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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1968



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Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

A Chronology of the Conflict - 1968 to the Present 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003            

The following is a draft chronology of the conflict for the year 1968.

1968 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1968

January 1968

Monday 8 January 1968
item mark Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, travelled to Dublin to meet with Jack Lynch, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), to continue discussions on matters of joint interest to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]
[ nai on cain Other Political Developments; North-South Relations]

Friday 19 January 1968
item mark Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, made a speech marking five years in office to members of the Irish Association. O'Neill called for "a new endeavour by organisations in Northern Ireland to cross denominational barriers and advance the cause of better community relations" (The Times; 20 January 1968).

February 1968

Tuesday 6 February 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

Wednesday 14 February 1968
[ nai on cain ]

March 1968

Wednesday 13 March 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

Monday 25(?) March 1968
item mark Members of the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) disrupted a meeting of Londonderry Corporation to protest at the lack of housing provision in the city.

April 1968

Saturday 27 April 1968
item mark The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) held a rally to protest at the banning of a Republican Easter parade.

May 1968

Thursday 16 May 1968
item mark In the Stormont (Northern Ireland parliament) by-election in the city of Londonderry (Derry) the Ulster Unionists retained the seat.

Monday 20 May 1968
item mark Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, was showered with eggs, flour and stones after a meeting of the Woodvale Unionist Association.

Saturday 25(?) May 1968
item mark The Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) held another protest at the Guildhall in Derry.

June 1968

Tuesday 4 June 1968
item mark Lord Stonham, then Minister of State at the Home Office with responsibility for Northern Ireland, began a three day visit to the region.

Wednesday 19 June 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Thursday 20 June 1968
The Caledon Protest
item mark Austin Currie, then Nationalist Member of Parliament (MP) at Stormont, and a number of other people, began a protest about discrimination in the allocation of housing by 'squating' (illegally occupying) in a house in Caledon, County Tyrone. The house had been allocated by Dungannon Rural District Council to a 19 year-old unmarried Protestant woman, Emily Beatty, who was the secretary of a local Unionist politician. Emily Beatty was given the house ahead of older married Catholic families with children. The protesters were evicted by officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). [One of the officers was Emily Beatty's brother.]
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Friday 21 June 1968
item mark The annual conference of the Nationalist Party unanimously approved of the protest action by Austin Currie in Caledon, County Tryone on 20 June 1968.

Saturday 22 June 1968
item mark The Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) staged a protest by blocking the Lecky Road in the Bogside area of Derry.

Wednesday 26 June 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Saturday 29 June 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

July 1968

Wednesday 3 July 1968
item mark As part of a series of protests against housing conditions in Derry, the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) held a sit-down protest on the newly opened second deck of the Craigavon Bridge in the city.

Sunday 21 July 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Wednesday 24 July 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Wednesday 31 July 1968
item mark Ralph Grey was appointed as Governor of Northern Ireland.

August 1968

Thursday 15 August 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Thursday 22 August 1968
item mark The Society of Labour Lawyers (SLL) published an 'interim report' about alleged discrimination in Northern Ireland. The report was heavily criticised by unionists. [No copy of this report is though to currently exist.]

Friday 23 August 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Saturday 24 August 1968
First Civil Rights March
item mark The Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ), the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), and a number of other groups, held the first 'civil rights march' in Northern Ireland from Coalisland to Dungannon. Loyalists organised a counter demonstration in an effort to get the march banned and in fact the planned rally was officially banned. [This was a tactic that was to be used throughout the period of 'the Troubles']. Despite this the march took place and passed off without incident. The publicity surrounding the march acted as encouragement to other protesting groups to form branches of the NICRA.

Monday 26 August 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Tuesday 27 August 1968
item mark The Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) organised another protest in the Guildhall's council chamber. Immediately after the protest Eamon Melaugh phoned the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and invited them to organise a march in Derry.

Wednesday 28 August 1968
item mark Gerry Fitt, then an MP, tabled a House of Commons motion, which was signed by 60 Labour Party backbenchers, which criticised RUC action in Dungannon on 24 August 1968 and demanded that: "citizens of Northern Ireland should be allowed the same rights of peaceful demonstration as those in other parts of the United Kingdom".
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Monday 29 August 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Saturday 31 August 1968
item mark A delegation from the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) met with members of the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) to discuss the proposed march. An ad-hoc Civil Rights Committee was established to organise the march on Saturday 5 October 1968. [The Committee did not operate as anticipated and effective control of the march fell to Eamonn McCann and Eamon Melaugh.]

September 1968

Saturday 7 September 1968
item mark A second meeting was held between the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and members of the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) to discuss the proposed Derry March. [The first meeting was on 31 August 1968.]

Sunday 8 September 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]

Wednesday 18 September 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]

Tuesday 24 September 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]

Monday 30 September 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]

n.d. September 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Political Developments. ]

October 1968

Tuesday 1 October 1968
item mark The Apprentice Boys of Derry announced its intention to hold an 'annual' march along the same proposed route of the Civil Rights demonstration, on the same day and at the same time. [This particular tactic had been used on several occasions before and many times after the Derry March. It provided the excuse needed to ban the march.]
item mark A new Northern Ireland university opened at Coleraine, County Londonderry. The university was named the New University of Ulster. [The decision to build the university at Coleraine had caused a great deal of controversy among all shades of opinion in Derry who felt that as the second city of Northern Ireland Derry should have received the economic stimulus the university would have brought. The university merged in October 1984 with Jordanstown Polytechnic, Magee College in Derry and Belfast Art College to form the University of Ulster.]

Thursday 3 October 1968
item mark The proposed civil rights march in Derry was banned from the area of the city centre and the Waterside area. The banning order was issued under the Public Order Act by William Craig, then Home Affairs Minister.
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]

Friday 4 October 1968
item mark A Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) delegation met with the Derry March organisers and tried to have the march cancelled. Eventually it was decided to go ahead with the march.
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]

Saturday 5 October 1968
Civil Rights March in Derry
[Considered by many as the start date of 'the Troubles']
item mark A civil rights march in Derry, that had been organised by members of the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) and supported by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), was stopped by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) before it had properly begun. The marchers had proposed to walk from Duke Street in the Waterside area of Derry to the Diamond in the centre of the City. Present at the march were three British Labour Party Members of Parliament (MP); Gerry Fitt, then Republican Labour MP; several Stormont MPs; and members of the media including a television crew from RTE. There were different estimates of the number of people taking part in the march. Eamonn McCann (one of the organisers of the march) estimated that about 400 people lined up on the street with a further 200 watching from the pavements. The RUC broke-up the march by baton-charging the crowd and leaving many people injured including a number of MPs. [The incidents were filmed and later there was worldwide television coverage. The incidents in Derry had a profound effect on many people around the world but particularly on the Catholic population of Northern Ireland. Immediately after the march there were two days of serious rioting in Derry between the Catholic residents of the city and the RUC.]

Sunday 6 October 1968
item mark Rioting flared up again in the afternoon in Derry.
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]

Monday 7 October 1968
item mark Rioting continued in Derry.
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]

Tuesday 8 October 1968
item mark Sporadic disturbances continued in Derry.
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]
[ nai on cain Derry March; Partition]

Wednesday 9 October 1968
People's Democracy Formed
item mark 2,000 students from the Queen's University of Belfast (QUB) tried to march to Belfast City Hall to protest against 'police brutality' on the 5 October 1968 in Derry. The marched was blocked by a counter demonstration led by Ian Paisley. A three-hour sit-down demonstration followed the blocking of the march. [Following the events of the day the People's Democracy (PD) organisation was formed. PD became an important force in the civil rights movement and a number of those who were leading members in the organisation, for example Bernadette Devlin and Michael Farrell, became prominent political activists.]
item mark The Derry Citizen's Action Committee (DCAC) was formed from five protest organisations which had been active in the city. Ivan Cooper was the first chairman and John Hume the first vice-chairman of the DCAC.
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March. ]

Thursday 10 October 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Monday 14 October 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Tuesday 15 October 1968
Nationalist Party Withdrew as 'Official' Opposition
item mark The Nationalist Party of Northern Ireland (NPNI) withdrew from its role as 'official' opposition within the Northern Ireland parliament at Stormont.

Wednesday 16 October 1968
item mark The People's Democracy (PD) organised a march of 1,300 students from the Queen's University of Belfast to the City Hall in the centre of the city.
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; People’s Democracy; Derry March. ]

Saturday 19 October 1968
item mark Derry Citizen's Action Committee (DCAC; established on 9 October 1968) organised an illegal sit-down at Guildhall Square as part of large civil disobedience campaign. The event passed off peacefully.

Wednesday 23 October 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Thursday 24 October 1968
item mark The People's Democracy (PD) organised a protest demonstration at Stormont Parliament buildings, Belfast. (?)

Wednesday 30 October 1968
item mark Jack Lynch, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), met with Harold Wilson, then British Prime Minister, in London. The Taoiseach called for the ending of partition as a means to resolve the unrest in Northern Ireland.
item mark The Irish Times (a Dublin based newspaper) carried a report of an interview with Lord Brookeborough (former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland).
[ nai on cain Derry March; Civil Rights; Anglo-Irish Relations; Partition]

Thursday 31 October 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

n.d. October 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Political Developments. ]

November 1968

Friday 1 November 1968
[ nai on cain Derry March; Anglo-Irish Relations; Partition]

Saturday 2 November 1968
item mark There was a march in Derry by the fifteen committee members of the Derry Citizen's Action Committee (DCAC). The march took place over the route of the banned 5 October 1968 march. Thousands of people walked in support behind the DCAC committee. [Due to the number of people taking part the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were unable to prevent the march taking place.]
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Law Order. ]

Monday 4 November 1968
item mark Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, together with William Craig, then Home Affairs Minister, and Brian Faulkner, then Minister of Commerce, met in Downing Street, London, with Harold Wilson, then British Prime Minister, and James Callaghan, then British Home Secretary, for talks about the situation in Northern Ireland. The British Prime Minister stated that there would be no change in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland without the consent of the Northern Ireland population. [Wilson is believed to have pressed O'Neill to introduce urgent reforms. A reforms package was announced on 22 November 1968.]
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Political Developments. ]

Tuesday 5 November 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Wednesday 6 November 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Thursday 7 November 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Friday 8 November 1968
item mark Londonderry Corporation agreed to a Nationalist request to introduce a points system in the allocation of public sector housing.

Saturday 9 November 1968
item mark Ian Paisley and Ronald Bunting led a Loyalist march to the Diamond area of Derry.

Monday 11 November 1968
[ nai on cain Other Political Developments; Partition]

Wednesday 13 November 1968
item mark William Craig, then Home Affairs Minister, banned all marches, with the exception of 'customary' parades, in Derry from 14 November 1968 to 14 December 1968. [The exception of 'customary' parades meant that Loyalist institutions could parade but civil rights marches would be banned.]

Thursday 14 November 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Saturday 16 November 1968
item mark The Derry Citizens Action Committee (DCAC) defied a ban on marches in Derry by marching to the Diamond area of the city. An estimated 15,000 people took part in the subsequent sit-down demonstration in the Diamond area of Derry.

Sunday 17 November 1968
item mark A policy of civil disobedience was adopted by the Nationalist Party at its annual conference.

Wednesday 20 November 1968
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Friday 22 November 1968
Reforms Package Announced
item mark Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, announced a package of reform measures which had resulted from meetings in London with Harold Wilson, then British Prime Minister, and James Callaghan, then British Home Secretary. The 'five point programme' included:

  • a nine member 'Development Commission' to take over the powers of the Londonderry Corporation;
  • an ombudsman to investigate complaints against government departments;
  • the allocation of houses by local authorities to be based on need;
  • the Special Powers Act to be abolished as soon as it was safe to do so; and
  • some reform of the local government franchise (the end of the company votes).
["In just forty-eight days since 5 October 1968 the Catholic minority had won more political concessions than it had over the previous forth-seven years." (Bardon, 1992; p657).]
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Monday 25 November 1968
[ proni on cain Law Order; Civil Rights Campaign. ]

Thursday 28 November 1968
item mark The Electoral Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1968 became law and abolished university representation and the business vote in Stormont elections. It also created four new constituencies and a permanent Boundary Commission.

Saturday 30 November 1968
item mark A Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) march in Armagh was stopped by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) because of the presence of a Loyalist counter demonstration led by Ian Paisley and Ronald Bunting. The Loyalist crowd then took over the centre of Armagh. [Both Paisley and Bunting were imprisoned in January 1969 for unlawful assembly during this counter protest.]

December 1968

Monday 2 December 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Political Developments. ]

Wednesday 4 December 1968
item mark Following a civil rights march in Dungannon there was a violent clash between Loyalists and those who were taking part in the march.

Thursday 5 December 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Political Developments. ]

Monday 9 December 1968
item mark Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, made a television appeal for moderate opinion in what became known as the 'Ulster stands at the Crossroads' speech. The speech gained a lot of public support.
item mark The Derry Citizen's Action Committee (DCAC) called a halt to all marches and protests for a period of one month.
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Political Developments. ]

Wednesday 11 December 1968
item mark Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, sacked William Craig, then Home Affairs Minister, because of differing opinions on the legality of Westminster intervention on devolved matters.

Thursday 12 December 1968
item mark Terence O'Neill , then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, received overwhelming support from Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs) at Stormont.

Thursday 19 December 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Derry March; Political Developments. ]

Friday 20 December 1968
item mark The People's Democracy (PD) announced that its members would undertake a protest march from Belfast to Derry beginning on 1 January 1969.

n.d. December 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Political Developments. ]

n.d. December 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign; Political Developments. ]

n.d. December 1968
[ proni on cain Civil Rights Campaign. ]

 


Sources
This chronology has been compiled from a number of sources:

See Also:

  • Material listed in the CAIN Bibliography which was published during 1968.
  • For a full list of, and links to, on-line sources see the Guide to the Internet.

Notes

  • Each entry contains information, where relevant, on the following topic areas:
    • Major security incidents
    • Political developments
    • Policy initiatives
    • Economic matters
    • Other relevant items
  • Information contained within square brackets [   ] may contain commentary or information that only became publicly available at a later date.
  • Any piece of information which is followed by a question mark in parenthesis (?) is a best estimate while awaiting an update.

 


A Chronology of the Conflict - 1968 to the Present 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003            

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


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