of prescription charges etc and full maintenance for the sick. No preferential treatment for anyone under the Health Service.|
|13.||Schools to be organised on a comprehensive and co-educational basis, and to be religiously integrated. New schools to be provided by the state and all schools controlled by management committees, representative of parents, students, teachers and local authorities.|
|14.||The provision of nursery school places for all children, and adequate provision of parks, swimming pools and playgrounds. widespread provision of community centres and greatly increased grants for cultural activities. Commercial advertisements to be excluded from television and radio services.|
|15.||Repeal of the Special Powers Act (NI) and Offences Against the State Act (26 Counties), Criminal Justice Act (NI), Public Order Act (NI), and all other repressive legtslation. Rigid outlawing of all discrimination on the basis of religion, colour, or sex in all spheres of activity, public or private.|
|16.||Guarantees of freedom and equality of religious and political belief and repeal of all laws and ordinances which give a special position to any religious or political belief eg the section of the 26 County constitution which gives a special position to the Catholic church and the law in Northern Ireland prescribing an oath of allegiance for most public employment. No legal enforcement of the moral code of any particular sect, eg an end to the ban on contraception and divorce in the 26 Counties and to restrictive laws on Sunday observance in Northern Ireland.|
|17.||The establishment of a national (32 county-wide) Council of Delegates from shop stewards' groups, tenants' associations and co-operative and small farmers' associations. The Council would foster solidarity among the exploited sections of the community and organise widespread support during strikes and agitations. The Council should seek to extend its control over all sections of the economy.|
|18.||The convening of an Assembly of elected representatives from both the Northern and Southern areas as soon as a majority agrees to this, and the new Assembly to replace the present partitioned ones at Stormont and Leinster House. The function of this new Assembly is to co-ordinate, not control, the work of the democratic workers' councils.|
|19.||The repudiation of the Government of Ireland Acts and the breaking of the links between Northern Ireland and Britain.|
|20.||The immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Northern Ireland.|
|21.||The disbandment of the RUC, UDR and Garda Siochana. The organisation of a Civic Defence Force under the control of locally elected representatives and delegates from workers' organisations. All officers of the RUC, and Garda Siochana, all members of RUC and Garda Special Branches, and all members of the RUC Special Patrol Group (riot squad) to be barred from membership of the Civic Defence Force.|
|22.||No membership of the EEC, and no participation in any existing military alliance.|
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
Last modified :