Calendar of Newspaper Articles dealing with Civil Rights issues, 1 Jun 1968 - 9 Dec 1968 by Alan Scott
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August: | 1-3 | 5-10 | 12-17 | 19-24 | 26-31 | Top |
Derry the worst - US fact-finder
Report: Heaney expresses confidence that the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg will order the repeal of the Special Powers Act and the introduction of one-man-one-vote at local elections. Derry, he claims, 'provided the worst example of electoral abuse in the North of Ireland, which in his opinion was a police state.' He also believes that 'there certainly seems to be a protestant element over here that doesn't like the situation any more than the catholics.'
Electoral abuse worst in Derry
Report: Heaney visits Derry 'conducting a survey into the alleged political and religious discrimination in Northern Ireland with a view to presenting the case to the Court of Human Rights.' He says that 'Londonderry provides the worst example of electoral abuse in the North of Ireland which is a police state.' The Court of Human Rights, he claims, will order the repeal of the Special Powers Act and the introduction of one man one vote at local elections.
[IN, BT, 31 August]
The republican movement
Letter: The republican movement still parades its old slogans, yet no action is taken to end the status quo that is 'the Special Powers Act, an artificial border, blatant discrimination against the minority, all of which remain.' Republicanism needs to recover its public relations acumen and pursue a 'clearly defined policy.'
2 August, 1968
Civil rights body urges new approach
Report: The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association feels that a new approach to the discrimination issue is necessary, and that Stormont must cease its denials that any problems exist if community relations are to be improved. 'For fifty years the governing party's monopoly of power has placed at its disposal tens of thousands of jobs and houses. For fifty years the party's political opponents have been emigrating at a disproportionate rate, for lack of jobs and houses.' It is not the politics of the situation which concern the CRA, but 'the incredible refusal to concede even the slightest infringement of human rights.' The situation now requires 'more vigorous action than parliamentary questions and newspaper controversy.' A protest march has thus been organised for 24 August, from Coalisland to Dungannon.
Protest against 'discrimination'
Report: NICRA arranges a demonstration against discrimination for 24 August
3 August, 1968
Mr Taylor's 'victory'
Letter: Taylor claims victory in his American TV debate with nationalists; this is remarkable, since he was unable on the show to deny or excuse the existence of the Special Powers Act, internment camps and housing discrimination. Support for the American Congress for Irish Freedom has increased thanks to his antics.
5 August, 1968
Casement commemorated in his beloved Murlough
Report: At a commemoration honouring Roger Casement, Agnew states that 'Captain O'Neill is mistaken if he thinks any man or woman who loves Ireland is going to give them loyalty to a British queen in return for any wee job.' He urges people to support the campaign of civil disobedience, and asks them in this regard to attend the 'monster gathering in Coalisland scheduled for August 24.'
Austin Currie summonsed
Report: Currie receives a summons for his squatting at Caledon
Currie on 'squatting' summons [Report]
[NL, 6 August]
Orange film - protest by Capt Orr
Report: Orr lodges a formal complaint with the BBC over a television programme dealing with the Orange Order on which he appeared. He feels that the programme presented a far from objective picture and speaks of 'the harm done to community relations in the Province.'
[NL, 6 August]
MP accused of rudeness
Letter: Orr's appearance on television has projected a very poor image of Northern Ireland.
6 August, 1968
Caledon protest squatters get summonses
Report: The men who joined Austin Currie in his Caledon protest receive summonses.
2 more summoned [Report]
Nationalist MP is summoned
Report: Currie receives a summons for his squatting at Caledon.
[IN, BT, 5 August]
Orr slams BBC over Orange film
Report: Orr lodges a formal complaint with the BBC over a television programme on which he appeared. He feels that it presented a far from objective picture of the Orange Order and speaks of the harm that this has done to community relations.
[BT, 5 August]
7 August, 1968
Derry bridge 'sit-down' - two elect to go to prison
Report: Two members of the DHAC decide to go to prison rather than sign bail bonds over their Craigavon Bridge sit-down demonstration as a measure of protest.
[IN, NL, 8 August]
In praise of Capt Orr, MP
Letter: Orr was not rude during his recent television appearance; he was given little opportunity to defend his point of view.
8 August, 1968
Dungannon housing: the true facts
Leader: A survey team including Currie and some local authority representatives has compiled a report on the Dungannon situation presenting 'conclusive proof of the injustice which is the trade-mark of the town's local government authorities.' The report demonstrates that 'catholics do not receive a fair share of allocations in relation to their percentage of population.' It suggests a points system for housing allocations, its authors feeling that current practices 'can lead to other abuses as well as the obvious one of political manipulation to ensure continued political control.'
Housing allocation in Dungannon since 1945
Report: The survey finds that disproportionate housing allocations in the Dungannon area are made to protestants and that a large majority of the houses allocated to catholics are in areas which already have an anti-Unionist majority. The policy is politically-motivated, with the result that it takes 1,328 catholic votes to elect a Nationalist councillor, but only 473 protestant votes to elect a Unionist. A points system is admittedly an imperfect solution, but is certainly less open to abuse than the existing practice whereby individual councillors decide on allocations. The authors of the report make clear: 'we consider it the negation of Christianity that such a personal thing as a man's religion should be exploited by the few for party political ends to the detriment of the community. We abhor the identification of religion with politics and yearn for the day when religion will no longer have a bearing on one's entitlement to a home in any local authority area.' The survey also reveals, say its authors, some degree of discrimination against protestants 'known to be unsympathetic to the clique in power.'
Survey 'proves discrimination,,' Currie claims
Report: The survey shows that catholics make up 52.1% of the local population, but are allocated only 44.5% of council houses. New catholic families are normally let only 35.4% of houses. In the case of families rehoused from accommodation unfit for human habitation, catholics receive 28.8% of new houses. The report goes on to assert, 'of all the houses allocated to catholics in Dungannon rural area, 80.1% are situated on the six electoral divisions where there is already an overwhelming anti-Unionist majority.' It goes on to claims that 1,328 catholics must cast a vote in order to have elected one Nationalist councillor, while only 473 protestant votes elect each Unionist. The research is based on official figures combined with the work of the surveying team.
Elected to go to jail as Derry housing protest
Report: Some DHAC members elect to go to jail over their Craigavon Bridge sit-down demonstration 'as a protest against the chronic housing situation in the city.'
Derry men choose to go to jail [Report]
[BT, 7 August]
Orange critics answered
Report: A writer in the Down and Dromore Parishes Magazine defends Orangeism, claiming that there is nothing wrong in expressing honest difference with catholics. Protestant suspicions of catholics are understandable since the catholic 'change of heart has been quite sudden. The state has long suffered from the unwillingness of its nationalist-minded citizens to fully co-operate in its life.' Nationalists should not expect old suspicions to disappear overnight. Segregation in Northern Ireland is largely the responsibility of catholics who set themselves apart from the state.
Donations in Derry 'for fines'
Report: Some DHAC protesters fined for previous demonstrations have had their fines paid off by the door-to-door collection organised for this purpose. The collection will continue until all fines have been paid. The petition of contributors will be sent to the council's housing committee.
9 August, 1968
Housing discrimination document for Labour lawyers
Report: Reaction to the report on Dungannon housing discrimination has been one of 'surprise and consternation,' and not only among catholics. Fitt is to send copies of the report to the Society of Labour Lawyers. He praises the actions of the CSJ and Austin Currie, which have highlighted a situation in Dungannon 'symptomatic of discrimination in the allocation of houses in the Six Counties.' The charges of 'blatant discrimination' against Dungannon RDC, he says, are 'irrefutable,' and represent a challenge which O'Neill will have to face. Liberal-minded protestants in Dungannon feel that people should work together to remove the injustices evinced by the report.
McAteer for London on August 20
Report: McAteer is to meet Callaghan and Stonham. He says, 'it seems to be agreed all round that there is something to remedy here,' and refers to Wilson's comments.
10 August, 1968
Observers from civil rights body to be in court
Report: NICRA is to send two representatives (Betty Sinclair, chairman, and John McAnerney, secretary) to observe the court proceedings against Currie. Several Westminster MPs will speak at the 24 August demonstration.
The facts about Dungannon
Editorial: The recent report on Dungannon housing offers, in plain black and white, 'a monumental indictment of a deliberate policy to deny catholics in the area…a fair share of the allocations.' Unionists can no longer claim to be uncertain as to the substance behind charges of discrimination, and must take action. Nationalists are tired of Unionist evasiveness. Government should institute a public inquiry into the situation.
12 August, 1968
Support for civil rights march
Report: The Nationalist Party extends its support to the NICRA protest march, which is expected to attract 10,000 people.
Call for action to stop minority being deprived of rights
Report: Speaking at a gathering of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Sen Gerry Lennon calls on O'Neill to act against local authorities, 'which deprived the catholic and nationalist people of the North of the right to proper housing and equal opportunities in employment.' He feels that 'the time for fair words is past and the time for honest dealing is long since overdue.'
Senator calls for action [Report]
Lennon calls for action - not words [Report]
MP was right
Letter: Orr was right in saying that the BBC is 'more than fair to the minority in Ulster' while it at the same time offers 'black unconstructive' views of protestantism.
13 August, 1968
'Black' men from Eire out in force
Report: A Black demonstration is told that the Black and Orange institutions, and the Apprentice Boys, were formed neither to further political ends nor to promote religious bigotry, though some people do try to use them for these purposes.
Eire RBP leads Ulster procession [Report]
Summons against Tyrone MP dismissed
Report: Currie and his co-defendants in the Caledon squatting case secure a favourable decision in court
Summons against MP dismissed [Report]
[IN, NL, 14 August]
14 August, 1968
Mr Austin Currie and co-defendants win verdict
Report: Currie and the two other men facing charges over their squatting at Caledon secure a favourable decision over their case in court. Lennon, acting in their defence, claims that they were protesting against 'the gravest of grave injustices.' Demonstrators outside the courthouse feel that the local council should be in the dock over its housing policy. Currie sees the charges against him as 'politically motivated,' and his victory as a vindication of his methods and a 'complete indictment' of the system run by Dungannon rural council.
Mr Austin Currie, MP, and his companions win 'house' case
Report: NICRA observers are to report on the proceedings to their executive committee.
Cheers greet sit-in case [Report]
[BT, 13 August]
Currie case - crown appeal?
Report: The crown may appeal in the case recently dismissed over Currie's squatting. There will be a civil rights march from Coalisland to Dungannon on 24 August, organised by NICRA, against, in Currie's words, 'discrimination, the Special Powers Act, unfair housing allocation, and all those evil things that we are against.'
Black and white
Editorial: The Black Preceptory's motion calling on the government to refute 'anti-Ulster propaganda' will not deter the minority from its course of protest and the exposure of injustice. Grievances are now being aired at Westminster and at Strasbourg, Stormont having long since failed to pay the charges any heed. The campaign will continue until 'some day, somehow, the whole sordid business of discrimination in housing, jobs, plural voting and the blatant gerrymandering of wards to ensure protestant and Unionist majorities on local councils, is banished from our society.'
Let Stormont cut the shackles
Letter: The Unionist government should cut its links with the Orange Order, speed up social reform, and adopt an outlook 'which will enable it to deal equally' with protestants and catholics.
15 August, 1968
Ulster critics at Union conference
Report: At the conference in Cork of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers' Union, a resolution is adopted calling for the extension of the Race Relations Act to Northern Ireland. One delegate speaks of the state's reputation for bigotry and discrimination.
Editorial: The ATGWU, meeting in Cork, seems unfamiliar with the situation in Northern Ireland, a point which is demonstrated by its references to the economic situation and by its call for the extension of the Race Relations Act.
Republican take-over of the unions?
Comment: There exists the real danger of a republican take-over of the trade union movement in the Republic of Ireland. A recent speech by a member of the Sinn Féin executive claims that 'the Republican Army must be in the vanguard of all militant and revolutionary groups' and 'be ready to move in defence of those struggling for their rights,' for example with regard to housing.
Fair words not enough, Hibernians are told
Report: Lennon tells a gathering of the Ancient Order of Hibernians that the government cannot expect any great improvement in community relations while it perpetuates the 'disgraceful denial of justice' to the minority. O'Neill's new approach, he says, is welcome, 'but fair words and the expression of pious hopes did not of themselves build or allocate houses on a just and fair basis.'
No room for 'Herrenvolk' outlook Hibernian rally told
Report: Lennon says that catholics 'ask for nothing ourselves which we are not prepared to share fully with our fellow citizens, but we are proud people who stand firmly upon our demand for a full share of the benefits of our common citizenship.' It is not generosity from government that is required, but this brand of common citizenship and all the advantages it brings. Nationalists, he says, have contributed more than their fair share to the improvement of community relations; Unionists must now reciprocate. He does not wish to foment discontent, but would be failing in his representative public duty to the minority if he were to 'refrain from justified public protest against the blatant intolerant injustices practised against it in the spheres of housing and public representation, public employment and appointments to boards and other state and semi-state organisations.'
[IN, NL, 16 August]
Housing fairness in Eire praised
Report: Sen John Conlan tells a Hibernian rally that the Northern Ireland government could learn from the points system of housing that operates in the Republic of Ireland.
First words by Labour Lawyers
Report: The interim report of the Society of Labour Lawyers on the situation in Northern Ireland is expected to be published soon.
[NL, 16 August]
16 August, 1968
Hibernians pledge devotion to pope's teaching
Report: Lennon tells an AOH gathering that O'Neill cannot expect improved community relations until something is done about the 'disgraceful denial of justice towards the minority.' Discontent, he says, is becoming 'ever more unbearable' over the 'blatant intolerant injustices practised against them [the minority] in the spheres of housing, public representation, public employment and appointments to boards and other state and semi-state organisations.' O'Neill has changed the climate of community relations, and this change is welcome, but 'fair words and the expression of pious hopes did not of themselves build and allocate houses on a just and fair basis nor…in any way make it easier to hear [bear?] the other manifest injustices to which he had referred.' Nationalists should 'refrain from justified public protest' but 'there is a limit to the patience of any people.'
No hope of better relations [Report]
[BT, 15 August]
Editorial: Lennon has welcomed the improvements in Northern Ireland under O'Neill's premiership, and heed should be taken of his plea for a common citizenship for the minority, with all the rights that this entails. Such an aim 'is wholly realistic, and it means, not just gestures at the top, no matter how genuinely meant, but at the grass roots of Ulster society, in the local councils and in the bread-and-butter issues such as house allocation and job-finding.'
Answer to charges of fostering bitterness
Report: Conlan [NOTE: it is not made sufficiently clear whether Conlan or Lennon is the main speaker at this demonstration] claims at an AOH demonstration that members should share 'in the spirit of mutual toleration and respect for the honestly held convictions of those who differ from us either in politics or religion.' The nationalist community has taken great strides 'towards a better social spirit'; the unionist community should do likewise, and the government should stop paying mere 'lip-service' to this ideal. There has been much talk of government generosity to the minority: 'we say away with this mentality - we seek not generosity as mendicants at the rich man's table, we demand as equals our full share in the benefits of citizenship.'
Summary: The interim report on Northern Ireland by the Society of Labour Lawyers is expected soon.
[BT, 15 August]
Currie case: crown to appeal
Report: The crown has decided to appeal the case against Austin Currie that it lost over his squatting in Caledon.
[IN, 17 August]
17 August, 1968
Call to young Derry mothers
Report: DHAC secretary Eamon Melaugh speaks of the inevitability of violence if Derry council does not tackle the city's housing shortage. He calls on young mothers living in poor housing conditions to attend the next council meeting.
10 speakers fail to turn up at Derry
Report: No invited speakers turn up for a DHAC meeting in Derry. Melaugh urges mothers to protest at the next city council meeting over poor housing conditions. He accuses the council of 'murder, if only by default' of children who have died because of these poor conditions.
Currie case to be appealed
Report: The crown intends to appeal against the dismissal of the Caledon squatting cases.
[BT, 16 August]
Picket protest at Belfast prison
Report: The Belfast Young Socialists protest at the imprisonment of two DHAC members for their participation in an earlier protest.
19 August, 1968
Stormont's London HQ picketed
Report: DHAC supporters picket Stormont's London office; an organiser claims that Derry council has built 15 houses in the past two years, while there are 'almost 3,000 needy families on the waiting list.'
Ulster office picketed
Report: 'Almost 2,000 needy families' are said to be on the housing waiting list in Derry.
Fight for social justice
Letter: The fight for social justice is not confined to six counties of Northern Ireland; support should be offered to all victims of injustice, which occurs also in the Republic of Ireland. Such a broad fight will aid the cause both of Currie and the DHAC.
20 August, 1968
Letter: Antrim county council has just purchased a hotel; how can this expenditure be justified when the Andersonstown area is in such need of improved facilities? Perhaps the whole issue turns on discrimination.
Many organisations to join in civil rights march to Dungannon
Report: A wide variety of groups are expected to participate in the Coalisland-Dungannon civil rights march 'against the injustices and inequalities prevailing here.'
Rent rises in Stormont recess angers [sic] tenants
Report: The Derry Central Council of Tenants' Associations criticises rent rises on Housing Trust property. The DHAC is amassing support for the protest it plans in the city's council chamber.
[NL, 21 August]
McAteer puts case at home office
Report: McAteer meets Stonham and Callaghan to discuss 'the feeling of frustration and disillusionment among the nationalists in Northern Ireland,' and he hopes to 'urge the lagging footsteps of Capt O'Neill.' He feels that the talks have not been in vain.
[IN, NL, 21 August]
21 August, 1968
As long as justice is belittled, unrest will grow in North
Leader: Father Austin Eustace claims that 'the powers that be must realise that so long as the dictates of social and distributive justice are being deliberately belittled by those people acting in their name and in virtue of their authority, so long will the present unrest grow in intensity, not only in Dungannon but throughout the Province.' The authorities must realise, he says, 'that the democratically-minded people of this area are no longer prepared to accept the role of second-class citizenship, whether the context be housing, employment, public office and even where they can hold their public meetings.' He advises attendance at the upcoming civil rights march, of which he says, 'when the annals of the fight for civil rights in the Six Counties are being recorded, next Saturday's march will have honourable mention.' Currie says, at the same meeting, 'we do not plead or beg for our basic human rights. We demand them.' He also calls for equality before the law, in housing allocations, and in public appointments.
Second-class citizenship role must end - priest [Report]
Visit to London has not been in vain - McAteer
Report: McAteer says that he has communicated to Callaghan and Stonham, on his visit to London, the frustration of the minority at the lack of progress and at their inability to feel that they are part of the Northern Ireland community. He fears that these feelings could be dangerous. Fitt regards the main concern of the minority, however, as 'the blatant discrimination against the catholic community in the matter of jobs and houses.'
Home office visit [Report]
[BT, 20 August]
Home office talks
Editorial: It is to be hoped that McAteer's London visit has achieved something. Westminster intervention in Northern Ireland is desirable. A Royal Commission should be appointed to enquire into the situation; the powers of the parliamentary ombudsman should be extended to cover Northern Ireland, as should the scope of the Race Relations Bill, which should also deal with issues relating to religious discrimination. The greatest minority grievance is not the feeling of being left out of the state; rather, it is the feeling of being treated unjustly.
Old story in a new setting
Editorial: McAteer is probably the most reasonable of Nationalist leaders, and whatever he may have said to Callaghan and Stonham cannot do Northern Ireland much harm, so long as these men are willing to hear the other side of the story. 'These outworn presentations of the Nationalist case' have 'an air of unreality about them.' Nationalist leaders are reluctant to accept the facts.
Dungannon protest march
Letter: The Coalisland-Dungannon march 'should commend itself to all who are opposed to…injustices.'
Housing canvas in Derry
Report: The DHAC are canvassing people living in bad housing conditions, asking them to lobby at the next council meeting.
[BT, 20 August]
Labour Lawyers' statement tomorrow
Report: The British Society for Labour Lawyers will tomorrow publish its interim findings on its investigation into Northern Ireland. It has taken evidence mainly in relation to the Stormont and local government franchise, the size of electoral districts, and allegations of discrimination in housing and employment.
[IN, NL, 22 August]
McAteer may meet Wilson in autumn
Report: McAteer may meet Harold Wilson in the autumn. He claims that the minority's disappointment at the pace of reform could be 'dangerous.' It is believed that he brought up the possibility of civil disobedience at his meeting with Callaghan and Stonham.
22 August. 1968
30,000 to join in Dungannon protest march
Report: Organisers of the civil rights march to Dungannon expect a turnout of between 20,000 and 30,000 people. Meanwhile, the British Society of Labour Lawyers is due to publish its interim findings on the Northern Ireland franchise, electoral boundaries and discrimination in employment and housing.
Labour lawyers' report
Report: The British Society of Labour Lawyers today will publish its interim report on Northern Ireland; the Society is expected to ask local political parties for their views. The report has taken into consideration evidence relating to 'the Stormont and local government franchise, sizes of electoral districts, allegations of discrimination in house allocation, and of employment of Roman catholics in the public service.'
[BT, 21 August]
Case at hearing
Editorial: Some of the conclusions presented in the interim report of the Society of Labour Lawyers, notably regarding plural voting and Stormont constituency boundaries, are out of date. Nevertheless, the Unionist Party should not produce an all-too-predictable reply to the charges brought by the Report: the Society's final verdict 'is not to be cast lightly aside, and the best riposte must still be to press on with reform at all levels,' especially those relating to a revision of local government boundaries. The Labour Lawyers and McAteer are 'pursuing their quest in a remarkably restrained and responsible manner.'
Unionists slam Labour Lawyers' report
Report: Unionists criticise the interim report of the Society of Labour Lawyers as 'a propaganda operation.' The document is a cautious one, but omits to acknowledge recent changes to the franchise and forthcoming action on Stormont constituencies. A 'heavy weight of evidence' is presented for discrimination in housing and public employment. The three main parties have been asked for their comments. Unionists criticise the findings as out of date and designed 'to score political points rather than…conduct a fact-finding exercise.' The Society, they assert, should not accept at face value opposition claims, and the party 'refuses to accept the implications of discrimination and irregularities contained in this tendentious document.' The NILP calls for one man one vote; appointments to public boards on merit; allocation of houses according to a fair points system; local government employment on merit; and the party is in agreement with the report's assertion of ultimate Westminster responsibility for Northern Ireland. The call is made for a tribunal to investigate complaints. Fitt feels that the final report will call for 'drastic reforms.' McAteer feels that the interim document has placed the ball firmly in the government's court, and calls for action to be taken.
Labour Lawyers find anomalies in Ulster electoral areas
Report: The report asserts that the ultimate responsibility for Northern Ireland affairs lies with the UK government, citing the Government of Ireland Act (1920). Also raised are the issues of plural voting, the sizes of electoral districts, the segregation of protestant and catholic housing within these various districts, and discrimination in housing and public employment. The document does however point out that some of its evidence may now be out of date.
[IN, NL, 23 August]
Civil rights march by RCs
Report: The Coalisland-Dungannon civil rights march will be held 'in support of the Roman catholic campaign on housing in the area,' having been organised 'by a team which published a survey recently on housing allocations.'
[BT, 23 August]
23 August, 1968
Labour Lawyers report on grievances here and ask further views
Report: The Society of Labour Lawyers asks of the three main parties in Northern Ireland a number of detailed questions relating to evidence received by the Society concerning central and local government boundaries, plural voting, discrimination and segregation in housing allocation and discrimination in state employment.
Unionists entirely uncommitted on Lawyers' questions
Report: 'In a rushed, blustering statement,' the Ulster Unionist Council claims that the facts cited by the Society for Labour Lawyers are out of date and the evidence inaccurate. The Society, it is claimed, is 'concerned to score political debating points rather than to conduct a fact-finding exercise.' The Council 'emphatically refuses to accept the implications of discrimination and irregularities contained in this tendentious document.' The secretary to the Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers welcomes the interest of the British Society: 'at last we have a document about Northern Ireland far removed from the political infighting of the Northern Ireland scene.' The Society hopes that the government in particular 'will consider the contents objectively and provide answers to these questions unconnected with any sense of party advantage.'
Labour inquiry into Ulster lashed
Report: Unionists react 'scathingly' to the Society of Labour Lawyers' 'interim cocktail of complaints about Northern Ireland.' Unionist 'consensus of opinion seemed to be that it was a hoary mixture lacking novelty and served up without due regard for recent local parliamentary action.' The report has failed to recognise a number of recent changes to the franchise and plans for a permanent boundary commission. The NILP feels that section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act gives the UK parliament ultimate responsibility for the affairs of Northern Ireland; 'the party also took the view that: the one man, one vote principle should apply to all elections; appointments to public bodies should be on ability and merit only; the allocation of publicly-owned houses should be on the basis of need, and there should be a fair points scheme; and jobs in local government should be based on qualifications, merit and ability only, being made preferably by an appointments board.'
Housing discrimination: councils accused
Report: 'The committee [of the British Society of Labour Lawyers concerned with Northern Ireland] stressed that the exact accuracy of the figures submitted to it may be open to doubt, "particularly as some of them were calculated some years ago. We are more concerned with the general pattern that emerges from the figures."'
[BT, 22 August]
Charges against Stormont rule proved - Mr Fitt
Report: Fitt, McAteer and Currie welcome the interim report of the Society of Labour Lawyers, though they profess to find nothing surprising in its conclusions on injustices in Northern Ireland. The Society has sent letters to the three largest parties in Northern Ireland, asking each for its 'comments on the local franchise, discrimination in housing and jobs and the constitutional implications of section 75 of the 1920 Government of Ireland Act.'
Editorial: The interim report of the Society of Labour Lawyers presents facts which are out of date; much of it is 'wishy-washy and inconclusive.'
Over to you, Unionists!
Editorial: 'Among members of the minority there may be some slight feeling of disappointment that the document is not a forthright endorsement of the allegations of discrimination and gerrymandering which perhaps they anticipated it would be.' Nevertheless, it provides all the more reason for O'Neill to stop talking about reform and force his cabinet into action.
Congratulated on protest march
Report: Tyrone Republican Club congratulates NICRA for its organisation of the coming civil rights march, feeling that the demonstration will give people the chance to demonstrate their feelings on discrimination, the Special Powers Act and 'the other infringements of human rights which are rampant in Northern Ireland.' The Club believes that 'this march will commend itself to all right-thinking and reasonable people.'
MPs in orders
Letter: Nationalist representatives such as Lennon are setting a double standard; they condemn Orangeism for upholding protestant heritage and the Northern Ireland constitution, yet remain members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, defending catholic heritage and 'agitating for a united Ireland.'
Letter: There is no reason why the Unionist Party should not be linked with the Orange Order: the Labour Party is close to the trade unionists and the Nationalist Party to the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Why should the Unionist Party behave any differently?
Dungannon civil rights march
Report: The Coalisland-Dungannon civil rights march will be held tomorrow in support of action against local injustices.
[NL, 22 August]
24 August, 1968
Support call for mammoth Dungannon civil rights protest
Leader: All liberal-minded people should attend the Coalisland-Dungannon march, says the CRA. McAnerney claims that 'any doubts about the absolute necessity for such a gesture have been dispelled by the arrogance of the Unionists' reply to the Labour Lawyers. After the fair words and the promises of reform, the true voice of unrepentant and unchanging bigotry is heard once more.' Fitt says that the march will let ordinary people express their views, while Currie points to the benefits of 'discipline, order and decorum' on the protest. The RUC has announced the re-routing of the march.
Civil rights men to decide on next move
Report: Following the police decision to re-route the NICRA march away from certain areas in Dungannon, McAnerney claims that the march has been given a sectarian flavour. He argues that 'it is non-sectarian and non-political. All sections of the community are represented.' Police claim that the march has been re-routed so as to avoid possible trouble. English civil rights supporters and some Westminster MPs are expected to participate. The Dungannon Young Unionist Association condemns the march as 'anti-Unionist.'
Marching for justice
Editorial: The Dungannon march is symptomatic of wider trends in the modern world, whereby people will no longer wait forever for bureaucratic methods to deliver their demands. Pleas for social justice, an end to discrimination in housing, employment and electoral affairs have been ignored in Northern Ireland. There can be no surprise at the decision to march for these rights and against second-class citizenship.
26 August, 1968
Batons used on civil rights marchers in Dungannon
Leader: Civil rights marchers are batoned by police as they try to breach a cordon after provocation from a crowd of 'Unionist Party supporters…including prominent Unionist councillors of Dungannon UDC.' Betty Sinclair, speaking to the marchers, stresses the peaceful intent of the demonstration: 'we are a peaceful people, asking for our civil rights in an orderly manner.' Fitt claims that 'a fire has been lit tonight which will not go out until civil rights have been established.' He stresses that the civil rights issue is not a party political one; the justice that its supporters seek is of an elementary kind. Currie says, 'it must be emphasised that we demand, and must have, the right to parade through our own town, and if Paisley can come from Belfast and parade through the square in Dungannon then why can't we?' He adds that more demonstrations will be held. 'Let O'Neill and the rest of the Orange bigots behind him realise once and for all that we are on the way forward, and we will not be stopped; we will keep going with civil disobedience and whatever is necessary to achieve our ends.' Joe McCann accuses Unionists of betraying the British tradition of fair-play in spite of all their professed loyalty to all things British. 'Not an inch,' he says, is a very suitable slogan for a community 'founded, maintained and operated for completely negative reasons…one has the feeling that if the Northern Ireland cabinet were transferred to Rhodesia or Cape Town or Alabama, they would feel quite at home.' He adds that the British government has acted against prejudice in South Africa and Rhodesia, and wonders what makes Northern Ireland's case so very different. The Belfast Young Socialists claim that the RUC ban on the march's original route is an example of the very kind of injustice that the march has been arranged to publicise. NILP member Erskine Holmes deplores the ban on a 'peaceful and non-sectarian demonstration.' If marches can be misrepresented, then perhaps an alternative strategy is necessary to promote the civil rights cause. He recommends the formation of more housing action committees along the lines of the Derry model, in an 'attempt to secure justice by militant and direct action.'
RUC rope cordon helps keep peace
Report: Police are attacked as they try to keep apart rival factions at the Dungannon civil rights protest, while organisers call for calm. Invited British MPs are not present, while attendance falls far short of the organisers' expectations. Calls for calm from the platform avert potentially ugly scenes. Republican and other leaflets are thrown in the air. Fitt calls for 'civil rights and a 32-county republic.' Currie claims that if Paisleyites can march in Dungannon, then there is no reason why the civil rights protesters should be prevented from doing so. Holmes, of the NILP, claims that this is the beginning of a campaign of housing protest, and urges squatting. A young woman makes a 'misguided appeal' to 'hotheads' in the crowd: 'if you want to fight join the IRA.'
Police action 'prevented a riot'
Report: Craig justifies the police action as necessary given the potential for conflict between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators; McAteer writes to O'Neill, protesting at the handling of the affair.
Fitt to protest in London
Report: Fitt is to raise issues highlighted by events in Dungannon with the home office in London; he will ask for British intervention to ensure the right to peaceful demonstration for all and will argue that Westminster should utilise section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act to take control of the Northern Ireland ministry of home affairs and the RUC. He will also make MPs aware of the situation.
Dungannon march 'just the beginning'
Report: Of the leaders of the march, the Belfast Young Socialists have no good word to say: 'had they not sold their principles and instead continued leading the parade into the centre of Dungannon then, perhaps, something could have been achieved in the name of civil rights.' Fitt intends to tell Westminster MPs of 'the denial to the people of the right of free assembly to air legitimate grievances.' Currie, Fitt, and Erskine Holmes criticise the police re-routing, the latter describing it as 'blatantly provocative.'
'Ban proves civil rights need'
Report: NICRA states that the RUC ban on the Dungannon march illustrates the need for civil rights in Northern Ireland. It sees the re-routing to a catholic area as a deliberate attempt to have the demonstration tarred with the brush of sectarianism. Police were 'unable or reluctant' to control the counter-demonstration.
'We shall overcome!'
Editorial: The civil rights march was deliberately re-routed at the eleventh hour so as to cause the maximum difficulty and confusion for the organisers and marchers. Cookstown Young Unionists have condemned the march as part of Currie's civil disobedience campaign, and therefore harmful to community relations; in a sense, they are right. The march was designed to harm community relations - but relations of the old variety, those between first- and second-class citizens. This community relationship must be replaced by 'relations based on social justice for all.'
Not so civil
Editorial: The Dungannon civil rights protest 'failed to live up to the expectations of the organisers' in terms both of attendance and the involvement of British MPs. What it has succeeded in achieving is 'a stirring up of that type of sectarian feeling that the sponsors would presumably deplore.' Only the police prevented a clash, and speakers at the demonstration made some ill-considered remarks, including, 'join the IRA if you want to fight.' This suggests that the civil rights movement is 'not too careful of its choice of allies.' A 'bigger and better' demonstration is planned, but 'unless those taking part in it conduct themselves properly and are given a sounder lead from the platform, it will not have an influence for the betterment of community relations in the town.'
Editorial: 'The outcome of the Dungannon civil rights march is a sad commentary on the real state of community relations in "marginal" areas. People with a protest were denied entry to the town centre because of the threat of retaliation by their political opponents.' The police are not to blame for their caution: 'the extremist element in the minority is controllable, and on the other side it is not.' More such incidents may be expected in the future, but it must be stressed that 'the right to protest by constitutional means is one that is basic to democracy, and to attempt to suppress it is to invite ever more objectionable forms of action.' Grievances must be looked at 'in a sensible light.' In the end, 'admittedly there are those to the fore of the protest movement who may have their own interests, rather than the interests of the people at heart, but there are enough solid, responsible citizens behind it to give it real impetus.'
Fight for social justice
Letter: The Nationalist party appears to be attempting to make political capital out of the civil rights march despite previously having refused to espouse a policy of civil disobedience. Additionally, McAteer can expect nothing from Westminster, since accession to civil rights demands would mean the end of the Northern Ireland state.
27 August, 1968
Fitt gives Wilson low-down on Dungannon
Leader: Fitt meets Wilson and raises the Dungannon situation, particularly in light of the NICRA demonstration there. He also puts down a motion in the Westminster house of commons calling for the British government to intervene. McAteer writes to O'Neill concerning the demonstration, stating that 'it is important that the democratic safety valve be used' to express inoffensive anti-government opinion. Government should not stifle this expression. McAnerney sends a telegram of protest to Wilson. Craig justifies the police ban, seeing it as a thoroughly non-sectarian necessity, given the potential for a violent clash between the rival sets of demonstrators.
O'Neill to study civil rights march reports
Report: O'Neill is to examine reports on and complaints stemming from the Dungannon civil rights march. Fitt briefly meets Wilson to discuss the situation. Wilson points out that law and order in Northern Ireland is a matter for the Northern Ireland government; he has also written to Stratton Mills, deploring any use of unconstitutional methods. Fitt tables a motion at Westminster condemning injuries to marchers caused by the police; the marchers were 'demonstrating for the same political and civil rights which are enjoyed by citizens in the rest of the United Kingdom.' McAteer, apart from writing to O'Neill, has also written to Lord Stonham on the issues raised by the march.
[NL, 28 August]
Rights march action to keep law
Report: A statement from the ministry of home affairs defends the police action in Dungannon. McAteer writes to O'Neill, protesting at the curtailing of freedom to express opposition views. The Belfast Young Socialists claim that the ban on the original route proposed for the march is an example of the violation of civil rights that they are fighting against.
Protesters stop Derry council meeting
Report: A DHAC protest at housing conditions interrupts a meeting of Derry council. Melaugh claims that NICRA will be invited to hold its next demonstration in the city. Catholic and protestant alike are asked to united against 'orange and green Tories.'
[IN, NL, 28 August]
Letter: Charges of discrimination in housing allocation often appear on television news; people must realise that protestant families are also badly affected by waiting lists for allocations. The words of politicians such as McAteer and Currie 'do more damage to the common people like myself, who live in harmony with our Roman catholic neighbours.'
Derry slums: support of protestants needed
Letter: Derry's housing problem springs from a mixture of indifference and landlord vested interest. Protestants and Unionists 'ashamed of the shabby, dragging years of unnecessary housing delays' must 'stand up and be counted.' 'It is still possible to be Unionist, and critical of Unionist faults. It is possible for someone to disapprove of the housing failure…and also to disapprove of noisy action groups that increase ill-will in Derry.' Labour does not offer anything more than the opportunity to register a protest vote. Protestants must care about the situation, and be seen to care, if good community relations are to prevail.
28 August, 1968
Homeless protest in Derry
Report: Demonstrators protest at a meeting of Derry council over housing in the city. The DHAC, the organising body behind this protest, intends to invite NICRA to hold a demonstration in Derry.
Uproar in Derry council
Report: Demonstrators, in a move organised by the DHAC and supported by the local Labour Party, protest in the council chamber. The DHAC secretary warns the mayor of the city, 'if you clear the gallery without letting us air our views you will do so at your own risk and you must accept responsibility for any violence that may occur.' After interruptions of the council meeting and the subsequent clearance of the chamber, representatives of both the DHAC and the local Labour Party feel that they must sweep away 'the orange and green Tories who misrepresent the people of Derry in the council chamber.' They claim the crowd outside the chamber are all living in overcrowded conditions and have no hope of being allocated a house in the near future.
[BT, 27 August]
Aim is ideal housing - PM at exhibition
Report: O'Neill says that the housing programme in Northern Ireland has achieved much, 'but even in the light of this encouraging process, it will take time to ensure that every Ulster family is housed as we would wish.'
Derry house letting system 'disgraceful'
Report: A Nationalist motion put before Derry city council, calling on the housing sub-committee to set up a body bound by guidelines describing the manner in which houses are to be allocated, is defeated, though a motion calling for the city's housing programme to be speeded up is passed. Councillor James Doherty feels that 'people had the right to protest, but the fact that it was done and had to be done was extremely damaging to the image of the city.'
Call for 'civil rights'
Report: Fitt is one of six Labour MPs sponsoring a motion that deplores the police ban on the Dungannon march for their injury of some protesters, and calls on the British government to 'afford to citizens of Northern Ireland the same rights and privileges which are enjoyed by other regions in the United Kingdom.'
59 sign Fitt motion
Report: 59 Labour MPs sign Fitt's Westminster motion criticising police restrictions on the civil rights march, and calling for the same rights and privileges for the citizens of Northern Ireland as are enjoyed in the rest of the United Kingdom.
[IN, NL, 29 August]
Ulster law and order 'a matter for Ulster'
Report: O'Neill, returning from holiday, is expected to devote some attention to the recent civil rights march. Meanwhile, Fitt asks Wilson about the re-routing of the march, and tables a motion in the Westminster house of commons alleging police violence. Wilson tells Fitt that law and order in Northern Ireland are matters for the Stormont government. Wilson also replies to Stratton Mills' letter, stating that unconstitutional action to remedy discrimination is to be deplored. Local press coverage of the Dungannon demonstration is being sent to Wilson.
[BT, 27 August]
Call for action to provide play centres in Andersonstown
Report: Feeling is running high among residents of the Andersonstown area over the perceived neglect of the estate's facilities by the authorities. Many are said to see this as 'a calculated plan' on the part of those in power.
29 August, 1968
Dungannon: 59 MPs back Fitt
Report: Fitt's parliamentary motion deploring the ban on the Dungannon civil rights march and calling for Westminster intervention has been signed by 59 MPs. Also, it is now reckoned that 'about 5,000 people took part in the march.'
Labour MPs back Fitt on march ban
Report: Fitt receives backing from a number of Labour MPs for a motion condemning the re-routing of the Dungannon march. The UPV claims responsibility for the counter-demonstration.
[BT, 28 August]
Disorder at Dungannon
Letter: The Dungannon civil rights march should have been a great occasion, but it was 'turned into a sectarian event by the combined efforts of the RUC, some of the platform speakers and a group of the demonstrators.' The unwillingness of the police to protect the marchers must be contrasted with their actions on the occasions associated with other marches. 'What was perhaps the most depressing incident of the whole [Dungannon] ceremony occurred at the end of the meeting. The chairman asked the crowd to join in the singing of "We shall overcome." The response was pathetic…[sic - a section of the crowd?] started to sing "A Soldier's Song." Many people joined in with great fervour. I feel that no further comment is required.'
[IN, 3 September]
30 August, 1968
Area has Nationalist member - but co-opted Unionist awards homes
Report: A Nationalist member of Magherafelt rural council walks out of a meeting following a Unionist refusal to give him some influence over the allocation of houses in the area for which he is an elected representative. He claims that the particular area under consideration for the allocations is denominationally mixed, yet the allocations made by the council in the past have been to protestants only. The councillor is accused of making allocations in another area exclusively to catholics, but he defends this action, arguing that he had received no applications for housing from outside the area.
Nationalist in council housing row walks out [Report]
O'Neill defends ban
Leader: O'Neill replies to McAteer's letter, claiming that opposition protest is not restricted as McAteer claims; police action at the Dungannon protest was necessary to avert possible conflict. McAteer claims, 'it is perfectly obvious that there is one law for government supporters and another for its opponents.' He goes on to ask, 'if we rattle our sabres and mutter against an Orange procession, will be [sic] government automatically ban that?' Opposition MPs hope to table motions at Stormont relating to Dungannon.
Rights of the marchers
Letter: The Dungannon marchers had the right to air their grievances and their support for those affected by housing, electoral and job discrimination in a non-political and non-sectarian manner.
Council views on housing criticised
Report: Derry Labour Party criticises the city council over its treatment of the DHAC demonstration in the Guildhall, and its attitude towards housing allocations in general.
31 August, 1968
'Black' men deny bias
Leader: 'Grossly untruthful anti-Ulster propaganda' and 'political slander and charges of religious discrimination' are condemned at rallies of the Royal Black Institution.
Dungannon march: Craig congratulated
Report: A co Antrim meeting of the RBP praises Craig's action over the Dungannon march. 'Ill-informed and inconsistent people,' including in some instances the press, have offered 'irresponsible incitement designed ultimately to overthrow the constitution.' Catholics should not allow themselves to be exploited by 'any who embrace left-wing support to further their own personal ambitions.' NICRA warns O'Neill that 'to continue to give the impression that the authorities will give way to threats of violence, is to open the door to anarchy.' Civil rights demonstrators, like others, should receive their due measure of protection from the police.
[NL, 2 September]
Ex-MP refutes lawyers' report
Report: A Black gathering is told that the interim report of the Society of Labour Lawyers has proved a disappointment for the government's critics. Leaders of the three biggest churches are criticised for accepting at face value 'false charges of religious and political discrimination.'
Govt should refute bias charges - MP
Report: The government should refute propaganda such as the interim report of the Society of Labour Lawyers, a Black demonstration is told, and 'every loyal Ulsterman and woman must be concerned and clearly show by their actions day by day that we in Northern Ireland are prepared to practice what we preach, that we will not tolerate any form of political or religious bigotry against a minority amongst us of whatever class, colour or creed.'
Dialogue with Roman church impossible - MP
Report: At this time of much potential economic and social development in Northern Ireland, an RBP gathering is told, it is a shame that people continue to make 'abusive allegations.' Such people are 'interfering busybodies,' and no matter how well-intentioned they are, they can only sow discord in the community and pave the way for an all-Ireland republic. The report of the Labour Lawyers is 'partisan, provocative and pretentious.'
Lyons denies bias - and urges probe
Report: At a Black demonstration, Lyons calls for a '"fair and impartial examination" of the whole set-up both in central and local government,' in order to refute allegations of discrimination.
'Opponents acting like spoiled children'
Report: A Black demonstration is told that criticism of the government is designed to undermine the constitution. The minority enjoy social and welfare services that they would not receive in the Republic of Ireland.
RC tenants in majority
Letter: Unlike the situation in Dungannon, catholics
in Craigavon receive a fair allocation of houses.
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