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'Burntollet' by Bowes Egan and Vincent McCormack

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Text: Bowes Egan and Vincent McCormack ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna

Major Chichester-Clark tries to keep the peace

SOME marchers went back to Belfast for the night, but the main group arrived by police tenders at a local community hall set at Whitehill a few miles past Antrim town along the route they were due to cover during the next day. When the majority had assembled a meeting was called. This is described by Malachy Carey.

"Michael Farrell announced that the police had told him that Randalstown Bridge, about a mile further down the road, was likely to be blocked when the march arrived next morning. The police had shown no willingness to prevent this happening, and insisted that we should avoid Randalstown."
A long debate followed. Some speakers suggested that an early start be made so that they would pass the danger point unnoticed. Others argued that, as the march was legal, and as its purpose was demonstration of opposition to religious politics in all areas, it should proceed exactly on the route notified to the Minister of Home Affairs and implicitly accepted by him. They also contended that the police had a duty to provide safe passage for peaceful legal demonstrations. So the police should be requested to take all necessary steps to keep the bridge clear, particularly as they had announced that they knew that Bunting and his men intended obstruction.

At the crossroads ... between Toome and Maghera, Major James Chichester-Clark, now Northern Ireland's Prime Minister, talks with a Royal Ulster Constabulary county inspector. With Major Chichester-Clark's approval, the police diverted the marchers - but they finished up in ambush where the attackers included Major Ronald Bunting's "loyalists".

Then further news arrived. Already, at nine o'clock that night the river bridge before the village of Randalstown was being guarded by a force of men who were not uniformed members of the constabulary. This information was supplied by the police themselves. Speakers reinforced their demand to the officers of the law; they should enforce the law impartially and make sure that they were present next morning in sufficient numbers to guarantee safe passage to the march, irrespective of the plans or policies of those who sought to take over the powers of the police.

During this discussion, Nathaniel Minford, M.P., arrived. In his wake along the road came twelve car-loads of hostile people whom he had told where the marchers were sleeping. Basing his argument on the inviolable right of local people to monitor the policies of those who passed through "their territory", he warned that the march must not attempt to go through Randalstown. By now the marchers had decided that they must not accept the sectarian patterns which the police and politicians considered inviolable. They told Mr. Minford of their intention to continue along the arranged route, and he left to warn the Minister of Home Affairs that "bloodshed" would result if the marchers tried to pass through Randalstown.

Towards three o'clock that morning police burst into the hall, to announce stridently that a bomb had been planted and that everyone must be evacuated while a search was carried out. The first tired students who awoke took responsibility for the safety of the others by asking the police to leave. The bomb scare was as well-founded as the time of announcement was convenient to the exhausted walkers.

Next morning, the group discussed whether they ought to return to the point where they had been obstructed, and from there walk through Antrim. Taking into consideration Bunting's declared intention to delay their progress as much as possible, they opted to set out for Randalstown immediately.

For a few miles they progressed quietly down a side road, approaching the town, but, soon after the march appeared on the main road a police cordon ordered it to halt. Several hundred yards away, obscured by a sharp bend, a large group of men had taken control of a bridge on the only feasible road into the town, which stands just west of the River Main. Among them was Ronald Bunting, who reports:

"I told County Inspector Cramsie not to repeat his previous mistake, but to halt the march well out of our way, out of sight. He saw the sense of this right away and stopped them where I directed."
Readers will recall from the last chapter a reference to a public statement by the Minister of Home Affairs telling that no action was taken against obstructionists in Antrim because there was no evidence of prior planning. The argument he used in this first situation was wholly abandoned in his endeavour to explain what happened in Randalstown. In a series of parliamentary questions Porter was asked:
1. Whether a group of men, not uniformed members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, patrolled the river bridge at Randalstown on the night of January 1st and the morning of January 2nd, 1969.

2. Whether the police took steps to establish the identity of these people.

3. Whether these people included among their number any members of the regular constabulary or the special constabulary.

4. What were the names of the people identified?

The Ministerial replies were brief:
A small number of persons were seen near the bridge during the night, but nothing was said or done by them to justify police action.

The police took no action to identify these persons.

These answers brought some caustic comments from Paddy Devlin, M.P., who put the questions in the first place:

"If an obstruction seems to be spontaneous, no action is taken for that reason. If it is planned, no steps are taken to identify the planners although, from the wording of the reply, it is quite clear that police patrols were in earshot of that 'small crowd' at Randalstown. And this particular village, housing a few thousand people, is wholly deserted during the early hours of every morning-excepting the morning of January 2nd, 1969. That the police did not know who the night watchers were, and did not care to enquire, strains credulity to the point where the Minister and his advisers deserve a few unparliamentary references."
Reports and photographs give a clear picture of the crowd that had been recruited early on the night before and now, augmented by local elements, defied a compliant police force. The Belfast Telegraph reported events:
"Militant Protestants successfully blocked Randalstown to Civil Rights protest marchers today. Over 400 counter-demonstrators, led by Major Ronald Bunting, lined the pavements of the outskirts of Randalstown. One student claimed he saw scythe blades being carried.

"The marchers, who still have 45 miles to cover on their Belfast to Derry walk, only managed one-and-a half miles this morning.

"The students were halted on the Randalstown to Ballymena road and sat around quietly behind the police cordon until the decision to drive to Toome. There they planned to halt a mile from Toome and resume their march through the town.

"A motorist smashed his way through the gathered students on the Ballymena road. Two were carried along on the bonnet of his car while the rest were scattered to each side of the road and into the arms of policemen.

"No one was hurt. Police, holding back angry demonstrators, stopped the car and questioned the driver."

Junior Cabinet Minister Nathaniel Minford was a constant target of abuse. According to the chantings of the mob, he had "saved the Papists' lives on Antrim Bridge". And now Minford himself appeared. The Belfast Telegraph reports:
"Mr. Nat. Minford and his wife were jeered by followers of Major Bunting when they arrived on the scene.

"But the catcalls turned to roars of approval and three cheers for Mr. Minford when he said he has asked the Minister of Home Affairs this morning to ban the parade . . .

While Mr. Minford, with a shrewd appreciation of the feelings of his voters, made public atonement for halfhearted assistance given to the Civil Rights marchers on the night before, the young people of the march held a good-humoured public analysis of what had happened on the previous day. On the main road, and faced by the police cordon, they conducted a mock-trial of County Inspector Cramsie: predictably, he was found guilty of not providing adequate protection, the marchers agreeing in their regret that he had not come forward in person, as invited, to defend his conduct. Some of the riders, which marchers at the meeting attempted to add to the verdict, reflected more on the officer's competence than his intentions. At the end of this diversion, a further approach was made to the police authorities. Michael Farrell asked again that the officers and constables should clear the road in path of the Civil Rights march. District Inspector Wilson replied: "The county inspector has made the position clear. Further than that I cannot go."

To the left-hand side of the road where this confrontation took place, a high stone wall runs for a distance of several miles. This encloses the estate of Lord O'Neill, cousin of the then Prime Minister, Captain Terence O'Neill. Some marchers pointed out that a simple detour through the estate would take them out at the other side of the town. The police interposed to say that they had already put this scheme to Lord O'Neill, who had refused it out of hand. Later the peer himself wrote:

"I did refuse to allow access to the estate on the occasion of the major Civil Rights march to Derry.
"I may say that I would have refused this access to any organisation, Protestant or Catholic, or of any other calling, promoting a protest march of this kind. I thought the march extremely ill-advised, and this subsequently proved only too true when it reached the Burntollet Bridge area. . .
After an hour-and-a-half, the march decided to proceed, by a diversion, past Randalstown and on to the next stage of the journey. In cars provided by volunteers from round the area, the marchers left the main road and set out for Toome.

By now they had largely abandoned any initial belief they held in the fairness of the police. One marcher said:

"Young people who had heard of police brutality in the past, and of the partial law enforcement record of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, now knew in detail the kind of bigotry that was involved."
And so it was that, on the diversion route past Randalstown, the demonstrators, travelling in the cars of supporters, still felt doubtful about police directions. A large number of counter-demonstrators had also arranged to follow any diversionary route in cars, and the P.D. members conceived the idea that the police were deliberately slowing down the pace of the cortege so that progress might be reported back to Bunting and his men.

The leading cars in the Civil Rights group tried to negate police intervention by accelerating past the tenders and continuing along the road at high speed. About three miles further on, the police overhauled the convoy and again took the lead. A little later the convoy reached a crossroads. A left turn led to Toome: straight on, the road went to Maghera. The police led on towards Maghera, and it was about two miles before the convoy realised that it had been duped. At a roundabout, the leading car in the convoy approached the police, who stopped. They claimed they had taken the wrong turning, so the entire convoy had to return along the road it had come. As the police reached the crossroads they had no difficulty the second time in choosing the right road. This confused incident ensured that the organisers of obstruction had every opportunity to retain contact with the marchers.

The march re-grouped a short distance outside the town of Toome and entered in formation under the Civil Rights, anti-poverty, and People's Democracy banners. Public support had been much increased by an incident during the previous night. The Roddy McCorley Monument, erected in memory of national hero who was hanged there for his part in the battle of Antrim in 1798, had been damaged by explosives. Although this offence took place less than fifty yards away from the local police station, no arrests were made and, according to the Minister of Home Affairs speaking five months later, "police enquiries are continuing".

This incident, and the background to it, multiply the incredibility of Mr. Porter's various parliamentary replies. The distance between Toome and Randalstown is less than ten miles. An explosion occurs in one area, bodies of people are seen moving in the other, but no identifications are sought by the police. And, by use of a most blatant hen and egg argument, the Minister explained that "as extra police were required to guard the marchers, and to guard the damaged monument pending forensic examination, no special patrols were available . . .

Outraged by this violence, and by reports of hostile treatment the young people had received in other areas, the population of Toome gave a most hospitable welcome. One marcher described the atmosphere as though "we were relieving a beseiged town". A few of Bunting's supporters had, as a result of the misdirection of the cavalcade, managed to reach Toome in advance. These people, some wearing Clyde Valley badges to commemorate a gun-running ship which supplied the original Ulster Volunteer Force with illegal armament in 1919, made some jeering noises, but the attitude of the welcoming crowd deterred any further disruption.

One aspect of the march that entered Toome raised later comment. A number of young men unfurled a banner that had been carried but not displayed until this time. It was the banner of the Republican Club of the Queen's University. Under the special legislation in force in Northern Ireland, the Ministry of Home Affairs is entitled to forbid meetings, activities and even existence of political groups which the government dislikes. Systematically, groups of people believing in the ideal of an all-Ireland Republic have been subject to such ministerial orders. This strengthens a widespread public belief that all Republican activities are illegal. Major Bunting made much noise subsequently in his efforts to stigmatise the march as revolutionary and devoted to the overthrow of the constitution, concentrating on the display of this "illegal" emblem by a "rebel" march.

Perhaps the best analysis of this incident comes from one of the organisers of the march who tells:

"At an early stage we held a meeting to discuss whether the Republican Banner should be carried. I was rather ashamed of this discussion because we took the line that this particular emblem might cause misunderstanding and disturbance. Yet one of the primary purposes of our march was a call for free expression of opinion. I am no Republican myself, and known that only a very small minority belonged to any Republican Club. The fuss that was later made reflects the hysterical nature of so-called 'Loyalists'' opposition to our march."
Following by car, Major Bunting arrived in Toome with his cohorts. Some people made threatening moves but were initially contained by marchers' speeches telling that violence of any sort subtracted from the effect of their protest. Later a flowerpot was thrown at Bunting's car. And a number of people attacked him and his supporters. The marchers who were opposed to violence would have intervened to protect him, but this was prevented by the vigorous action of the R.U.C. For the first time in two days the police took steps to quell and to identify assailants. The Irish News of January 6th reports:
"The first prosecutions arising out of the Peoples Democracy march are being brought at Antrim Court this morning when three men are to appear on charges of disorderly behaviour in Toome bridge on Thursday."
And so the flowerpot thrower was convicted.

After lunch in Toome, the marchers set out for the town of Maghera some twelve miles away. Half-an-hour later they were stopped again by a police cordon. The senior officer told the organisers that they must not continue through the "loyalist" areas of Knockloughrim and Hillhead, but must divert first towards Bellaghy along a minor road, then come obliquely into Maghera. Discussion followed. One of the participants who supported the police in their re-route decision was Mr. James Chichester-Clark, then Minister of Agriculture in the O'Neill government, now Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. His estate, Moyola Park, Hillhead, is to be found some miles along the road. He was accompanied by his brother Robin, a Unionist Member of Parliament at Westminster. According to the former:

"I went to this point of diversion for the reason that if there should be any dispute or conflict between the R.U.C. and the marchers, my intervention and influence might have served to secure a peaceful outcome."
Following discussion with the marchers, the police ordered a re-route under the terms of the Public Order Act. Reluctantly, the marchers agreed, and set out along the road towards the town of Bellaghy. This road diverges sharply from the pre-arranged route. Yet less than two miles along the way, the march came face to face with yet another police cordon. And, a hundred yards or so behind this was ranged a substantial force of men with Major Bunting once again to the fore.

Challenged immediately afterwards, police officers were wholly unable to explain how Bunting knew where to make this interception. The point chosen for the frustration of the march was strategically sound. Each side of the road is marched by almost impassable bogland. So it did not seem as though he or local people had, at a later time, been told of the re-route order. Months afterwards Bunting himself offered an explanation:

"A division of the Loyal Citizens' Organisation" he stated, "had prepared to seal off the direct route through Knockloughrim. Another division was in waiting to seal off the road which was eventually taken."
This, according to Bunting, was the natural diversionary route, and his local informants were able to guess at the probable police decision.

His account is improbable for a number of reasons. First, carloads of Civil Rights supporters who passed along the main road where the marchers were officially scheduled to pass reported no build-up of people in these parts. Second, Bunting himself had chosen to place himself at what, in his own account, was the less likely route for the march to take. It would be quite atypical for this man to avoid the very centre of obstructive activity. Third, obstructionists recognised from photographs are from Knockloughrim and Hillhead, not from Bellaghy where Bunting claimed that this "division" hailed. And fourth, the statement by Major Chichester-Clark already quoted, seems to imply both that he knew in advance that there would be a deviation, and that he expected confrontation there to be between the police and marchers-not "loyal" citizens and marchers as had hitherto been the case.

And, if Bunting's description is accurate, it raises another, and even more serious question that recurred several times in course of the four days. How could it be that police, with mobile patrols in direct radio contact, knew nothing of the build-up of these formidable divisions? In broad daylight on almost deserted country roads this purported ignorance is difficult to accept. Once again the Minister of Home Affairs gives his analysis:

"It is not known how the persons referred to had knowledge of the new route; but the diversion route would have become apparent immediately the marchers turned off the main Belfast-Londonderry route."
Taken at its face value, this answer is sufficiently disturbing. It indicates that the police sent the marchers along a road which they knew could be readily barred. But the theory more popular among people of the locality is also more simple; that the police told of the diversion before such a project was ever discussed with the marchers. And this view is given persuasive support by stories of cars congregating along the diversionary route, even while the marchers dined in Toome.

Further, the answer given by the Minister of Home Affairs and quoted above, gives a quite unrealistic indication of when the decision to re-route was taken. He speaks of a "new route", and certainly this was new to the marchers. But it was more familiar to Major James Chichester-Clark, who writes:

"Some days before January 2nd, I made representations to the then Ministry of Home Affairs to have the proposed route of the march diverted between Toome and Maghera to the route which it subsequently used, and I had some conversations at that time also with the local police in Magherafelt to the same effect. I made these representations and I had these conversations because I had heard much talk and rumour in my constituency, that disorder or violence might occur where the march to proceed through the village of Knockloughrim."
So it would appear that the re-routing of the march between Toome and Maghera was exhaustively discussed at various levels, long before any such likelihood was indicated to march organisers by the police. Back now to the confrontation on the Toome-Bellaghy road. The police adopted their usual line: The march could not continue. They were not prepared to try to move the obstructive group ahead. And now, as on earlier occasions, the police barrier faced the Civil Rights marchers, determined to prevent their progress while the "division" of obstructionists and the police mingled, an amiable group, just up the road.

Again, the Civil Rights group discussed the situation. The young people were now largely satisfied that they had been led into a trap by a police force clearly collaborating with a hostile crowd. This strong impression of police connivance with the obstructionists was not confined to the marchers who might, by now, have viewed police "protection" in a rather cynical light. As the discussion began, Michael Farrell explained:

"We have advertised the purposes of our march. We have emphasised our peaceful intentions. In the last two days we have been met with illegal force, sustained quite openly by the police. Today the Belfast Telegraph, a paper which has played little part indeed in the campaign for social justice in this area, has printed an editorial. I would like to read this to you. I would particularly like to have the contents of this considered by all police on duty, and by senior officers responsible for the safety of the march. The editorial is headed, 'Let and Hindrance' and it reads:

"'Our attitude to the Civil Rights march by now should be clear. It would have been better if the organisers had postponed it to allow time for the weight of moderation marshalled by the Prime Minister's broadcast to make itself felt. But once the decision was taken to go on, the Government's duty was to uphold the right of peaceful protest.

"'Already it has become questionable whether this right has been defended with sufficient determination by the police, first in Antrim and again in Randalstown. On each occasion the route approved by the Minister of Home Affairs has been blocked by so-called "loyal citizens", and on each occasion this has been enough not only to stop the march, but all traffic going about its ordinary business.

"'After three months of counter-demonstrations of this sort, the police should have no difficulty in picking out and detaining the ringleaders around whom the "bully boys", of whom Capt. O'Neill and Mr. Wilson have spoken, gather. There is a risk, to be sure, but it is not to be evaded indefinitely if the principle of "one law for all" is to be preserved.

"'The questions asked by the chairman of the N.I. Labour Party are entirely to th point. For how long would the police permit a Roman Catholic crowd to stand in the way of a parade of Protestants, militant or otherwise? The issue of the impartiality of the law is very much involved.

'If the "loyal citizens" are still capable of rational thought, they should realise that, by preventing the passage of peaceful procession, they are providing living proof that their loyalism, as well as the prevailing standard of social justice, is suspect. Their loyalty cannot be to Stormont or Westminster, which they are defying, but only to their grotesque conception of Protestantism - something that is no basis for the economic prosperity they presumably want to enjoy.'"

Michael Farrell, one of the leaders of the march, is manhandled by police on the Toome-Bellaghy road where he and other marchers joined arms across the road to try to stop police tenders smashing their way to the front of the march. Later, at a court hearing, one police witness swore that no policeman had laid a hand on Farrell, or interfered with him in any way.

Following discussion, the Civil Rights group reached agreement and Michael Farrell called for the senior-police officer so that the could tell him what the marchers intended to do: either the police would clear the road, or the march would proceed peaceably but firmly along. From the back of the crowd a constable came to say that County Inspector Kerr would come to the front, in a jeep, for discussion. The marchers parted; instead of a jeep three tenders packed with policemen drove forward, attempting to supplement the cordon barring the march. Michael Farrell explains what followed:

"Our determination was to proceed along the agreed route after giving to the senior officer time to clear unauthorised opponents who were holding the road. Concerted peaceful action is the real weapon of a group engaged in peaceful protest. When we saw the tenders coming through, the front ranks of the march joined arms across the entire road. The tenders pushed on, and at the same time the police behind us bounded forward, dragging us towards the roadside. The line of marchers, which included myself, pressed against the front of the first still-moving tender, and then, tackled by the police, broke. I stumbled and was dragged aside. Others were flung out of the way."
One ludicrous sequel was a police summons issued against Farrell for damaging the tender to which he clung. It seems that the front bumper became detached as the police dragged marchers away from the vehicle. Despite overwhelming evidence, and a sharp conflict between accounts given by police witnesses, the conviction was sustained on appeal, the magistrate explaining that anyone who stood in the route of a police vehicle committed an offence of some sort or other. And if, as it turned out, the offence conceived by the magistrate did not correspond with that alleged, he would nonetheless sustain the conviction.

Despite addition to the police blockade of the contents of the additional tenders, substantial reinforcements to the Civil Rights group coming from Toome and surrounding areas, impressed the senior officer. For the first time in course of the march the police decided to remove the hostile crowd blocking the road. And just as soon as police instruction was delivered to the obstructionists, they melted back along the road.

A few hundred yards on, the procession turned leftwards at a crossroads. The police, who had now shown that they were able to direct the hostile crowd virtually at will, seem to have made a very poor job of keeping the attackers separate from the procession. According to one marcher:

"Bunting's men, and their local supporters, were allowed to form a semi-circular band from the right-hand side of the road the marchers came, across the two routes opposite, to the right, and down the further side of the road into which the march turned. A quite inadequate string of police kept the groups apart, but this allowed the hostile people every opportunity to toss abuse and objects at the passers-by. Showers of nails, and nuts and bolts rained down as men openly pulled handfuls out of bags. A shower of six-inch nails rained on me. No attempt was made to stop them. And no one was arrested."
Aerial photographs taken for the Irish Times show how the police allowed the "loyal citizens" to take a strategic position from which they could kick and throw objects with impunity.

And now, by circuitous routes, the march approached the tiny village of Gulladuff. At the same time, Civil Rights supporters who had travelled to await the march in Maghera, a substantial country town, witnessed some extraordinary developments. Inez McCormack, wife of one of the writers, describes what happened:

"I drove straight into Maghera after leaving the march outside Toome, using the road which the marchers were told not to use supposedly because of hostile crowds. So I paid particular attention to all groupings, and watched out for possible ambush spots. At no place in Knockloughrim, Hillhead or elsewhere along the way, was there any sign of a gathering, though a number of cars were moving from a position close to the diversion spot towards the Bellaghy road. I suppose all the determined opponents were out along the diversion road. In Maghera I went to Walsh's Hotel as arranged, had coffee, and waited, expecting the procession within three hours. I took a seat in an upstairs lounge, soon I began to get very worried.

"Groups of men, mainly young, were forming on the pavements, and almost all were carrying cudgels or other weapons. At first, there were only a few, then larger groups gathered and, at one stage, some furniture was brought on to the street and smashed to make weapons. At this stage not a policeman was in sight. Then a single constable came slowly down the street. I was relieved, knowing that now the police would learn of the danger and take action. To my astonishment he joined with a crowd carrying broken chair legs, apparently in amiable conversation.

"I left the hotel and drove to let the marchers know of the reception that was building up. Before leaving town I drove around to make a full assessment. Just out the road, towards Gulladuff, a large crowd, armed with iron staves, sticks and other weapons were walking in and out of the Orange Hall which was open, and clearly being used as headquarters. Further groups were scattered along the road for a distance of about two miles. That they were armed and ready to cause trouble was obvious for anyone to see. The police around were few in number. And I am quite satisfied in my mind that they regarded themselves as among friends. Groups stood talking to the potential attackers and certainly there was no evidence of an attempt to disperse them.

"At one stage I saw four people in a fairly close group. Each one seemed to be carrying a blue table-leg, from a piece of furniture presumably dismantled for the occasion.

About the same time, another marcher drove from the opposite direction along the same route. He reports:
"Just past the crossroads, two miles before Maghera, a crowd was gathering. People were widely scattered down the road towards Maghera. Many were clearly carrying sticks and clubs and a lambeg drum at Beagh Cross provided a focal point. The police, we saw, were making no attempt to prevent them from assembling at a time when this would have been relatively easy."
When one of the writers discussed this build-up of armed opponents with Robin Chichester-Clark, M.P., the latter expressed grave doubts that Maghera Orange Hall would have been open for use by obstructionists. Stressing the respectable nature of the custodians of the hall, and warning of the dire consequence of libel laws, he advised against publication of such allegations. On Mr. Clark's recommendation Civil Rights marchers called on Mr. William McKee, a butcher, who lives in Main Street, Maghera, and supervises the opening of the Orange Hall. A slight misunderstanding in the opening words of the conversation led to rather ludicrous results. Resenting the enormity contained in the suggestion that the roadway out of Maghera was policed by an armed force and that the Orange Hall was used as operations centre by groups of armed men, Mr. McKee assured:
"There were no arms out there that I could see. And I was around most of the time. As a Justice of the Peace I would not put up with that. Plenty of sticks and cudgels yes, but arms - certainly not."
Asked to elaborate, Mr. McKee explained that the Orange Hall had been open for use as "a general meeting place" throughout the afternoon and early evening. Yes, the people were meeting to oppose the progress of the march. Who came there? Well, that had presented difficulties because the assembling crowds were not all locals and some came from considerable distances away, and no one really knew who was who. The purpose of the weapons carried? Mr. McKee once more waxed eloquent on the duties of a Justice of the Peace. Sticks and cudgels were all very well, but anything else he would not tolerate in the Orange Hall. He had heard tell that at Burntollet Bridge, attackers had used cudgels with nails driven through. Such excesses shocked him. He could, with all the firmness of a Justice of the Peace, give an unequivocal undertaking:
"There was not a single nail in any of the sticks or other cudgels I saw round Maghera or in the Hall that night-and I was around the whole of the time."
He slightly qualified this by indicating that chance nails in bits of furniture might have been in evidence, but reiterated that there was no deliberate addition of nails to the sticks and cudgels that he saw being carried.

The march received an enthusiastic welcome in the village of Gulladuff. Because of the earlier delays, darkness had fallen, and the police hastened to disclaim any responsibility for the safety of the march if it should go further. "There are a thousand men on the road between here and Maghera," said one sergeant. "And they have guns," blurted out a younger constable, who did not try to explain why this congregation of armed men had been allowed. "There will be shooting if you go on," said the sergeant.

After a debate in the Gulladuff Hall, and having heard detailed reports from local people, the marchers decided not to continue the walk that night. In darkness the hazards were too great, and the local people emphasised that this would be no impromptu attack. For several nights before Maghera had been a centre of activity. The cars now lined up outside the Orange Hall included those of substantial people in the community, and they, and their employees, were involved in a planned ambush. In the end, it was agreed to take a roundabout route to the other side of Maghera, where hospitality and a sleeping place would be provided in Brackaghreilly Hall. Dozens of carloads set out on different routes. Patricia Drinan tells of her experience:

"I went in a car with four other people from the People's Democracy. A man from the locality offered to lead us safely to the hall. Following him we slowed down in a traffic jam and saw that it was caused by groups stopping all cars. People were running around with sticks. We turned up a side road, and took another route. About-half-an-hour after we arrived at the hall, the car which we originally followed arrived, with a broken windscreen. Attackers had tried to overturn it, but it had been too heavy."
The mob on the road outside Maghera stopped cars, questioned and abused those inside, and smashed windows with impunity. The police made no attempt whatever to maintain order. And not a single arrest or prosecution stemmed from the activities on this approach road, while armed sectarian vigilantes subjected all comers to inquisition and abuse. This was not the end of trouble in Maghera. The people on the roadway learned that the march was not coming through, that they were deprived of their victims.

Disappointed, they rioted through the town in the direction of the hall where the marchers were staying. About 1,000 people, armed and throwing stones, roamed around smashing windows of shops and houses. Frustrated in an attempt to march out to the hall where the student marchers were, they laid seige to Walsh's Hotel, where many reporters were staying, hurling bottles and stones through the windows. For several hours the centre of the town was wholly in the hands of an excited mob. Police attempts to regain control were desultory. Pressmen were attacked. One pressman's car was badly damaged. Nearly twenty shops were wrecked, some looted. Private houses were stoned. When rioters tired of stoning Maghera, Major James Chichester-Clark became involved again. A deputation presented themselves at Moyola Park, Hillhead, as he tells in his own account:

"I was asked if I would see a deputation at the gates of my home at about 10.30 p.m. or 11.00 p.m. I agreed and found a group of 200 or 300 people (some of whom were my constituents) assembled. We discussed the progress of the march and the situation generally, and they asked me to telephone the Minister of Home Affairs to ask that the march should not be allowed to proceed through Maghera. I agreed to do this and informed the Minister by telephone of their view and conveyed to them his reply which was to the effect that he was considering the matter and would reach a decision before morning. The organisers of this group invited me to come to Maghera the following morning and I agreed to do this, feeling that I might possibly be able to do something to keep the peace or minimise trouble and indeed I felt it was my duty to go there as the representative of the area."
So great was the disruption in Maghera that night that the police were forced to action, and a number of people were charged with committing criminal offences. Full accounts of the disturbances were being reported from nine o'clock onwards, and it seems most unlikely that Mr. Chichester-Clark could have had much doubt about the violent nature of the deputation that he met. This view is reinforced by his implicit admission that a proportion of the visitors were not even from his constituency. In a letter dated June 23rd, he tells:
"I would end by saying that throughout the entire affair, my actions were guided solely by the concern to use my influence and discharge my duty as the M.P. for the area to see that there was no disorder or violence and during the progress of the march through my constituency."
Yet, by the time he agreed to intervene, violence had already erupted, and the less qualified description of events given by Mr. Chichester-Clark to one of the authors several days after the event, also deserves quotation:
"There was nothing else I could do. My constituents demanded that I should join them. So I did."

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