Cameron Report - Disturbances in Northern Ireland
[Key_Events] Key_Issues] [Conflict_Background]
Government Reports and Acts
Disturbances in Northern Ireland
Chairman: The Honourable Lord Cameron, D.S.C.
Presented to Parliament by Command of His Excellency
Published in Belfast by HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE, 1969
Crown copyright material has been reproduced under licence from the
Controller of Her Majesty's Stationary Office.
WARRANT OF APPOINTMENT
WARRANT OF APPOINTMENT
Grey of Naunton
WHEREAS on and since 5th October 1968, sporadic outbreaks of violence
and civil disturbance have occurred in Northern Ireland in consequence
of the activities of certain bodies.
The Honourable Lord Cameron, D.S.C. (Chairman)Commissioners to hold an enquiry into and to report upon the course of events leading to, and the immediate causes and nature of the violence and civil disturbance in Northern Ireland on and since 5th October 1968; and to assess the composition, conduct and aims of those bodies involved in the current agitation and in any incidents arising out of it:
AND for the better effecting the purposes of this Commission I hereby grant unto you, or any of you, full power to call before you such persons as you shall judge likely to afford you any information upon the subject of this Commission; to call for information in writing; and also to call for, have access to and examine all such books, documents, registers and records as may afford you the fullest information on the subject, and to enquire of and concerning the premises by all other lawful ways and means whatsoever:
AND I hereby authorise and empower you, or any of you, to visit and personally inspect such places as you may deem it expedient so to inspect for the more effectual carrying out of the purposes aforesaid:
AND I hereby direct that this Commission shall continue in full force and virtue, and that you, or any of you, may from time to time proceed in the execution thereof, and of every matter and thing therein contained, although the same be not continued from time to time by adjournment:
AND I further authorise you to report your proceedings under this Commission from time to time if you shall judge it expedient so to do:
AND I further request and desire that you shall, with as little delay as possible, report your opinion upon the matters herein submitted for your consideration.
Given at Government House, Hillsborough,
this 3rd day of March 1969.
By His Excellency's Command.
1. We were appointed by Your Excellency on 3rd March 1969, as Commissioners
to hold an enquiry into and report upon the course of events leading to
and the immediate causes and nature of the violence and civil disturbance
in Northern Ireland on and since 5th October 1968 and to assess the composition,
conduct and aims of those bodies involved in the current agitation and
any incidents arising out of it. We draw attention at the outset to the
width of our terms of reference. We have held 26 meetings, and have visited
Londonderry (twice), Armagh, Newry, Dungannon and Enniskillen, at all of
which places we have held sittings for the hearing of evidence and have
been able to make our own investigations on the ground. Under the Warrant
of Appointment the Commission was clothed with the usual powers given to
Royal Commissions. These do not include any power to insist upon the attendance
of witnesses or to place any witness on oath. We should record an expression
of gratitude to all those witnesses who have come forward, either individually
or in representative capacity, to testify before us, and we believe that
in so doing they were actuated by a genuine desire to assist us in the
course of our enquiry and to enable us to reach a fair and just conclusion.
2. On preliminary consideration of the nature of our enquiry we came
to the conclusion that it was essential for the proper carrying out of
our task that we should be assisted by the services of Solicitor and Counsel
who would be in a position to make investigations on our behalf and on
our instructions, to assist witnesses in the preparation and presentation
of their evidence and to help us with their advice throughout the course
of the proceedings. We were fortunate in being able to secure the services
of Mr. F. A. Reid, Q.C., Mr. H. G. McGrath, Q.C., Mr. C. M. Lavery and
Mr. W. A. Campbell, Barristers at Law, and of Mr. J. W. Russell, Solicitor,
to discharge and perform these duties and we have every reason to be grateful
to them for the invaluable assistance which they have rendered. We would
also like to place on record our gratitude for the admirable services of
Mr. A. J. Green of the Ministry of Finance, our Secretary, and of Mr. W.
T. McCrory of the Ministry of Commerce, our Assistant Secretary. Throughout
the course of this Enquiry and in the preparation of this Report they have
been indefatigable in the care and skill they have displayed and their
assistance has been of the highest value.
3. We also considered with very great care whether or not we should
sit in private or hold our sessions in public. With the exception of one
public session in Belfast on 18th April 1969 in opening the Commission,
our sittings have been held in private. For this there is ample precedent
in the proceedings of Royal and other Commissions, and after very careful
deliberation we decided that it was in the interest of the elucidation
of the truth that our proceedings should take place in private. By so doing
we were of opinion that witnesses would feel themselves able to speak with
full freedom and complete sincerity, and at the same time we would avoid
providing a propaganda platform for those who might wish to make use of
the Enquiry for such. purposes. As the Enquiry progressed we have been
convinced that our initial decision on this difficult point was well founded.
4. In order that expressions of opinion and statements of fact should
b made as freely and frankly as possible, and without fear of penal consequence
to witnesses or others, the Attorney General, on behalf of the Government
of Northern Ireland, gave the assurance that '(1) No statement made to
the Commission of Enquiry whether orally or in writing will be used as
the basis of a prosecution against the maker of the statement or for the
purpose of prosecution of any person or body of persons. (2) No such statement
will be used in evidence in any criminal proceedings. This does not apply
to statements made by witnesses outside the Commission even if merely a
repetition of oral evidence or republication of written evidence given
to the Commission. Nothing stated in the Report of the Commission of Enquiry
will be used as the basis of a prosecution or used for the purposes of
a prosecution of an person or body of persons.' To this the Attorney General
added 'Of course, persons giving oral evidence before the Commission or
those who have submitted written evidence will be entitled to rely on the
defence of qualified privilege to any action that might be brought against
them for damages for libel or slander in respect of their evidence. That
is to say they will have good defence in respect of anything said or submitted
in evidence give honestly and without any indirect or improper motive.'
Public advertisement and invitation for the submission of evidence was made in the press on 14th March 1969 in the following terms:
'The Commission invites evidence which will assist it in carrying out this investigation. Those wishing to give evidence should submit their name and if possible a statement of their proposed evidence. The Commission reserves its right to obtain evidence from any other source. The Attorney General of Northern Ireland has given an undertaking that statements to the Commission, whether given orally or in writing, will not be used evidence in any criminal proceedings.'
On 29th May a further advertisement was inserted in the press stating:
'Lord Cameron's Commission of Enquiry advertised for evidence on 14th
March. There has been a substantial and useful response. The Commission
now gives notice that it can give no assurance that it will be able to
consider written evidence received after 16th June.'
We were however favoured with a very large number of replies to our
invitations published in the press and with the submission of a very large
volume of written statements and material, all of which was fully consider
by us. In addition, we took oral evidence from many of these witnesses
in the course of our hearings. All witnesses who appeared before us were
informed that it was proposed by the Commission to append to its Report,
the terms which were to be published in full, a list of all individuals,
bodies or organisations who had submitted or given evidence to the Commission,
unless they specifically indicated a desire that their name or designation
should not be recorded. Only an insignificant minority none of whom made
any mater contribution gave such an indication. A list of individuals and
organisations who submitted or gave evidence will be found in Appendix
I to this Report. Certain individuals to whom invitations to submit evidence
were addressed either refused or ignored our invitation. These are listed
in Appendix II. In addition to making public our early view and issuing
a general invitation to all who wished to do so to make evidence available
to us, we also issued a number of personal invitations to persons and organisations
who we felt might have a particular contribution to make to our knowledge
and be prepared to help us with their evidence. In practically all cases
this invitation was accepted and we are grateful for the help we received.
In view of their close association or their involvement in the subject
matters of our Enquiry we issued such invitations to the Rt. Hon. Mr. William
Craig, M.P. (N.I.), former Minister of Home Affairs, the Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley,
Major R. T. Bunting, the Rev. J Brown of Magee University College, Londonderry
and Mr. Douglas Hutchinson of Armagh.
Dr. Paisley is chairman of the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee which avowedly controls the Ulster Protestant Volunteers of which Major Bunting is Commandant. The Rev. Mr. Brown is District Commandant of the Ulster Special Constabulary in Londonderry, a County Grand Master in the Orange Order and prominent in the Apprentice Boys organisation. Mr. Hutchinson (prominent in the Ulster Protestant Volunteers) was charged with and convicted of offences arising from the disturbances in Armagh on 30th November.
We had hoped for their help, though we are of course aware that they were all perfectly entitled to refrain from being witnesses in this Enquiry. We regret to record that all refused to give us the benefit of their assistance. Mr. Craig's refusal was couched in the following terms:
'The appointment of the Commission of Enquiry was the act of a weak inept Government and cannot be justified. I do not wish to have any part in it.'
Now, Mr. Craig is not only a Member of the Northern Ireland Parliament, a former Minister of Home Affairs and as such closely associated with the events of October onwards, but also a member of Your Excellency's Privy Council. We cannot but express our regret that he should consider it consonant with his public duty and responsibility to refuse to offer to your Commission his assistance in elucidating the truth concerning events in which he himself played an important and highly responsible part. It is in our judgment a matter for serious concern that a person who has had the responsibility of high office should by this refusal dissociate himself from an Enquiry under Your Excellency's warrant. We would note and emphasise that the Unionist Party has greatly assisted us with evidence both oral and written, while we have also had the benefit of evidence from leaders of the Orange Order dealing with the matters under investigation.
The attitude adopted by Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting is in a different
category. They enjoyed and enjoy neither official position nor responsibility
beyond that which they have assumed. They are of course entitled to refuse
to testify or to offer any assistance. In view however of their involvement
in the events themselves, and of the positions held by them in the organisations
which they lead, it is again unfortunate that they should refuse us the
benefit of their assistance and information. This appears to us all the
more strange for two reasons, first, that as professed loyalists they are
refusing assistance to a Commission appointed by the representative of
the Crown in Northern Ireland, a course which is at least lacking in courtesy
if not in practical loyalty, and second, because as they must be well aware,
their conduct and that of their supporters is one of the major matters
under review. In the case of the Rev. Mr. Brown we should have welcomed
his help, partly because of the responsible positions which he occupies,
and partly because not only did it appear from other evidence that he was
himself present as an eye witness among those who were gathered in and
about Irish Street, Londonderry, on the occasion of the People's Democracy
march on 4th January, but also because his probable knowledge of the events
preceding and concerning the imposition of the Minister's ban of the march
on 5th October would have had material value. However, Mr. Brown, as he
was quite entitled to do, made it plain that he was not prepared to render
us this assistance.
In addition to hearing and considering oral and written evidence and
making the visits we have narrated, the Commission was furnished with a
very large number of press reports relating to the events under review
and to the background circumstances out of which they may be said to have
arisen. Further, through the courtesy of Ulster Television Ltd., Telefis
Eireann, Granada T.V. and the B.B.C. (Northern Ireland), we were enabled
to view and study the complete available television coverage of particular
events at Londonderry, Armagh, Newry and Dungannon into which we have enquired
and we found these records of great assistance in our task.
5. Our Enquiry has shown that the immediate causes of the violence and civil disorder which occurred on and after 5th October 1968 fall into two quite definite categories; first, the events which led up to and precipitated the several outbreaks and second, the continuing stresses and tensions within the community, social, economic and political, many of which were rooted in the history of the people themselves. These stresses and tensions gave the various outbreaks a distinctive character and are not less the immediate causes of tension by reason of the fact that they had been and remain fundamental elements in the pattern of life of this community. This has made it necessary for us to consider and express our view upon certain political, administrative and social circumstances prevailing in Northern Ireland which we have found to be contributory - directly and immediately - to the violence and civil disorders which are the subject of our Enquiry.
Equally we found that we could not ignore certain events which occurred
after the date of our Warrant of Appointment and in particular the unfortunate
outbreaks of grave disorder in Londonderry on 19th and 20th April 1969,
as it was clear that inquiry into these matters assisted to throw light
on the causes of what had gone before as well as on the motives and purposes
of certain bodies and persons concerned in them. Further as the particular
subjects of our remit do not stand isolated from the life and circumstances
of the community within which these disorders arose, it was in our judgment
essential to have some regard, and to make some reference in this Report,
to political, administrative and social matters which are in part background
against which these events took place, but are also, as we have found,
in large measure directly causative of them. For these reasons we found
ourselves compelled to consider with care a large body of evidence which
was volunteered consequent upon our initial invitation, but was directed
more to the general background and context than to particular events themselves.
We must however make it clear that we are in no sense seeking to assess
merits or demerits of the very many individual matters of grievance or
alleged injustice which were presented to us. We can and do record however
in subsequent paragraphs that the complaints and allegations of grievance
and injustice in certain general particulars came from a very wide variety
of sources and from bodies, organisations and individuals of widely differing
political and religious outlook, geographical distribution, purpose and
responsibility. But at the same time as we considered these general issues
we felt it was only right that we should endeavour, as we have done, to
assess and consider fairly the answer or answers which from other sources
could be and were presented to these allegations and complaints.
6. It is plain from what we have heard, read and observed that the train
of events and incidents which began in Londonderry on 5th October 1968
has had as its background, on the one hand a widespread sense of political
and social grievance for long unadmitted and therefore unredressed by successive
Governments of Northern Ireland, and on the other sentiments of fear and
apprehension sincerely and tenaciously felt and believed, of risks to the
integrity and indeed continued existence of the state. These opposing sentiments
had by that time built up tensions and pressures within the community of
such a kind that incidents comparatively small in themselves could readily
lead to explosions of violence of a dangerous and serious character. We
have also no doubt whatever that the sentiments of grievance expressed
in the representations and evidence placed before us were passionately
and sincerely held, and supported by a formidable catalogue of supporting
facts. Our views on the evidence submitted to us on these matters, and
our conclusions as to the extent of their causative effect on the violence
and civil disturbances which we have to investigate, are set out in paragraphs
12 - 156. At the same time, as we also develop later in paragraphs 185
- 228 it very soon became plain to us that in such a situation as we have
described, politically subversive and mischievous elements could and in
the event did, for their own purposes deliberately inflame passions on
all sides and either irresponsibly or deliberately invoke violent incidents
to their own assumed advantage. And we were not without ample evidence
and information which have led us to conclude that such elements were and
are present and were ready to foment and exploit and did foment and exploit
for their own ends genuine grievances or complaints. Identification of
such elements and the part played by them in the resulting disorders is
dealt with later in this report.
7. There are two further points of general application which we desire
to make. In the first place, recent declarations of Government policy on
issues of local franchise, the drawing of administrative boundaries, investigation
into methods of housing allocation, and machinery for dealing with grievances
against local authorities, which have already been made, all provide material
support for the inference that the evidence of political or social-political
grievance which was presented to us from so many quarters, in such detail,
and with such frequency, had substantial foundation in fact. It has also
to be kept in view that this is a society in which, for reasons which are
still historically operative, political and religious faiths are passionately
held, and strong emotions readily evoked in political or religious discussion
or debate, and one in which political, religious or economic issues or
differences have in the past often resulted in outbreaks of serious violence.
In the second place, we feel that in order that the measure of the quality
and strength of the tension and, in some quarters of the sense of frustration,
which obtained summer and autumn of 1968 may be fully appreciated, particularly
by those who may not be familiar with the history of Northern Ireland politics,
it must be kept in view that since the setting up of the Government of
Northern Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 one political
party has been continuously in power. Not only so, but there has not so
far been developed any united parliamentary opposition, dedicated basically
to support the existing constitution, which upon any view has been at any
time in a position to present itself as a possible alternative government.
We are not concerned, and could not properly be concerned, with the reasons
for this situation, but we record the fact, because it is impossible to
appreciate the immediate as well as the underlying causes of the outbreaks
which we have to consider without having regard to the fact that in Northern
Ireland the possibility of any organised Opposition becoming the alternative
Government has not so far been one which was in any sense a reality. An
Opposition which can never become a Government tends to lose a sense of
responsibility and a party in power which can never (in foreseeable circumstances)
be turned out tends to be complacent and insensitive to criticism or acceptance
of any need for change or reform. It is easy to appreciate that in such
circumstances, if tensions are not to be built up to a point where violent
explosions may readily be caused, a very high level of statesmanship and
political foresight both in Government and among members of opposition
groups, is required to deal with so delicate a political and social situation.
The fact that these explosions have occurred is perhaps itself a sufficient
criticism of the failures in leadership and foresight among political leaders
of all sides.
8. So that the events of 5th October onwards can be properly analysed,
both the political and social structures of Northern Ireland in their own
special and historical contexts have to be kept in mind, and in particular
the powers and organisation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and the powers
and duties of the Minister of Home Affairs in connection with public demonstrations,
marches and processions. We have set out in Appendix III a summary of the
statutory provisions relative to the constitution of Northern Ireland and
its Parliament and the organisation and powers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary
and of the Ulster Special Constabulary (hereafter referred to as the "R.U.C."
and "U.S.C."). We would however draw attention here to two matters
which play an important part in the history and causes of the events we
have to investigate. The first is the extent to which the Minister of Home
Affairs is concerned with the administrative control of public meetings
and processions and the wide powers and consequential responsibility conferred
upon him in this regard. We deal with this in Chapter 2, paragraphs 18-25.
9. The second is the remarkable width of the powers given to the Royal
Ulster Constabulary and Ulster Special Constabulary under the Civil Authorities
(Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922, a statute which has been
one of the targets of complaint by many of the supporters of the Civil
Rights movement. Certain of these powers, details of which are set out
in Appendix III, are in conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, in particular Article 10 (against arbitrary arrest) Article 12
(the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty) Article 13 (against
subjection to interference with personal privacy, home or correspondence)
and Article 20 (freedom of opinion and expression). When the nature and
width of the powers given to the R.U.C. and U.S.C. under what is usually
called the "Special Powers Act" are being considered or criticized
it must be borne in mind that the Act was originally passed at a time of
undoubted emergency caused by the campaigns of mutual murder and reprisal
from which the whole community suffered in the years 1920 and 1921, that
the Irish Republican Army (referred to hereafter as the I.RA.) continued
a campaign of violence even as recently as the period between 1956 and
1962 and there is evidence that its activities still continue and its objectives
remain the same, even if temporarily its tactics vary. Further, in recent
years the necessity for such powers has been defended by reference to the
activities of a clandestine and provocative ultra Unionist force-the Ulster
Volunteer Force (hereafter referred to as the U.V.F.), while it is also
pointed out, in justification for the continuance in permanent force of
such drastic police powers that to require them to be brought into operation
in an emergency would not only require time but, by the nature of things
serve only to draw attention to the existence or likelihood of an emergency,
and therefore serve to influence and excite the public mind. These are
considerations of weight which we think should be stated, as well as the
contrary and powerful contention of the Society of Labour Lawyers that
the permanent retention on the statute book of such an Act, giving at times
when no emergency in fact exists or is apprehended, such extremely wide
discretionary powers to the police, powers which are in their nature at
variance to the common law right of the citizen, is contrary to a fundamental
principle of English law. It may however be also noted that the powers
under this Act are said to be no wider than those taken and used by the
Government of the Republic of Ireland under the Offences against the State
Act there. The powers have on the whole been exercised with a view to suppressing
the I.R.A. and obtaining information about its plans and activities. For
this reason these powers, especially those to enter and search, have borne
most heavily upon the Roman Catholic part of the population. However, none
of the provisions of the Special Powers Acts or of the Regulations made
thereunder was at any time explicitly invoked or used in relation to the
events which form the subject of this Enquiry (except perhaps in the stopping
and searching of motor cars in Armagh) or in respect of the various processions,
demonstrations and meetings to which our Report refers.
10. Northern Ireland has a population of about one-and-a-half million people and of these about two-thirds may be described as Protestant and one third as Roman Catholic. Not only has the Government of Northern Ireland since it was established been a Unionist (and therefore Protestant) Government, but at the local level Councils have tended to reflect the particular religious majority in their areas, except that in certain areas, notably in certain of those in which disorders occurred, namely Dungannon, Armagh and in particular Londonderry, the arrangement of ward boundaries for local government purposes has produced in the local authority a permanent Unionist majority which bears little or no resemblance to the relative numerical strength of Unionists and non-Unionists in the area. As we show later, we have to record that there is very good reason to believe the allegation that these arrangements were deliberately made, and maintained, with the consequence that the Unionists used and have continued to use the electoral majority thus created to favour Protestant or Unionist supporters in making public appointments - particularly those of senior officials - and in manipulating housing allocations for political and sectarian ends. It would be simple to regard the religious division of the population as coinciding historically and accurately with the divisions between the Unionist party, mainly if not in fact exclusively Protestant, and the various Nationalist groups mainly but not exclusively Roman Catholic. This generalisation however would be far too broad and would be misleading if accepted as a complete and safe guide to the causes of the unhappy divisions within the State. No doubt, religion is a deeply divisive force, but in addition there is the conflict of political loyalties which sometimes transcends the religious cleavage in the population. There is division also in the segregation of race, real or imagined as it may be. Segregated education-insisted upon by the Roman Catholic Church - also plays its part in initiating and maintaining division and differences among the young. In this connection reference must also be made - and here the issue is essentially sectarian - to the segregation in housing which exists and persists. There is no doubt not only of the fact of segregation but also that many are not only content that this should be so but welcome and defend it on practical grounds - an attitude of mind found as readily among Catholics as Protestants. Even the Northern Ireland Housing Trust has found this reaction against integration in housing and in favour of segregation, powerful and something which has to be taken into account in the siting and an arrangement of their developments when these are permitted and undertaken.
But while all this is so, the religious division within the community is that which has tended to provide the greatest bitterness and religious disturbances have tended to be intensified because the Catholic proportion of the population is more concentrated in the rural areas and southern districts and on the whole tends to be economically poorer than the Protestant population. The frequent identification of religion with political division has been historically intensified because, as it fell out, there was at the time of the establishment of the State a preponderance of Roman Catholics in the border areas. It is perhaps significant in that regard that Londonderry where sectarian feeling and passions run deep and high is like a 'frontier" post facing a predominantly Catholic hinterland across the border in Donegal.
In such a community, fears and suspicions are mutual and pervasive and any agitation for change and reform is likely to be regarded as an aspect, and indeed a function, of group antagonism. In the case of the Civil Rights movement, such an assumption however would be dangerously superficial and erroneous, and could lead and (we are convinced) has led to a wholly false evaluation of the real strength and character of the agitation. The evidence which we have elicited in the course of our enquiry has convinced us that in many influential quarters such an erroneous estimate was made of the Civil Rights movement, and that this error in assessment may well have influenced the then Minister of Home Affairs' decision in relation to the Civil Rights march in Londonderry on 5th October 1968. We deal with this particular matter more fully in paragraph 159 below. A tendency so to regard this type of agitation is increased when the agitation is expressed through public processions, because in Northern Ireland the public procession has historically expressed the territorial dominance of one or another group, but especially that of the Protestant majority. Thus the Orange Order fought a long campaign in the nineteenth century to secure its right to march, and to this day it is still a matter of major significance to prevent a rival group from trespassing on an established or recognised terrain.
11. These traditional patterns of antagonism have at least begun to erode in recent years. The process has been complex and its causes lie largely outside the scope of this Enquiry, but the fact is to be recorded, and it would not be denied that in this process the official leaders of all the main Churches have contributed. This trend has coincided with a decline in preoccupation with the border as an immediate political issue among, and in the appeal of Nationalism to, the Catholic population. A much larger Catholic middle-class has emerged, which is less ready to acquiesce in the acceptance of a situation of assumed (or established) inferiority and discrimination than was the case in the past. This is, we think, an important and new element in the political and social climate of Northern Ireland and has played its part in the events which led to the setting up of this Enquiry. We were impressed by the number of well educated and responsible people who were and are concerned in, and have taken an active part in, the Civil Rights movement, and by the depth and extent of the investigations which they have made, or caused to be made, to produce evidence to vouch their grievances and support their claims for remedy.
12. It was members of this Catholic middle-class which in 1964 founded the Campaign for Social Justice in Northern Ireland, inspired in particular by resentment against what they regarded as the sectarian bias of Unionist Councils in the Dungannon area. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, itself modelled on the National Council for Civil Liberties and founded in 1967 has from the outset received very strong Catholic backing and support. These organisations concern themselves with immediate social reforms, such as opposition to job and housing discrimination by Unionists, support for universal adult franchise in local government elections and fairer electoral boundaries in local government. They are not concerned, as organisations, with altering the constitutional structure of Northern Ireland, and in this sense represent a quite new development among Catholic activists.
It was in the circumstances inevitable that the Civil Rights movement
should be mainly (though not exclusively) supported by Catholics and also
attract support from many who had been prominent in Nationalist and Republican
politics. Officially, the Association campaigned only on civil rights issues,
but in practice its activities tended to polarise the Northern Ireland
community in traditional directions. It was bound to attract opposition
from many Protestant Unionists who saw or professed to see its success
as a threat to their supremacy, indeed, to their survival as a community.
The movement also attracted the attention and support of certain left-wing
extremists, some of whom by infiltration gained positions of influence
within the movement, and their readiness to provoke and profit by violence
was crucial at various stages in the disturbances, although their activities
and influence were condemned and opposed by many of the movement's leaders
13. We come now to narrate and analyse the actual course of events. For ease of reference we have compiled a chronology of the leading incidents to which we shall have occasion to refer. This forms Appendix VII and we have also prepared a map of Northern Ireland and street plans of Londonderry, Armagh, Newry and Dungannon in Appendix VIII to illustrate the narrative of events and our comments and criticisms thereon.
14. The events themselves fall naturally into three phases. The first began when Mr. Austin Currie occupied a house at Caledon on the 2Oth June 1968. Mr. Currie is a Nationalist M.P. in the Parliament of Northern Ireland, and his action was a protest against an eviction from a Council house, and the allocation of a neighbouring house to an unmarried Protestant girl. This event was accompanied by some television and press publicity. In turn it led directly to the Civil Rights march from Coalisland to Dungannon on 24th August 1968. This was organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and was the first large scale demonstration mounted by the Association. It took place in a town whose housing and other administration had been heavily criticised by the Campaign for Social Justice. During the same period there had been recurring 'sit-ins' and squatting in Londonderry, also designed as a protest against local housing policy.
15. The next phase began when a proposed Civil Rights march on 5th October in Londonderry was diverted by a ministerial order from its planned route, and there was a consequent clash between the police and marchers seeking to evade the ban. This march was mainly organised by local groups in Londonderry, but it was under the nominal auspices of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. The confrontation between marchers and police received worldwide publicity, much of which was unfavourable to the Government of Northern Ireland, to the police, and in particular to Mr. Craig, the Minister of Home Affairs. During the next two months there was constant protest marching in Londonderry. This was largely controlled by a new moderate group called the Derry Citizens Action Committee, in which John Hume, now M.P. (N.I.), and Mr. Ivan Cooper, now also M.P. (N.I), emerged as the leaders. Counter demonstrations led by Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting occurred, and on the 13th November the Minister (Mr. Craig) banned all processions within the Walls of Londonderry for one month. This ban was ineffective. On the 22nd November the Government announced a number of reform proposals, including the establishment of a Development Commission for Londonderry to supersede the Corporation. However, the Government not then prepared to introduce universal adult suffrage in local elections. On the 3Oth November a Civil Rights march in Armagh, which had been sanctioned by the authorities, was unable to follow its planned route because of a counter demonstration by Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting and their supporters, who had occupied the town centre. The police feared they could not keep the peace if the march proceeded. During the whole of this second phase it is fair to say that non-Unionist opinion was critical of the Northern Ireland Government and on the whole sympathetic to the Civil Rights Movement.
16. During December the third phase began. Mr. Craig, the Minister of Home Affairs, who had regarded the Civil Rights Movement as a front for Republican activity and had so insisted in public utterances, was dismissed from office. This tended to moderate the attitude of the Government. On the other hand, divisions began to appear in the Civil Rights movement when an organisation called the People's Democracy (which had developed out of student demonstrations in Belfast during October) proposed to organise a march from Belfast to Londonderry. This received the nominal support of the Civil Rights Association, but was undertaken contrary to the wishes and advice of the Derry Citizens Action Committee. In the event the march took place between the 1st and 4th January 1969 and was accompanied throughout by violence and counter demonstrations. Its arrival at Londonderry was the signal for sectarian violence, rioting, and allegations by Catholics of police misconduct and partiality. Allegations against the police in respect of their conduct in Londonderry on 4th/ 5th January have been the subject of a special investigation by County Inspector Baillie of the R.U.C. which was carried out on the instructions of the Minister of Home Affairs, and we have had an opportunity of considering the full text of County Inspector Ba:illie's Report and of interviewing County Inspector Baillie himself in connection with the inquiries made by him. On the 11th January there was a People's Democracy march in Newry. This developed into a riot and damage to public property occurred. This episode was a further set-back to the Civil Rights movement. At a later stage serious rioting broke out in Londonderry on 20th April following the prohibition by ministerial order of a proposed North Derry Civil Rights Association march from Burntollet to Londonderry in face of the risk of serious violence to be apprehended from interference with the proposed march by supporters and followers of Major Bunting.
17. In order to appreciate the circumstances in which permission to organise and conduct public marches and demonstrations in Northern Ireland is granted and the powers of the executive and police to control them and the routes which, if authorised, such marches and demonstrations may follow, is necessary to set out what are the legal powers of Government and the police in this regard; otherwise the events of 5th October and thereafter cannot be properly understood and their causes assessed. We now turn to this subject.
LEGAL POWERS OF THE GOVERNMENT TO MAINTAIN PUBLIC
18. The powers possessed and exercised by the Government and police to maintain public order during the recent disturbances are those contained in Sections 1 and 2 of the Public Order Act (Northern Ireland) 1951. By Section 1(1) of this Act it is provided that ‘Anyone who intends to organise or form a public procession shall give forty-eight hours written notice of such intention, of the proposed route and of the proposed time of commencement to the Royal Ulster Constabulary by leaving such notice at the Police Station nearest to the starting point of the procession.’ If the route is acceptable to the police the organisers are so informed and the procession follows the notified route but, if not acceptable, then any officer or head constable may give directions imposing such conditions as seem necessary for the preservation of public order. This power is given to the police by Section 2(1) of the Act which provides ‘If any officer or head constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, having regard to the time or p lace at which and the circumstances in which any public procession is taking place or is intended to take place and to the route taken or proposed to be taken by the processions. has reasonable grounds for apprehending that the procession may occasion a breach of the peace or serious public disorder, whether immediately or at any time thereafter, he may give directions imposing upon the persons organising or taking part in the procession such conditions as appear to him necessary for the preservation of public order, including (but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing words) conditions prescribing the route to be taken by the procession and conditions prohibiting the procession from entering any place specified in the directions.’ In practice, the conditions imposed have, in the main, been those specifically mentioned in the section, that is, a prescription of the route to be taken or a prohibition on entering a specified place, or both, and these have been imposed by the District Inspector for the area concerned. Occasionally other conditions are imposed such as, for example, prohibiting the carrying of the Republican tricolour through certain areas along the route.
19. Section 2(2) of the Act confers power on the Minister of Home Affairs to make an order prohibiting, for any period not exceeding three months, all public processions or meetings or any class thereof as he may specify in any particular place. This is not an absolute discretionary power, but may only be exercised by the Minister when he has come to the conclusion that the exercise by the police of the powers referred to in the previous paragraph are not sufficient to prevent serious disorder. It is therefore clear that a Minister must be convinced by the information at his disposal. largely of course from police sources, of the inadequacy of the police powers before he can impose such a prohibition. It should be noted also that whilst the Act requires notice of processions only to be given to the police and not notice of meetings, the Minister’s veto or ban may extend, and frequently does extend, both to processions and meetings.
20. Section 3 of the Act deals with provocative conduct by those opposed to the processions or meetings being held and is wide-sweeping in its provisions, while Section 4 deals with the disruption of the business of a lawful meeting and empowers the police, at the request of the chairman of such a meeting, to demand the name and address of any person preventing the transaction of business for which the meeting was called*
21. The Minister of Home Affairs exercises his powers under Section 2(2) of the Public Order Act by making orders prohibiting the holding of public processions or meetings in particular cases. In the case of the Civil Rights Association march in Londonderry on 5th October 1968 the Association gave notice in September of their intention to hold a march which would start in the forecourt of the railway station in the Waterside ward of the city and proceed to the Diamond (which is in the walled part of the city) where a meeting would be held.
22. On 3rd October Mr. Craig, then Minister of Home Affairs, decided that the march should be prohibited in the Waterside ward and in the walled part of the city. He therefore made an order prohibiting the holding of all public processions or meetings in these parts of the city on 5th October 1968. The terms of the order are set out in Appendix VI.
23. The next occasion on which Mr. Craig exercised his power as Minister under the statute was in connection with the Derry Citizens Action Committee march on 16th November 1968. This organisation had given notice in accordance with the statutory requirements of its intention to hold a march on that date from Simpson’s Brae, in the Waterside ward of the city, by way of the Diamond to the Guildhall. On 13th November the Minister decided to impose a prohibition on the holding of all public processions and meetings in the walled part of the city for the period 14th November to 14th December 1968. The terms of this order made by the Minister are set out in Appendix VI.
24. A further prohibition was made by Captain W. J. Long, M.P., then Minister of Home Affairs, against a march proposed by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Oxford Campaign from the City Hall, Belfast, to the N.I. Parliament Buildings, Stormont, on 25th January 1969. The terms of the order made by the Minister are set out in Appendix VI.
25. It must be kept in mind that there is a traditional practice, which has for long governed processions and demonstrations in Northern Ireland, and which recognises that certain areas are hostile or friendly to Unionist or Nationalist organisations respectively. Consequently it is the custom for processions under these auspices to avoid such areas. For example in Belfast an Orange Lodge does not march on the Falls Road nor would a Catholic organisation march on the Shankill Road. There are of course exceptions to this practice, and certain areas which by general agreement are regarded as a ‘NoMan’s land’ in which processions or parades or demonstrations by organisations, Orange or Green in colour, may be conducted without let or hindrance. Indeed, well established and traditional marches and demonstrations are accepted by all sections of the community, and do not as a rule lead to a breach of the peace, and in general give little or no trouble to the. police. But it is one of the novel circumstances of recent demonstrations that they do not fit into the accepted or traditional pattern, and therefore have presented an entirely new problem for solution by the police and the authorities.
The powers contained in the Public Order Act of 1951 are being amended by the Public Order Amendment Bill, which will make considerable amendments on the preceding law, (but none of these amendments were in operation at the time of the disturbances under review). It is not necessary to deal with the provisions of the Bill in any detail. It should however be noted that there is provision in the Bill as now amended to give the Minister of Home Affairs power to permit a public procession of which due notice has been given (as required by the Bill) and simultaneously to prohibit the holding of any other public procession or meeting. This provision is novel and will enable for the future the Minister to deal with the tactical move which in the past has not been uncommonly used of putting forward notification of a counter demonstration to one of which intimation has already been given in the hope and expectation that apprehension of a clash between the two may lead to a ministerial ban against both and thus achieving the purpose of a counter demonstration without the necessity of involving the likelihood of a breach of the peace or an outbreak of violence.
THE CALEDON AFFAIR AND THE DUNGANNON MARCH ON 24th AUGUST 1968
26. We come now to narrate the occurrences in the first phase or chapter of the course of events under review. It was the Caledon squatting incident which was the starting point for the disturbances which followed. Caledon is a village in Dungannon Rural District, which is in Co. Tyrone. The village is mainly Protestant, and under the prevailing system the local Unionist Councillor had effective responsibility for allocating Council houses in the area.
27. There had been squatting in two new houses at Kinnard Park, Caledon, during the previous months, encouraged by Mr. Austin Currie, M.P. (N.I.) and others. No. 11 was occupied by the Goodfellow family and No. 9 by the McKenna family. These families came from another district in the area of the Rural District Council, where the Unionist Councillor had, in effect, opposed the building of houses for Catholic tenants. The McKennas eventually left and their house was allocated to a Miss Emily Beattie. Miss Beattie took possession of her house on the 13th June. She was 19 years old, a Protestant, and secretary to the local Councillor’s Solicitor, who was also a Unionist Parliamentary candidate living in Armagh. The Councillor’s explanation for giving her the house was that in effect he was rehousing her family who lived in very poor conditions; also he had expected her to be married before she took possession of the house. In fact she did marry soon afterwards.
28. In concentrated form the situation expressed the objections felt by many non-Unionists to the prevailing system of housing allocations in Dungannon Rural District Council. By no stretch of the imagination could Miss Beanie be regarded as a priority tenant. On 18th June, within a few days of Miss Beattie taking possession, the Goodfellow family, squatting next door, were evicted with full television coverage. Mr. Currie had protested at all levels against the allocation to Miss Beanie, and raised the matter on the adjournment in the Northern Ireland House of Commons on 19th June 1968. He received no satisfaction, and accordingly formally occupied Miss Beattie’s house with two others on 20th June, until in the presence of policemen, a few hours later they were evicted by Miss Beanie’s brother who, himself a policeman, was to become a resident in the same house. Quite apart from the real merits of Mr. Currie’s case against the allocation, he scored thereby a major propaganda success.
29. The next event was the Civil Rights march in Dungannon on 24th August. This occurred because of the feelings aroused by the much publicised Caledon incident and was intended mainly as a protest against housing policy in the area. This had been under close scrutiny for several years by the Campaign for Social Justice, and extensive surveys of housing policy in Dungannon Rural District Council and Dungannon Urban District Council had been carried out. These had shown what would appear to be a strong pattern of political influence in the location and allocation of houses in the area. Mr. Currie now persuaded members of this group to organise a march from Coalisland to Dungannon.
30. About 18 months previously the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association had begun to become active. Its original purpose had been mainly to provide support for individual complaints against authority, on the lines of the National Council for Civil Liberties in Great Britain. Its activities had so far been limited and had attracted little publicity. Dr. McCluskey in Dungannon, of the Campaign for Social Justice, was a member and through him a meeting with the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association executive was arranged. This was held on 27th July at Maghera. The Civil Rights Association had doubts about getting involved in housing agitation and mass processions, but eventually agreed to a march on 24th August.
31. After the march had been announced at the end of July the police originally raised no objection in principle. The route was to be from Coalisland to Market Square, Dungannon (see map in Appendix VIII). However, there was soon a move in extreme Unionist circles to oppose the march, on the grounds that Market Square was Unionist territory. Senator Stewart (Chairman of the Urban District Council and a prominent resident) told the police that there would he trouble if the march entered the Square and proposed a re-route by Quarry Lane to Anne Street. Mr. John Taylor M.P. also told the police that there would be trouble if the procession entered the Square. We think it is to be inferred from their own evidence that whether these local Unionist leaders would have organised, they at least would not have discouraged, the organisation of a counter demonstration if the march had been allowed to enter Market Square. Such a counter demonstration, if organised, would almost certainly have led to an outbreak of violence - as persons occupying positions of such public responsibility cannot have failed to appreciate.
32. Faced with these representations the police decided that the threat of counter demonstration should be taken seriously, the more so as the Ulster Protestant Volunteers advertised a public meeting to be held in the Market Square on the evening of 24th August. Late on 23rd August the march was accordingly re-routed, and arrangements were made to halt it near Quarry Lane at Thomas Street, Dungannon, and divert it to Anne Street.
33. The march took place on the evening of 24th August as arranged, but halted at the police barrier. At least 2.500 people marched from Coalisland and a much larger number gathered at Thomas Street. Mr. Fitt M.P.* and Mr. Currie M.P. were among the speakers, and Miss Sinclair of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association presided. Beyond the police were a miscellaneous crowd of at least 1,500 people, some of whom were potential counter demonstrators.
34. The march and the meeting aroused a good deal of feeling. Opponents noted the presence of several prominent Republicans among the marchers, and there was some regrettable and irresponsible abuse of the police by Mr. Fitt. The police calculated that about 70 of the stewards were Republicans, and of these some 10 were members of the Irish Republican Army. On the other hand the organisers prevented the public display of any banners except the Civil Rights banner. The speeches at the meeting related exclusively to immediate social issues, and apart from the address by Mr. Fitt were generally moderate in tone. There was a hope among many participants that something new was taking place in Northern Ireland, in that here was a non-violent demonstration by people of many differing political antecedents and convictions, united on a common platform of reform. Miss Sinclair closed the proceedings by leading those present in singing ‘We Shall Overcome’. The marchers thereafter dispersed.
35. In view of the representations made to them, and of the threats of counter demonstration, the local police had very little option but to re-route the march, and their arrangements proved satisfactory. It is significant that this first Civil Rights march, unaccompanied by any provocative display of weapons, banners, or symbol was carried out without any breach of the peace. It attracted considerable public attention and was also regarded as proof in certain circles that many elements in the society of Northern Ireland whose ultimate political purpose differed in very marked degree could co-operate in peaceful and lawful demonstration in favour of certain common and limited objectives.
36. There is little doubt that it was this demonstration which suggested to certain bodies and persons in Londonderry to draw public attention to their claims for relief and remedial action by way of similar action, which originally at least they intended to be non-violent. The atmosphere in Londonderry was however highly charged for reasons arising out of political, social and economic conditions in the city and an explosion of violence could easily be detonated.
*Mr Gerard Fitt M.P. is a member of Belfast Corporation, M.P. for the Dock division of Belfast in the N.I. Parliament, and M.P. for West Belfast at Westminster.
CIVIL RIGHTS DEMONSTRATION IN LONDONDERRY ON 5th OCTOBER 1968 AND ITS SEQUEL
37. At that time, and for a considerable period prior thereto, Londonderry had a regrettably high level of unemployment. The rate of construction of public housing over the years had failed to keep pace with demand, and pressure was building up among the Catholic section of the population to force the then Corporation to take more rapid and effectual action to remedy this state of affairs. The refusal of the Corporation to seek extension of the city boundaries, though the subject of unanimous recommendation by its senior officials, lent support to the very wide and firmly held belief among the Catholic majority of the population that this was due to a determination to keep Unionist control of the Council to the detriment of the majority, as already evidenced by a past manipulation of ward boundaries and of the allocation of Council houses to achieve the same end (paragraph 134). In addition to these sectarian causes of complaint and tension, there were more general matters of keenly felt grievance which affected all sections of the community, and with the support of a substantial section of Unionist interests in the city, were directed rightly or wrongly against the central government. These were related to the closure of the Great Northern railway line, the closure of the Londonderry factories of British Sound Reproducers Ltd., the absence of any effective measure to replace employment lost thereby, the siting and establishment of a new town at Craigavon. as opposed to a policy of industrial development in and around Londonderry and, most of all, the decision to site a New University at Coleraine and not in Londonderry. This last grievance caused a degree of unity in resentment and protest which was probably unique, at least in the recent history of the city, and united local opinion in a suspicion that the central government was deliberately discriminating against the city and its interests for political reasons. Whether these suspicions were soundly based or not is not a matter for us to determine, but there is no doubt that they were deeply rooted and sincerely believed, and contributed materially to a situation in which ill-advised action, either on the part of Government or of those responsible for organising and conducting a demonstration with political objectives or of the police in handling such a demonstration, could readily provoke a serious outbreak of violence and disorder.
38. After the march in Dungannon on 24th August a left wing group in Londonderry had decided to press for a Civil Rights march in the city. The initial steps were taken by the Derry Housing Action Committee, in which a Mr. Eamonn McCann and a Mr. Eamonn Melaugh were prominent. This group had been organising protests, sit downs and demonstrations, mainly against Londonderry Corporation’s housing policy, but had not obtained much publicity for their efforts. At their invitation seven or eight members of the executive of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, including all its office holders, attended a meeting in Londonderry on 31st August to discuss the proposal. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association felt that arrangements should be in the hands of a more broadly based committee. A large number of political organisations, trade unions and cultural bodies were then invited to participate. No invitations were sent to representatives of the churches or to the Unionist Party.
39.There was a positive response from only the Londonderry Labour Party, the Londonderry Labour Party Young Socialists, the Derry Housing Action Committee, the Deny City Republican Club and the James Connolly Society. These bodies were identified with strongly left wing and republican attitudes, and had some overlap in membership. A further meeting between Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association representatives and the Londonderry activists was held on 7th September in the City Hotel there. It was decided to set up the ‘October 5th Ad Hoc Committee’, comprising one member from each of the five organisations. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association continued to give the march its sanction and support, and on 8th September 1969 its Secretary in Belfast served initial notice of a march in accordance with statutory requirements. No inquiry was made by any official of the Civil Rights Association into the antecedents or political views or affiliations of those who would be likely to organise or conduct the march in Londonderry itself, lie small sums required to provide placards and posters were collected in Londonderry, and it appears that administrative responsibility for the march devolved largely on Mr. Eamonn McCann. He was not in fact a member of the Ad Hoc Committee, but he became prominent in the absence of any other central or local direction.
40. The route proposed on behalf of the Civil Rights Association was one commonly followed by ‘Protestant’ and ‘Loyalist’ marches in Londonderry. It was to start from the Waterside Railway Station, east of the River Foyle, cross the river along Craigavon Bridge and proceed to the Diamond, the central point of the city (see map in Appendix VIII). This route traversed certain Protestant district’, and ended within the city’s ancient Walls, which have major significance in Orange tradition because of the successful defence of Londonderry against James VII and II. The proposal to follow this route was designed to symbolise the claim of the Civil Rights Association to be non-sectarian, and neither Unionist nor Nationalist. However, the local Unionist headquarters objected to the march as offensive to a great majority of the citizens residing on the route, and also to any meeting near the War Memorial or any place closely associated with the siege of Londonderry. There was also a threat of counter demonstration by the Middle Liberties Young Unionist Association.
41. A third written protest came from the General Committee of the Apprentice Boys of Derry. It was dated 30th September and argued that the march was objectionable, since it was alleged that Civil Rights was only a cover for a parade of the Republican and Nationalist movements, and that it would show no respect for the War Memorial in the Diamond. It contained no reference to any conflicting plans or proposals by the Apprentice Boys for a march or demonstration to be held on the same day, at the same time and on the same route. Yet on 1st October the same organisation served notice of an ‘Annual Initiation Ceremony’, whose participants would march in procession on the afternoon of 5th October from the Waterside Railway Station via the Diamond to the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall. Such a procession would have taken place at virtually the same time as the advertised march of the Civil Rights Association. It may be true that private initiation of members could have been planned for that date, but we are quite satisfied in the light of the facts that this proposed procession was not a genuine ‘annual’ event, and we regard the proposal to hold it at the precise time indicated as merely a threat to counter demonstrate by political opponents of the Civil Rights march. To put forward proposals for a march or demonstration which, if pursued, would clash in time or place with another already proposed on behalf of an organisation of an opposite political colour has been for long a recognised tactic of obstruction in Northern Ireland. In such an event the purpose of the proposed counter demonstration or march is to secure the prohibition or rerouting of the original march or demonstration. Once this is achieved the proposed counter demonstration is allowed to lapse. In the event no march by Apprentice Boys took place. Those to be initiated travelled by car to the place of initiation in the forenoon of 5th October.
42. The local police, we think reasonably, regarded the arrangements for the Civil Rights march as being effectively in the hands of a small group of left wing and Republican extremists in Londonderry. Rather less reasonably they equated the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association with a largely ‘Nationalistic’ movement. Quite mistakenly they accepted the suggestion that the Apprentice Boys march was traditional, but intimated to the Minister that if all processions were banned on 5th October the Apprentice Boys would hold their ceremony in private. In general, they favoured a ban because they feared trouble from Unionists or ‘Loyalists’ if the Civil Rights march followed its proposed route. On 3rd October the Minister of Home Affairs (as already noted in paragraph 22) prohibited all processions either in the Waterside ward (i.e. east of the river) or within the city’s Walls.
43. At this stage there were divided counsels among the organisers of the Civil Rights march. The activists in Londonderry were determined that it should proceed as planned. Apart from certain differences about tactics to be adopted in confronting a police cordon, this was strongly the view of the Londonderry Labour Party. Representatives of the Civil Rights Association at first disagreed. A meeting was held in Londonderry at the City Hotel on the evening of 4th October at which the whole subject was discussed. Those present included representatives of the Civil Rights Association and of the five Londonderry organisations involved in the march. The discussion was prolonged, and eventually other local people, who were also permitted to be present but had no title to attend, took an active part in the debate. After this prolonged discussion the ultimate decision of the meeting so constituted was that the march should take place as originally planned. Thus the decision to march was taken at a meeting at which many were present who could claim no particular right to vote nor represent anyone but themselves. We have no doubt that the decision was in effect forced by the local militants in the organisations we have named, for whom it was a significant success. They had made the running for the march from the beginning.
44. We have now reached the eve of the procession on 5th October. Before narrating what happened we would make one general comment. This relates to the effect of the Minister’s prohibition. The organisers had said that they expected 5,000 people to attend their march. We are convinced that this was a very substantial exaggeration of the number which might be expected. The local organisers were distrusted by many Nationalists and Catholics in Londonderry. Their march might well have attracted only a few hundred supporters. This point was made forcibly to us by a number of responsible witnesses and we have no reason to doubt the accuracy of their evidence. The effect of the ministerial order was to transform the situation. It guaranteed the attendance of a large number of citizens of Londonderry who actively resented what appeared to them to be a totally unwarranted interference by the Minister. The publicity seeking activities of Mr. G. Fitt, M.P. had already ensured the presence on this march of several prominent politicians, including Northern Ireland Nationalist M.P.s and three Westminster Labour M.P.s (Mr. Russell Kerr, Mrs. Anne Kerr and Mr. John Ryan) in addition to Mr. Fitt himself, as well as of mass television and press coverage, and we have good reason to believe also that during the six weeks since the Coalisland - Dungannon march certain left wing activists had decided that their campaign would benefit from violent conflict with the authorities. The decision to prohibit the march on 5th October from part of its proposed route gave them the opportunity to prove their point.
45. Those who gathered at the Waterside Railway Station on the afternoon of 5th October represented most of the elements in opposition to the Northern Ireland Government and the Unionist regime in Londonderry. The police were impressed by the number of Republican and left wing marchers, and we think it is established that members of the Irish Republican Army were present and represented among the stewards. There was also a group of Young Socialists carrying placards with political slogans. However, the crowd, which grew to over 2,000, also included a number of prominent and moderate members of the Nationalist Party, including Mr. E. McAteer, then Leader of the Opposition at Stormont, and members of the Northern Ireland Labour Party and the Liberal Party. More significantly for the future in Londonderry there was also present Mr. John Hume, who had been active in organising a Credit Union and a Housing Association in the City, and had been prominent in the agitation for the establishment of a second university there. Another individual who was to become prominent in Londonderry was Mr. Ivan Cooper, a Protestant member of the Londonderry Labour Party, who had been to some extent involved in organising the march but whose tactics were wholly non-violent. Finally, as a fruit of Mr. Fitt’s labours, there were the three English Westminster M.P.s.
46. The motives of those present were varied. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights organisers wished to make a protest in a city whose administration was unrepresentative and partisan, and were not in any way seeking a violent confrontation with the police, as the speeches of Miss Sinclair and others clearly showed. The Westminister M.P.s were perhaps most interested in publicity for Northern Ireland’s problems in the national news media. Mr. Fitt sought publicity for himself and his political views, and must clearly have envisaged the possibility of a violent clash with the police as providing the publicity he so ardently sought. His conduct in our judgement was reckless and wholly irresponsible in a person occupying his public positions. The extremists of the left were anxious to ensure that there was a violent ‘confrontation’ with the police, and to organise opposition in the city on class lines. Since these extremists had been principally responsible for the detailed organisation of the march it is not surprising that there were no serious plans to control it, or to ensure that it went off peacefully. The chief marshal notified to the police appears to have been inexperienced and relatively ineffective.
47. The police, for their part, certainly expected trouble. Only sixty police were normally available, but altogether about 130 men were assembled on the morning of 5th October. This included two platoons of the Reserve Force, known popularly as the ‘Riot Police’. (For explanation of the term Reserve Force see Appendix IV). Two water wagons were also brought into Londonderry. The local County Inspector was on leave and the County Inspector in charge of the Special Branch of the R.U.C. was sent to Londonderry to take his place. It was known that morning that the organisers of the march intended to proceed, and that the march would form up at the Waterside Railway Station as originally planned. Such a march would contravene the Minister’s prohibition. There are indications that the Minister, Mr. Craig, expected violence, but that he and the senior officers of police were determined to avoid any repetition of events the previous Easter at Armagh when a banned procession was allowed to proceed, and there were merely arrests and subsequent court proceedings against the organisers.
48. The precise sequence of events during the afternoon is to some extent confused and not easy to ascertain, but in general outline is reasonably clear. The march had been arranged to start at 3.30 p.m. It appears that at first there was a confused group of people at the Waterside Railway Station. The police had blocked the normal traffic routes to Craigavon Bridge at Simpson’s Brae and Distillery Brae, and the County Inspector in charge outlined the scope of the Minister’s order by loudhailer, and warned that women and children should not remain. Miss Sinclair, the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, had not yet arrived and Mr. Cooper replied that the marchers believed they had a democratic right to process non violently. The chief marshal then decided to march up Duke Street towards Craigavon Bridge.
49. This route had not been blocked by the police, partly because it was a one way street with traffic flowing from the Bridge and partly because it was not the route notified to them. The local organisers seem to have insisted that Mr. McAteer M.P., Mr. Currie M.P. and Mr. Fitt M.P. should lead the march. The marchers then moved off along Duke Street and the police hurriedly moved a Reserve Force platoon, who were at Distillery Brae, to positions on Duke Street about 50 yards from the Bridge. Two large tenders were placed across the road behind them. This was contrary to the plan which the police intended to carry out, which would have placed the cordon of police behind and not in front of the tenders. Because of the short time in which the unexpected change of position had to be made the line of police was stationed in front instead of behind the tenders. The procession marched straight up to the police, and it appears to us established on the evidence that at this stage batons were used by certain police officers without explicit order, although this is denied by the police. We regret to say that we have no doubt that both Mr. Fitt and Mr. McAteer were batoned by the police, at a time when no order to draw batons had been given and in circumstances in which the use of batons on these gentlemen was wholly without justification or excuse. Mr. Fitt was at this point removed to hospital with a minor head injury which he ascribed to a blow from a baton, and Mr. McAteer also sustained a minor injury.
50. Very few of the marchers realised what had happened, but the march halted and there was considerable confusion. The stewards succeeded in moving the marchers back a yard or two from the police. At that point - about 4 p.m. - Miss Sinclair arrived from Belfast and reached the head of the march. No effective plans had been made to meet the situation which had arisen, and could have been foreseen, but Miss Sinclair obtained a chair from the police and started a meeting. Her remarks amounted to a plea for the right of non violent procession. Other speakers included Mr. McAteer M.P., Mr. A. Currie M.P., Mr. Cooper, Mr. Grace and Mr. E. McCann. Mr. Currie and Mr. McCann alone gave what could be interpreted as more or less guarded encouragement to the use of violence to break the police barrier. After about half an hour the meeting was ended by Miss Sinclair, who requested those present to disperse. Others made the same request, using the police loudhailer. The crowd was noisy and ill organised and the extent to which the words of the speakers were heard among the bulk of the marchers is doubtful.
51. What happened at the next stage is a matter of controversy. It appears however that certain of the left wing extremists who were in the van of the procession and were members of the body known as the ‘Young Socialists Alliance’ (most if not all of whom had come from Belfast and had taken up positions at or near the head of the procession) threw their placards and banners at the police, and that some stones were thrown at the police from the crowd. After about five minutes, many of the police having drawn their batons individually, the County Inspector ordered them to disperse the march. On the evidence we think that nothing resembling a baton charge took place but that the police broke ranks and used their batons indiscriminately on people in Duke Street. This unfortunate situation was made worse by the fact that the other end of Duke Street (nearer the Waterside Station) was blocked by the party of police which had originally been stationed at Simpson’s Brae but had moved down in rear of the march. This party had not been informed that the march was to disperse and their choice of position had the effect that the marchers felt themselves to be trapped. No specific orders were given to their party to let the marchers through and when a number of marchers hurried towards them some violence was almost inevitable. There is a body of evidence, which we accept, that these police also used their batons indiscriminately, and that the District Inspector in charge used his blackthorn with needless violence. Rapid dispersal of the crowd was also assisted by the use of water wagons which were moved along Duke Street and then along Craigavon Bridge. There is no real doubt that they sprayed the dispersing marchers indiscriminately, especially on the bridge, where there were a good many members of the general public who had taken no part in the march. There was no justification for use of the water wagons on the bridge, while the evidence which we heard and saw on film did not convince us of the necessity of their use in Duke Street. By about 5 p.m. Duke Street was cleared.
52. This did not end the violence of the day. A flare-up occurred a little later at the Diamond, within the Walls. This was totally unorganised and arose out of the forcible removal by police officers of a political banner from some marchers in the vicinity of the War Memorial in the Diamond. This led to a clash with the police in which a number of hooligan elements rapidly joined. and in the already inflamed state of public feeling this led to serious rioting in the Diamond and its vicinity. Ultimately the police drove these rioters, who were not themselves marchers, down to the Bogside, a Catholic area. Stones were thrown anti the police had to use their riot equipment, including long batons. A somewhat sinister circumstance of these later events is that there was an attempt at the erection of barricade in certain of the streets where rioting was in progress. Violence continued that night and broke out again during the afternoon and evening of Sunday. 6th October, when very few police were available. The County Inspector in charge on 5th October had by then returned to Belfast. On 6th October the County Inspector in charge of Co. Fermanagh was sent to Londonderry and took temporary charge of the police force there. A good deal of damage and looting of shops took place before the Count)’ Inspector was able to organise the dispersal of the young hooligans involved, by the use of units of the Reserve Force using Land Rovers.
53. Casualty figures show that 11 policemen were injured on 5th and 6th October, 4 at Duke Street and 7 during the later rioting. Total civilian casualties on 5th and 6th October were 77. of whom the great majority had bruises and lacerations (mainly of their heads). It is not known precisely how many of these injuries occurred on 5th October. Four of those injured, including two policemen, were admitted to hospital, the remainder, having been sent home after treatment.
54. The course which events took on those days arose out of the following immediate circumstances:
(1) The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association did not directly plan or control the march which was left to a local and purely ad hoc Committee.
55. One of the consequences of the break up of the demonstration in Duke Street was that press and television reports ensured that some very damaging pictures of police violence were seen throughout the United Kingdom and abroad. This produced a violent reaction of feeling in many places and led directly to the formation at Queen’s University, Belfast. of a protest movement which subsequently became the People’s Democracy.
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND THE PEOPLE’S DEMOCRACY GROUP
56. A number of members of the Young Socialists Alliance had attended both the Coalisland / Dungannon and Londonderry marches. They had been prevented from carrying a distinctive banner at Coalisland, but they had played. as we have described, an important role at Londonderry. This group comprised members of different political affiliations, and their most influential members were probably Messrs. Michael Farrell and Eamonn McCann. The events of 5th October gave this group the opportunity to achieve major support at Queen’s University. Belfast.
57. The University term was just beginning. Many students had been genuinely shocked by what they saw of 5th October on television or had read in the press. Some had actually been present at Londonderry. The first result was a protest march to the home of Mr. Craig, then Minister of Home Affairs, on Sunday, 6th October. Their reception by Mr. Craig was hostile and calculated to incense already inflamed feelings. He so far forgot his position of responsibility as a Minister as to call the students generally ‘silly bloody fools’ These remarks received wide press and T.V. publicity. This was followed on 7th October by a meeting in the University, which attracted 700/800 students and the police were notified that a march to the City Hall would be held at 2 p.m. on 9th October. The route was to pass through Shaftesbury Square, which is not far from the traditionally Protestant district of Sandy Row. Dr. Paisley then announced a meeting at 2 p.m. in Shaftesbury Square to protest against the students’ march. The student leaders were prepared to re-route the march to avoid a clash, but on 8th October another large student meeting voted in favour of the original route.
58. On 9th October was a key day in the development of student demonstrations at Queen’s University. Dr. Paisley had about 1,000 supporters in Shaftesbury Square when the march moved off. Eventually the marchers accepted a re-routing by the police, but they thought that the re-routing included permission to reach the City Hall. In fact, a number of Paisleyites had assembled at the City Hall and the police halted the march. The students then sat down and blocked Linenhall Street. This sit-down continued for over three hours. Those present represented many political opinions, and included some Unionists and some University teachers. Eventually the student leaders led the way back to the University. However. Mr. Farrell had arrived by the late afternoon and spoke to a number who remained. He proposed a march to the City Hall on the following Saturday, the 12th October. Eventually his group, who were mainly Young Socialists, returned to the University.
59. By this time a great many students were in militant mood, and another large meeting was held at the University. It was now decided that future activity should be organised in a group which was explicitly to be open to everyone even if they had no connection past or present with the University. This allowed membership to non student activists such as Mr. Farrell and Mr. McCann, both former students of Queen’s. There would be a committee without executive powers, but decisions would be taken by those who attended meetings. The idea, we were told, was to get rid of the previous leaders and to elect persons who could not be attacked by Mr. Craig. The name ‘People’s Democracy’ was not coined for a few days but the body itself was now in existence. The meeting on 9th October decided that a march to the City Hall would be held on 12th October, and Miss Bernadette Devlin, then a student at Queen’s, volunteered to give the requisite notice to the police.
60. It is unnecessary to describe the developments of the next two months in detail. At first People’s Democracy had very wide support at the University. A moderate group organised postponement till 16th October of the march arranged for the 12th, in order to lower the political temperature, This march was re-routed away from Shaftesbury Square but it reached the City Hall without incident. At least 1,300 people took part, including many Protestants. After this period moderate support tended to diminish and the size of meetings declined. ‘People’s Democracy’ meetings continued however to take place at the Students’ Union of the University, which is controlled by the Students Representative Council. People’s Democracy was not, of course, a normal or officially recognised University society, since most of its effective direction was outside student hands.
61. In paragraphs 194 - 204 we describe more fully the leadership and objectives of People’s Democracy. Here we need only say that many of its leading and influential members were an extremist element in the Civil Rights movement. They were prepared to make use of what they regarded as all methods of ‘non violent protest’, whatever the repercussions in the Civil Rights movement as a whole. During November they organised another march to the City Hall, which led to conflict with ‘Paisleyites’ and the police. They also sent groups to country towns such as Omagh, Dungannon and Newry. These frequently attracted violence. At the same time it is fair to say that Mr. Kevin Boyle, a lecturer in law at Queen’s University. who emerged as a leader at this stage represented a more moderate element than Mr. Farrell or Mr. McCann.
SEQUELS IN LONDONDERRY TO THE DEMONSTRATIONS ON 5th OCTOBER
62. The situation in Londonderry after 6th October was stabilised mainly by the activities of Mr. John Hume. He was invited to join the group which had organised the march on 5th October, but insisted that, if he were to join, its basis should be greatly broadened. He himself was present at the march but not in a leading position. A representative meeting was held on 9th October, with Mr. McCann in the chair. It was decided to form a committee of fifteen, which would represent the five organisations locally responsible for the organisation of 5th October, and ten other individuals. In fact, a committee of sixteen was chosen. It called itself the Deny Citizens Action Committee. Mr. McCann declined to take part, his opinion being that the new committee was middle-aged, middle-class and ‘middle of the road’.
63. The new committee decided to avoid any action which had been contemplated for 12th October, but to hold a ‘sit down’ in the Londonderry Diamond on 19th October. This decision led to the resignation of the only Unionist on the committee. Mr. Hume took the view that a ‘sit down’ was a very peaceful form of demonstration, and in the event the 19th October passed off quietly. Speakers took the opportunity to outline their strategy for build-up of marches and meetings in Londonderry.
64. The next step in the strategy was a march by the remaining fifteen committee members from the Waterside Station to the Diamond. This took place on 2nd November, and was accompanied by large numbers of supporters. not to speak of some relatively peaceful opposition by Protestant extremists. However, the police successfully kept the peace between the groups. A week later, on 9th November, Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting held a march to the Diamond. The Derry Citizens Action Committee advised its supporters to stay away and this march too was peaceful.
65. The final phase in the opening up of Londonderry to free procession by the Action Committee occurred after the announcement of a major procession from the Waterside Station to the Diamond on 16th November. On 13th November the Minister of Home Affairs had decided to prohibit all processions within the Walls of Londonderry for a month. We discuss the wisdom of this move in paragraphs 166 - 167 and need only comment here that it was followed by much the largest procession which we had to consider. Altogether at least 15,000 people took part, and violence was only narrowly avoided. The procession stopped at a short distance from police barriers erected in Carlisle Square. The barriers were manned by a detachment of police which, however, would have been powerless to maintain them if the marchers had been minded to make a determined and violent assault.
66. In accordance with the plea of the organising committee, the procession being halted short of the barrier, a token breach of the barriers was made by a few chosen members of the parade, while the remainder of the crowd were advised by Mr. flume to make their way individually to the Diamond. This they did without further incident and a sit-down meeting took place in the Diamond. Thereafter the crowd were advised to and did disperse.
67. Up to this point the marches after 5th October in Londonderry had been controlled very successfully by the Derry Citizens Action Committee. There had been no effective intervention by either left wing groups or the Paisleyites. Everyone concerned has paid tribute to the committee’s first rate stewarding and sense of crowd psychology. However, during the days after 16th November this control showed signs of crumbling. There were several spontaneous marches and threats of marches, and had it not been for the ingenuity of the Derry Citizens Action Committee, and in particular of Mr. Hume, there would almost certainly have been serious social and communal violence. The situation was greatly eased by the reforms announced by the Government on 22nd November, particularly since these included a decision to supersede Londonderry Corporation and replace it by a nominated Commission. The Derry Citizens Action Committee were opposed to spontaneous marching, and took the opportunity given by Captain O’Neill’s broadcast on 9th December to announce that marches would be discontinued for a month. For the next few weeks Londonderry was relatively calm.
DUNGANNON 23rd NOVEMBER AND 4th DECEMBER 1968
68. While these events were taking place in Londonderry, two further incidents occurred in Dungannon, on 23rd November and 4th December 1968. The affair on 23rd November arose from a People’s Democracy meeting which was to be held in the Dunowen Restaurant, which is situated in Market Square there. This meeting was perfectly legal, but a hostile group in Market Square attacked a lady who was setting up loudspeaker equipment to announce the meeting, threatened Mr. Jack Hassard, an Urban Councillor who works in the Post Office in the Square, and entered the Dunowen Restaurant where they behaved violently and abusively. There is a sharp conflict of evidence about the actions of the police that afternoon. The police say they had only about eight constables available and (as is the fact) that they had succeeded in protecting Mr. Hassard and clearing the Dunowen Restaurant, but that they did not see the attack on the lady with the loudspeaker equipment. They had also to deal with several other incidents. There is no disagreement that at a certain stage there was a large and hostile crowd in Market Square, that these included various well-known Protestant extremists, including Major Bunting, and that the behaviour of these people was violent and irresponsible.
69. On the whole we accept that the police were unable to take firmer action that afternoon, but we think it is unfortunate that no charges were laid and that police disapproval of the extreme Protestant elements was not more marked. With hindsight, it is of course obvious that the number of police available was much too small to enable them effectively to control a situation brought about by the activities of these extremists.
70. The episode on 4th December occurred during the evening, when about 500 people attended a meeting to establish a local Civil Rights committee in the Parochial Hall, Union Lane, a short distance from the Square. While this was taking place, about 200/300 Protestant extremists had gathered in Market Square. The police intervened to keep the groups apart when there was a rush from the Civil Rights meeting of people who had heard a rumour that their cars were in danger from the crowd in Market Square. There was a period of spontaneous stone-throwing, from both sides, and at one point a shot fired by a member of a Protestant crowd narrowly missed a press cameraman at whom it was aimed. Later that night Mr. Hassard’s car was attacked when he entered Market Square. The man who fired the shot was arrested and charged with a firearms offence, and five summonses were issued. The person charged in respect of the shooting was remanded on bail, but further proceedings against him were later dropped under the Government’s general amnesty of 5th May 1969 (see Appendix VII).
71. Here again we have to note that too few police were available to carry out their peacekeeping role successfully, since there were only about thirty available on the ground before a platoon of the Reserve Force was called in. There is also evidence which we accept - indeed it was not denied - that certain members of the U.S.C., including at least one officer, not on duty, were present among the crowd, which was engaged in hostile demonstration and stone-throwing against the Civil Rights supporters.
ARMAGH 30th NOVEMBER 1968
72. Armagh, the ancient ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, contains the residences of both the Roman Catholic and Protestant Archbishops. It has a markedly happy and peaceful record, even though for many years its electoral arrangements have ensured a Unionist administration in a town where the electoral relation of Catholic and Protestant is not reflected in local authority representation (paragraph 134). In the recent past the Council has practised a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ by which Councillors allocate houses in their own wards (i.e. Catholic in Catholic and Protestant in Protestant). In total the Council’s housing record is not unsatisfactory.
73. The events of October in Londonderry and elsewhere inspired the formation in Armagh of a local Civil Rights Committee. Its initial impetus came partly from a group of prominent Republicans, including certain members of the Irish Republican Army. On 8th November a public meeting was held at Troddens Hotel. This was attended by representatives of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association from Belfast, in addition to prominent Nationalists such as Senator Lennon and Mr. Austin Currie, M.P. There were also a number of Independents, as well as some Republicans. The meeting confirmed the appointment of an ad hoc ‘Committee of 26’, decided on the route of a proposed march and appointed a local Sub-Committee to make the arrangements. The route was notified to the police on the same thy by a Mr. Denis Cassin of Armagh, and by Mr. Frank Gogarty (now Chairman of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association).
74. During the next few weeks the local Sub-Committee completed arrangements for organising the march. The chief marshal was Mr. Denis Cassin, himself known for his Republican views, and in the event there were to be about 300 stewards, many of them with known Republican sympathies. The route of the march was modified slightly after discussion with the police (see map in Appendix VIII). However, the police regarded it as reasonable, as the revised route had frequently been marched over in the past by various Nationalist organisations. The responsible local police officers did not consider that the route, or the proposed action of the demonstrators, was in any real sense provocative or likely to lead to public disorder or breach of the peace. The only banner or emblem which was to be displayed, according to the application presented to the police, was a banner marked with the Civil Rights motto. There was in particular no question of the exhibition of the Republican tricolour.
75. The situation however, in 1968, was one of increased tension in Armagh between Catholic and Protestant, and according to the police evidence, which we had no reason to doubt, that tension had been increasing since Easter, when a Republican procession had been banned by the Minister of Home Affairs. The ban however was not enforced by physical force on the part of the police. There was no violence during the parade, but certain prosecutions were initiated thereafter in respect of the breach of the ban imposed.
The evidence which was furnished to us left a clear impression in our minds that not only was there this increase of tension in the political atmosphere in Armagh consequent upon the parade of Easter 1968 and its defiance of the ministerial ban, but that there appeared to be very obvious complacency in Unionist circles, and a belief that Roman Catholics had no real basis for complaints of discrimination in housing or in any other direction. The setting up of a Civil Rights Committee in Armagh introduced a new element into a political scene in which there was no history in the immediate past of any serious violence at any sectarian or political parade or procession. There had been, over the years. mutual respect amongst the parties of areas which were recognised as reserved for demonstrations or parade by the Catholic and Protestant elements in the population respectively.
76. Local Orange and Unionist leaders made representations to the police that the march should be banned by the Minister. These people maintained that the march could only lead to ‘trouble’, although they themselves did not support a physical protest. However Dr. Paisley and a Mr. Douglas Hutchinson, an influential local figure, had an interview of a different sort with the police on 19th November. Dr. Paisley protested that the police could even contemplate allowing the parade, said that the Government had lost control of the situation in Londonderry where the Walls had just been breached several times in spite of the Minister’s order, and that the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee had made their plans for ‘appropriate action’ in Armagh. The police were in no doubt that Dr. Paisley intended a trial of strength on 30th November, and that if the police did not stop the march he intended to do so himself. Dr. Paisley’s attitude to the police was aggressive and threatening.
77. During the next few days there were other signs that the march would meet opposition. Signatures were obtained for a statement objecting to the march. Then many shops in Armagh found a red printed notice pushed through their letter-box. It was in the following terms:
Then on 28th November the police found that about 20 posters in the following terms had been put up in Armagh:
*(i.e. Ulster Constitution Defence Committee)
The police took down a good many of these, which led to protests from Dr. Paisley. On the same day Major Bunting proposed a trooping of colour and cavalcade’ from English Street via Cathedral Road to Nialls Crescent, to take place during the afternoon of 30th November. When the application was made to the police it was quite apparent to them that the area which it was proposed to traverse was one which was provocative in the extreme, in the sense that it was within an area traditionally reserved for Catholic parades and demonstrations. It is difficult to imagine that this fact was not known to the organisers of this proposed ‘trooping of the colour’ and it is obvious that this was an action which was designed either to produce a total ban on both demonstrations or, if that did not take place, to lead to such a confrontation between the opposing factions as would in all probability lead to an outbreak of sectarian violence. The numbers of the demonstrators were such that it would be very difficult for the police to maintain order and that, in the event of serious disorder breaking out, injury to persons including members of the hard-pressed police force, as well as damage to property, could be readily expected. Accordingly, this proposed march was postponed by the District inspector till later in the afternoon of 30th November, and re-routed to the Mall and a normal ‘loyalist’ route.
78. This series of proposed counter measures leaves no room for doubt that Dr. Paisley was threatening violent opposition to the proposed Civil Rights march. The posters came from the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, of which he is Chairman. The plain inference is that the leaflets came from the same source. Major Bunting described the contingents for ‘trooping of colour’ as ‘Apprentices and Fellowcraft’. ‘Tubal Cain Group (Masters and Purplemen)’ and ‘Knights of Freedom’, but these titles appear to represent Major Bunting’s fantasies, and Major Bunting’s supporters were Dr. Paisley’s. Again let it be emphasised that there was nothing in the proposals of the organisers of the Civil Rights march to suggest that they contemplated the use of force or the display of provocative emblems or banners, nor was there any expectation of trouble by the police from the conduct of the marchers.
79. The events of 30th November began at about I a.m., when Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting arrived in Armagh with 20 or 30 cars. The cars were parked around Thomas Street and Market Street, and for the rest of the night about 130 people stayed in the area, sitting in the cars, walking to keep warm, and talking in small groups. In reply to a police query Dr. Paisley said he proposed to hold a religious meeting and did not intend to interfere with anyone. The police very reasonably disbelieved this statement, but felt they had no grounds for legal proceedings. Those present could not be proved to be Dr. Paisley’s followers.
80. Next morning the police had arranged for a force of 350 men to be in Armagh by 9.30 a.m. Their plan was to seal off the processional route from interference, and have road blocks on nine roads leading into Armagh. The road blocks were in place by 8 a.m., and the police searches detected two revolvers as well as 220 other weapons, such as bill-hooks, pipes hammered into sharp points and scythes. All these were seized. The groups standing in Scotch Street and Thomas Street were now seen to he carrying weapons such as sticks and large pieces of timber. Dr. Paisley carried a blackthorn stick and Major Bunting a black walking stick. The police inferred from the results at the road blocks that some firearms were being carried among the crowd which had gathered.
81. At about 11.15 a.m. Thomas Street was blocked by a lorry. Then at 11.30.a.m. Dr. Paisley complained to the District Inspector that he was being prevented, without legal authority, from holding his religious meeting in Market Street. The District Inspector said he had ample legal grounds, and shortly afterwards went over to Thomas Street. A religious service which included hymn singing was apparently in progress. The District Inspector told the group that in his opinion they were an unlawful assembly, because they were armed and giving reasonable grounds for expecting violence to result. He called on them to disperse. Dr. Paisley contested the description of the group as unlawful. The District Inspector again called on them to disperse, and to move the lorry back to Scotch Street, but without result. He took no direct action to disperse the crowd because he felt peace later in the day would be best preserved if the Paisleyites remained in a single group.
82. At this stage the police still hoped to get the Civil Rights march through, if necessary by a re-routing up Upper Irish Street and down to Market Street. However, at about 1 p.m. the situation deteriorated, because at least 1,000 people made a way from the Mall through an inadequately blocked alley and emerged at Market Street. The crowd again refused to disperse, although Dr. Paisley quietened them to let the District Inspector speak. Shortly afterwards County Inspector Sherrard decided that the Civil Rights march would have to be halted. Two barriers about 75 yards apart were placed in Thomas Street to form a ‘no man’s land’ between the Paisleyites and the oncoming procession.
83. At least 5,000 Civil Rights marchers had assembled at Killyleagh Road. They moved off at about 2.50 p.m. The County Inspector explained the position at Thomas Street to some of the leaders. The Committee accepted his view that the march could not go through. Then the County Inspector returned to Thomas Street, put his police behind the barriers, and walked alone towards the marchers, and by invitation explained the position to the crowd. Very fortunately the van at the head of the procession was stopped some distance from the police barrier, at a point where the speakers could be heard by the crowd, but where the crowd could not actually see the counter demonstrators. The decision to halt the march was eventually accepted, although the stewards had some rough work in halting the procession. Several speeches were then made. At certain stages a youthful element threatened to break the police barricade, but the speakers and stewards managed to restore relative order. When the Civil Rights meeting ended the stewards dispersed the crowd by linking arms and gradually moving the crowd back. This process was well under way by 4.30 p.m. Owing to the care with which the situation was handled by the local officers of the police the two factions were successfully kept apart. It is significant that the police observed no weapons of any kind being carried or displayed by members of the Civil Rights demonstration. On the other hand there was ample evidence that many of the counter demonstrators were armed with cudgels of all kinds, some of which were studded with nails. Indeed an I.T.A. cameraman was clubbed with a home-made baton which had been lead filled and taped. Later, the police laid a number of charges of unlawful assembly against counter demonstrators including Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting.
84. There was a subsidiary scuffle later in the day in the vicinity of the Roman Catholic Cathedral, which is in a predominantly Catholic area. The police had arranged that buses bringing the counter demonstrators into Armagh should be parked at the Gaol Square end of the Mall. By some mischance two of these buses either did not receive the instructions or ignored them, and were parked in the immediate vicinity of the Cathedral. As might be expected there was an atmosphere of considerable tension in Armagh on that day, and when certain of the supporters of Major Bunting and Dr. Paisley, themselves armed with cudgels, were making their way to these two buses they were attacked by a stone-throwing group or crowd and a small riot arose which, had it not been rapidly quelled, would have had serious consequences. The police on the spot found it necessary to charge the rioters and disperse them by a baton charge so that the buses and their occupants were finally got away from the vicinity of Cathedral Road. Here again the police were faced with a difficult situation not of their creation, though it would appear that several persons received injuries in the course of the baton charge. It was at this time that a B.B.C. camera was smashed allegedly by deliberate action on the part of a policeman or policemen. A claim for damages against the local authority in respect of the loss occasioned thereby succeeded in subsequent legal proceedings. Similar claims in respect of personal injuries based also on allegations of police violence were subsequently settled by the local authority.
LOCAL CAUSES OF ARMAGH DISORDER
85. While the root causes of the trouble in Armagh are similar to those of all the disorders under investigation, the precipitating causes of what took place differ in considerable degree from those operating elsewhere.
86. In our judgment it is plain that there was a carefully organised and determined scheme to ensure that if the proposed Civil Rights march took place, even with the permission of the police and therefore the presumed authority of the Ministry of Home Affairs, those participating in it would be subjected to attempts to prevent their achieving their lawful and authorised purpose. That unlawful violence was to be apprehended and that unlawful violence was intended, is proved by the action taken by the police to seal off the route of the proposed march, as well as by the terms of the published posters and leaflets distributed to shops and business houses on the published route several days beforehand. The complaints made to the police by Dr. Paisley of the removal by police officers of certain of these posters is evidence that he was cognisant of what was intended and expected, while his presence in Armagh along with Major Bunting and a mob of armed followers can leave no doubt that the organisation with which he and Major Bunting are associated was responsible for the gathering and presence of this concentration in Armagh. That the organisation was widespread and effective is shown by the conveyance to Armagh through the night and in the early hours of the morning, of people from widely separated areas of the province.
87. Had it not been for the skilled and effective deployment of the available force of police and the careful planning of the District Inspector we have no doubt that very grave disorder would have disgraced the streets of Armagh on this day. On this occasion the marchers remained within the control of their organisers and leaders, and dispersed without an attempt to challenge the authority of the police. The fact remains that the police could not guarantee the physical safety of the marchers against the obvious menace of unlawful violence. For this the actions of Dr. Paisley, Major Bunting and their associates and supporters bear direct responsibility.
88. The subsequent minor riot in Cathedral Road arose out of the unfortunate error in the parking of two of the buses which had brought supporters of the counter demonstration to Armagh. Some of these supporters in seeking their vehicle were subjected to attack, whether from angry and frustrated Civil Rights demonstrators alone or from a hooligan element, or from a mixture of both, is not wholly clear, although it is clear that certain responsible citizens, supporters of the Civil Rights movement, did their best, though without success, to halt the trouble and avoid a more serious attack on the buses and their intending passengers. In this outbreak the immediate and precipitating cause was this unjustified stone throwing, and responsibility for this lies on those who began it, even though in circumstances which were themselves provocative. The action of the police did not cause the trouble, and as matters developed it would be impossible to criticise adversely the decision to clear the street and disperse the stone throwers with a baton charge. In our opinion the conduct of the police and the handling of the situation by the officers in charge on that day deserve commendation apart from a few isolated incidents of indiscipline and misconduct in the later disturbance in the vicinity of the Roman Catholic Cathedral. The situation in Armagh on that day was critical and any mishandling by the police could and almost certainly would have precipitated a riot of the most serious character and consequences.
PEOPLE'S DEMOCRACY MARCH BELFAST-LONDONDERRY, lst-4th JANUARY 1969
89. After the Government announced its reform programme on 22nd November, and again after Captain O’Neill’s television appeal for support on 9th December, People’s Democracy declared itself totally unsatisfied, stressing the importance of further local government reform and the evils of bad housing and unemployment, especially West of the Bann. These moves came at a time when the Derry Citizens Action Committee was trying to lower the temperature in Londonderry and had called off marches. It is true that a massive march in Belfast on 14th December was called off by the People’s Democracy, but this seems to have occurred because a large number of moderates were organised into attending the decisive meeting. On the other hand there were apparently several meetings about the proposal initiated by Mr. Farrell to march from Belfast to Londonderry, and this was only finally decided at a small meeting held on or about 20th December in the University which reversed an earlier decision to the contrary effect carried at a much more largely attended meeting. Its lack of a responsible committee in control left the People’s Democracy open to these sudden changes of policy. However even if the People’s Democracy had decided against the march, the members of the Young Socialists Alliance had decided to march themselves.
90. The decision taken was that the march would start on 1st January, arriving in Londonderry on Saturday, 4th January. There was predictable opposition from Unionists, but in addition several Nationalist leaders, including Mr. McAteer, were also opposed to it, because of the violence it was expected to involve. The Deny Citizens Action Committee were also unenthusiastic, but they agreed to provide some sort of welcome for the marchers. However the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association supported the march with a donation of £25. Captain Long (the Minister of Home Affairs) tried to dissuade the organisers from their project but imposed no ban. The police had no definite threats of violence, although they expected it to develop at certain points. The members of the People’s Democracy, however, said they merely expected groups to come out and say ‘Boo’ and ‘Go home’. Such naivety we find surprising.
91. Organisation was in the hands of Mr. Farrell and Mr. Loudon Seth (later prominent as election agent for Miss Bernadette Devlin). Food and accommodation were provided by sympathisers. A mini-bus and cars were to accompany the march. In the event they carried the tired, completed day-to-day organisation, reconnoitred the route and negotiated with the authorities.
92. The story of the march is well known. But what happened must be described reasonably fully, because it illustrates the latent fears and antagonisms which complicate policy making in Northern Ireland.
93. About eighty marchers started from Belfast on 1st January. At one stage the march had been led by Major Bunting, with a smile, a few followers and a Union Jack. It did not take long for the element of good humour to disappear from the proceedings. At the boundary of Antrim the police had noticed individuals waiting for the marchers to approach. These were not organised and had no leaders, although Major Bunting soon appeared. One group was banging the traditional ‘Lambeg’ drum. When the marchers arrived there were over a hundred of these people, and the police concluded that only substantial use of force could clear a passage. Eventually police transport was offered to bring the marchers to a Hibernian Hall near Randalstown, and this was accepted. The marchers felt strongly that the police should have got them through the crowd directly, since traffic was able to pass freely.
94. During the night a token party of objectors to the march at Randalstown remained on the watch. This grew in the morning and kept just short of violence. The police would not attempt to force a passage but persuaded the marchers to transport themselves to Toomebridge. The marchers again felt that if road traffic could be given a passage the police should have been able to get them through. Major Bunting had again been in evidence, but at Toomebridge, a small village with Republican traditions, his car was damaged, and some local supporters joined the march with a Republican flag, to the annoyance of the People’s Democracy leaders. The march continued along the main road to Londonderry but was diverted away from Knockloughrim, a strongly Protestant community where there was a large hostile crowd, and then followed, under police direction, a complicated series of country roads which led to a point near Maghera called Gulladuff. At several points there had been hostile groups of up to 150 people attempting to stop the marchers, but the police prevented this, with some help at Ballydermott from Major Bunting. Finally, since it was now dark, and the day had been a long one, the marchers went by car to a hall at Brackaghreilly on the far side of Maghera. That evening there was a sectarian riot in Maghera, with threats of violence against the marchers, and clashes between groups each numbering several hundred. The police had the thankless and difficult task of keeping these groups apart.
95. The next day was less dramatic for the marchers. They were by now in a hilly Catholic area, where they could expect strong local support. Initially they had intended to go back beyond Maghera and march through the town. The police prevented this. There was a token attempt to breach the police barriers, and then the marchers headed over the Glenshane Pass to Dungiven. The weather was excellent and at Dungiven their total had grown to over 500. The police directed them to take a road to Claudy which avoided certain villages. The marchers held their usual meeting, but eventually decided they had had enough of police re-routing. The police line was broken and the marchers took the road by Feeny to Claudy. At Dungiven pepper was thrown by some person or persons at the police, but possibly not by any member of the People’s Democracy. We were interested to hear that one of the marchers was Mr. Gerard Lawless, a well-known agitator and Republican extremist who passed himself off as ‘Sean Reid’. His voice was constantly against acceptance of police re-routings, but the leaders found him a nuisance, and we do not think he had much influence on the course of the march.
96. The march had been receiving a large measure of publicity, and Dr. Paisley on that day urged the Minister of Home Affairs at an interview (described by the Minister as ‘congenial’) at which Major Bunting was also present, that its final stage should be banned. By now tempers were rising in Londonderry and that night (3rd January) there was a riot outside the Guildhall, where Dr. Paisley was holding a religious meeting. In this riot supporters of Major Bunting as well as riotous elements in Londonderry took part. This riot, contrary to an assertion made by Major Bunting at the time, was not incited or fomented in any way by an organization concerned with Civil Rights or any responsible local body. It arose out of a combination of sectarian feeling brought out by the fact of Dr. Paisley’s meeting being held on that date in the Guildhall and of the gathering of irresponsible and lawless elements many of whom were influenced by drink. The windows of the Guildhall were smashed and the men inside the hall were apprehensive for their safety and that of the women and children who were present. Major Bunting in addressing the audience and instructing them to organise for defence of their women and children as they left the hall stated that the rioters outside were a Civil Rights mob. Improvised weapons were obtained by breaking up chairs and stair bannisters and in a protective formation the audience attempted to leave the hail. There was a serious mêlée in the Guildhall Square and although Mr. Hume and others associated with him in the Citizens Action Committee endeavoured, in assisting the efforts of the police, to get the rioters to disperse they were not successful. In the course of this disturbance Major Bunting’s car was burnt. Those inside the Guildhall included women and children, and the evening raised tension and fear on the Paisleyite side. At the meeting Major Bunting called on as many people as possible to be at Brackfield Church at 9.30 the next morning ‘to see the marchers on their way’, as well as to join the Ulster Protestant Volunteers. Brackfield Church is on the main road from Claudy to Londonderry and is not far from Burntollet Bridge.
97. On the morning of 4th January the marchers in Claudy met for an hour to consider whether the march should be called off. They were very tired, and although they were told that in Londonderry there were fears of communal violence they decided to march the last few miles to the city.
98. At Cumber cross-roads they were warned by District Inspector Hood that there was a hostile crowd at Burntollet Bridge and that there was a risk of stone-throwing from the fields which slope steeply down to the road beyond the bridge. The marchers decided to go forward. A party of police went in front of them. The marchers were told to keep well to the right-hand side of the road. At the bridge there were men with home-made weapons. The marchers in front were to some extent protected by the police presence. Those behind were not. Some at the end of the march broke away into the fields to the left and were attacked by individuals there. The casualties among the marchers were substantial, and several were taken to hospital. The police recorded personal injuries to thirteen people but this list is certainly incomplete.
99. This was, of course, a disgraceful episode. Yet it would be hard to treat it as the responsibility of a few individuals. At one stage Major Bunting appears to have tried to prevent violence at Burntollet Bridge. This action is difficult to understand in view of his statements of the previous evening. In any case his appeal, such as it was, was useless to stop the violence which broke out in which he himself later was seen to take part.
100. The final stage of the march was interrupted by further violence. This occurred at Irish Street, on the outskirts of Londonderry. Among those present was the Rev. John Brown, a District Commandant, as we have previously noted, in the U.S.C. The part taken by him in the events here is subject of controversy. Here there was even more stone-throwing than there had been at Burntollet. Some Londonderry people who had joined the march replied in kind to a limited extent. Thereafter a reception committee from the Derry Citizens Action Committee arrived, and the march, now largely disorganised, was escorted to Londonderry Guildhall. It had been intended to go by way of Bishop Street to the Diamond. This would certainly have caused further violence. However, the marchers wisely decided to follow a route by Foyle Street. At least another thirteen people among the marchers at Irish Street were injured but here again this is certainly incomplete.
101. Having said this we would add that we consider the protection afforded them by the police was not always adequate. We believe that a more determinded effort could have been made to get the marchers through Antrim, and probably Randalstown, although in the situation as it actually developed we agree that the re-routings near Toomebridge and Maghera were essential. We do not think a useful purpose was served by the attempted re-routing at Dungiven. As for Burntollet and Irish Street, we think it is clear that the police were taken by surprise at the scale of the attacks on the march, that the march had heavily overstrained their available resources and that, not expecting the march to get so far, or their numbers by that time to be so great, they neglected to make adequate use of their opportunities for forward planning to meet and deal with the events which occurred and might have been foreseen. We are convinced that a serious effort was made to protect the marchers at Burntollet, but we think that the scale of the crisis developing in the Londonderry area on 3rd and 4th January may not have been realized quickly enough. it is possible that the police, like others, under-rated the determination of the marchers, and that, as they did not really expect them to get as far as Londonderry, the senior officers omitted to take adequate and timeous measures to provide the necessary protection from physical interference from the opponents of the march.
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