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Cameron Report - Disturbances in Northern Ireland
Chapters 10 to 16



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Text: Lord Cameron ... Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh

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Chapter 10

NEWRY 11th JANUARY 1969

102. The disturbance which took place in Newry on 11th January 1969 differed substantially in origin from those which preceded and followed it. In the first place Newry is a town with a substantial Catholic majority in its population of 12.200 and is controlled by a Council whose members are mainly Catholics. In the next place most witnesses were agreed that a determined, and on the whole successful, effort had been, and was being, made to deal with the local housing problem of Newry. Here, as in other areas, a so-called ‘gentleman’s agreement’ was in operation governing the allocation of houses by Councillors in their own wards, but this did not operate on exclusively sectarian lines in Newry. Further, it would appear that relations between Catholic and Protestant were good if not cordial, up to the time of the disorders. Very few Protestants were employed by the Council, but then very few of the substantial number of unemployed in the area were Protestants.

103. Although, as in most of the towns in Northern Ireland, certain streets and areas are still regarded as predominantly Catholic or Protestant territory, the routes taken by the numerous processions and parades which take place throughout the year are regulated by custom and do not usually lead to disorder or trouble.

104. It was in this town that a People’s Democracy local committee was set up in November 1968. Its origin can be traced to an uninvited visit of a People’s Democracy group which held public meetings in Newry on 9th November, in order to publicise their aims and establish a temporary local committee. At another meeting on 15th November a chairman and committee of 18 was appointed. The Chairman elected was Mr. Thomas Keane, a school teacher, and the committee contained several other teachers and indeed four sixth-formers at local schools. None of the committee had very strong political affiliations except for one prominent Republican. None of the members were Protestants.

105. The decision to hold a march in Newry on 11th January 1969 was taken at a public meeting in December, and on 19th December verbal preliminary notice was given to the police on behalf of the committee. The march was to be a protest against the denial of civil rights, and in addition against alleged nepotism by Councillors in the Newry area, discriminatory employment policies by local public bodies, and the high level of local unemployment.

106. On 30th December the police were told that the committee had called off the march, because of lack of local support and organising difficulties at the holiday season. After the events in Londonderry on 4th and 5th January. following the People’s Democracy march from Belfast, this decision was reversed and the police were given formal notification on 6th January that the notification would take place on the 11th.

107. The route of the march is shown in Appendix VIII. It caused controversy only because it included Merchants Quay, Sugar Island and Kildare Street. These streets are in the Unionist North Ward of the town, but they form a business area, and while they were not normally followed by Catholic or Nationalist processions, there can be no doubt that local Unionist opinion felt that the march should be free to follow them on 11th January. This view was accepted by the police authorities in Newry. However, a decision to re-route was taken at a meeting on 9th January held at police headquarters in Belfast. This decision was based on information that a counter demonstration was planned by people from outside Newry, and in fact Major Bunting gave notice that day of a ‘trooping of colours and cavalcade’ which was to pass through Newry at the time of the proposed People’s Democracy march. This demonstration was to be organised by ‘The Loyal Citizens of Ulster’ and was to comprise about 1,000 people in a colour party and support parties.

108. Major Bunting did not formally withdraw this notice, but he must have decided to abandon the counter demonstration by the evening of 9th January because this decision was reported in the press on 10th January. It is not clear why he did so, as the only senior police officer in contact with him on that day denied that he informed Major Bunting of any decision to re-route the demonstration. The local police feared that a public announcement to re-route would suggest that a bargain had been made with Major Bunting. They were assured by senior officers that this was not the case, but that the decision to re-route must stand. The notice of re-routing was accordingly issued on the afternoon of the 10th. The police arranged to put barricades across Merchants Quay and at other points along and near the prescribed route. Their object was to ensure that the prescribed route was followed and to prevent any counter demonstrators reaching the line of march.

109. The grounds for this decision have been widely canvassed. We do not feel that our investigations have completely resolved the matter. We know that the decision to re-route on 9th January was only known to a few senior police officers, including the then Head of Special Branch; and also that the Head of the Special Branch saw Major Bunting that day. It is natural to infer that, while nothing was said at that interview to Major Bunting to inform him of the actual decision to re-route, sufficient may have passed to indicate that the counter demonstration was now, from Major Bunting’s point of view, unnecessary. At all events we are satisfied that the decision to re-route was taken exclusively by police headquarters, and that there was no intervention by the Minister.

110. On the morning of 11th January a representative deputation saw the police authorities in Newry. These included people of most political views in the town, including Unionists and the People’s Democracy organisers. The organisers then agreed for the first time to accept re-routing, if there were signs of counter demonstration. The police put this proposal to their headquarters but again the decision was to let the re-routing stand.

111.The Newry People’s Democracy Committee had attracted widespread support for the march. During the days following the attack at Burntollet, and the Londonderry riots, public interest was at its highest. Large numbers of television and press men arrived in Newry, and the chief steward, a well known Republican, obtained large parties of stewards from other areas of the province. There was support from all sections of the Civil Rights movement.

112. The local committee decided that they would not accept a re-routing, but that there should be a token breach of the police barricade. Then the marchers would sit down, and would be told that the Town Hall, the Labour Exchange and the office of Newry No. 2 Rural District Council, had been occupied. The plans for these occupations of public buildings were only disclosed to selected stewards, but it was intended to announce what had been done to the marchers, in order to ease the situation if the march was halted. The chief marshal had unofficial plans for occupation of public buildings by the marchers.

113. None of these arrangements were carried out. The organisers arrived only a few minutes before the planned start of the march at 3.30 p.m. The loud-speaking equipment did not work. They had no lorry from which to speak. The more experienced Civil Rights campaigners wished to explain the situation to the 6,000 people present, before the march moved off, but this could not be done effectively in the circumstances. Leaflets however had been circulated which asked the marchers to sit down and await the decision of the stewards if there was a confrontation with the police. The march moved off late, and the leaders had difficulty in reaching the police barricades at Merchants Quay because there were already a large number of people blocking the route. The local organisers then formally asked for the removal of the barricades and were formally told by the District Inspector that the re-routing must stand.

114. At this stage, while speeches were being made, the leaders discussed what to do. The local organisers disclosed their plan to announce the token occupation of public buildings as a diversion, but it appeared that these occupations had not taken place, apart from two people being in the Town Hall. Even if these operations had been fully carried out, experienced leaders believed that the announcement would have been pointless as an effective diversion. No other alternative had been planned.

115. Meanwhile violence at Merchants Quay was increasing. Some speeches advocated violence against the barricades. Mr. Farrell, Mr. Kevin Boyle and Mr. John Hume, in different ways, recommended peaceful dispersal. While Mr. Hume was speaking his loudhailer was snatched from him, and a number of people attacked the police tenders. The stewards attempted to restrain these people but were outnumbered and untrained. The three police tenders blocking Merchants Quay were eventually burnt or pushed into the dock. Several tenders elsewhere were burnt or driven away. One of these raced down Merchants Quay towards the police, but at the last moment swung right across the bridge and was driven into some burning wreckage. There was sporadic violence in Newry until late that night.

116. The march itself had broken up much earlier. Many of those who attended had no idea of what happened later until they saw it on television. Mr. Farrell, however, was still in Newry and attempted to occupy the Post Office, and there were attempts to sit down on the Dublin Road. Meanwhile police remained behind crash barriers at Merchants Quay. The District Inspector was determined to minimise bad publicity for the police by keeping them apart from the marchers. Policemen who drew batons at critical moments were ordered to replace them. Finally however the Quay had to be cleared at about 9 p.m. by a baton charge.

LOCAL CAUSES OF NEWRY DISORDERS

117.The immediate causes of the disturbances in Newry were two-fold. First, was the decision to march through Sugar Island and the decision of the police to re-route from there after a threat of counter demonstration. Newry is a Catholic town with good community relations, and many felt that it was objectionable to re-route at what appeared to be the behest of Major Bunting. On the whole we think it would have been preferable not to have re-routed and to have taken strong measures against a counter demonstration.

118. The other cause of violence lay in the ineptitude and confused motivation of the organisers. Experienced leaders from elsewhere were appalled at the inefficient and inadequate arrangements. Quite apart from the failure of the local organisers to provide a lorry, an effective loudspeaker, or adequate and efficient stewards, there was a basic ambiguity in their aims. They had planned to ‘occupy’ public buildings to counterbalance the re-routing. 1 heir official view seems to have been that this would take place beforehand and would be produced as a diversion and trump card when the march halted at Merchants Quay. This plan could not have succeeded, but in the event most of the buildings were not occupied as planned. But the unofficial intention of some of the local leaders was to use the stewards to lead the marchers to occupy the public buildings. This plan too was almost bound to fail. In the event the organisers were confronted by an unorganised crowd which blocked their path at Merchants Quay, and by an extremist element among the marchers which was spoiling for an attack on the police. All plans having failed the march degenerated into a riot. For this the local organisers bear a strong responsibility.

119. A few days later the local committee resigned en bloc. Some of them were re-elected but these did not include the chief marshal.

120. The actions of the police in our considered judgment in no way contributed to the disorders which occurred that night. On the contrary it appears to us that they were handled with considerable restraint in very difficult circumstances. We endorse their tactics in avoiding a direct battle with the crowd when the tenders and barriers were being attacked, and we agree that the timing of their baton charge was appropriate. On this occasion the police showed that they had learned much about crowd control during the previous few months.

Report Contents


Chapter 11

EVENTS IN LONDONDERRY SUBSEQUENT TO 11th JANUARY

121. The distressing events in Londonderry on 19th and 20th April 1969 demand a brief reference. The North Londonderry Civil Rights Association had proposed a march on 19th April from Burntollet Bridge to Altnagelvin, near Londonderry. The police feared there might be violent opposition and the Minister banned the march. After a long meeting with the Minister the organisers agreed not to march.

122. However, meanwhile the situation in Londonderry had become tense. There was a ‘sit down’ protest during the afternoon at Shipquay Street. This was spontaneous, and Mr. Hume tried to disperse it. Then a group of Paisleyites, some of whom had been at Burntollet in case the march took place, gathered with a Union Jack at the Diamond. Stone throwing developed between the two groups. Further threats and outbreaks of violence developed at Victoria police station, at William Street and elsewhere. Eventually the police drove the rioters back to the Bogside area, and occupied various positions there in order to prevent further groups assembling. At one stage a policeman fired two shots. This occurred when his vehicle was surrounded and immobilised. It was widely believed by members of the Civil Rights movement that a house was hit by a bullet, though the police say the shots were fired into the air. By now it was after midnight, and both the police and the rioters had received many injuries.

123. The next morning there was an acute risk of very grave violence. That this was averted is due to the constructive actions of various responsible citizens, including church leaders and political representatives. It may be invidious to name a single individual, but Mr. Hume’s work in Londonderry since October has been so outstanding that it seems appropriate to name him. On 20th April, which was a Sunday, he realised that there was a strong chance of further rioting. There had been rumours of police violence and partiality the night before, including circumstantial statements of an attack by police on a family called Devenny in their own home in William Street. It was a very dangerous situation, since members of the police reserve force with their riot equipment took up their position in the Bogside at about 10 a.m. Mr. Hume then succeeded in persuading the residents to evacuate the Bogside area at 3 p.m. and assemble at the Creggan that afternoon for a meeting. This was an astonishing achievement, which reduced the risk of violence against the police, and gave the Bogside residents a more constructive object.

124. That afternoon there were two important meetings. At Creggan a very large crowd were addressed by various speakers, including Mr. Farrell and Mr. McCann, who called for a one day general strike in Londonderry. Meanwhile a smaller group of church and civic leaders were persuaded by Mr. Hume to ask the Minister of Home Affairs to withdraw the police from the Bogside, in exchange for an undertaking that peace would be preserved. Mr. Porter, the Minister, with what we would with respect call great political courage and wisdom, accepted the proposal, to the extent of withdrawal of the reserve force, although there were moments when the leading Londonderry people feared the people attending the Creggan meeting would reach the Bogside before the reserve force had been withdrawn. These actions were justified in the event and in the release of tension and of risk of grave disorder which might well have passed beyond control of the available police forces.

125. Although since that date there have been other and graver outbreaks of violence within the Province enquiry into these does not fall within our terms of reference.

Report Contents


Chapter 12

THE CAUSES OF THE DISORDERS

126. From the narrative of events, and the comments which we have made in the course of the narrative, it will be clear that the immediate causes of the outbreaks of violence which began on 5th October 1968, and their continuance thereafter, arose from a wide variety of sources. Some and not the least powerful, as we have found, are deep-rooted in the continuing pressure, in particular among Catholic members of the community, of a sense of resentment and frustration at the failure of representations for the remedy of social, economic and political grievances. On the other hand, among Protestants, equally deep-rooted suspicions and fears of political and economic domination by a future Catholic majority in the population calculated to build-up a dangerous, and politically explosive, sectarian tension. The friction generated by these differences, fears and resentments produced tensions which undoubtedly played an immediate and continuing part in producing the agitations which led to the violence of 5th October and thereafter. What was considered by many Catholics and others who had been pressing for certain political reforms as the failure or delay of Government to match promise and performance, introduced an element of disappointed expectation into the political atmosphere in the early summer months of 1968. In addition, we do not think it is wholly accidental that the events of last Autumn occurred at a time when throughout Europe, as well as in America, a wave of reaction against constituted authority in all its aspects, and in particular in the world of universities and colleges, was making itself manifest in violent protests, marches and street demonstrations of all kinds. The psychological effect of this example in other countries and other circumstances cannot be discounted.

127. It will be convenient to deal first with the part which the sense of resentment and grievances unredressed played in the causation of these outbreaks. In order to assess this, it is necessary to consider whether and to what extent that sense was artificially engendered or stimulated, and also the degree to which it appears to have a substantial basis. The weight and extent of the evidence which was presented to us concerned with social and economic grievance or abuses of political power was such that we are compelled to conclude that they had substantial foundation in fact and were in a very real sense an immediate and operative cause of the demonstrations and consequent disorders after 5th October 1968. For this reason we took careful note of this very large body of evidence coming as it did from many individuals and organisations, and in a number of cases supported by statistics and documents themselves factual and not open to challenge on the score of their accuracy. At the same time we have to emphasise that it was not within our power or remit to conduct a detailed enquiry or form concluded judgments into or upon individual claims of discrimination or abuse of power by prevalent majorities in certain local authorities, and we seek to pass no judgment on the many specific and individual cases which were brought under our notice. These in so far as they relate to matters of genuine grievance would appear to fall appropriately within the jurisdiction of the proposed machinery for dealing with grievances against local authorities. We should record however that in the evidence presented to us from many responsible individuals and bodies, predominantly Protestant and non-Nationalist in purpose or outlook, there was a frank recognition that this widespread sense of grievance among Catholic people in Northern Ireland was justified in fact and called urgently for remedy.

128. In large measure the general complaints made to us have traditional and historical roots, arising as they do from the permanent divisions in the community, and represent a protest against the tradition that Protestant and Catholic representatives ought primarily to look after ‘their own’ people. In the past for example it was considered natural that a Protestant Council would employ Protestants in all senior posts, and conversely that a Catholic-controlled Council would employ only Catholics. In the matter of local authority housing there has frequently been what is called a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ amongst members of certain local authorities that houses in Catholic wards would be allocated to Catholics by Catholic Councillors, and conversely in Protestant wards. Such practices at one time were accepted by almost all shades of opinion as representing a compromise way of life, but it is clear from the evidence we have heard that they are now increasingly felt to be open to objection as operating unjustly and tending to perpetuate rather than to heal or eliminate sectarian divisions. These grievances are in essence social and economic as well as political.

129. Much of the evidence of grievance and complaint which we heard, when analysed, was found, as might be expected, to be concentrated upon two major issues - housing and employment. ‘Jobs’ and ‘Houses’ are things that matter and touch the life of the ordinary man much more than issues of ‘one man one vote’ and the gerrymandering of ward boundaries. In both fields - work and housing - political intervention and discrimination against Catholics was alleged to be operative. In both fields Government action has now been either taken or promised - in urging upon local authorities the adoption and operation of a fair points system in the allocation of local authority housing, and the acceleration of housing programmes particularly in the city of Londonderry, and in undertaking that machinery should be set up for the investigation of grievances in matters of local government.

130. We have already noted the consequences of the so-called ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in the matter of house allocation. The effect of discrimination (by whichever party practised) in allocation of appointments in local government service is of course to deprive the party discriminated against of considerable income in areas where such employment is of material economic and social importance, and to this extent to exert pressure on persons who might otherwise expect employment locally to seek that employment elsewhere. The political implications of such a policy are obvious. Having regard to the weight and quality of the evidence we have heard and assessed, we are not only strongly of opinion that these complaints must be placed very high in the list of deeply felt and justified grievances and that their remedy, both by any necessary legislative or administrative action - if fairly carried out, and seen to be so carried out - would be a major step towards healing the communal divisions which lie so close to the root of these disorders and towards promoting, not only a greater sense of unity within this community but also, as a probable consequence, an increased measure on all sides of loyal acceptance of the Constitution of Northern Ireland.

Population, housing and local government representation figures in certain areas
from which complaints were received.

Local
Area
Authority

Population Census 1961

Population Census 1966 (Religion not recorded)

Council
Represen-
tation as at 30.9.1968

Housing built since 1 .6.1944 by local authorities and N.I. Housing Trust as at 30.9 .1968

Housing approved by 30.9.1968 but not yet started

Houses being built as at 30.9 .1968

All
persons

Total
R.C.

Total
Others

Adult
R.C.

Adult
Others

Total

Adults

Non-
Union
ists

Unionists

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

Armagh
U.D.C.

10,062

5,881

4,181

3,139

2,798

10,997

6,185

8

12

1,334

0

77

Dungannon
U.D.C.

6,511

3,276

3,235

1,845

2,041

7,335

4,276

7

14

901

0

20

Dungannon
R.D.C.

25,713

13,393

12,320

7,329

7,476

26,080

14,820

6

13 (plus 3 co-opted members)

1,277

115

32

Fermanagh Co. Council

51,531

27,442

24,109

15,884

15,222

49,886

29,910

17

33 (plus 2 co-opted members)

2,176

208

109

Londonderry

Co. Borough

53,762

36,073

17,689

18,432

11,340

55,694

30,106

8

12

3,887

66

218

Newry U.D.C.

12,429

10,414

2,015

5,843

1,364

12,208

7,007

12

6

1,855

104

126

Omagh U.D.C.

8,109

4,960

3,149

2,605

1,949

9,989

5,572

9

12

897

45

19

 

NEW HOUSING AT 30th SEPTEMBER 1968

Permanent houses and flats

Completed since 1st June 1944


By Public Authorities:

 

Local Authorities . . . . . . . . . .

60,059

N.I. Housing Trust . . . . . . . . .

39,535

New Town Commissions . . . . . .

408

Other public Agencies . . . . . . .

3,832

TOTAL . . . . . . .

103,834

By Private Enterprise . . . . . . . .

57,684

TOTAL . . . . . . .

161,518


Note: In addition to the above new building, 1,267 further dwellings were provided by conversion of existing buildings giving a total of 162,785 permanent houses and flats provided since 1st June, 1944.

 

Current Building

 

Completed during

Building at 30th Sept., 1968

Approved,
not started
at 30th
Sept, 1968

 

Quarter ended 30th Sept., 1968

Corresponding Quarter in 1967

By Public Authorities:

Local Authorities

1,443

1,478

6,320

2,036

N.I. Housing Trust

638

862

2,206

885

New Town Commissions

-

2

74

-

Other Agencies

17

21

207

7

         

TOTAL

2,098

2,363

8,807

2,928

By Private Enterprise

839

950

5,141

4,690

         

TOTAL

2,937

3,313

13,948

7,618

Note: These figures are gross and are not related to the total quantities of houses requiring replacement at the beginning of the year or of those in the same category at the end nor do they disclose the extent of demand still unsatisfied.

131. We are convinced that the provision of remedies that will end discrimination either in the allocation of houses or in the making of local government appointments, and also enable allegations of discrimination to be sifted impartially where they are made, will in no sense endanger the stability of the constitution or afford opportunity to ill disposed persons to work to undermine or destroy it. On the contrary, we are assured that if the policy to which we have referred, to which the Government is already committed and on which it is embarked, is pursued firmly and fairly, a significant and important step will have been taken towards eliminating causes of division and sectarian strife and in helping to unite the people of Northern Ireland. The force of example is powerful: if an end is made to discrimination in all aspects of the public service and it is found that neither efficiency suffers nor friction in working engendered, then there is reason at least to hope that the success of that example will have beneficial effect in the private sector of employment.

132. It would be neither possible or desirable within the compass of this Report however, to analyse all the representations made to us under the heads of perversion of housing policy to serve political ends, gerrymandering and manipulation of electoral boundaries to achieve and maintain party control of local government, deliberate discrimination in making local administrative appointments at all, but particularly senior, levels with a consequence of depriving members of an excluded faith of employment and income from public funds.

133. We therefore confine our observations in the main to matters directly related to those places in which major disorders and disturbances arose, the City of Londonderry, Armagh, Newry and Dungannon (in both urban and rural areas). In addition, we feel it right to draw attention to certain facts relevant to the same issues set out in the previous paragraphs in the local administration of the urban district of Omagh and the County of Fermanagh.

134. The basic complaint in these areas is that the present electoral arrangements are weighted against non-Unionists. In the table on page 57 we show that the complaint is abundantly justified. In each of the areas with Unionist majorities on their council the majority was far greater than the adult population balance would justify. In Londonderry County Borough, Armagh Urban District, Omagh Urban District and County Fermanagh a Catholic majority in the population was converted into a large Unionist majority on the Councils. In the two Dungannon councils a very small Protestant majority held two-thirds or over of the seats on the councils. The most glaring case was Londonderry County Borough, where sixty per cent of the adult population was Catholic but where sixty per cent of the seats on the Corporation were held by Unionists. These results were achieved by the use, for example, of ward areas in which Unionist representatives were returned by small majorities, whereas non-Unionist representatives were returned by very large majorities. In Londonderry County Borough there was the following extraordinary situation in 1967:

 

Catholic Voters

Other Voters

Seats

North Ward:

2,530

3,946

8 Unionists

Waterside Ward:

1,852

3,697

4 Unionists

South Ward

10,047

1,138

8 Non-Unionists

Total:

14,429

8,781

20

 

23,210

 

 

135. The Commission asked several Unionist public representatives from the areas concerned to explain these electoral imbalances. They did not contest the general basis of the figures, but argued that the original arrangement of ward boundaries and local government had been based on rateable values as well as population, that population changes had upset arrangements which were originally fair, and that it was quite a frequent democratic situation (e.g., in United Kingdom national politics) for a small majority - or even a minority - to be translated by the electoral system into a large majority.

136. These arguments however ignore the realities of the local situation in Northern Ireland. It is obvious that local politics in these areas have always turned on questions of sectarian control and influence. There has never been anything resembling electoral swings from Conservative to Labour and back again. This is an important consideration. The electoral arrangement of wards tends inevitably to sterotype political representation without prospect of a change in the balance of political power by the ‘swing of the pendulum’. The initial choice of ward areas effectively decided the permanent result of council elections. We note too that there have been times when other electoral systems and boundaries permitted non-Unionist majorities in Omagh Urban District, Armagh Urban District and Londonderry County Borough. Accordingly it is our view that the arguments used to justify the existing arrangements when they were introduced, mainly rationalised a determination to achieve and maintain Unionist electoral control. The Government’s dissolution of Londonderry Corporation, and its replacement by a nominated Commission, was thus the most tangible victory of the initial Civil Rights campaign.

137. In any event there can be no doubt that under modern conditions the electoral arrangements in these areas were producing unfair results. This was not seriously contested by several of the Unionist representatives who appeared before us. On the other hand we accept that any initial imbalances have been greatly worsened by the gradual decline in the relevance of rateable values taken over the whole ward as a determinant of ward boundaries, and by the movements of population which have occurred. We also appreciate that while for some years the government has been proposing to reshape local authorities it has not so far done so. Such considerations do not affect the main issue, which is that the electoral outturn in these areas was unrepresentative, and was felt to be so by a significant number of people. In such circumstances it is idle to argue that artificial majorities are not unique to Northern Ireland. We feel we must add that, in our opinion, it is essential in the interest of fair representation that such distortions should be kept to a minimum in future, and that there should be periodic independent boundary reviews.

138. We are satisfied that all these Unionist controlled councils have used and use their power to make appointments in a way which benefited Protestants. In the figures available for October 1968 only thirty per cent of Londonderry Corporations administrative, clerical and technical employees were Catholics. Out of the ten best-paid posts only one was held by a Catholic. In Dungannon Urban District none of the Council’s administrative, clerical and technical employees was a Catholic. In County Fermanagh no senior council posts (and relatively few others) were held by Catholics: this was rationalised by reference to ‘proven loyalty’ as a necessary test for local authority appointments. In that County, among about seventy-five drivers of school buses, at most seven were Catholics. This would appear to be a very clear case of sectarian and political discrimination. Armagh Urban District employed very few Catholics in its salaried posts, but did not appear to discriminate at lower levels. Omagh Urban District showed no clearcut pattern of discrimination, though we have seen what would appear to be undoubted evidence of employment discrimination by Tyrone County Council.

It is fair to note that Newry Urban District, which is controlled by non-Unionists, employed very few Protestants. But two wrongs do not make a right; Protestants who are in the minority in the Newry area, by contrast to the other areas we have specified, do not have a serious unemployment problem, and in Newry there are relatively few Protestants, whereas in the other towns Catholics make up a substantial part of the population. It is also right to note that in recent years both Londonderry and Newry have introduced a competitive examination system in local authority appointments.

139. Council housing policy has also been distorted for political ends in the Unionist controlled areas to which we specially refer. In each, houses have been built and allocated in such a way that they will not disturb the political balance. In Londonderry County Borough a vast programme has been carried out in the South Ward - and Catholics have been rehoused there almost exclusively. In recent years housing programmes declined because the Corporation refused to face the political effects of boundary extension, even though this was recommended by all its senior officials. In Omagh and Dungannon Urban Districts, Catholics have been allocated houses virtually in the West Wards alone. Conversely Protestants have been rehoused in Unionist wards where they would not disturb the electoral balance. In several of the areas the actual total of new housing has been substantial, and it must be emphasised that both Unionist and non-Unionist Councillors in these areas have until recently been happy to accept the system as they found it.

140. At the same time there have been many cases where councils have withheld planning permission, or caused needless delays, where they believed a housing project would be to their electoral disadvantage. A situation in which individual councillors effectively control the allocation of houses is objectionable in many ways, but in the context of our enquiry it is its political bias which is relevant. We have no doubt also, in the light of the mass of evidence put before us, that in these Unionist-controlled areas it was fairly frequent for housing policy to be operated so that houses allocated to Catholics tended, as in Dungannon Urban District, to go to rehouse slum dwellers, whereas Protestant allocations tended to go more frequently to new families. Thus the total numbers allocated were in rough correspondence to the proportion of Protestants and Catholics in the community; the principal criterion however in such cases was not actual need but maintenance of the current political preponderance in the local government area.

141. It is in a sense understandable that, given the political history of Northern Ireland, in certain areas in particular, local Unionist groups should seek to preserve themselves in power by ensuring that local authority housing is developed and allocated in ways which will not disturb their electoral supremacy. It is however equally natural that most Catholics and many Protestants should feel that the basis of public administration in such areas is radically unfair. We pause here to note two observations which have been frequently put forward to explain and justify such apparently discriminatory action. The first is that in local government it is the people who pay most rates who should have political power, and that consequently the fairness of ward representation has to be judged upon an overall estimate on rateable values. So judged (it was said), the argument on discrimination disappears. That argument was said to derive support from reference to the terms of the English Local Government Act 1933. But that Act by Section 25(2) required regard to be had both to the number of local government electors for the ward as well as the net annual value of the land in the ward i.e. of the total valuation of the ward. Such validity as this argument ever possessed is one which is rapidly losing any force which it might have had, because we note that in the recent White Paper called 'The Re-shaping of Local Government' the proportionate contribution of rates to local authority finance has substantially fallen in recent years, and that about three-quarters of the necessary resources are found from the Northern Ireland Exchequer. In any event, universal adult local government suffrage has for long been the rule in the remainder of the United Kingdom and individual rateable value considerations are not in practice taken into account in the determination of ward boundaries there. The other point, which is constantly made, is that Roman Catholics do not apply for local government appointments in areas which are Unionist controlled. No doubt that is factually true, but the answering comment, which is made with force and supported in evidence, is that from experience it is realised that an application made by a Catholic would stand no real prospect of success.

142. Allegations against the central administration were made much less frequently. Apart from some reference to discrimination in employment the most significant related to the areas chosen for major development. Thus it was alleged in Londonderry that the decisions to locate Northern Ireland’s second university at Coleraine and its first new town at Craigavon were politically motivated, and there were complaints that areas such as Fermanagh and South Down were starved of publicly supported new industry, again for political ends. The argument in its simplest form was that discrimination in the matter of industrial development operated against those areas which were either thought to be distant from Belfast or compendiously described ‘West of the Bann’. We mention these not because we would in any way seek to infer that the political motives alleged were in fact those that influenced decisions, but because it was clear that a strong belief in the truth of such allegations played some part in maintaining a sense of grievance and resentment in certain districts.

143. On the purely political side the grievance in the matter of local government became an important and indeed fundamental issue before and throughout the disturbances. The crude and emotive slogan ‘One man, one vote’ represented a strongly felt and frequently expressed complaint in local government. The local government franchise is available only to occupiers of dwelling-houses and their spouses, which excluded sub-tenants, lodgers, servants and children over twenty-one who were living at home. In practice therefore it excluded from the local government franchise about one-quarter of those entitled to vote at Stormont elections, where adult universal suffrage operates. Whilst this exclusion affected all sections of the population, it was felt to operate mainly against poorer elements and in particular against Catholics. There is of course no doubt that, whatever the merits of the controversy, the effect of granting the demand for ‘One man, one vote’ would have been to change the political control of very few areas indeed, and particularly so without a readjustment of electoral boundaries in cases where gerrymandering or changes in the pattern of population had achieved a notable imbalance of political control.

144. In addition to the franchise grievance there was agitation on the part of those concerned in the Civil Rights Movement for the repeal of the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act. We have already drawn attention to the relevant portions of that legislation and of the regulations made thereunder in paragraph 91 above and to the criticisms levelled against it. Agitation against the continued existence of the Special Powers Act is a common factor among the various organisations supporting or professing to support the cause of civil rights and involved in the disturbances. Whatever the necessity for the continuance in effect of this legislation, and while we emphasise that on this point we are not called on to express an opinion, it is obvious that the existence of these powers operates in the circumstances as a continuing cause of irritation and friction within the body politic.

145. Another matter of complaint which played a considerable part among the grievances felt particularly among the Catholic section of the community is the continued retention of the U.S.C,, commonly known as the ‘"B" Specials’. This force, whose constitution and numbers are set out in Appendix VI, is of long standing and is designed to serve a dual purpose of providing something in the nature of a ‘home guard’ or defence force and a reserve supplementary to the civil police. The recruitment of this force, for traditional and historical reasons, is in practice limited to members of the Protestant faith. Though there is no legal bar to Catholic membership, it is unlikely that Catholic applications would be favourably received even they were made. Until very recent years, for drill and training purposes, the Ulster Special Constabulary made large use of Orange Lodges and this, though it may have been necessary for reasons of economy and because of the lack of other suitable premises, tended to accentuate in the eyes of the Catholic minority the assumed partisan and sectarian character of the force. But the use made of the ‘B’ Specials in the disorders under review was marginal, and certainly not in the maintenance of law and order, as only a few of the Special Constabulary specially chosen were mobilised for service with the R.U.C. There were however a number of complaints that among the groups of ‘loyalists’ who from time to time were involved in clashes and conflict with Civil Rights demonstrators there were identified members of the ‘B’ Specials. It may well be that this was to some extent the case, but there was nothing in the evidence to indicate that any deliberate or official use was made of members of the organisation as such in support of those who made attacks on Civil Rights Demonstrations.

146. This catalogue of grievance deserves, in our judgment, to be seriously regarded in any analysis of the immediate causes of the disturbances. We disagree profoundly, having heard much evidence, with the view which professes to see agitation for civil rights as a mere pretext for other and more subversive activities. It is true that few, if any, of the complaints to which we have referred in the preceding paragraphs are new, although recent developments have highlighted them. Equally it is true that for many years this divided community has been able to co-exist and indeed to make rapid economic and social progress. It is also fortunately true that very many people of all shades of political opinion recognise the case and need for redress and reform in the matters we have just narrated. It is right also that the measures taken to ensure Unionist supremacy in certain local authorities should be seen in their context historically, because when these measures were taken, the existence of Northern Ireland was felt to be threatened and in many quarters only Protestants were regarded as ‘loyal’ to the British Crown and connection. Therefore any measures at that stage were. considered as justified in so far as they served to preserve Unionist and therefore Protestant supremacy. Correspondingly, prior to 1939, local government was less important to the ordinary citizen than it is today, particularly because local authority housing schemes were much less extensive and public education, health and welfare services were relatively undeveloped by comparison with what they have become today. In addition many Catholics withheld all but a de facto recognition of the state and of the local administration established thereunder. In such a historical context is was only natural that the scheme of local government should in some measure reflect and be a reaction to religious and political conflicts in society. It is only fair to point out that certain authorities which were controlled by Catholic majorities pursued precisely analogous policies. To this day, for example, Newry Urban Council as already stated employs very few non-Catholics. It is also only fair to note that even the least representative Unionist Councils have rehoused large numbers of Catholics, though not always in the numbers their proportion of large families and slum dwellings would justify and not always in the most appropriate locations.

147. The conclusion at which we arrived after the evidence was heard and considered, that certain at least of the grievances fastened upon by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and its supporters, in particular those which were concerned with the allocation of houses, discrimination in local authority appointments, limitations on local electoral franchise and deliberate manipulation of ward boundaries and electoral areas, were justified in fact, is confirmed by decisions already taken by the Northern Ireland Government since these disturbances began. These include the dissolution of Londonderry Corporation and Londonderry R.D.C. and their replacement by a nominated Commission; the decision to introduce a Parliamentary Commissioner (or Ombudsman) on similar lines to Great Britain and also to set up an organisation to deal with grievances against local government bodies; the decision to base local government franchise on universal adult suffrage, and the decision to settle ward boundaries under the new system of reshaped local government areas by means of an independent Commission. It should be noted that in the White Paper on the further proposals for the reshaping of local government it is stated in paragraph 22 that the aim of this independent Commission ‘will be to ensure that the ratio of population to the number of councillors to be elected shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, be the same for each electoral division within any one area’. In addition to these decisions there is now strong Government pressure on all local authorities to introduce a fairly designed points system in the allocation of local authority housing.

148. While we have so far referred to the sense of grievance and frustration felt largely among the Catholic section of the community as having a substantial and direct causative influence on the agitation and disturbances we are investigating, it must be kept in view also that on the other side, as we have stated, there are continuing fears and apprehensions which have all assisted in raising and maintaining tension and friction between the divided sections of the community and in helping to continue the sense of sectarian division and discord. It is also to be noted that in a very real sense the tension which arose from these opposing sentiments and beliefs was increased as the Civil Rights movement gained momentum and demonstrations increased m number and size. The reaction on the Unionist side tended to become more hostile and emotionally charged and the development and organisation of counter demonstrations made serious physical clashes and outbreaks of civil disorder more likely as time went on. The likelihood of such clashes and disorder was heightened by inflammatory speeches from various quarters and in particular from Dr. Paisley whose organisation and activities we deal with in paras. 216--226 below. Thus the greater the success of the Civil Rights movement in directing public attention to itself the more violent and hostile the reaction which it simultaneously evoked.

149. The fears and apprehensions felt widely among Unionists have solid and substantial basis both in the past and even in the present. From the setting up of the Constitution of Northern Ireland there has been absence of full recognition by the Republic and the attitude of the Roman Catholic Heirarchy in Northern Ireland has been ambiguous. Among a proportion of Catholics there has been opposition to the Constitution as well as a degree of hostility towards Great Britain. I.R.A. attacks have continued and Irish Republican Army activity is still undoubted. The steady decline of Protestant population in the south, the influence of Roman Catholic doctrines there on Government, displayed in matters of censorship, restrictions on birth control and other health matters, as well as difficulties which arise over the Church’s attitude to mixed marriages - all these factors tend to feed these fears as illustrative of what might be expected if Catholic political domination were to be achieved. (At the same time, it should be recognised that among a certain proportion of Unionists it was a matter of satisfaction that Catholics in Northern Ireland should have held themselves aloof from the community and thus accentuated the appearance of division and provide a justification for a policy of sectarian and political discrimination).

150. Not the least of these fears publicly and privately expressed among Unionists and Protestants was that in course of time the Catholic element in the population could, in crude language, ‘out-breed’ the Protestant and thereby produce a Catholic majority. The corollary of this fear or belief - which is widely expressed if not generally held - is that in such an event there would be not only widespread Catholic discrimination against Protestants and a general lowering of living standards, but that the continued existence of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom would be placed in jeopardy. Therefore, the argument runs, it is essential to ensure the maintenance of Unionist and Protestant governmental supremacy and to take all action which may be considered necessary to that end. We recognise, as anyone concerned with the matters we have to investigate must recognise, the wide existence of this fear and the fact that it is sincerely and deeply felt and that it is undoubtedly a major factor in determining the attitude of many Unionists towards the Civil Rights movement, which they tend to regard as essentially a Catholic if not a Nationalist and Republican manifestation, unjustified by genuine grievance or complaint in fact. In adopting such an overhead view, we consider, for the reasons which we set out in our Report, that they are seriously in error and that this error leads to a tendency to overlook or ignore the existence of genuine grievances which, even in the narrowest interest of limiting causes of friction between Catholic and Protestant, call for remedy, as the Government has already recognised. But while we make this criticism we must also record that these apprehensions are seriously entertained and, as we note elsewhere in this Report, we have been left in no doubt that there are elements of an extreme and revolutionary character which are active in the Civil Rights movement for their own purposes and prepared and determined to use and bend (if not control) it to further revolutionary and subversive purposes.

151. Another contention which is frequently urged is that the educational facilities particularly accorded to Catholics tend directly to support a continuance of the division between Protestant and Catholic and so to perpetuate sectarian feelings and antagonism. The extent of the contribution of this factor to the continued existence of sectarian bitterness and division in the community is not a matter on which we are called on to express an opinion. What we can record however is that this opinion is one which is widely held among Unionists, and in many quarters regarded with regret as a real stumbling block towards better relations between Catholic and Protestant. But at the same time we can also record that in spite of these educational differences there is evidence, coming from a wide variety of sources, that in recent years there has happily been a lessening of the tensions of sectarian differences and an increased measure of real goodwill between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, even though this has not been accompanied by any real changes in the educational structure.

152. At this point we would record with pleasure the great help we received from leaders of the Unionist Party who gave most valuable evidence and frankly and fully discussed these wider and important political issues with us in the course of their evidence. Maintenance of and the promotion of loyalty to the Union lie at the root of the Unionist philosophy but at the same time membership of the party was not limited by considerations of faith or creed. This view was firmly expressed to us by witnesses who were well qualified by office and standing to speak for the party. Therefore no theoretical ban inhibited or prevented Roman Catholic membership of the party. Unfortunately theory and practice have not kept pace with each other, as was admitted with little or no reservation by responsible leaders of the party, and there can be no doubt that in many if not most areas of Northern Ireland effective membership of the Unionist Party is not open to Roman Catholics - though in an election many Roman Catholics may vote for Unionist candidates.

153. But at the same time there is ample evidence of reluctance by Roman Catholics to seek party membership, partly because of the impression that application for membership would be rejected out of hand, and also because of a belief (whether justified in fact or not) that there is a very close connection between the party and the Orange Order and that the latter exercises a wide measure of control over the former. That the Orange Order does in fact exercise influence within the Unionist Party does not admit of any real doubt. The moderate views expressed by highly placed leaders of the Order no doubt embody admirable aspirations, but here again, the further from the heights of leadership the less moderate the expression of view or exercise of power and influence. The purpose and ideal of the Unionist Party is both to maintain a Union and promote unity in a divided community. How, it may be asked, can unity be effectively promoted by a party in which divisive influences can still operate to such effect as the evidence which we have heard so amply demonstrates? These fears, beliefs, apprehensions and inhibitions all play and have for long played, a critical and unfortunate part in keeping alive and identifying sectarian and political divisions in the community and have undoubtedly provided a directly causative element in the disorders, disturbances and agitations which we are called upon to investigate.

154. We record the fact; what remedies for this state of affairs, if any, can or should be applied by wise and courageous leadership is a question which lies outside our terms of reference.

155. These matters of grievance, resentment, apprehension and fear which we have dealt with in the preceding paragraphs, in our judgment, lie at the root of the disorders which accompanied and followed the Civil Rights demonstration in Londonderry on 5th October 1968. They were continuously operative throughout the whole course of these events and thus among the essential and immediate causes of them.

156. Equally relevant and immediate were other political and administrative actions. These fall naturally and conveniently into three chapters: the actions of government, the actions of the police and the actions of participants in the events themselves, including specific political groups and organisations.

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Chapter 13

ACTIONS OF GOVERNMENT

157. The action of Mr. Craig, the then Minister, in imposing a partial prohibition on the Civil Rights march on 5th October in exercise of his powers within the Public Order Act and his subsequent total ban on all meetings and demonstrations in Londonderry within the walled city has been subjected to considerable criticism. Two questions arise in connection with these actions on the part of Mr. Craig and with their consqeuences. The first is whether his actions were justified in the circumstances, and the second, the extent to which they contributed casually to the disorders which occurred.

158. We do not think there is doubt that in imposing the initial prohibition the Minister was acting in accordance with what was the considered opinion of the responsible police officers on the spot and in accordance with their advice. The organisations primarily concerned in the arrangements for the march were predominantly political in origin and purpose, left-wing republican or extreme nationalist in colour, and notice had been given of a proposed Apprentice Boys march over the same route and at the same time. On the face of this it would seem, that viewing the matter as presented to the Minister at that time, if both of these demonstrations were permitted to follow their selected route there was abundant reason to fear disorder, if not riot. All this is of course upon the assumption that both demonstrations were genuinely intended to take place, that the Apprentice Boys proposed march was not a mere tactical movement to prevent the earlier notified Civil Rights march from taking place at all or at any rate pursuing its chosen route, and that there was such a mood of opposition to the proposed Civil Rights demonstration and its intimated route as to give cause to fear a spontaneous outbreak of violent counter demonstration.

159. The assumption on which the logic of the Minister’s decision was based was that the Civil Rights march was a mere pretext for an essentially anti-Unionist or Republican demonstration, which, in part at least, would trespass on recognised ‘Loyalist’ territory and that such a proceeding would in all probability provoke violent reaction from ‘loyalist’ elements in the streets to be traversed. The situation was further complicated by the notification of the Apprentice Boys initiation ceremony march.

160. But both these assumptions were debatable; closer inquiry would have shown that the proposed initiation march had only been notified at a late stage and had played no part in earlier written representations against the Civil Rights march issued professedly on behalf of certain Apprentice Boys Clubs. In the event their allegedly ‘annual’ march did not take place. Whatever may have been the political character of the bodies locally responsible for arranging the Civil Rights march this was, for Londonderry, a quite novel project and directed to other objectives than the more usual sectarian or political demonstrations. In addition, the police had no reason to think that the Civil Rights demonstrators would carry weapons or arms.

161. Further, it was by no means clear that if allowed to proceed the Civil Rights demonstration would have been subjected to attack in so-called loyalist’ areas. It is of significance that in the event there was no attack on the demonstrators in the Waterside while the demonstration marched; on the other hand, it was one of the complaints by the police that they themselves were attacked with stones or other missiles coming from houses in Duke Street, i.e., in the ‘loyalist’ Waterside. Not only so, but there was certainly no evidence to suggest that the force of police at the disposal of the authorities could not have been fully able to protect the demonstrators - who showed no signs of wishing to provoke violent counter-demonstration should they have been subjected to attack in the course of their march.

162. The imposition of the partial prohibition however necessarily involved that serious consequences could well follow if it were defied, and indeed the event showed that such consequences were foreseen as a possibility in view of the presence of reserve police and water canons, which latter had not been used before in Londonderry. It was quite clear from the testimony of the responsible police officers concerned that they and their seniors were determined that there should be no repetition on this occasion of what had occurred during the Easter demonstration at Armagh, and that, if the Minister’s order were defied, obedience was to be compelled if necessary by use of all available force at the disposal of the police.

163. Against all this was the view which was pressed on the Minister, particularly by Mr. Eddie McAteer, then a Nationalist M.P. (NI.) and Leader of the Opposition at the time, that if the march were allowed to proceed it would pass off without incident and also would be a very small and comparatively insignificant affair.

164. This view of the matter was not acceptable to the Minister and the prohibition was imposed.

165. Whether to impose the prohibition was a wise action or not, and in all the circumstances we are of opinion it was not, the results of its imposition were undoubted and most unfortunate. As already noted in paragraph 44 there was widespread resentment, particularly among the Catholic section of the population of Londonderry, at the Minister’s action, and a large number of responsible persons who otherwise would have taken no part or interest in the demonstration did in fact take part in it as a token of indignation and protest. The confrontation between the police and the demonstrators afforded certain extreme left-wing and revolutionary elements among them - an opportunity of provoking the police into a display of force which in so far as it appeared excessive and unnecessary, produced an even more serious and widespread reaction of resentment against both the Minister and the police. The extensive press, radio and T.V. coverage which was given to the events of the day markedly enlarged both the field and the extent of their reaction. All this stemmed directly from the imposition of the Minister’s order.

166. The ban imposed by the Minister’s second order was in our opinion doubly unfortunate. It did not succeed in lowering the temperature in Londonderry and it placed upon the police an impossible strain and burden. A simple calculation made by senior police officers showed that in order to make the prohibition even reasonably effective in the Diamond a force of some 500 police would be required to man and watch the numerous - eight - gateways through the Walls. To place such a strain on the available police forces in the province - apart from any emergency requirements - was obviously unrealistic. From the evidence presented to us we have no doubt that this realistic assessment of the position was laid before the Minister, but would seem to have been rejected. The result was the imposition of a prohibition which could not be and was not effectively enforced, and was therefore not only useless but mischievous.

167. We have little doubt that these two orders did much to heighten tension, and, at least as regards the November prohibition, far from providing a cooling-off period, only added to the belief among the Catholic elements of the city’s population that the ban was imposed from partisan motives. It also made more difficult the task of the police in maintaining law and order. While it is the case that the police authorities ultimately agreed to the imposition of the November ban, it is in evidence that, after experience of its operation for a week, they were convinced that far from lowering temperature it had only succeeded in bringing the law into disrepute in that the ban was openly and frequently flouted, and it served to engender a wide measure of popular hostility towards the police. No further exercise of ministerial power occurred during the period under review which in any way contributed to an outbreak of disorder. Any re-routing of marches or demonstrations was done by the police authorities themselves in exercising their statutory power to control the route of demonstration.

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Chapter 14

ACTIONS OF POLICE

168. The task of the police throughout all these demonstrations was an extremely difficult one, and while we have with regret to make certain criticisms of their handling of matters, in particular in Londonderry on 5th October and of breakdown of discipline in Londonderry again on 4th and 5th January, and of their decision in the matter of the re-routing of the People’s Democracy demonstration in Newry on 11th January, we think it right to record that the police were stretched to the utmost limit both in numbers and endurance in endeavouring to carry out their very difficult task. In the majority of cases we find that the police acted with commendable discipline and restraint under very great strain and provocation from various quarters.

The Civil Rights demonstration of 5th October presented the police with a problem which was of familiar character - control of a protest march in the streets of a city. But it presented also a novel feature in that it was a protest directed to other than more familiar and traditionally sectarian objectives. It was however equated by the police authorities with the Easter demonstration at Armagh, when a ministerial ban on the route proposed had been successfully broken by the demonstrators and, beyond taking names and making arrests with a view to subsequent prosecution, no attempt had been made by the police to enforce obedience to the Minister’s order. On this occasion however, as we have already noted, the police were determined that the order should be made effective and had taken measures to see that this was done.

169. It was unfortunate in the first place that the County Inspector was on leave at this time, and that the senior officer in charge of the operation should only have arrived on the scene to take charge on the morning of the demonstration. The tactical disposition of the available police force did not provide for any necessary and rapid change which might be required should the march pursue - as it did - a very obvious alternative route to the Craigavon Bridge by way of Duke Street. In the result a party of police were compelled to make a hasty and insufficiently planned move to block the western exit of Duke Street. Such was the haste with which that change of disposition was made that for reasons which are not apparent to us the police cordon became and remained stationed in front, instead of, as planned, behind, the barricade of tenders. This in the event was unfortunate.

170. In the next place there was lack of co-ordination between the police party stationed in Simpson’s Brae and that originally in Spencer Road at the top of Distillery Brae, and when the former moved down from its original position to cover an area of demolition from which potential rioters could obtain missiles in the shape of bricks, stones, etc., the effect was to place a cordon across the line of retreat of the demonstrators who, in obedience to their leaders’ advice and instructions, were for the most part endeavouring to disperse along Duke Street in the general direction of the Waterside Station. Thus a head-on collision occurred, which led to the use of batons by the police in an uncontrolled and confused situation. It was doubly unfortunate that during these events, in the heat of action, a senior police officer temporarily lost control of himself in an incident which received wide coverage by the television cameras present at the time. There appears to have been no R/ T communication between the two main police parties to inform those who had been at Simpson’s Brae of the actions of the other, or of the proposed dispersal of the demonstrators.

171. In addition we find that there was unauthorised and irregular use of batons by certain unidentified policemen in the Duke Street cordon at a very early stage of the confrontation between police and demonstrators. We also find that their use was at that stage not warranted by the circumstances. It was at this time - very early in the proceedings - that Mr. Fitt, M.P., and Mr. McAteer were struck by police batons. The baton charge which followed the speeches by leaders of the demonstration, took place after advice to disperse had been given, and while in fact a large proportion of the demonstrators were in the act of dispersal. The charge itself was ill-controlled and degenerated into a series of individual scuffles. We have to record that, as indeed was admitted by the senior police officer present, there seems to have been neither reason nor excuse for the indiscriminate use of water cannon on pedestrians on the Craigavon Bridge. While we make these criticisms we do not omit to recall that the demonstration itself was not well organised or stewarded and that there were certainly a small element in the crowd in the lead, mostly of youths from outside Londonderry - members of the Young Socialists Alliance - who were quite prepared to provoke and initiate Violence. We are of opinion however that it was plain, and should have been plain to the police officers in charge at the time, that they were in a small minority and could readily have been dealt with and dispersed once the major part of the demonstrators had melted away. Further, although certain I.R.A. members were identified among the crowd and among the stewards, there was no evidence available to the police that they intended or were likely to provoke a riot or stir up violence in the demonstration.

172. Finally, if the objective of this operation was to drive the Civil Rights movement into the ground by a display of force and firmness in the enforcement of the ministerial order, it signally failed. The principal result of this operation, widely publicised as it was, as we note in paragraphs 44 and 55 above, was the opposite, and among other consequences it led directly to the formation and development, out of a student reaction at Queen’s University, of the movement which has attached to itself the name of ‘People’s Democracy’.

173. One consequence of the unfortunate events of 5th October in Londonderry was injury to the reputation of the R.U.C. and the measure of confidence and support which they enjoyed in Northern Ireland. Subsequent police handling of events in Londonderry and elsewhere showed much greater skill and discretion in the disposition and use of available police forces. The R.U.C. in Londonderry had a most difficult task to perform in the maintenance of law and order, and in the control and repression of outbreaks of violence and riotous conduct which came from mainly youthful and hooligan elements. These elements were actuated not by political faith or motives, but were ready at any time to take advantage of a situation of tension to cause disorder and riot. However we have no doubt that inflammatory speeches and actions by extremists on both sides incidentally, if not deliberately, incited such disorderly element to violence and attacks on the police.

174. An apt illustration of this is found in the riot of 3rd January in Guild-hall Square, Londonderry, which accompanied and followed Dr. Paisley’s meeting there. The situation was already one of tension and the People’s Democracy marchers were due in Londonderry the following day. The presence of Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting in Londonderry on the preceding evening was no accidental coincidence but deliberate, and in the mind of any intelligent person - and of Dr. Paisley’s intelligence, experience and capacity there is no doubt - such a meeting as he called on such an occasion would in all probability provoke sectarian reaction with consequent risk of riot. This, as could have been expected, is precisely what happened, and the political temperature for the following day was thereby considerably heightened. A very ugly riot ensued in which considerable material damage was caused, and the police were put at strain to restore some semblance of order.

175 It should be noted also that (1) no members or supporters of the People s Democracy were involved in this riot or its promotion and (2) the stewards of the Derry Citizens Action Committee were active in their efforts to assist the police and keep the rioters from attacking the supporters of Dr. Paisley in the Guildhall.

176. In the serious rioting which followed the attacks on the People’s Democracy marchers at Burntollet Bridge and in Irish Street the actions of some of the more politically extreme elements in the People’s Democracy movement present in Londonderry by encouraging the building of barricades against the police helped to make an already dangerous situation more dangerous.

177. We have to record with regret that our investigations have led us to the unhesitating conclusion that on the night of 4th/ 5th January a number of policemen were guilty of misconduct which involved assault and battery, malicious damage to property in streets in the predominantly Catholic Bogside area giving reasonable cause for apprehension of personal injury among other innocent inhabitants, and the use of provocative sectarian and political slogans. While we fully realize that the police had been working without adequate relief or rest for long hours, and were under great stress, we are afraid that not only do we find these allegations of misconduct are substantiated, but that for such conduct among members of a disciplined and well - led force there can be no acceptable justification or excuse. We have also considered the full and careful Report of County Inspector Baillie which has been made available to us (and whose evidence we heard) and we note, with some satisfaction, though with regret, that his independent investigation has led him to reach the same conclusions as to the gravity and nature of the misconduct as those at which we have arrived in our consideration of the evidence before us. Although this unfortunate and temporary breakdown of discipline was limited in extent, its effect in rousing passions and inspiring hostility towards the police was regrettably great, and obscure the restraint, under conditions of severe strain, then displayed by the large majority of the police concerned.

178. There can be no doubt that the events at Newry on 11th January arising out of the People’s Democracy demonstration which took place there were directly associated with the much publicised incidents which occurred in Londonderry on 4th/5th January.

179. To this extent the conduct of the police on this occasion in Londonderry was an immediate and contributing cause of the disorders which subsequently occurred, as well as providing a direct impetus for the setting up in the Bog-side area of so called ‘Free Derry’ and its continuance for several days - itself a serious challenge to the authorities responsible for the maintenance of law and order. However it is viewed, this was a matter for grave concern and, at the least, a very clear indication of the serious character of the agitation with which the Government was now confronted.

180. Although the rioting in Londonderry on l9th/20th April lies strictly outside the period of investigation covered by our remit under Your Excellency’s Warrant, we have already indicated that we feel that to ignore that episode in our assessment of the causes of the disorders under review and our investigation of the bodies concerned in them and the agitations connected therewith would be wholly unrealistic. We deal briefly elsewhere with the events themselves, but we also have to record that we were presented with a considerable body of evidence to establish further acts of grave misconduct among members of the R.U.C., including, on this occasion also, serious allegations of assault occasioning personal injury and of malicious damage to property. We regret to say that there appears to us to be ample prima facie evidence to support such charges and we are definitely of opinion that it is in the interest of the R.U.C. and of the public that these should be rigorously probed and investigated.

181. One very unfortunate consequence of these breaches of discipline. which occurred in predominantly Catholic areas of Londonderry and were directed against Catholic persons and property, was to add weight to the feeling which undoubtedly exists among a certain proportion of the Catholic community, that the police are biased in their conduct against Catholic demonstrations and demonstrators. Thus it is said that when the police have to interpose themselves between Unionist demonstrators on the one hand and a similar body of Catholic or Civil Rights demonstrators on the other, they invariably face the latter and have their backs to the former. The corollary is that if stones or other missiles are thrown from the Unionist crowd the police do not see who is responsible while they concentrate their attention against the non-Unionists. The fact is undoubted; the reason given for it - that Unionists being loyalists do not attack the police - is not accepted as satisfactory or a sufficient reply to the charge of partisan bias. This complaint however is not confined to the events under investigation but is one of general application and long standing. What in our opinion is perhaps more unfortunate is the criticism, which has been made and which these events illustrate at more than one point, e.g., especially at Dungannon on 23rd November and 4th December, at Antrim on 2nd January, and at Burntollet Bridge and Irish Street, Londonderry, on 4th January, that the police did not take early and energetic action to disperse growing concentrations of persons who were obviously hostile to the Civil Rights demonstrations and were at least likely to resort to violence against them. On the face of the evidence there appears to us force in the criticism. On the other hand the police pointed out that these people are committing no offence which would justify police intervention nor were they

carrying arms. In addition, such bodies were usually composed of persons to whom the appellation ‘loyalist’ was applied and it is easy to appreciate the difficulty which would face any police officer in attempting to disperse or move on’ individuals or groups of such persons whose conduct at the time was in no sense technically obnoxious to the law. Further, and this is a point of substance, the less police action could be regarded as provocative or likely to lead to dispute or conflict with members of the public the better the chance that the peace might be preserved without a display or use of force by the police.

182. In addition, it has always to be kept in view, in considering the police action and reaction to the situations which arose, that the number of men available at any given time and place was limited and not always adequate for the difficult task they had to perform. The extent to which the available police forces were stretched may be gauged by an example drawn from the period of the People’s Democracy Belfast - Londonderry march. One police platoon was continuously on duty from 9 am, on the Friday until 3 a.m. on Sunday without rest or relief. This no doubt was an exceptional case but is illustrative of the strain to which the R.U.C. was and is subjected in the maintenance of law and order and in affording protection to persons or bodies taking part in perfectly lawful and permitted political demonstrations.

183. But, there is again no doubt that the appearance of things led many of the Civil Rights demonstrators to infer that the police were not disposed to be unduly solicitous for their safety or protection against missile and other attack from counter demonstrators, who had been permitted under the eyes of the police to concentrate themselves and so be in readiness to attack demonstrations or marches. This inference again did nothing to lower the temperature or to increase confidence among Civil Rights supporters in the impartiality of the police in dealing with these events and their participants. In the case of the Burntollet ambush there were even suspicions - wholly unjustified - among certain of the marchers that they had been led into a trap by the police themselves. Such a suspicion, baseless and indeed ridiculous as it is, could never have arisen at all if there had been such general confidence in police impartiality throughout the community as one would hope and expect to exist. It is not as if the R.U.C. was recruited wholly or exclusively from among members of one religious faith, because in the course of our Enquiry we had occasion to note the extent to which the RUC. had Roman Catholics within its ranks, and the complete absence of any suggestion of partiality or failure to discharge to the full their duties as members of the police force. This circumstance incidentally is itself a refutation of the ignorant and damaging assertion that Roman Catholicism is to be equated with ‘disloyalty’ to the constitution, but is to be contrasted with the state of affairs which obtains in the U.S.C. There theoretically recruitment is open to both Protestant and Roman Catholic: in practice we are in no doubt that it is almost if not wholly impossible for a Roman Catholic recruit to be accepted. We certainly were given no instance in which this had occurred. This, if the case, is regrettable, as was agreed by senior police authorities who gave evidence, and regrettable indeed that any members of the U.S.C. should be members of the force commanded by Major Bunting and controlled by the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee.

184. This very practical evidence of the distinction drawn in the public mind - among all sections - between the R.U.C. and the U.S.C. prompts the reflection that there is a certain implicit duality of function and purpose in the U.S.C. - that in part it is a reserve force available to deal with such emergencies as incursions and insurrectionary activities by the I.R.A. and its sympathisers or supporters, and in part is designed to provide a reserve or reinforcement for the R.U.C. in discharge of its ordinary duties in the maintenance of law and order and the detection and repression of crime. Were this duality overtly recognised in recruitment, training and use of police reserves, then there would seem no reason why in practice recruitment to the U.S.C. in its capacity as a civil reserve or to that section of it, should not offer the same attraction to Roman Catholic recruits as the regular R.U.C. - and so to this extent help to erase the boundaries of sectarian division.

Report Contents


Chapter 15

THE ORGANISATIONS INVOLVED IN THE DISTURBANCES

(1) Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association

185. We now turn to the actions of the organisations directly involved in the disturbances, and the aims and actions of the participants. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was founded at a meeting held in Belfast in February 1967, called on the initiative of certain people who were associated with ‘The Campaign for Social Justice in Northern Ireland’ (This body is organised and based in Dungannon: Dr. and Mrs. McCluskey are prominent in it). The first Executive Council of the Association was not elected until April 1967. Its constitution was modelled on that of the National Council for Civil Liberties in Great Britain with the consequence that the same breadth of political and cultural outlook was sought in its membership; consequently the main political parties, Trade Unions, Trade Union organisations, cultural organisations of all kinds and colour were invited in a representative capacity to attend and assist the formation of the Association. The constitution, which is set out in Appendix X, follows closely that of the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association is in fact affiliated to that Council.

186. The membership of the first Council was politically varied in range and undoubtedly included persons of known extreme Republican views and activities as well as members of the Northern Ireland Liberal and Labour Parties. In addition, the membership is predominantly Roman Catholic in religion - though it also included Miss Betty Sinclair a very well known figure in the Trade Union world of Northern Ireland and also a professed Communist, though not a member of the Communist party of Great Britain. She was Chairman at the time of the events under enquiry. It is right to say here that Miss Sinclair’s influence in the Association has been exercised in favour of peaceful demonstrations and against the pursuit of courses designed or likely to lead to violence.

187. It is and has always been a fundamental rule of the Association to place no bar on membership because of particular political affiliations. All that is required is genuine acceptance of the Association’s objects and constitution. The effect of this of course has been that the Association contains many members who would find agreement on other political issues impossible and who hold extreme Republican views, and some indeed who are of extreme left wing Socialist beliefs.

188. During its first year of existence the Civil Rights Association was mainly concerned with taking up the grievances of individuals and of certain itinerants. ‘The first Annual General Meeting of the Civil Rights Association, held in February 1968 in the International Hotel, Belfast, elected a new Council, the political ingredients of which were as varied as at the inception of the Association, with well known Republicans among the members and Miss Sinclair as Chairman. She was succeeded as Chairman in February 1969 by Mr. Frank Gogarty. It was only in August 1968 that a change in the nature and scope of the Association’s activities and immediate objects took place. The suggestion of a protest march from Coalisland to Dungannon was first raised by Mr. Currie M.P., arising out of the Caledon housing incident referred to in paragraphs 26 - 36. The Civil Rights Association agreed to sponsor it and the march followed. The Civil Rights Association officially sponsored the 5th October march in Londonderry but took, through its officials, no effective part in the actual organisation of the demonstration or the determination of its route. This was left to purely local arrangement. The demonstration at Armagh on 30th November was sponsored by the Civil Rights Association, but its organisation also was left to purely local arrangement. There is no doubt that the I.R.A. has taken a close interest in the Civil Rights Association from its inception and members and supporters have been present at various of its meetings: it is also the case that among the stewards at Civil Rights Association demonstrations there have been known members of the I.R.A. Again, these members have been efficient stewards, maintaining discipline and checking any disposition to indiscipline or disorder.

189. It is following the march of 5th October that local associations in various areas of Northern Ireland came into being and a definite programme calling for specific reforms was adopted and publicised. These may be summarised thus -

(1)

Universal franchise in local government elections in line with the franchise in the rest of the United Kingdom.

(2)

The redrawing of electoral boundaries by an independent Commission to ensure fair representation.

(3)

Legislation against discrimination in employment at local government level and the provision of machinery to remedy local government grievances.

(4)

A compulsory points system for housing which would ensure fair allocation.

(5)

The Repeal of the Special Powers Act.

(6)

The disbanding of the U.S.C.; and later

(7)

The withdrawal of the Public Order (Amendment) Bill.

It will be readily appreciated that support for these varied objects would be likely to come from a wide variety of quarters and be. inspired by differing and frequently conflicting motives. Few, if any, of those who were directing the policies of the Civil Rights Association had past political experience or had held positions of political responsibilty. Certain at least of those who were prominent in the Association had objects far beyond the ‘reformist’ character of the majority of the Civil Rights Association demands, and undoubtedly regarded the Association as a stalking horse for achievement of other and more radical and in some cases revolutionary objects, in particular abolition of the border, unification of Ireland outside the United Kingdom and the setting up of an all-Ireland Workers Socialist Republic.

190. Nevertheless the Civil Rights Association maintained that it was nonsectarian and concerned only with obtaining the reforms and changes in the law which it sought and always by peaceful and non-violent means. It is undoubtedly the case that it has been the policy of the Association to refuse to permit the display of provocative symbols and banners, in particular the Republican Tricolour, at any demonstration or march which it organised or authorised; it is also undoubted that on no occasion were weapons carried by demonstrators acting under Civil Rights Association auspices. The use on 5th October of placard and banner poles as missiles by certain demonstrators - mainly Young Socialists who had come specially from Belfast - was an exception to this generality, and an illustration of the inefficiency with which that demonstration was organised and conducted and of the absence of any effective Civil Rights Association control.

191. As support for the objects of the Civil Rights Association extended so local area committees or associations were formed throughout the Province. In order to ensure co-ordination of activities between the central Association and these local bodies a Regional Council was set up in April 1969. The membership of the Association at present numbers approximately 240 and there are eighteen local Civil Rights Committees. These are listed in Appendix XI. The finances of the Association are dependent on the subscriptions of members and affiliated bodies, the rates of which are set out in the constitution. There is no evidence of financial support from other sources. The constitutional provisions of the Civil Rights Association are in marked contrast to those of People’s Democracy whose organisation is founded on a convenient lack of formality or order.

192. As we have already observed the great majority of the Council of the Association are Roman Catholic, and the same applies to the membership

of the body itself. This is not surprising, as the greater part of the matters on which the Civil Rights Association concentrates are concerned with grievances or complaint which relate to Roman Catholic sections of the community.

193. Thus it is apparent that here is an organisation of some substance, with a formal constitutional structure, means of co-operation with affiliated local associations with identical objects, and with a definite programme of reforms sought within the framework of the Constitution. It is dedicated to a policy of non-violence and is non-sectarian in origin and purpose. While it has within its membership those whose aims and objects are far different and more radical than those of the Association itself, and who would not exclude the use of violence if they thought it necessary or desirable to achieve their aims, the Association so far has been able to maintain its avowed policy of non-violent protest and agitation within the limits of the law. So far, it has obtained and still obtains the support of many who are neither Catholic nor interested in constitutional changes, violent or otherwise, and it is this ballast of moderate and earnest men and women on its Council and among its membership which has enabled ‘the Association to maintain its originally designed course. But here is an instrument, already constituted and organised, which could without any excessive difficulty be successfully infiltrated by those whose intentions are far other than peaceful and constitutional. We have already commented on the presence of I.R.A. sympathisers and members within the Association and of their acting as stewards on occasions of marches or demonstrations. At the same time there is little doubt that left wing extremists of the type already closely associated with the control of People’s Democracy would be ready to take over, if they could, the real direction of the Civil Rights Association and divert its activities from a reformist policy to a much more radical course which would not exclude the deliberate use of force and the provocation of disorder as an instrument of policy.


(2) The People’s Democracy

194. This organisation grew out of the protest meetings at Queen’s University which followed the riot in Londonderry on 5th October. It was on 9th October that the decision was taken at a meeting, addressed by Mr. Michael Farrell and others, to set up a permanent protest group. The decision, also taken at that meeting, to open membership of the group (not yet named People’s Democracy) to persons other than students of the University had two consequences. It marked a divorce from a purely University protest group, and opened the door to infiltration and control from persons outside or unconnected with the University, with the consequence that the aims or objects of the group would be open to alteration or expansion to cover matters or objectives well outside the avowed purpose of the Civil Rights Association itself.

195. People’s Democracy has no accepted constitution and no recorded membership. At any meeting any person attending is entitled both to speak and to vote: decisions taken at one meeting may be reviewed at the next - indeed during the currency of any given meeting. No subscription, entrance fee or membership qualification is required of members (if they can be so-called) of this movement, and the requisite finance is obtained from collections at meetings, subscriptions or contributions from well wishers and supporters both within Northern Ireland and elsewhere. Theoretically therefore, People’s Democracy could move to the extreme right as readily as it could move to the left. In fact however, any movement in orientation, and any effective guidance or control has been towards the left in politics. While the ‘manifesto’ of the People’s Democracy, the full terms of which are set out in Appendix XII, largely echoes and endorses the objectives of the Civil Rights Association, it is plain from the evidence frankly given to us that the real objects and purposes of the more effective leaders of the movement are much more radical, the achievement of which would almost necessarily involve the submergence of existing political boundaries and (as an inevitable consequence) the break up of the present political and constitutional links between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The views expressed in print and in evidence by such men as Mr. Michael Farrell, Mr. Eamonn McCann and Mr. Cyril Toman leave no doubt as to the direction in which they desire and intend to steer their movement.

We would add two things however, first, that we do not accept the simple theory of ‘instant democracy’ as put to us in evidence, i.e., that decisions on policy and action can be and are taken on the spot by all present at a meeting and that these decisions may be rescinded or reversed at the next or even in the course of the same meeting. This appears altogether too simple. We believe, not only from the evidence of these gentlemen - who are in the forefront of the movement - but also from the unchallengeable facts of the events themselves, that those leaders, dedicated as they are to extreme left wing political opinions and objectives, are determined to channel People’s Democracy in directions of their choice and in so doing are prepared and ready - where and when they consider it suits them - to invoke and accept violence. Equally (and it is only fair to record this) they are prepared, if the occasion for violence should not appear to them suitable or desirable, to urge non-violence on their followers or those associated with them. There is ample evidence that both Messrs. Farrell and McCann have urged moderation and sought to dissuade demonstrators from violent action on several occasions both in Londonderry and in Newry. Of the attitude towards violence of Miss Devlin M.P., who was active in the formation of People’s Democracy, and has been throughout closely associated with it and with the leaders we have mentioned, and who accepted an invitation to give evidence, we were at one time less clear. We do not doubt the sincerity with which she holds her views - which, as it appears to us, are directed substantially to the redress of what she regards as social and economic injustices and inequalities - but we do think that she would not rule out the use of force to achieve her own purposes if other methods of political persuasion had, in her judgment, failed. At the same time and just because of the amorphous character of the organisation itself there are to be found among its supporters a large number of those whose purpose is essentially ‘reformist’ and who seek, and would be satisfied by realisation of all or the majority of the reforms which are sought by the Civil Rights Association. This ‘reformist’ element however is not to the taste of the extremists among the leadership of People’s Democracy.

196. As is well known, People’s Democracy (though whether the decision to do so would or did commend itself to the majority of its supporters is doubtful) decided to put up and did put up parliamentary candidates in the recent Northern Ireland General Election. We were told that the necessary finance was raised from private sources. In addition, we were informed, to our surprise, that contributions to People’s Democracy had come from the Students Representative Council of Manchester University and one of the new English Universities. No accounts are available either from People’s Democracy or any other agency or person.

197. People’s Democracy being an ill-organised - or even unorganised - body, it is not easy to provide it with an accurate or comprehensive label. There is evidence of close association between prominent personalities in the People s Democracy movement such as those whom we have already named and members of the Revolutionary Socialist Students Federation from England. These have aims which go far beyond reform and involve the total destruction of the current constitutional structure of the state in favour of what is called a Workers Socialist Republic which would embrace all-Ireland. There may be doubt however as to the extent of agreement on the constitution or structure of such a republic in the minds of those members of People’s Democracy who profess to have the achievement of this as their ultimate political aims. On one point however they are agreed: this movement, as they see it, is non-sectarian - it is, as they put it, essentially a ‘working-class’ movement, transcending what they regard as the irrelevant and dangerous barriers of creed, and making its appeal to what they profess to regard as ‘the working-class’ as a whole, unravaged or divided by sectarian hatred or bitterness.

198. There is however evidence that People’s Democracy has lost much of the initial impetus which it derived from the Queen’s University student reaction to police action at Londonderry on 5th October 1968 and that its effective influence is being gradually lessened. How long it will continue to enjoy any considerable measure of support - as opposed to the support accorded to the Civil Rights Association - is at least open to doubt. People’s Democracy finds itself increasingly placed on the horns of a dilemma in the matter of attracting support from persons of moderate views. If it moves as far to the left as certain of its leaders want and for which they work, and the more extreme its overt political objectives become, the more will it tend to forfeit support from moderate elements in the community - both Protestant and Catholic - who seek redress of what they identify and regard as genuine grievances and abuses of power. If on the other hand, the ‘reformist’ character of People’s Democracy and its direction is emphasised, and commands acceptance among those who identify themselves with People’s Democracy, then the question acutely arises - what is the need for the separate existence of People’s Democracy when the Civil Rights Association dedicates itself to the same objectives and is pledged to work for them by means which do not involve the use of physical violence?

199. Events subsequent to our appointment have served to emphasise the growing divergence of aim between these two bodies, as well as to make it plain that in so far as the Civil Rights Association continues to take a ‘reformist’ line and seeks to limit its actions towards achievement of its expressed and limited aims it will arouse increasing hostility from those who have made themselves prominent in People’s Democracy, unless they themselves or their associates can obtain control of the whole Civil Rights movement and divert its course and purpose to the much more radical and extreme political objectives which they seek.

200. While the evidence we obtained indicated that at the outset People’s Democracy was able to command a fairly wide measure of support it is. also clear that its influence and number of regular supporters have diminished and continue to do so. This diminution coincides with an increase of influence of the extreme left-wing leadership. We noted the date when the decision was taken to undertake the Belfast/Londonderry march in paragraph 89. This was during the University recess and all the circumstances point to a deliberate choice being made of that date for the meeting so as to make possible the reversal of an earlier decision not to undertake such a march which had been taken at a largely attended meeting held during the University term. When the decision to march was taken only about forty persons were present. Tactics such as these did much to lose support for the People’s Democracy and, by the same token, to throw it into the hands of a small group - of which Messrs. Eamonn McCann, Farrell, Toman and Miss Devlin were the more vocal and more prominent.

Of this group Mr. Michael Farrell is a graduate of Queen’s University and lecturer in General Studies at the Belfast College of Technology: he was, at the time of the Coalisland/Dungannon march a member and Chairman of the Young Socialists Alliance, a political organisation with extreme left wing views and objects. He was also present at and concerned with arrangements for the 5th October march in Londonderry as well as the People’s Democracy march from Belfast to Londonderry. He was also present in Armagh on 30th November and in Newry on 11th January. Mr. Farrell’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement, as is that of Mr. Toman, is a step towards the furtherance of an ultimately united Ireland in what is designated a ‘Workers Socialist Republic’. The achievement of the present objects of the Civil Rights movement are regarded by them as a useful step in that direction. Mr. Toman is also a graduate of Queen’s University and a teacher of English subjects in North Down Technical College. His political views and activities are similar to those of Mr. Farrell. Both profess adherence to the principles of ‘nonviolence’ as interpreted by themselves. We refer to this attitude of mind in paragraph 204. Both these gentlemen take a leading part in People’s Democracy activities on the streets and in demonstrations. They represent a small but closely-knit group whose frankly admitted intentions are to use the Civil Rights movement for their own purposes and to further their own political objectives.

201. Mr. McCann, a former student of Queen’s University, while dedicated to the same political objectives, is even more active in their promotion. He has been associated with a now defunct ‘Irish Workers Group’ in London - a group whose political affiliations and aspirations were closely aligned to those of the Young Socialists Alliance, and also with those of the ‘Irish Workers League’ an organisation understood to be centred in Dublin. Mr. McCann’s part in these disorders were considerable: he was a principal advocate of the 5th October demonstration in Londonderry. His conduct and speech when the march was stopped at the police cordon was not in favour of peaceful dispersal, and throughout he has been an advocate of actions and measures which, on the face of them, were designed to serve the purpose of achieving the maximum degree of publicity, and at the least to render likely a confrontation between police and demonstrators which could readily develop into violent disorder. He was particularly active in the organisation of ‘Free Derry’ and in the operation of its short-lived radio broadcasts. We regard him and his aims and activities as playing an important part in the agitations which are associated with the disorders of October onwards. Along with his colleagues Messrs. Farrell and Toman he stood unsuccessfully for election to the Stormont Parliament, Mr. McCann standing under the auspices of the Londonderry Labour Party. Here again the decision to put up People’s Democracy parliamentary candidates was only arrived at after two earlier meetings of the People’s Democracy had decided against this line of action.

202. With these three were associated in People’s Democracy Miss Bernadette Devlin who, at the time of the formation of People’s Democracy was still an undergraduate student at Queen’s University.. It is not necessary to refer in detail to the part she played in events thereafter, except to note that like Mr. McCann, that other ‘stormy petrel’ of the People’s Democracy and Civil Rights movement, she has had the good or ill fortune to find herself present at most of the events in which violence occurred. Her professed political views coincide with those of Messrs. McCann, Farrell and Toman.

203. Whatever may be the real capacity for leadership possessed by any of those whom we have named or their power to influence and control a body of marchers or demonstrators, there is no doubt that they represent and propagate political ideas which (1) are far more politically extreme than the objects for which the Civil Rights Association has campaigned and (2) represent a threat to the stability and existence of the Northern Ireland Constitution. One point however should be made clear: all reject a sectarian basis for their political actions and all maintain that their appeal is to Protestant and Catholic alike. In this at least, if in little else, they are identified with a basic principle of the Civil Rights Associaton and also of the People’s Democracy itself.

204. Before passing from consideration of People’s Democracy we would draw particular attention to the conception of ‘non-violence’ as interpreted by certain of the prominent figures in that body as well as in the Civil Rights Association. Although the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association is especially dedicated to ‘non-violence’ the phrase is given a particular and limited meaning, among some at least of its supporters and the same limited interpretation is adopted by certain of the leaders of the People’s Democracy. In their vocabulary it is not violence to link arms and by sheer weight and pressure of numbers and bodies to press through and break an opposing cordon of police. If the police resist such pressure then it is the police who are guilty of violence - and if such ‘violence’ if offered then a ‘defensive’ violent reaction is permissible. This doctrine was presented to us by several witnesses, among them Messrs. Farrell, Toman, McCann and Kevin Boyle to instance a few. With all respect to those who hold and express these views we cannot consider them other than metaphysical nonsense and divorced from the world of reality. They may provide a salye to tender consciences, but are, we suspect, an argumentative justification for bringing about what their professors desire - publicity from violent confrontation with the police and the stirring up of passions and hostilities within the community. The battering ram pressure of a crowd with linked arms to breach a physical barrier in the shape of a cordon of police is in its way just as much the use of force to achieve an object as the use of batons by police to achieve the dispersal of a hostile and recalcitrant crowd.


(3) Derry Citizens Action Committee

205. The Derry Citizens Action Committee, like the People’s Democracy, was formed as a direct consequence of the disorder and rioting which occurred in Londonderry on 5th / 6th October. Its inception took place at a meeting on 9th October which was held on the invitation of some of the people who had assisted to organise the 5th October demonstration. At this meeting Mr. Eamonn McCann was in the chair. It was decided to elect a Committee of fifteen - five from the organisations responsible for the 5th October demonstration and ten others. In the event sixteen were elected - there being a tie for one place. Mr. McCann who viewed the Committee as not sufficiently extreme for his liking, was not elected a member. The Chairman was Mr. John Hume (now M.P.) (N.I.) and included at least one Unionist. It was decided that the Committee should be called the ‘Derry Citizens Action Committee’ and that its main purpose should be to protest against the wrongs which in Londonderry and in Northern Ireland required to be righted. In general the wrongs of which complaint was made were those for whose remedy the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was calling. From the outset the Committee determined that its protests should be non-violent. This however did not exclude the idea of the ‘sit-down’, a method of protest used on several occasions by the Committee and its supporters. In addition to Mr. Hume, Mr. Ivan Cooper (now also M.P. (N.I.)) was a member of the Committee and continued to serve on it. With minor exceptions the professed religious beliefs of the majority of members were Catholic. At the meeting which set up the Committee representatives of churches, of trade unions and of the business community in Londonderry were present.

206. One of the first acts of the Committee was to decide against another march on 12th October. It was responsible however for organising a ‘sit down’ in Guildhall Square on 19th October, which passed off without violence, and for the fifteen man token march on 2nd November. When Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting and their supporters held a march to the Diamond on 9th November the Committee issued an appeal to the people of Londonderry to allow Dr. Paisley to march without let or hindrance in pursuance of his legal right. The appeal was successful in that no serious disorder occurred.

207. On 16th November a large demonstration which had been planned and prepared some time before the Minister’s total ban on processions and meetings within the Walls had been made, was held under the auspices of the Committee; we have already narrated in paragraph 65 what occurred. It was owing to the careful organisation of this Committee, and in particular to the actions of Mr. Hume, that this passed off peacefully. It should be noted here that Mr. McCann, who was active in his opposition to the Committee and its policy, but who was present on this occasion helped to preserve the peaceful character of the demonstration.

208. This pattern of moderation and restraint in action continued to mark the actions of this Committee. As already noted (paragraph 96), in the riot of 3rd January Mr. Hume and others of his colleagues used all their powers and influence to control and disperse the mob but were not successful. It was their Committee which advised against the People’s Democracy march as likely to provoke violence and also because the Committee had already resolved to discontinue street demonstrations or protests until 11th January.

It is not necessary to repeat the narrative of what occurred on 4th/5th January in and near Londonderry. It is sufficient to note that the Derry Citizens Action Committee offered no provocation or violence nor did any of its members take any part in the disorder except in attempts to obtain a restoration of order.

209. The finances of the Committee are provided from subscriptions of supporters and sympathisers in response to a public appeal and from the sale of badges. We have seen and examined the accounts which are audited and in regular form. We have no doubt that the financial position of the Committee is correctly set out in their accounts and the sources of their finance fully disclosed. The proceedings and decisions of the Committee are also duly recorded in minutes, although the Committee itself has no formal constitution.

210. In no sense could this Committee be regarded as having provoked or caused violent disorder: its influence has throughout been honestly exercised towards non-violent protests in support of its claims for redress of wrongs and we do not find any sign that it has any concealed or subversive purpose, even though individually certain of its numbers may or do hold extreme nationalist or left-wing views. No doubt also numbers of those who support the Committee and turn out on occasions of demonstrations or marches hold extreme political views, nationalist, socialist or even republican, but this does not in any sense alter the purposes or objects of the Committee or affect the manner in which they seek to secure them.

211. For this, much, if not most, of the credit must go to Mr. John Hume who from the beginning has taken the lead and shown himself both responsible and capable. He himself was formerly a teacher and thereafter in business and is now dedicated to the political work which he has undertaken. Prior to being concerned in the Derry Citizens Action Committee Mr. Hume was closely associated with the Credit Union and the Derry Housing Association which had been formed and were flourishing in Londonderry, both of which were doing good work, particularly among the Catholic population.

Mr. Hume’s influence has been insistently exercised in favour of the adoption of peaceful means of protest and he has so far resolutely opposed violence and disorder. It was his action and initiative in particular, in conjunction with the wise conduct of the Minister of Home Affairs and the senior police authorities, which prevented a situation arising on 20th April which could have led to the most disastrous consequences.


(4) Irish Republican Army and minor Republican organisations

212. The I.R.A., whose campaign of violence between 1956 and 1962 had failed, subsequently adopted a marked change of tactics, although its overall strategy and objectives remained and remain profoundly the same. No secret has been made of this or of the consequent adoption of a policy which included permeation or infiltration of bodies or organisations which might operate in opposition to the current Government of Northern Ireland. Because the Civil Rights movement and its published objects were (at the time) wholly rejected by the Government it was to be expected that the I.R.A. or members of it in Northern Ireland would seek to turn that situation to their advantage. In this they were assisted by the declared policy of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association to accept support from any person who could subscribe to their objects, without regard to their political affiliations or opinions. This was in accordance with the principle on. which the Association was based - that it should be non-sectarian and non-party-political. From the very nature of things the Association could not-of course avoid being political in a very real sense: only the most naïve could believe otherwise. Consequently it was easy for persons, identifiable as members of the I.R.A., either to join the Association itself or to take a greater or less part in its activities.

213. We have investigated this matter with particular care in view of the extent to which it is surmised that the I.R.A. had become a prominent or even dominant factor in shaping or directing policy of the Civil Rights Association. There is ample evidence that in most of the larger demonstrations promoted by the Civil Rights Association identified members of the I.R.A. have taken part as marchers or stewards. In point of fact, it has been noticeable that as stewards they were efficient and exercised a high degree of discipline on marchers or demonstrators. There is no evidence - and had there been we have no doubt that the vigilance of the R.U.C. would have observed and prevented it - that such members themselves either incited to riot or took part themselves in acts of violence. Here no doubt they were acting in accordance with the well-known current policy of the I.R.A. itself. At the same time it should be noted that there is evidence, which we judge reliable that when the so-called ‘Free Derry’ was set up following the rioting on the night of 4/5th January, and especially in the Lecky Road district, members of the I.R.A. were active in the organisation of ‘Defence Committees’ set up on a street by street basis.

214. While there is evidence that members of the I.R.A. are active in the organisation, there is no sign that they are in any sense dominant or in a position to control or direct policy of the Civil Rights Association. At the same time however, the extent to which I.R.A. policies and objectives are directed to the same ends politically and socially as are sought by the extreme left-wing political elements who are operating within the People’s Democracy is another matter which, although it lies outside the precise scope of our Enquiry, appears to us to deserve closer attention than so far at least it has received.

215. In addition to reference to the I.R.A. and its members, reference was also made in evidence from time to time of the activity within the Civil Rights movement of persons associated with such organisations as Sinn Fein, Republican Clubs, James Connolly Clubs and the Wolfe Tone Society. These are of course organisations of generally republican or extreme nationalist leaning, some of literary and cultural rather than of practical political significance, though in the case of the Connolly Club the emphasis is as much on its socialist as its nationalist or republican character. We found no evidence however that these as organisations took or played an active part in the disorders which the Commission was asked to investigate or that the organisations themselves had any effective share in organising the various demonstrations or obtaining publicity for the programme of reforms enunciated by the Civil Rights Association.


(5) The Ulster Constitution Defence Committee and
The Ulster Protestant Volunteers

216. The activities of Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting in connection with disturbances at Londonderry, Armagh, Newry, Dungannon and Belfast have already been noted in earlier paragraphs - and reference made to the organisations with which they are connected. The Reverend Dr. Paisley is a well-known and controversial figure in the religious and political life of Northern Ireland. As a minister and Moderator of the self styled Free Presbyterian Church of Northern Ireland he has for some years played an active and influential part in affairs. His political views are of an extreme Protestant and Unionist character and he has already stood for election to the Northern Ireland Parliament: so far he has not been elected. We must emphasise that we are not in any way concerned with Dr. Paisley’s evangelical or pastoral activities in which he has attained a certain prominence. We are concerned solely with his activities in so far as they have political ends and political consequences, and in particular in their bearing upon the unfortunate series of events which occurred after 5th October 1968. Major Bunting, who is closely associated with Dr. Paisley, formerly served in the British Army, from which he retired with the honorary rank of major. He is employed as a teacher of Mathematics in Belfast College of Technology. His political views as expressed publicly are similar to those of Dr. Paisley.

217. The Ulster Constitution Defence Committee and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers are very closely associated. The constitution of the former provides that ‘The Ulster Constitution Defence Committee and The Ulster Protestant Volunteers which it governs is one united society of Protestant patriots pledged by all lawful means to uphold and maintain the Constitution of Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom as long as the United Kingdom maintains a Protestant monarchy and the terms of the Revolution Settlement’.

218. The Rules, which are set out in Appendix IX, provide that the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee has a membership of twelve, is the governing body of the Ulster Protestant Volunteers and forms the executive of the whole body (Rule 1). The organisation of the Ulster Protestant Volunteers is set out in Rules 2 to 5. Rule 1 provides that ‘each member should be prepared to pledge his first loyalty to the society even when its operations are at variance with any political party to which the member belongs’, and Rule 17 provides a pledge ‘to maintain the Constitution at all costs. When the authorities act contrary to the Constitution the body will take whatever steps it thinks fit to expose such unconstitutional acts.’ The rules contain no provisions as to who is to decide when ‘the authorities act contrary to the Constitution’, although it is plain that policy is wholly in the hands of the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee which has a membership of twelve and is a self-perpetuating body. The chairman is Dr. Paisley.

219. Major Bunting is the Commandant of the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, which are organised in ‘Divisions’, taking their names from the Parliamentary Divisions in which they are situated. The Constitution and Rules are silent about finance and it was not possible to ascertain precisely how the activities of these two bodies are financed. It would appear however that voluntary gifts from supporters and sympathisers some, it is thought, from overseas, provide the necessary resources. There is no treasurer provided for in the Rules nor any provision for accounting for revenue or expenditure: yet it is plain that considerable sums must be at the disposal of the controlling body.

220. There was however evidence to establish that the Ulster Protestant Volunteers exist and operate in a number of Parliamentary Divisions in Northern Ireland, and while the Rules specifically prohibit membership from serving members of the R.U.C., there is no similar prohibition in respect of membership of the U.S.C. We have good ground for inferring that in the ranks of the Ulster Protestant Volunteer Force are numbered members of the U.S.C. - something which, on the face of the Rules governing this organisation, quite apart from any other consideration, we consider highly undesirable and not in the public interest.

221. The Ulster Volunteer Force is and for some years has been a proscribed organisation, and therefore it has not been easy to obtain much clear evidence as to its continued existence, organisation and activities, and in particular any possible association with the Ulster Protestant Volunteers. That it continues to exist, that it is organised, and is in a position to operate, is a reasonable inference from the facts and information brought to our notice, but there is no proof which would enable us to state categorically that this body or organisation has definite links with the Ulster Protestant Volunteers or those who control it. On the other hand, we would not affirm the contrary.

222. The extent of the formal involvement of the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee, or the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, in the counter-demonstrations in which Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting were concerned is obscured by the fact that meetings were not called in their names - advertisements were addressed to ‘Loyal Citizens of Ulster’ in whose name also Major Bunting gave statutory intimation of marches or so-called ‘Troopings of the Colour’. In addition, Major Bunting gave intimation of his proposed countermarch in Armagh in the name of bodies whose existence and participation in the march was almost certainly fictional. But the arrangements showed a degree and extent of organisation which leaves no real room for doubt that those who control and organise the Ulster Protestant Volunteers are those who organised and controlled that particular counter-demonstration. Further, in Dr. Paisley’s Guildhall meeting in Londonderry on 3rd January Major Bunting was appealing publicly for recruits for the Ulster Protestant Volunteers as well as intimating arrangements for a concentration of his supporters the following morning at a spot close to Burntollet Bridge for the avowed purpose of continuing the process of ‘harrying and hindering’ the People’s Democracy march, as had been his purpose since the march left Belfast. Indeed, his wearing of the upper portion of a military uniform, complete with badges of rank, suggests at least that he regarded himself as taking part in a para-military enterprise. The ambush of the marchers at Burntollet Bridge, the arrangements for providing missiles of all kinds at the place, the instruction to attackers to wear white armbands - presumably for no other reason than identification in a scuffle - all point to a carefully planned and pre-arranged operation, and, of course, Major Bunting himself was there also and took an active part in the affair.

223. In face of the mass of evidence from both police and civilian sources as to the extent to which the supporters of Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting were armed at Armagh and on the occasion of the People’s Democracy march to Londonderry, it is idle to pretend that these were peacefully directed protest meetings. On neither occasion were the Civil Rights or People’s Democracy marchers armed; on neither occasion had they offered violence towards others:

on neither occasion was the march or demonstration routed through streets or areas traditionally Protestant or ‘loyalist’: on neither occasion were provocative banners or emblems flown, carried or displayed.

224. We are left in no doubt that the interventions of Dr. Paisley and of Major Bunting in Londonderry and Armagh and the threatened marches of Major Bunting elsewhere, e.g., Newry, were not designed merely to register a peaceful protest against those engaged in Civil Rights or People’s Democracy activities, however much they profess the contrary. It is our considered opinion that these counter-demonstrations were organised under the auspices of the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers and that their true purpose was either to cause the legal prohibition of the proposed Civil Rights or People’s Democracy demonstrations by the threat of a counter-demonstration, or, if this move failed, to harass, hinder and if possible break up the demonstration. It must have been quite apparent to Dr. Paisley at least, that, in the existing state of the law and having regard to the available strength of the police, and to political realities in Northern Ireland, it would not be practicable to prevent congregation or concentration of ‘loyalists’ or to disperse them once gathered together on the route or in the vicinity of a proposed Civil Rights demonstration meeting or march.

225. That the use of force was contemplated or expected and prepared for both in Armagh on 30th November and in Londondery on 4th January is amply proved by evidence of the weapons and missiles seen by the police and others to be carried and used by those concerned in the counter-demonstrations in Armagh and at Burntollet Bridge. In addition, having regard to the circumstances which must have been known to them, we can only condemn as an act of the greatest irresponsibility the decision to hold and the holding of a meeting of the nature of that conducted by Dr. Paisley and Major Bunting in the Guild-hall, Londonderry, on 3rd January.

226. Both these gentlemen and the organisations with which they are so closely and authoritatively concerned must, in our opinion, bear a heavy share of direct responsibility for the disorders in Armagh and at Burntollet Bridge

and also for inflaming passions and engineering opposition to lawful, and what would in all probability otherwise have been peaceful, demonstrations or at least have attracted only modified and easily controlled opposition.


(6) The Hooligan Element

227. In the riots and disorders which occurred in Londonderry and Newry the local hooligan element played a significant part both in their inception and in the degree of lawless violence displayed. The influence of this element must not be underestimated: it was conspicuous in the rioting which occurred in Newry after the initial clash between police and demonstrators at the Merchants Quay barrier, and played a very large part in the Londonderry disturbances. Thus, the riot which broke out in and around the Diamond on the afternoon of 5th October and continued sporadically thereafter until finally quelled by the police the following day, was for all practical purposes the work of this element, as responsible police witnesses made abundantly clear. The high level of unemployment in Londonderry, especially among the young, with the consequence that large numbers of idle youths were on or about the streets, easily roused or led to disorder, the ready availability of missiles in the shape of stones and bricks from demolitions and the difficulty of controlling rioters due to the peculiar street layout of the City in and around the Diamond, all contributed to make disorder easy to provoke and difficult to suppress. In addition, as all senior police witnesses emphasised, and this confirmed the impression which we had independently formed from consideration of much other evidence, the number of police available at any one time was often insufficient to stifle disorder at its beginning, especially when the police have to operate in the narrow and difficult streets of Londonderry. It is obviously more easy to repress disorder at an early stage when numbers concerned are few than later when it has spread to full-scale rioting. Further, the sight of a significantly powerful force of police is itself a substantial deterrent against hooligan rioting and violence. Not only was this element prominent in the later phases of the events of 5th October, but it was almost wholly responsible for the ugly riot on 3rd January in Guildhall Square and for the subsequent serious rioting on the evening and night of the 4th and 5th January. Also on 11th January in Newry this element made itself prominent, and took advantage with alacrity of the opportunity for violence and causing damage to property which the initial confrontation between police and the People’s Democracy demonstrators provided. The same basic pattern is discernible in the later riots of l9th/2Oth April in Londonderry which was sparked off by the movements of members of an ultra-Protestant group after the banning by the Minister of Home Affairs of the proposed Burntollet - Londonderry march by County Londonderry Civil Rights supporters.

228. Events subsequent to l9th/20th April both in Londonderry and Belfast have demonstrated even more clearly how ready such elements are to take advantage of disturbances, the clash of demonstrations and of disorder however caused, and of how rapidly inflamed sectarian passions can be turned into lawless and indiscriminate rioting with grave danger of injury and damage to persons and property.

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Chapter 16

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS ON CAUSES OF DISORDERS

229. Having carried out as full an investigation as lay within our competence we can summarise our conclusions upon the immediate and precipitating causes of the disorders which broke out in Londonderry on 5th October 1968 and continued thereafter both in Londonderry and elsewhere on subsequent dates. These are both general and particular.

(a) General

    (1) A rising sense of continuing injustice and grievance among large sections of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland, in particular in Londonderry and Dungannon, in respect of (i) inadequacy of housing provision by certain local authorities (ii) unfair methods of allocation of houses built and let by such authorities, in particular; refusals and omissions to adopt a 'points' system in determining priorities and making allocations (iii) misuse in certain cases of discretionary powers of allocation of houses in order to perpetuate Unionist control of the local authority (paragraphs 128-131 and 139).

    (2) Complaints, now well documented in fact, of discrimination in the making of local government appointments, at all levels but especially in senior posts, to the prejudice of non-Unionists and especially Catholic members of the community, in some Unionist controlled authorities (paragraphs 128 and 138).

    (3) Complaints, again well documented, in some cases of deliberate manipulation of local government electoral boundaries and in others a refusal to apply for their necessary extension, in order to achieve and maintain Unionist control of local authorities and so to deny to Catholics influence in local government proportionate to their numbers (paragraphs 133-137).

    (4) A growing and powerful sense of resentment and frustration among the Catholic population at failure to achieve either acceptance on the part of the Government of any need to investigate these complaints or to provide and enforce a remedy for them (paragraphs 126-147).

    (5) Resentment, particularly among Catholics, as to the existence of the Ulster Special Constabulary (the 'B' Specials) as a partisan and paramilitary force recruited exclusively from Protestants (paragraph 145).

    (6) Widespread resentment among Catholics in particular at the continuance in force of regulations made under the Special Powers Act, and of the continued presence in the statute book of the Act itself (paragraph 144).

    (7) Fears and apprehensions among Protestants of a threat to Unionist domination and control of Government by increase of Catholic population and powers, inflamed in particular by the activities of the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, provoked strong hostile reaction to civil rights claims as asserted by the Civil Rights Association and later by the People's Democracy which was readily translated into physical violence against Civil Rights demonstrators (paragraphs 148-150 and 216-226).


(b) Particular

    (8) There was a strong reaction of popular resentment to the Minister's ban on the route of the proposed Civil Rights march in Londonderry or 5th October 1968 which swelled very considerably the number of persons who ultimately took part in the march. Without this ban the numbers taking part would in all probability have been small and the situation safely handled by available police forces (paragraphs 157-165).

    (9) The leadership, organisation and control of the demonstrations in Londonderry on 5th October 1968, and in Newry on 11th January 1969 was ineffective and insufficient to prevent violent or disorderly conduct among certain elements present on these occasions (paragraphs 54 and 118)

    (10) There was early infiltration of the Civil Rights Association both centrally and locally by subversive left wing and revolutionary elements which were prepared to use the Civil Rights movement to further their own purposes, and were ready to exploit grievances in order to provoke and foment, and did provoke and foment, disorder and violence in the guise of supporting a non-violent movement (paragraphs 187-189 and 193).

    (11) This infiltration was assisted by the declared insistence of the Civil Rights Association that it was non-sectarian and non-political, and its consequent refusal to reject support from whatever quarter it came provided that support was given and limited to the published aims of the Association (paragraph 187).

    (12) What was originally a Belfast students' protest against police action in Londonderry on 5th October and support for the Civil Right movement was transformed into the People's Democracy - itself an unnecessary adjunct to the already existing and operative Civil Rights Association. People's Democracy provided a means by which politically extreme and militant elements could and did invite and incite civil disorder, with the consequence of polarising and hardening opposition to Civil Rights claims (paragraphs 194-204).

    (13) On the other side the deliberate and organised interventions by followers of Major Bunting and the Rev. Dr. Paisley, especially in Armagh, Burntollet and Londonderry, substantially increased the risk of violent disorder on occasions when Civil Rights demonstrations or marches were to take place, were a material contributory cause of the outbreaks ( violence which occurred after 5th October, and seriously hampered the police in their task of maintaining law and order, and of protecting members of the public in the exercise of their undoubted legal rights and upon their lawful occasions (paragraphs 222-224).

    (14) The police handling of the demonstration in Londonderry on 5 October 1968 was in certain material respects ill co-ordinated and inept. There was use of unnecessary and ill controlled force in the dispersal of the demonstrators, only a minority of whom acted in a disorderly and violent manner. The wide publicity given by press, radio and television to particular episodes inflamed and exacerbated feelings of resentment against the police which had been already aroused by their enforcement of the ministerial ban (paragraphs l68 - l7 1).

    (15) Available police forces did not provide adequate protection to People's Democracy marchers at Burntollet Bridge and in or near Irish Street, Londonderry on 4th January 1969. There were instances of police indiscipline and violence towards persons unassociated with rioting or disorder on 4th/ 5th January in Londonderry and these provoked serious hostility to the police, particularly among the Catholic population of Londonderry, and an increasing disbelief in their impartiality towards non-Unionists (paragraphs 97-101 and 177).

    (16) Numerical insufficiency of available police force especially in Armagh on 30th November 1968 and in Londonderry on 4th/ 5th January 1969 and later on l9th/20th April prevented early and complete control and, where necessary, arrest of disorderly and riotous elements (paragraphs 87, 101 and 182).

The Government's announcements on the reform of local government franchise - the 'one man one vote' issue - reform and readjustment of local government administration, including electoral areas and boundaries, introduction of a comprehensive and fair 'points' system in the allocation of Council built houses and the introduction of special machinery to deal with complaints arising out of matters of local administration, go a very considerable way. not only to acknowledge the justice of the complaints on these points but also the expediency and necessity of providing remedies for them.

230. In view of this we feel that we should not be stepping beyond the proper limits of our duty if we were to add two observations of our own which are relevant to these proposals for reform. The first of these relates to the police. The nature of the relationship of the R.U.C. to the Minister of Home Affairs makes it easy for the criticism to be put forward that the R.U.C. is essentially an instrument of party Government. Where complaints are made of misconduct of police officers towards members of the public it is obviously in the interest of the police force as well as of the public that there should be full confidence that any enquiry should be wholly unbiased and that it should be in impartial hands. Lack of confidence in police impartiality leads to lack of public confidence in and support for the police. If it is the express intention of the Northern Ireland Government that there should be specific machinery for dealing with complaints against local government administration, it appears to us that there is substance in a suggestion that matters of complaint against members of the police force should be investigated by an equally responsible and impartial body. In light of the events which have occurred and which formed the subject matter of our enquiry. we have felt that a complaints board or tribunal of independent persons appointed on the nomination or recommendation of the Lord Chief Justice might be an appropriate complement to the machinery for dealing with local government grievances. Such a tribunal would be responsible for investigation and, in the appropriate case, reporting to the Inspector General for any necessary disciplinary action, or, if felt that criminal proceedings might be required, to the requisite criminal authority. In addition, in order to preserve parliamentary control, it would be necessary that such a board or tribunal should report its activities annually to Parliament. This could in effect be no more than a logical extension of the provision already introduced into the Police Code of associating a practising barrister with the disciplinary tribunal investigating complaints against the police, and for the public hearing thereof in cases where matters of security are not involved. In making this proposal we in no way wish to reflect on the impartiality and care with which County Inspector Baillie carried out his investigations. As we have already said we, with respect, endorse his conclusion that there were serious breaches of discipline and acts of illegal violence perpetrated by certain police officers in Londonderry on 4th/5th January 1969, but we think such a difficult task as that entrusted to him was to place a very heavy responsibility on his shoulders as a senior police officer.

231. The other point on which we wish to comment is the manner of appointment of senior officials of the new local authorities. The necessary consequence of reducing the number of authorities and increasing their power in relation to their predecessors is to increase also the power and responsibilities of the leading officials. In these new circumstances the opportunity arises for giving serious consideration to the manner of their recruitment and appointment, and in particular whether this important function should be left to the discretion of the elected authorities subject, in the case of top grade appointments, to approval of the Ministry of Development, or whether some central body or authority should not be responsible for the making of such appointments. We do not doubt - from what we saw and heard - that some such procedure on appointments would materially increase confidence in both the efficiency and impartiality of the local government administrators. Such a procedure would go far to assimilate at least senior posts in the reorganised local government to the structure of appointments in the Northern Ireland Civil Service. It would seem to us in light of all we have heard, that a good case could be made for the creation of a 'public service' and for the discharge by it both of central and local government functions in the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland, in view of its comparatively small population and of the nature and scope of the changes in local government structure which are now foreshadowed.

232. Looking back on the course of this Enquiry and of all its implications we feel bound to express our very firm conviction, based on the extent and weight of the evidence and opinions presented to us and collected by us, that the honest implementation of these reforms already promised or foreshadowed by the Government with the least necessary delay, is one essential step toward the development of a lasting peace and a measure of harmony and mutual understanding among all the people of Northern Ireland. There are, as we an well aware, other and difficult elements in the community's problems which statesmanship has to solve, but we have been left with no doubt that without these reforms and changes there would be grave risk of further and more serious disorders in the future which, if they occurred, would inevitably rouse more bitter and more irreconcilable passions on either side. It was fortunate indeed that, for whatever cause, the disorders into which we have enquired over the past months, serious as they were, were not made even more grave by resort to the use of firearms - except on two isolated occasions happily accompanied by no injury to persons or property. Unhappily this can no longer be said of the events which have occurred so tragically during the preparation of this Report.

233. We have endeavoured as fairly and as fully as we could to investigate the matters remitted to us and have now submitted our conclusions and the reasons which have led to them. Our Enquiry has disclosed many deep rooted causes of dissension and of bitter memories, many matters which must be a cause of distress to all who have the interest of Northern Ireland, its prosperity and that of its people at heart. At the same time there have been encouraging signs that attitudes among Unionists and non-Unionists alike were and had been undergoing change and modification, and that extremist views on either side were becoming more isolated and commanding less support. It would however be a grave political and social error to regard the Civil Rights movement as narrowly sectarian or subversively political; it was and is a movement which drew - and still draws - support from a wide measure of moderate opinion on many sides and to that extent is a novel phenomenon in the political firmament of Northern Ireland.

234. Finally we express the hope that in the discharge of our task we have succeeded in placing the true facts in their proper perspective, in analysing the numerous contributory and conflicting causes of these disorders, in strengthening the support which the measures the Government has announced to repair grievances and remedy justifiable grievances can command, and that in so doing this Report may in some degree serve to promote the cause of peace and mutual understanding among all the people of Northern Ireland.

235. Since this Report was drafted and during the period of its preparation, certain events of grave disorder, in particular in Belfast and Londonderry, have occurred, which go far to confirm the inference which we have already drawn in earlier parts of our Report, that there have been and are at work within Northern Ireland persons whose immediate and deliberate intention is to prepare, plan and provoke violence, reckless of the consequences to persons or property. Their purpose is not to secure peace by way of reform and within the bounds of the constitution, but to subvert and destroy the constitutional structure of the state. At the same time, there are others who by their appeal to sectarian prejudices and bigotry have assisted to inflame passions and keep alive ancient hatreds that have readily led to the unleashing of lawless and uncontrolled violence. From the aimless and vicious hooligans of the streets and alleys to the extremists of right or left, of whatever creed, Catholic or Protestant, all would appear to bear a share of blame for the tragic events which have occurred and in which the vast majority of the population of Northern Ireland have neither hand nor concern and which we have no doubt they most deeply deplore.

236. In a situation which contains so many grave possibilities we would again draw particular attention to the complexity of the causes of those disorders which we were called on to investigate, and to the dangers which over-emphasis or over-simplification in press or other report or comment on particular facets of these causes could so readily produce. These unhappy events have already received very wide press and television coverage which, as we have observed. sometimes highlighted intentionally or by chance particular incidents the reporting of which may well have distorted or tended to distort the accuracy of the picture of the whole.

John Cameron
J. Henry Biggart
J. J. Camphell

A. J. Green Secretary
W. T. McCrory Asst. Secretary
16th August 1969

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