Irish Congress of Trade Unions (1969) 'Programme for Peace and Progress in Northern Ireland', August 1969
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The following pamphlet was published by the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) in August 1969. The views expressed in this pamphlet do not necessarily reflect the views of the members of the CAIN Project. The CAIN Project would welcome other material which meets our guidelines for contributions.
and Progress in
Northern Ireland Committee
IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS Northern Ireland Committee
The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is the central trade union organisation in Northern Ireland. It is composed of ten members elected annually at a Delegate Conference of Trade Unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions with membership in Northern Ireland.
N.I.C. - I.C.T.U. - 1969-70
Chairman: MR. R. ALLEN, J.P. (A.S.W.)
Mr. J. MORROW, President I.CT.U.
PROGRAMME FOR PEACE
IN NORTHERN IRELAND
The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions represents 215,000 trade union members in Northern Ireland and is the most representative body covering all sections of religious and political opinions.
The primary functions of the Committee are to protect and improve the wages and working conditions of trade unionists and to promote economic and social progress through full employment, equality of opportunity and rising standards of living.
The Committee has consistently sought to influence the Government and the community to pursue progressive policies in the interests of all the people in Northern Ireland; in particular we have sought the acceptance of full democratic and civil rights for all citizens.
We put forward the following programme for peace and progress in Northern Ireland, the implementation of which we believe would create community harmony and promote the true interests of all the people.
THE POSITION OF NORTHERN IRELAND:Northern Ireland is constituted as an integral part of the United Kingdom, and this position cannot be changed except by the democratic decision of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland. This is the constitutional position and all citizens. whatever their political views, should reject the use of physical force as a means of achieving political objectives. All citizens should be free to advocate change by democratic means. People should be assured that there are effective means of protecting the State and its people against the use of force from any quarter. To this end the United Kingdom Government should retain responsibility for security as long as may be necessary.
CIVIL PEACEWe note that the Cameron Commission’s Report on the disturbances in Northern Ireland will be available shortly and that there is to be a full and impartial enquiry into recent happenings in Belfast. We consider that the Bailie Report on police activities in Derry should be made public. We welcome the setting up of the Hunt Committee on the organisation of the police force in Northern Ireland and we would stress that the deliberations of this Committee should be expedited and a report submitted as quickly as possible. These various reports will provide an opportunity for a full consideration of the problems of maintaining civil peace in a manner acceptable to all sections of the community. We hold the view that the administration of the police force in Northern Ireland should be brought under the control of a new Central Police Authority accountable to Parliament. The duties and responsibilities of the police force should be in line with the accepted practice of the rest of the United Kingdom. Any support force should also be on lines similar to Britain. In normal circumstances, all police forces should be unarmed and be seen to be an impartial civilian force for the protection of order and the safeguarding of the liberties and rights of all citizens. Members of the police force should have the right to organise to safeguard and advance their interests.
COMMUNITY RELATIONS:We welcome the proposal to set up a Community Relations Board. The necessary legislation should be introduced without delay. This legislation should guarantee all citizens the basic human rights contained in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and provide machinery to make a reality of this guarantee. An impartial Community Relations Board should be constituted so as to ensure its acceptability by all sections of the community throughout Northern Ireland. The Board should be empowered to examine the causes of community unrest and enquire into complaints of discrimination, It should have the power to subpoena witnesses and to require that particulars be furnished in writing and that documents be produced. The Board should endeavour to eliminate the causes of discrimination by means of conciliation, but should have power to take legal action where this may be necessary to secure redress. The creation of a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration and the proposed introduction of machinery to consider citizens grievances against other public authorities is also welcomed.
APPOINTMENTS IN PUBLIC SERVICE:We propose the setting up of a Public Appointments Commission which would be responsible for the recruitment and appointment of staff in local authorities and other public bodies. The composition and procedures of the Commission should be such as would assure all citizens that appointments are made on the basis of merit and suitability. The Civil Service Commission should be reconstituted and be clearly seen to be outside political influence.
The Housing Trust should be reconstituted and made the central organisation for the provision and allocation of all public housing accommodation. The basis of allocation should be along the lines of the points system already recommended by the Government. In the meantime, steps should be taken to ensure that all local authorities implement this points system, if necessary, by the withholding of the Northern Ireland Government subsidy from houses not so allocated.It is urgently necessary that a crash programme of new housing be undertaken without delay. We strongly urge the Government to set a target of 20,000 houses a year to be achieved as soon as possible to relieve the present acute position. This target is technically feasible and should be made financially possible. Positive steps should be taken to avoid segregation in new housing projects, this is of paramount importance.
The provision of jobs is a primary need if one of the basic causes of community tensions and unrest is to be removed. The programme for the attraction and establishment of new industries must be pressed forward with urgency. The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will continue to extend its full support to the manpower and industrial training programmes. The importance of achieving increased employment through these programmes demands the setting up of a separate Ministry of Employment and Training. This was recommended in the Wilson Report four years ago and we urge the Government to implement the proposal immediately.All means of providing work for the unemployed whether by public or private enterprise should be fully explored and to this end the Northern Ireland Economic Council should be requested to prepare positive proposals for submission to the Government. We feel that this Council needs to be reconstituted so as to make it a more effective body.
The extension of the local government franchise to all adult citizens must be implemented and the reorganisation of local government areas carried through without delay.The criteria for local government reorganisation should be service to the people and efficient administration and its structure and functions should be determined in the light of these criteria. The boundaries of the new local government areas should be the subject of examination by a Parliamentary Committee composed of members of all parties in Parliament which should report by the end o’ March 1970. The Parliamentary Committee should have available to it the services of reputable outside economic and planning consultants to assist it in its task. An impartial commission should draw up the ward boundaries in the new local government areas. The boundaries should be such as to ensure that, as far as possible, the number of the electorate is the same in all wards so that each ward would return an equal number of Councillors. Provision should be made for the review of ward boundaries in a fair and impartial manner not less frequently than once in nine years.
The new local government authorities must be determined to serve all the people in their areas.
Representatives of civil authorities, Churches and educational bodies should jointly examine ways and means of achieving greater co-operation and co-ordination between all schools with a view to achieving ultimately an integrated and comprehensive educational system which would provide full protection for all religious and cultural interests and in which the educational interests of the children would be paramount.
SECURITY AND LIBERTY:
We recognise that a democratic state requires powers to protect its security and the liberty of its citizens. Legislation appropriate to this purpose, which protects the principle of innocence until guilt is proven, should take the place of the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922.
COMPOSITION OF SENATE, ETC.:
In order to promote a wider participation in the affairs of the State and to extend the democratic process, consideration should be given to the basis of representation in the Senate, on the Privy Council and on public boards.
In view of the seriousness of the immediate situation in Northern Ireland, we would urge the United Kingdom Government to make special financial arrangements to meet the exceptional costs arising from the recent disturbances and to further the economic and social well-being of the people of Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Committee acknowledges the strenuous efforts of trade union officials, shop stewards and members during the recent difficult period to maintain calm, order and solidarity.Conscious of the influence which can be exerted by the trade union movement on community affairs by reason of the magnitude of its membership, and the widespread nature of its organisation, the Northern Ireland Committee calls on all members of the trade union movement and all organisations within the trade union movement to accept the responsibility of using their influence to the full in support of the programme for peace and progress in Northern Ireland. In present circumstances the trade union movement has a very special opportunity of making an immense contribution to an improvement in community relations The opportunity should be taken.
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