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Calendar of Newspaper Articles dealing with Civil Rights issues, 1 Jun 1968 - 9 Dec 1968 by Alan Scott

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Text: Alan Scott

Introduction     1968:   | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |
October 1968:   | 1-5 | 7-12 | 14-19 | 21-26 | 28-31 |
7 - 12 October:   | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Top |

7 October, 1968

Irish News

Derry rocked by further riots and baton charges

Leader: Rioting has continued in Derry following the confrontation on the civil rights march between police and marchers. Appeals for calm have been made by John McAnerney and by Ivan Cooper, secretary of the Derry branch of the NILP, among others. Two British Labour MPs have sent telegrams to Wilson, Callaghan and O'Neill, calling for an inquiry and for measures to be taken against those responsible for police brutality. They see the violence as the logical outcome of discrimination and the denial of civil rights. A London march by the Connolly Association and republicans has called for an investigation into the banning of the march and the dropping of all charges against those arrested during the course of the day.

News Letter

Steel-helmeted police in new Derry clashes

Leader: Violence continues in Derry. Lynch condemns the violence and calls for the people of Derry to be given their democratic rights. Cooper says that an agreement had been reached with the police that would have allowed the demonstrators to pass police lines, but that the police then attacked the marchers. Tomás MacGiolla, president of Sinn Féin, asserts that his party has no special role or undue influence within the civil rights movement, although the party does sympathise with the movement's aims.

Belfast Telegraph

Derry clears the debris

Report: Derry has seen its worst rioting in 40 years. Craig denies charges of police brutality and speaks of the infiltration of the civil rights movement by the communist-dominated IRA. The three Westminster MPs who attended the march are demanding that Callaghan institute an impartial inquiry. The executive committee of the Northern Ireland Communist Party condemns RUC tactics as Gestapo-like.

Irish News

Duke Street brutality reveals the face of the 'new Ulster'

Report: 'The indiscriminate police brutality and Orange-style tactics of the RUC storm-troopers…displayed the true face of Mr Terence O'Neill's "New Ulster".' Good community relations have been set back by ten years. The organisers did admittedly defy the ban on their march by walking through police lines, but they did not seek violence; clearly then, police orders must have called for an iron-fisted response to the march. 'The police did not discriminate and to be present in Duke Street was cause enough for a savage beating.' Even when it was clear that the demonstration had broken up, police obviously still wanted to teach those who were hiding in doorways or still walking the street a lesson, and thus used water-cannon to hammer home their message. Disgusted protesters who later assembled at the Diamond were also driven off with water-cannon. As the night came in, barricades were erected and rioting began.

All out of step except Mr Craig and the police

Report: Fitt talks on a BBC radio programme about the Derry march, expressing the feeling that the police intended violence from the first. Unionists, he says, cannot 'afford to apply British standards of democracy because it would erode their own edifice.' He says also that the fight for civil rights will continue. Craig asserts that 'the civil rights march was banned because they [sic] were proposing to march through areas that would provoke serious riot [sic].' The marchers well realised that their actions would provoke 'widespread riot' throughout Northern Ireland, so large numbers of police were certainly necessary. 'The police used no more force than was absolutely necessary, and showed a great deal of restraint.' They were attacked first. Two Labour MPs insist however that police tactics were brutal.

News Letter

Craig backs RUC action

Report: Craig feels that the RUC performed its duty 'beyond any criticism,' in the face of a march deliberately planned with a view to creating disorder. He feels that the Dungannon parade in August was held under the command of the IRA: 'from the conduct and behaviour of some of the speakers and organisers at the Dungannon parade it was clear that the civil rights organisation was allowing the platform to be used by extremists and trouble-makers for the purpose of preaching violence and stirring up hatred among people.' He says that the DHAC is synonymous with the Connolly Association. The chairman of East Down Unionist Association expresses support for Craig.

Belfast Telegraph

Craig 'totally rejects' brutality charges

Report: Craig denies police brutality and claims that marchers attacked police before the RUC took any action. He is prepared to hear evidence for brutality, if its exists, but not to hold an inquiry 'on political agitation.' He is relieved that major rioting throughout Northern Ireland was avoided, and emphasises that the march was never banned, but rather restricted from entering areas where it would constitute 'a direct provocation,' in breach of traditional marching convention. He sees the movement as a republican front, infiltrated by the IRA, now itself under the influence of communists. He regrets having been forced to ban the Apprentice Boys parade which he says 'had every right to take place.' He will forward a report to Callaghan if asked to do so.

News Letter

Civil rights infiltrated by red IRA, says minister

Report: Craig claims to have photographic evidence of IRA participation in the civil rights march. This, he says, helps discredit the notion that the movement is non-political or non-sectarian; he sees it rather as a predominantly republican body. He does not believe that all participants in the march were associated with the IRA, but feels that such people were ill-advised in taking part. He also praises the police who, he says, were attacked first, and who prevented the development of a more serious situation.

Belfast Telegraph

Wilson wants urgent Derry report

Leader: Wilson has asked Callaghan for a report on the disturbances. O'Neill says that an inquiry is 'unlikely' and adds that deaths rather than 'scratches and bruises' might have resulted had the ban not been imposed. The Northern Ireland government will send its own report to Callaghan. Wilson is being pressed from several quarters to hold an inquiry. O'Neill feels that Westminster interference would be unwise. Nationalist Party leaders will meet to reconsider their role as official the Stormont opposition party. McAteer calls for Craig's dismissal and the temporary administration of justice by Westminster in order to allow tempers to cool. McAteer and Fitt both deprecate violence but understand the bitterness of Derry citizens. Cosgrave sends two fact-finders to Derry. The Northern Ireland committee of the ICTU calls for Westminster intervention to ensure that British citizens' rights are extended to Northern Ireland. McElroy feels that both civil rights marchers and police bear responsibility for the development of a violent situation, the one for breaking the law, and the other for using excessive violence. The Liberals call for Craig's dismissal and the holding of an impartial public inquiry. Lynch will lodge a protest with Wilson.

Things hotted up a bit - premier

Report: O'Neill hopes that calm will prevail but fears the damage that has been done to community relations by events in Derry. He says that the franchise cannot be looked at in isolation from the reorganisation of local government.

Call for Craig to agree to an inquiry

Report: The Guardian condemns police brutality and calls for the establishment of a Royal Commission on Northern Ireland. The Derry march's provocative value is questionable, since no crowds appeared to oppose it but the police themselves. Despite O'Neill's merits as a reformer, progress under his government has come at 'snail's pace.' The Irish Times calls for an inquiry into police behaviour and Craig's ban.

[IN, NL 8 October]

MPs ask BBC for transcript

Report: Westminster Unionist MPs ask the BBC for a transcript of a programme on Derry which they feel to have been biased.

News Letter

Millions see Derry riots on television

Report: The events on and following the Derry march have received widespread publicity through television and radio coverage. Russell Kerr, a Labour MP at Westminster, says that the police attacked the civil rights demonstrators first. The three Labour MPs present in Derry are to report to Callaghan on what they saw.

Irish News

After Derry

Editorial: The minority has the right to express its grievances, and if any good has come of the events in Derry, then it is the publicity that the march has provided for the problems of Northern Ireland. The Apprentice Boys march was clearly a contrived affair, but Craig chose to use it as a pretext for banning the legitimate expression of real grievances. 'Decisions by the government's home minister should reflect realities, not the bigoted partisanship by which the government seeks to rule.' Pressure for change is coming from inside Northern Ireland, not outside it as Craig has claimed. Britain may now be forced to look into Northern Ireland's situation. The whole Derry episode has highlighted 'the mocked gestures of goodwill which are proclaimed on high by Mr O'Neill but [which] never seem to reach down to the level of some of his ministers; and certainly not of the prime minister's supporters.'

News Letter

Let that be an end to it

Editorial: Those with a desire to damage Northern Ireland's reputation can feel satisfaction at the events in Derry which, no doubt, will be broadcast around the world. 'It is our responsibility and that of everyone who can exercise influence that nothing is said or done that might further inflame passions. And this applies perhaps particularly to those who do not know Northern Ireland and who might be tempted to think that they do.' Responsibility for the trouble must be shared between police and demonstrators.

Belfast Telegraph

Quicker march

Editorial: Those who breached the police cordon should not be surprised by the resulting violence. 'When a bad example is set there will always be young hooligans to join in the mischief.' Despite the IRA's more subtle approach to destabilising Northern Ireland, this was not the main issue raised by the march. The real issue is 'the speed at which Northern Ireland is pursuing its rightful policy of political and social advance.' Real progress has been made, but 'the civil rights movement has its origin in those fields where progress has been too slow and where a bitter sense of grievance can always be exploited by men like Mr Fitt, who are ready to go to the limits of public protest and beyond.' If O'Neill and his supporters do not assert themselves in addressing real problems, including 'fairer shares in local government,' then, 'Northern Ireland will be faced with more disturbance, followed by intervention by Westminster, and a new polarisation of protestant and Roman catholic, possibly another Nationalist abstention, that will set the clock back 25 years.' Peaceful demonstration should be permitted, but parade organisers and the RUC must exercise responsibility in their actions.

Irish News

Americans see the new Derry 'siege'

Report: Fitt, recovering in hospital from injuries sustained on the Derry march, has received many calls of sympathy. He says that both protestants and catholics took part in the demonstration, and that allegations of IRA involvement are 'an attempt to delude the British electorate especially in view of the fact that the affair had got world wide publicity.'

NI Labour calls for full-scale British judicial inquiry

Report: Paddy Devlin calls for a full judicial inquiry into events in Derry. He condemns the Unionist failure to recognise the existence of a problem and the tactic of casting aspersions upon the civil rights campaign in the hope of discrediting it. The Young Socialist Alliance condemns the 'violent and savage repression' that it feels was practised upon the protesters. In its view, the ban was unjustified since the march was non-sectarian and would not therefore have lead to any conflict. 'We regard it as typical of the Unionist Party's authoritarian mentality that any criticism of their regime is seen as unconstitutional, and proscribed.' 'Non-violent direct action' was necessary because of the lack of democracy in Derry. The NILP Young Socialists claim that violence was not on the minds of the marchers, but was introduced into the equation instead by the police. The government has been exposed, they go on to say, as a 'neo-fascist dictatorship.' The Irish Republican Party condemns police tactics; the Society of Friends condemns the violence. The Six County Regional Executive of the Republican Clubs pledges the support of all Clubs for the CRA; Craig has tried to make the IRA into a 'bogey man' of the civil rights movement but has in this context made untrue statements. The executive hopes that 'protest marches will continue until full equality, social justice and fair play are enjoyed by all citizens irrespective of class or creed.'

McAteer gives hint of 'hard line politics'

Report: McAteer suggests that Derry may provoke a change of Nationalist Party policy. He wonders if 'there is any use in parliament [which is] providing a cloak for what is a one-party system here.' Taoiseach Jack Lynch has joined the chorus of condemnation. Wilson is sent a telegram by the Derry Trades Council, and another, separately, by the Irish Labour Party, the latter of which calls for a special commission of inquiry to be established. Currie calls for Craig's dismissal from the government, adding that 'the so-called liberal policy of this prime minister now lies in blood-soaked tatters.' He demands an investigation into the working of the Government of Ireland Act. Police brutality is widely condemned by many groups.

News Letter

Political bombshell from McAteer

Report: McAteer feels that events in Derry have pushed the Nationalist Party closer to a policy of civil disobedience and abstention from Stormont. He criticises Craig for refusing an inquiry into events in Derry, and feels that either County Inspector William Meharg of the RUC, or Craig himself, should be dismissed. He asserts that O'Neill's policies have received a severe setback in Derry: 'you can't enlist the people with batons.' Derry Labour Party condemns the 'calculated brutality' of the RUC. Both it and NICRA have sent telegrams to Wilson, while the British MPs who were present in Derry intend to report what they have seen to Westminster.

Belfast Telegraph

Nationalists may boycott Stormont [Report]

Irish News

Communists' condemnation

Report: The Northern Ireland Communist Party condemns the denial of free assembly and free speech represented at Derry.

Participants and onlookers describe the violent scenes

Report: Fitt feels that there will be many more marches in Derry. Ivan Cooper says that he had reached an agreement with the police whereby the demonstration would disperse peacefully after symbolically penetrating police lines, but this was nullified when the batoning began. Anne Kerr, Westminster MP, is appalled at the police who, she says, were 'looking pleased' with their conduct. She and her husband are sending a report to Wilson, as is another Labour MP. Paddy Fox of the NDP opines: 'it would appear that the Northern Ireland government is prepared to use the full power of force at its command to retain iniquitous practices and stifle genuine protest.' Civil rights, not excessive force, will promote good community relations.

Belfast Telegraph

IRA leader denies he was there

Report: Cathal Goulding denies the alleged IRA connection with the Derry civil rights march. Lynch condemns the trouble in Derry; Corish sends telegrams to both the taoiseach and British prime minister expressing the Irish Labour Party's concern; MacGiolla feels that allegations of IRA involvement in the events in Derry are simply Unionist scaremongering tactics, designed to prevent the 'growing awareness by people of all creeds and political persuasions that there is a denial of basic civil rights in Northern Ireland.' The Irish Republican Party condemns police brutality. The NILP Young Socialists characterise the Northern Ireland government as 'a neo-fascist dictatorship.'

News Letter

Students picket minister

Report: QUB students picket the home of William Craig. A protestant churchman speaking in Belfast condemns those who broke the law by going ahead with the banned march as 'morally responsible for any suffering that ensued.' The Young Unionists support Craig's actions. Cathal Goulding denies that the civil rights movement is inspired by the IRA. The chairman of the Queen's University Conservative and Unionist Association calls for a government inquiry into events in Derry.

Belfast Telegraph

Students heckle minister [Report]

Sit-in by Maydown trainees

Report: A sit-in is held by a number of Derry trainees against Craig's ban on the civil rights march, and at 'the lack of jobs, homes and civil rights in Derry.'

Action is supported

Report: The Ulster Unionist Labour Association sends a telegram of support to Craig.

[NL, 8 October]

Ban 'a blot' Barr says

Report: The president of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions condemns the Derry ban and police brutality.

Fitt to be speaker

Report: A meeting of the all-Ireland Council of Labour is expected to be convened in the light of recent events.

Defiance of law attacked

Report: A Belfast churchman feels that those who defy the law are morally responsible for ensuing suffering.

'Republican inspired'

Letter: Civil rights marchers deliberately chose a provocative route for their march; the movement in which they are involved is neither non-political nor non-sectarian, a point amply demonstrated by the presence at its events of Currie and Fitt, who seek to promote civil strife. The attempt to march through a Unionist area was blatantly provocative. The parade's leaders deliberately chose the route in order to be sure that it would be restricted. The claims that the march was banned are unfounded; it was merely prevented from passing through Unionist areas, where its presence would have been provocative. Craig deserves support for his courageous decision.

[see NL, 15 October]

News Letter

Faulkner warning over civil rights

Report: Faulkner sees civil rights as a republican flag of convenience and 'he did not believe that the vast majority of the nationalist citizens of Northern Ireland believed one word of it.' A 'distorted and corrupt picture of the community' endangers investment in, and therefore the future of all citizens of Northern Ireland. So-called civil rights marchers in Dungannon ended their demonstration with a republican song; their goal is clearly not reform, but the weakening of the constitution.

[BT, 5 October]

Belfast Telegraph

Will Derry affair spur Westminster government to act?

Letter: Craig's ban on the Derry civil rights march was 'arrogant and undemocratic.' Faulkner's attempt to tar the entire civil rights movement with the brush of republicanism was deplorable. Police brutality in Derry is to be condemned. However, the publicity that has been given to the weekend's events may spur Westminster finally into taking action on Northern Ireland. Demands for a vote, a job and a decent house are not revolutionary, and the Unionist government should not hesitate to implement simple reforms. These rights, after all, exist in Britain.

Open letter to minister

Letter: The police in Derry 'conducted a carefully planned and brutally executed repression of a peaceful assembly.' Craig 'puts the demands of the extremists within his own party before the interests of the community.' He has slandered the civil rights movement by accusing it of association with the IRA.

(Erskine Holmes)

[see IN, 8 October]

News Letter

Single seat system

Letter: The claim that the abolition of proportional representation has not affected the composition of Stormont to any great degree is not an especially convincing one. Queen's University elections, decided on a PR system, have witnessed changes in the types of candidate elected over the years. Such an 'evolution' of representation at Stormont has been prevented by the continued use of the single seat system for all other Stormont constituencies, which means that elections are decided solely on the issue of the Union, with each voter in possession of only one vote and thus deciding to cast it on that issue alone. The persistence of the single seat system also prevents the selection of catholic unionists; under PR in the Republic of Ireland, protestants are selected for constituencies with little difficulty.

7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Top

8 October, 1968

Irish News

Petrol bombs thrown as police vehicles crash Derry barricades

Leader: Further violent flare-ups in Derry follow another day of tension in the city. Wilson has invited O'Neill to Downing Street to discuss the situation. The CRA refutes Craig's charge that it is run by communists and republicans. Dublin city council strongly condemns the Northern Ireland authorities. NICRA pledges to 'carry on our campaign until social justice has been secured for all the citizens of Northern Ireland.' The association has been invited to organise further demonstrations at a number of venues. It reiterates its demand for 'rights which are already enjoyed by the citizens of Great Britain:

One - fair distribution of houses and jobs

Two - franchise laws in conformity with those of a democratic society

Three - end of gerrymandering'

In addition, the repeal of the Special Powers Act is deemed essential.

News Letter

Land Rovers hit by petrol bombs

Leader: Clashes between inhabitants of the Bogside area and police have continued amid scenes of looting in Derry.

Belfast Telegraph

Derry cooler despite petrol bombs

Report: Though violence has continued in Derry, the tensions in the city are waning.

News Letter

Derry people sad and bitter after riots

Report: The people of Derry are 'sad because of the disruption in the life of the community; bitter because it had put the clock back and perhaps imperilled further industrial development.' Few are prepared to condone the violence, while many condemn it in strong terms. The mayor of Derry issues a statement calling for no further disorder. McAteer asks O'Neill whether Craig's actions on Derry had cabinet approval, and goes on to suggest that issues of law and order might be better administered if transferred, at least temporarily, to the jurisdiction of Westminster.

Irish News

Hospital admissions

Report: Casualties hospitalised over the weekend in Derry comprise 61 men, 7 women and 8 children.

Movement for Colonial Freedom 'shocked'

Report: The Movement for Colonial Freedom calls for a full inquiry into the events in Derry. 'It is equally incumbent on the British government to ensure not only that peaceful demonstrations to demand elementary democratic freedoms are permitted in all parts of the United Kingdom, but that the grievances which gave rise to this march are dealt with by legislation as a matter of priority.' On person, one vote is seen as absolutely necessary. Liam Cosgrave sends two representatives to investigate the Derry situation. The National Council for Civil Liberties calls for an inquiry into the handling of the Derry demonstration, and 'an extensive judicial inquiry, perhaps a Royal Commission into the working of the Government of Ireland Act 1920, and such important issues as the Special Powers Act, the electoral system of [sic - and?] discrimination in housing and employment.' Craig should also be removed from his post.

News Letter

'Shocked' at police methods [Report]

Irish News

No date fixed for meeting between Wilson and O'Neill

Report: A date has not been fixed for the proposed Wilson-O'Neill meeting. O'Neill warns against British interference and says that an inquiry into events in Derry is 'unlikely.' Nationalists may not return to Stormont as the official opposition; the decision may be made at a forthcoming meeting.

News Letter

O'Neill says he will meet Wilson

Report: O'Neill is to meet Wilson, though a date has not yet been fixed. He expresses his support for the police handling of the Derry situation; he also hopes that Nationalists will not abstain from Stormont.

Irish News

'Mere political agitation' - Craig

Report: Craig is willing to brief Wilson on Derry, but is not prepared to countenance British interference in Northern Ireland. He asks 'why should we hold an inquiry on mere political agitation'? He feels that superficial injuries are not cause for claims of police brutality, and argues that large-scale rioting, 'almost on the verge of a civil war,' would have ensued had not the march been stopped.

Belfast Telegraph

Unionist support pours in for Craig

Report: Various Unionist Associations and groupings of the Orange Order express their support for Craig's actions with regard to the Derry civil rights march, and their praise for the handling by the RUC of subsequent events. John Coulthard, prospective NILP candidate for south Antrim, pins responsibility for the trouble in Derry on those who led the marchers in their defiance of the law. Two Unionist MPs at Westminster protest at the BBC's coverage of recent events, which they claim to have been biased. There has also been much condemnation of both government and police. The CRA says that it has been invited to hold other demonstrations, and challenges Craig to produce evidence of its alleged subservience to communists and republicans. The Union of Students in Ireland condemns 'apparent police brutality' in Derry and calls for a Westminster inquiry. The methodist church feels that community relations have been damaged and calls for restraint.

Irish News

Craig 'has shown little regard for rule of law'

Report: The Falls NILP branch condemns Craig's decision on the march and accuses him of using the situation to further his personal political ambitions.

Belfast Telegraph

NILP sets out views

Report: The NILP sends a preliminary report on Derry to Wilson and Callaghan.

Irish News

'Symptom of community sickness'

Report: The chairman of the Northern Ireland committee of the ICTU laments the scenes in Derry as a symptom of poor community relations, and accuses the government of 'flouting the principles of constitutional democracy, and of maligning legitimate opponents as the enemies of the state.' Disturbances of this nature will damage community-building by discouraging investment; the British government should intervene to extend UK citizens' rights to Northern Ireland.

News Letter

Derry riots due to 'a sickness'

Report: A polarisation of attitudes in Northern Ireland, adds the committee, must now be resisted.

Irish News

Authority for Derry inquiry order debated in lords

Report: In the house of lords, the government is asked about the implications of section 75 of the Government of Ireland Act, and the scope for intervention to examine the rights of people in Northern Ireland. A government peer responds that the planned Wilson-O'Neill meeting is the best way to proceed.

O'Neill asserts: ban may have prevented deaths

Report: O'Neill feels that the ban on the march was justified given the possibility of riots and deaths, which was very real had the measure not been taken. His government has been trying to end 'a tendency in Ireland for a Nationalist local authority not to be over-keen to house people who were unionists and vice versa.' Improving community relations have been dealt a blow. After the re-organisation of local authorities has been completed, it will then be time to look at the question of the franchise. The chosen route for the march was 'pure provocation,' since 'no republican parade has ever marched down this road in the history of Northern Ireland.'

News Letter

Ban may have prevented deaths - O'Neill

Report: He feels that an inquiry into events in Derry is 'unlikely' and argues against any British attempt to interfere in Northern Ireland affairs. He speaks of a tendency for Nationalist local authorities not to be over-keen to house Unionists. He praises the police, who prevented possible deaths by their conduct; thanks to them, only 'scratches and bruises' were sustained. The Derry events would appear to have damaged improving community relations.

Telegram supports Craig

Report: The Ulster Unionist Labour Association sends a telegram of support to Craig, praising him for his 'action in keeping the IRA from causing civil strife and public disorder in Londonderry under the false name of civil rights.'

[BT, 7 October]

Belfast Telegraph

Cabinet back Craig

Leader: The cabinet backs Craig's actions with regard to events in Derry. A debate is to be held at Stormont over the government's handling of the affair. Students of Queen's University are planning a Belfast march to 'support human rights and to protest at police brutality in Derry.' Paisley has called a counter-demonstration. Fred Taggart, a member of the students' joint action committee, says that students will work with police on alternative arrangements if necessary. Paisley will protest 'within the law,' but feels that students should stay in a nationalist area for their protest, 'where they will be perfectly at home.'

[IN, NL, 9 October]

News Letter

Big civil rights march in Belfast

Report: 1,500 students are expected to take part in a civil rights march from Queen's University to the City Hall in Belfast. An organiser, Fred Taggart, says that the march will be peaceful, and one of its primary aims is to protest against police brutality in Derry. It is also designed to highlight the need for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and to attack all forms of discrimination. It will also call for a public inquiry into events in Derry and into the introduction of one-man-one-vote. H Montgomery-Hyde calls for an independent inquiry into events in Derry. The QUB Liberal Association criticises Craig for his ban, which it claims was the cause of violence that otherwise would not have occurred. A planned Dublin meeting will condemn the ban. Several Republic of Ireland county councils condemn police brutality, in addition to the ban itself. The methodist church feels that the prospects for good community relations have been set back. Victoria Unionist Association expresses its support both for Craig and for the police. The Orange Order in Scotland wishes to see NICRA banned. The UCDC condemns O'Neill's 'policy of appeasement' and supports Craig's actions. Wilson asks Callaghan to report to him on the situation, having received 'only seven telegrams of protest.'

Belfast Telegraph

Derry clashes regretted

Report: Armagh Church of Ireland diocesan synod regrets recent events and hopes that community relations have not been seriously damaged by them.

Ex-MP wants judicial inquiry

Report: A former Unionist MP calls for an impartial inquiry into the events of 5 October in Derry.

[IN, 9 October]

Students to march to Belfast

Report: The New Ireland Society at Queen's University votes its disapproval of the proposed student march in Belfast. Taggart believes that the Derry parade would have passed off peacefully had it been allowed to march unhindered by police. 'There is no doubt that civil rights meetings have been used by some politicians to make party points, but surely it is not beyond the realms of possibility to find in Northern Ireland many who genuinely believe in its aims.' He adds, 'the criterion by which the Civil Rights Association should be judged is not its personnel but by what it says.' Craig's attempt to brand the CRA a front for republicanism is reprehensible. 'As a protestant and a practising one at that, I strongly resent being forced to express my support for fundamental human rights in a catholic area.' He feels that Craig is afraid that the cause of civil rights will gain moderate Unionist support.

Irish News

Faulkner contradicts reports

Report: Faulkner denies that political considerations have influenced the ministry of commerce in its economic measures for Derry

News Letter

Economic damage to Derry

Report: Faulkner expresses worry about the impact of recent events on Derry's economic future. 'Politicians who are prepared to use Londonderry as a centre for their mud-slinging should realise that they can bring serious economic consequences to the area.' He also stresses, contrary to what is suggested by some newspaper allegations, that 'political considerations have never entered into the ministry of commerce's industrial promotion activities.'

Belfast Telegraph

Industry threatened by riots - Faulkner [Report]

Civil rights: communist-republican charge denied

Report: Faulkner's accusation of communist and republican control of the civil rights movement is refuted.

News Letter

Craig must go say Liberals

Report: McElroy calls for calm following Derry. 'While the organisers of the civil rights march cannot avoid their substantial share of responsibility in defying the ban and thus breaking the law, objective reports indicate that the police used violence far in excess of the demand of necessity.' Craig must be sacked and a public inquiry held. Craig receives support from the South Tyrone Unionist Association.

Irish News

Cause of violence attributed to action of Mr Craig

Report: The Queen's University Liberal Society feels that no violence would have occurred in Derry had the demonstration been allowed to go ahead. Police brutality cannot be denied.

Lenihan on Unionists' 'vicious sectarianism'

Report: Republic of Ireland minister for education, Brian Lenihan, argues that discrimination in Northern Ireland is not the result of the voting system; he feels that it would be practised under any electoral system.

Belfast Telegraph

McAteer to see Lynch

Report: McAteer is to meet with Lynch to discuss the situation in Northern Ireland.

Eire government asked to demand inquiry

Report: Fine Gael calls on the government of the Republic of Ireland to demand an inquiry into events in Derry. The Irish Labour Party feels that pressure for reform should be exerted on the government of Northern Ireland, and that a strong protest should be lodged with the British government. A number of local councils in the Republic of Ireland have passed their own motions of protest.


Report: A number of protest meetings are being arranged in Dublin, some by Sinn Féin.

Irish News

'Solidarity' message from USA

Report: A New York demonstration in support of the people of Derry is attended by 7,000 people.

Belfast Telegraph

Union Jack burned in US

Report: A protest against 'English colonialism in Northern Ireland' is held outside the residence of Britain's UN delegate, Lord Caradon.

[IN, NL, 9 October]

Irish News

There must be an inquiry

Editorial: There must be an inquiry into police action in Derry. The marchers have been accused of being communists or republicans, but they had every right to march for jobs, homes and votes in a city where the majority is denied control. The whole state of affairs existing in the city must be investigated. Wilson must not ask Stormont to redress the grievances expressed in Derry; the British government must take its own action.

News Letter

The way ahead for Derry

Editorial: Events in Derry should not be trivialised, but nor should they be blown out of proportion. They are not mirrored all over Northern Ireland, and people should be on their guard against the use of recent events as ammunition against the constitution. 'Derry did not erupt; it was erupted' by those who had their own motives.

Belfast Telegraph

Taking stock

Editorial: Wilson's invitation of O'Neill to Westminster for talks is an indication of the seriousness with which the situation in Northern Ireland must now be viewed. O'Neill should 're-state his policy' clearly, in order to prevent further damage to Northern Ireland's reputation. His policy has been based around good community relations, forming 'the best foundation for secure economic and social development…Where there have been failures they have been at local levels, those levels at which the case for better community relations cannot stop at friendlier contacts but must be exemplified in the conduct of councils and other public bodies.' Craig may posture against republicans and communists, 'but the government cannot be blind to the truth that the source of its troubles is the frustration of ordinary people who want houses and fair representation.' The situation calls for serious thought, not protest marches or political party point-scoring exercises. Government should stop seeing all catholics as the enemy; only a small minority of extremists are out to disrupt progress. Change may be difficult for some to bear, but it cannot be as difficult as periodic surges of disorder.

Irish News

How to win friends and influence people

Comment: UTV's coverage of the events in Derry was 'first-rate television journalism.'

What the papers said

Report: The London Times has called for an inquiry into events in Derry. NICRA is, according to its editorial, 'not a republican front,' but works through constitutional means. The Irish Times feels that marchers were right to defy an unjust ban. 'It is a pity that civil rights in the North means almost exclusively sectarianism. Nationalists have failed to win over protestants in any numbers; those protestants who disagree with the Orange-Unionist machine have learned to keep their mouths shut.' O'Neill should 'show the good that is in him' by taking remedial action.

News Letter

Press calls for police inquiry

Report: The Irish Times quotes an article from the Tyrone Democrat condemning the republican announcement of plans to infiltrate the civil rights movement as having 'irreparably damaged the community appeal' of such projects. The Irish Independent feels that the extremists on both sides will use Derry to their own ends, so that either O'Neill or Wilson will be forced to call a public inquiry. The Irish Press condemns Craig and adds that 'his leader, Capt O'Neill, on taking over the premiership, spoke in liberal terms of community relations, but has since found out that the Orange Order must be obeyed.'

[BT, 7 October]

Belfast Telegraph

'Right direction'

Report: The Times feels that progress has been slow in Northern Ireland, and that if Stormont does not take action, then Westminster intervention may be necessary.

Three British Labour MPs criticised

Report: The Daily Express criticises the presence of three Labour MPs at the Derry demonstration, a presence that, in the newspaper's view, can only have contributed to heightening tensions. The Daily Mail is strongly critical of the denial to British citizens in Northern Ireland of the right to vote. The Daily Telegraph argues that the march was re-routed for good reasons, as enumerated by O'Neill when he said that the restrictions prevented possible deaths.

Irish News

Labour candidate's open letter to minister [Letter]

[see BT, 7 October, Open letter to minister]

(Erskine Holmes)

Abstention from Stormont

Letter: The Nationalist Party should withdraw from Stormont

Belfast Telegraph

The 'storm-troopers'

Letter: 'English public opinion is rightly sickened' at the RUC's conduct in Derry, and at Craig's attempt to label those protesting for democracy and British rights as communists or IRA supporters.

'Machine of dictatorship'

Letter: The Special Powers Act, said the National Council for Civil Liberties in 1935, is 'a standing temptation to whatever intolerant or bigoted section may attain power to abuse its authority at the expense of the people it rules.'

[IN, 9 October]

Time for cool, rational statesmanlike action

Letter: Recent events could damage Northern Ireland's economic prospects. The government must supplement its words with actions, and remove the evils festering in places like Dungannon and Derry. Minority leaders must come together and organise a united but restrained campaign of protest. The moderates must take control of the situation, and not leave the field to the extremists.

Hooligans to blame

Letter: The demonstration in Derry was composed largely of a hooligan element in search of trouble. They 'deserved everything they got.' Also, the English should sort out their own problems at home, and leave Northern Ireland affairs to the people of Northern Ireland.

7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Top

9 October, 1968

Irish News

Further civil rights march will be banned - Craig

Leader: Craig says that a further civil rights march planned for Derry will be banned as provocative, though the civil rights organisers have chosen a route inhabited by a non-unionist majority. Lynch identifies partition as 'the first and foremost root cause of such demonstrations.' The suppression of free speech continues to be subsidised by the British. Fitt claims that Unionists fear the non-sectarian nature of the march, so begin scaremongering about the nature of the campaign for civil rights. Reform must come before a conservative government returns to Westminster, for such a government would only co-operate with its Unionist allies.

News Letter

We'll march again - civil rights

Report: The Derry organising committee plans another civil rights march which will start from the Waterside area, an area covered by Craig's previous ban. Sinclair is unaware of the plan and calls for a cool approach. A token strike is also called by the organising committee.

Irish News

No major incidents

Report: There is no further serious trouble in Derry.

Call for a token strike in Derry

Report: The Derry organising committee calls for another march, which will meet Craig on his own sectarian terms by processing through non-unionist areas. A call for an end to rioting is made. A token one-hour strike is called, while demonstrations outside Derry, expressing solidarity with that planned for the city itself, are desired.

Students' protest march clash with Paisleyites unlikely

Report: A 1,200-strong demonstration by QUB students, organised by the Joint Action Committee for Civil Liberty, has accepted police re-routing to avoid a clash with Paisleyite counter-demonstrators. A committee member, Fred Taggart, feels that Craig is misrepresenting Unionists: 'the average unionist only wants to live in peace with his neighbour, and…he's sick to death of the kind of action which is being taken in his name.' O'Neill will be responsible for the consequences of a failure to grant reforms.

News Letter

Extra police for civil rights march

Report: Extra police are being drafted into Belfast to deal with trouble, should it erupt, following the decision to allow the student march from Queen's University to the City Hall to go ahead. Paisley will hold a counter-demonstration. Craig feels that the march may heighten tension in Northern Ireland, but does not feel that this is sufficient reason to impose a ban. Paisley says 'we have never said we will meet the students. Our meeting will be a protest within the law.' He is planning to go ahead with the meeting despite the prospect of a possible RUC ban. A communication purporting to be from the UVF threatens that the civil rights demonstration will be broken up. Taggart will work with police to avoid confrontation with Paisleyites. Currie is questioned by police about his participation in the Derry march, as is McAteer, who will later meet Lynch in Dublin to discuss Northern Ireland.

Irish News

Irish students pledge their solidarity

Report: The Union of Students in Ireland condemns the Craig march ban and the brutality of police. Free expression was suppressed. One-man-one-vote should be granted.

Belfast Telegraph

Noisy debate - then support for march

Report: A debate held at Queen's University Union debating society is decided overwhelmingly in favour of a march to the City Hall, a march that is seen as non-political and non-sectarian. The feeling is aired that police must take a stand against Paisleyite dictation. Continuing violence in Derry is condemned, as is 'the use made of the events in Londonderry by opposition MPs to further their own ends.' A distinction is seen to exist between those who took part in the civil rights march and the perpetrators of the violence which followed.

1,000 stage sit-down

Leader: Queen's University students stage a sit-down demonstration in Belfast, having accepted a police re-routing of a march designed to demonstrate opposition to the handling of the Derry situation. The sit-down results when police prevent the students from reaching their intended destination, where a Paisleyite gathering has assembled. Paisley later tells his supporters to disperse, having expressed the conviction that 'we have won our victory.'

[IN, NL, 10 October]

Students at NUU plan protest

Report: University of Ulster students give notice of a planned non-sectarian and non-political civil rights march to be held in Coleraine. The Northern Ireland committee of the ICTU condemns the proposed token strike on civil rights in Derry, which use of industry for political ends it feels could harm the city's economy. The Irish divisional council of the draughtsmen's union DATA condemns Craig's prohibition of the Derry march and 'the use of brute force by members of the RUC.'

Derry men are split

Report: Derry civil rights organisers are split over whether a demonstration should be held on 12 October.

Ban all counter-rallies - lawyers

Report: The Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers feels that Craig's ban was political in character, drawing a contrast between this action and the indulgence extended to Orange parades through nationalist areas. A threatened counter-demonstration is too often the excuse for such a ban. New measures should be instituted to make for a more just system: a week's notice should be given for any demonstration; organisers should be notified of any ban within 48 hours of receipt of notice; ministerial decisions should be reviewable in a court of law; counter-demonstrations should be prohibited. Westminster should intervene if Stormont does not take action within a specified period.

[IN, NL, 10 October]

Irish News

Demonstration outside Lord Caradon's home

Report: The American Congress for Irish Freedom and the United Ireland Publicity Committee hold a demonstration outside the home of Britain's UN representative, decrying 'English colonialism in Northern Ireland.'

News Letter

Irishmen protest in New York [Report]

[BT, 8 October]

Irish News

Solicitor on CRA executive prepares statement for police

Report: Kevin Agnew is preparing a statement on the Derry march for police. He criticises the absence of many Nationalists from the parade, and does not agree with the party's decision to take no official part in the event. Nationalist abstention from Stormont, if it materialises, will be welcome. The CRA is not in any way dominated by the IRA.

Derry people asserted their rights in own city

Letter: Disgraceful police brutality was exhibited in Derry. The Apprentice Boys' march was no more than a spoiling tactic, used to prevent the civil rights march from going ahead as planned. Craig has said that there are certain areas into which certain groups do not traditionally go; however, Orange processions through nationalist areas give the lie to this statement. Nationalist Party members who did not take part in the civil rights march should be ashamed of themselves. An opposition policy of civil disobedience and abstention would be welcome. The CRA is not dominated by communists or the IRA; the executive until recently counted a Unionist as a member.

(Kevin Agnew)

'Minimal force' used, says hospital

Report: A spokesman for Altnagelvin Hospital claims that injuries to marchers indicate that the police used minimum force. Also, 'a high percentage of the casualties were caused by stones thrown by people in the crowd.' Two Unionist MPs at Westminster protest to the BBC over its allegedly 'unbalanced, irresponsible and inaccurate' representation of Derry.

News Letter

Force used 'minimal' says hospital [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Riot injuries statement

Report: Altnagelvin Hospital has treated, according to a statement, 85 people as a result of the disturbances in Derry, many as a result of missile attacks.

Irish News

Challenge issued to Craig

Report: Belfast councillor Paddy Kennedy wonders if police received instruction only to use batons on the leg area, and challenges Craig to find a realistic reason for the ban on the march rather than produce continuing allegations of communist or republican involvement. The police are compared to 'an uncivilised pack of Nazi Gestapo.'

Cabinet backs police action in Derry

Report: A cabinet statement backing the police action in Derry and contending that it 'prevented an extremely dangerous situation from developing' has been issued. The government will put down a commons motion 'deploring the conduct of the sponsors of the march' and lauding 'the real advances in industrial development, housing and social security in all parts of Northern Ireland.'

News Letter

Craig gets backing from his colleagues

Report: 'Mob violence' is condemned as 'obstructing the real advances in industrial development, housing and social security in all parts of Northern Ireland.' Taylor condemns inciting speeches made at Dungannon and talks of heavy Sinn Féin, communist and IRA involvement. He therefore does not find developments in Derry surprising. He feels that many catholics do not support the civil rights marches because of the hardening of attitudes that they cause. Their responsible participation in Northern Ireland affairs must be encouraged. Two Unionist MPs at Westminster protest to the BBC about biased coverage of events in Northern Ireland. Belfast Young Unionists see the civil rights movement as 'a pawn for those who seek to create a revolutionary situation in Northern Ireland.' McAteer will bring Lynch up-do-date on the latest developments. Derry's representative on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Committee calls for a judicial inquiry into recent events in the city. The National Council for Civil Liberties calls for the dismissal of Craig who, it feels, will obstruct any further progress in solving the state's problems. The Union of Students in Ireland condemns police brutality and the suppression of the right to demonstrate. Agnew deplores the non-participation in the Derry march of the Nationalist Party; those members of the party who did not attend should be ashamed. He challenges Craig to produce photographic evidence of Goulding's participation in the Derry demonstration. Sean Ó Bradaigh of Sinn Féin condemns the denial of democracy in Northern Ireland since 1921. A group of Irish-Americans that protested outside the home of a British UN representative plans to protest at the failure of Republic of Ireland politicians to speak out for catholic nationalists in Northern Ireland. Various expressions of support for Craig and for the police are made, Newtownbreda Unionist Association condemning 'irresponsible and provocative behaviour' on the part of the demonstrators, and adding that the MPs involved should concentrate on improving community relations.

[BT, 8 October]

Belfast Telegraph

Support from Grand Lodge

Report: The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland congratulates Craig and the RUC for their handling of the Derry situation.

Irish News

O'Neill's 'untiring effort to bring industry to NI'

Report: Belfast Lord Mayor, Alderman William Geddis, speaking in Leicester, says that 'the vast majority of people' back O'Neill 'in his gallant efforts in many spheres.' Not only are economic conditions improving, but 'there really was a great deal of goodwill and understanding among all creeds and classes.'

News Letter

Smear on all Ulster

Editorial: Prospects for the whole of Northern Ireland, socially and industrially, have been seriously damaged by the Derry controversy. Stormont must gear up its publicity machine against 'a continuing, scurrilous and well-organised propaganda campaign.' The media never once mentioned during the course of many broadcasts that the Derry march was at no point banned, nor that the police had appealed to marchers to think of the safety of women and children.

O'Neill: the long battle to widen path of progress

Feature: O'Neill's programme has been all about building a middle-ground of political consensus; he sees the recent events in Derry as a threat to his hopes.

Irish News

Montgomery Hyde suggests an inquiry

Report: A former Unionist MP calls for an impartial inquiry into events in Derry, which have offered poor publicity for Northern Ireland. Fred Taggart desires 'freedom of speech, freedom to march, and freedom from discrimination.'

[BT, 8 October]

Unionists call for inquiry

Report: The QUB Unionist Association calls for an inquiry into the violence in Derry.

Belfast Telegraph

Guckian asks for full inquiry

Report: A leading catholic calls for a 'full judicial inquiry' into events in Derry. Taylor claims republican involvement in the Dungannon civil rights march, and says that this is upsetting community relations. MacGiolla asserts that attempts to split the civil rights movement will fail. Newtownards Young Unionists praise Craig and the police, and condemn those MPs who took part in 'civil disorder.'

Irish News

'The world is watching and waiting'

Report: Derry's representative on the Northern Ireland Human Rights Committee says that events in the city have 'caused deep wounds in the community which time might or might not heal.' A 'full judicial inquiry' into the affair is necessary.

Up-to-date report for Mr Lynch

Report: McAteer says that he will keep Lynch up-to-date with events arising from the Derry confrontation.

Belfast Telegraph

Lynch may raise Derry at UN

Report: McAteer has talks with Lynch on Derry. He indicates that Lynch may raise the matter with Wilson or with the UN.

[IN, 10 October]

News Letter

Eliminate partition, says Lynch

Report: Lynch sees partition as the root cause of problems in Northern Ireland, and argues that 'the methods necessary to maintain partition - that is gerrymandering, discrimination in jobs and housing, suppression of free speech and the right of peaceful protest - could not be continued without the political and the huge financial support received from Great Britain.'

Belfast Telegraph

Lynch blames partition for Derry trouble [Report]

They want Craig out

Report: East Down NDP calls for the removal of Craig from office and the institution of an impartial inquiry into allegations of police brutality in Derry.

[IN, 10 October]

Irish News

Ban on civil rights march condemned

Report: A meeting of the Nationalists on Fermanagh County Council condemns the ban on the Derry march and police brutality. Discrimination must be brought to an end.

Mr Currie visited by Dungannon police

Report: Currie is questioned by police over his part in the Derry march. He justifies his presence.

Nationalists at Stormont

Editorial: 'Nationalist pressure in Stormont, and outside it, has had no effect on the closed minds in the Unionist Party.' It will be no surprise if the Nationalist Party decides either to cease its role as the official Opposition, or to leave Stormont altogether. Its attempts at co-operation have proven futile, and the government has done nothing about injustice. O'Neill has talked about better community relations, but his followers have not been listening to him.

Liberals to discuss civil rights issue

Report: Belfast Liberals will debate their tactics on the civil rights issue, and will also consider McElroy's remark that the march's organisers 'cannot avoid their substantial share of responsibility by [their] defying the ban and breaking the law,' a statement with which many Liberals have publicly disagreed.

World focus on undemocratic behaviour of Unionist government

Letter: At last the world has been made aware of the incredible injustices which exist in Northern Ireland. 'The one reason' for the ban on the civil rights march 'was that any unionist procession will be always free to march through the centre of Derry, but no anti-unionist procession will ever be allowed to parade within the sacred walls.' Police protect pro-unionist marches in nationalist areas, but will not allow nationalists to walk through unionist areas, dealing out 'severe threats' instead of protection. The Special Powers Act too must be publicised; it is 'a system of tyrannical laws unique outside the communist bloc.' The obvious wealth of facts on injustice should be made available in booklet form to the average citizen of Britain.

Belfast Telegraph

Is it Unionist policy to stifle criticism?

Letter: 'The Unionist Party's traditional method of dealing with anybody who disagrees with their way of running the country is to label their opponents as either Fenian or communist, and in the case of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association they have run true to form.' There are abuses in Northern Ireland that must be tackled. 'Surely Unionist tactics are to stifle criticism? Did it never occur to Mr Faulkner or Mr Craig that there are many groups in this country who are neither republican, nationalist, communist, nor anti-British and yet who disagree with Unionist policies, philosophies, and method of administration?' Northern Ireland should be truly British, and thus subject to direct rule from Westminster, so allowing its people to choose between the mainstream British parties.

A bastion of intolerance

Letter: Those who speak of improving community relations should be aware that 'there is still a lot of hatred in Northern Ireland.' The years to come will produce increasing violence and an increasingly stringent government response.

Irish News

'Democracy in the Six Counties is dead'

Letter: Unionist tactics have made more imperative than ever the creation of a united opposition front. O'Neill's 'con' talk has now been shown up as just that. Nationalists should resign representative positions. Political opposition has served only to prop up the Stormont system.

Mask off O'Neill

Letter: It would be sheer hypocrisy for Nationalists to return to Stormont. O'Neill has been shown up as 'the greatest confidence trickster in western Europe.'

Existence of civil rights body justified

Letter: NICRA and other organisations have an entirely justified existence, and the protesters in Derry were right to defy the 'disgraceful' ban. Craig and those police who engaged in 'brutal tactics' carry the immediate responsibility for violence. Ultimate responsibility lies with Unionism and those who refuse to speak out against it. A united opposition party is desirable especially at this time.

The Special Powers Acts [Letter]

[see BT, 8 October, 'Machine of dictatorship']

The cameras cannot lie

Letter: The second World War was fought for 'freedom and democracy for all': these must include 'the right to march without fear or intimidation.'

Belfast Telegraph

Right men at the helm

Letter: Speeches at Dungannon and elsewhere reveal that the civil rights movement aims at an all-Ireland republic. As to the Northern Ireland government, 'the right men are at the helm, and it is hoped that Mr Paul Rose and his anti-Ulster intruders will be given to understand this.'

[NL, 14 October]

A very brave man

Letter: Craig's handling of the Derry march was very brave and should be welcomed by people of goodwill. The demonstration was provocative, and intended to damage Northern Ireland's image. British MPs should not interfere.

News Letter

Reception earned

Letter: The Down GAA team deserved its City Hall reception; the GAA is not a sectarian body.

Belfast Telegraph

Persecution in Ulster - Australian

Report: The Australian prime minister is asked to intervene in Northern Ireland to right injustices there, but refuses to countenance the suggestion.

[IN, NL, 10 October]

Fleet St keeps its eye on Derry

Report: The press debate in England on Derry continues. Television coverage has made people better informed. In the press, the reasons for the actions taken by Craig and the RUC are generally understood, and police brutality is not wholly accepted to have been inflicted. Among suggestions made is one for a Royal Commission. O'Neill's difficulties are recognised, but the contention is advanced that he has had considerable time to introduce reforms. An alternative view is that civil rights is simply a new and more subtle strategy on the part of the IRA.

News Letter

MPs' presence 'only encouraged Derry tension'

Report: The Daily Express criticises three British Labour MPs for their presence in Derry, which could only have contributed to tensions in the city. The trouble arose from the marchers' deliberate defiance of the law. Catholics are right to highlight their grievances; protestants are also right to view catholics with suspicion as the enemies of the state. The Times acknowledges O'Neill's difficulties with extremists, but asserts that if he cannot address the situation, Westminster should intervene.

7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Top

10 October, 1968

Irish News

1,500 Queen's students march in Belfast

Leader: QUB students engaging in a demonstration, after accepting a police re-routing of their march in protest at police brutality and the denial of civil liberties, stage a sit-down protest on being prevented by police from reaching the front of the City Hall, where Paisleyite counter-demonstrators have reassembled after their own protest. Paisley tells his followers that Craig 'wanted to ban protestantism and patronise republicanism.' Taggart, after a long stand-off, tells demonstrators, 'anyone who believes in our principles should be prepared to carry those principles through with the dignity they deserve and not become involved in a great brawl which would only give Bill Craig more excuse for the kind of things he did in Derry.' Taggart later says that 'now even moderate Unionists are coming out and demanding and end to the wrongs which exist.' Another march is planned.

News Letter

Squat-down students sent for the cabinet

Leader: The students leave the City Hall only when it is agreed that cabinet representatives will receive their protest. Paisley opposes the initial route proposed by the students because he feels that their views do not represent those of the people of the Sandy Row area. The students however, 'as a tactical proposition,' alter their route.

[BT, 9 October]

Belfast Telegraph

10 demands by Queen's students

Report: Ten demands by QUB students, formulated at a public meeting, are handed in to the minister of home affairs and to the cabinet secretary. They encompass the following: one-man-one-vote at local elections; repeal of the Special Powers Act; repeal of the Public Order Act; introduction of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act; repeal of the Flags and Emblems Act; introduction of Sheelagh Murnaghan's Human Rights Bill; introduction of a points system for housing allocation and greater Housing Trust provision for the lower-paid; revision of electoral boundaries; an impartial inquiry into alleged police brutality in Derry; legislation preventing discrimination in employment.

Students seek approval to hold another march on the City Hall

Report: QUB students plan another civil rights march in Belfast. They have presented their ten-point civil rights plan to government representatives: 'the plan includes demands for one-man-one-vote at all levels; repealing of the Special Powers, Public Order, and Flags and Emblems Acts and introduction of a law providing for a parliamentary commissioner and human rights as proposed by Miss Sheelagh Murnaghan, MP.' It also calls for a points system for housing allocation; a redrawing of electoral boundaries; jobs on merit; and an inquiry into alleged police brutality in Derry.

Irish News

No march - public meeting instead

Report: The proposed civil rights march and strike in Derry are called off by a newly-constituted committee which calls for restraint.

News Letter

New Derry march is called off

Report: McCann is opposed to the new committee, which he feels to be 'middle class and middle of the road.' He sees the need for further demonstration, and will agitate for them.

Belfast Telegraph

NUU 'rights' march off

Report: A civil rights march organised by students at the New University of Ulster is called off.

[IN, 11 October]

New plan as Derry cancels two protests

Report: The civil rights march and token one-hour strike called in Derry earlier in the week are called off by a new 16-man committee which plans to put a programme of action to a further public meeting. Restraint is desired in the interim.

Irish News

North Armagh Unionist Assoc supports Craig

Report: North Armagh Unionist Association passes a resolution supporting Craig in his efforts to maintain law and order, and praising police actions in Derry 'in the face of unprovoked aggression.' The Association also contends that, 'the contemptible and sinister schemes of unprincipled demagogues' are misleading people, and attempting 'to destroy the ever-growing progress, co-operation and harmony which have marked the life of the Province in recent years,' and thereby to wreck the constitution.

Belfast Telegraph


Report: Ormeau Young Unionists pass a vote of confidence in the actions of Craig and the RUC with regard to Derry.

Arrest those MPs: Unionists

Report: Lisburn Young Unionists call for the arrest of those MPs who defied the law in Derry. North Tyrone NDP condemns the 'methods of thugs' employed by riot police in Derry, while Newry Nationalists criticise 'unprovoked police brutality.' The Orange Order's Belfast County Grand Lodge praises Craig's actions. A 'leading public representative in mid-Ulster' defends the rights of students to demonstrate.

'Extremists are really scared'

Report: A candidate for the Unionist nomination in the Larkfield constituency in Belfast feels that O'Neill's success is worrying extremists. The Unionist candidate for west Belfast believes that prosperity will eliminate protest.

Irish News

Sacking of Craig called for by Liberals

Report: A Belfast meeting of the Liberals calls for the dismissal of Craig and condemns police brutality. Also condemned are 'the cynical attitudes of various politicians who are suing the civil rights movement as a means of causing trouble.'

Fitt wants all-Ireland support for civil rights

Report: Fitt calls for all-Ireland support for the civil rights campaign, and condemns the bringing of charges against the organisers of the Derry march by the police, 'who were drafted into Derry, manifestly for the purpose of administering a lesson in physical subjection to the participants…doubtless with the object of preventing the organisation of similar marches in the future.'

Belfast Telegraph

'I was proud' says Fitt [Report]

Playing politics

Editorial: Republic of Ireland politicians 'should realise that by butting into affairs for which they can have no responsibility, they are doing nothing to advance the cause of civil rights, or of anti-partition. Resurrection of the border as an issue will only make the process of addressing the minority's more short-term need more difficult.'

Mrs Paisley plans motion of censure on Fitt

Report: Councillor Eileen Paisley will put down a censure motion against Gerry Fitt for his role in the events of 5 October in Derry; the motion also supports the handling of the situation by the police.

[IN, 11 October]

News Letter

Newspaper slams Fitt

Report: The Financial Times feels that 'the civil rights marches were exploited by the more subversive elements of the Nationalists to do as much damage as possible.' Unionism can either take a firm stance or face down its extremists over concessions on local government. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland extends its congratulations to Craig and the RUC over their handling of the Derry situation. James Chichester-Clark says that one of the civil rights demanded in Derry was that to a job, but that the ensuing violence has damaged the prospects for more employment in the area. Those who speak of police brutality must remember that marchers were warned of resistance should they decide to attempt to break through the police cordon. Two members of the QUB Unionist Association dissociate themselves from the body's call for an inquiry into events in Derry. Craig receives further support for his handling of the 5 October demonstration from North Armagh Unionist Association.

Irish News

'Only course open to O'Neill - remove grievances'

Report: The Labour candidate for south Antrim, John Coulthard, says that the constitution of Northern Ireland is being placed in jeopardy by the government's failure to remedy grievances. Wilson will be forced to amend the Government of Ireland Act if Stormont does nothing. O'Neill cannot 'permit himself to remain the slave of the lunatic fringe of the Unionist Party.'

Belfast Telegraph

Wilson gets a warning

Leader: Queen's students will communicate their ten-point civil rights demands to the Northern Ireland government. Faulkner tells a Leicester audience that recent television coverage of Northern Ireland is not representative of life either in Derry or elsewhere. 'The leadership of the so-called civil rights march was strongly political. No-one, least of all a democratically-elected government, can object to political demonstrations. But neither can a responsible government put in jeopardy the lives of its citizens.' He continues, 'a spark last Saturday could have produced an inferno in other parts of Northern Ireland.' The government motion endorsing recent decisions is likely to be put down at Stormont as soon as possible. The CRA arranges talks with the mayor of Derry, William Beatty. The Derry demonstration and token strike are called off. A Liberal Party representative has been sent to look into the Northern Ireland situation. A Belfast branch of the Transport and General Workers' Union endorses the NILP's communication to Wilson.

Report by 3 MPs accuses RUC men

Report: The three Labour MPs who were present at the Derry demonstration send their report on events to Callaghan. They provide examples of police brutality, and claim that the parade was non-sectarian and representative of every political outlook except for Unionism. A letter to the Times from a QUB lecturer points out that taxes in Northern Ireland are collected by Westminster; Wilson should therefore do his duty with regard to the situation. 'British standards of administration and local election must be introduced.' If Wilson does not act, the people of Northern Ireland should cease paying tax. A letter to the Daily Telegraph points to the frustration of those awaiting reform in Derry. Another correspondent however speaks of English ignorance of Northern Ireland and decries interference from those who do not understand the complexities of the situation.

Derry and Mr Wilson

Comment: Craig's actions with regard to the Derry march have given the civil rights movement more media coverage than it could have hoped for. The English do not understand the complexities of the situation in Northern Ireland. Derry's inequities are difficult to defend, but police action attributable to political bungling must draw some sympathy. The Derry disturbances have damaged industrial prospects, and have possibly made it more difficult for O'Neill to sell reform to his party. It would appear that further bans will be imposed, and tensions will rise. Even if IRA elements are trying to foment discontent in preparation for a new campaign, 'they would have nothing to fasten on if there were no grievances.' Even if O'Neill would like to combat gerrymandering and discrimination as part of the shake-up of local government to come, it is doubtful 'whether he feels capable of carrying his party with him - or even his cabinet. He cannot act. And yet, if Derry is a foretaste of worse to come, he can not afford not to act.' Wilson should remove the burden from O'Neill's shoulders and force Stormont to act.

Tory pledge on Britain - Ulster agreement

Report: British shadow home secretary Quentin Hogg feels that Westminster intervention in Northern Ireland would be unwise, arguing that it might only serve to exacerbate a tense situation.

Irish News

'Riot police resorted to thug methods'

Report: North Tyrone NDP condemns the Derry ban and the violent tactics employed by police. Perhaps Craig exploited the situation to prevent the breaking down of sectarian barriers which NICRA could facilitate. Such barriers are what keep the establishment in power. NICRA's aims are 'wholly legitimate.'

East Down NDP hits at Craig's 'inept handling'

Report: East Down NDP condemns Craig's handling of the Derry march and calls for his replacement by 'a man who would earn the respect of all the community by exercising his authority in a manner compatible with a free democracy and not solely in the interests of sectional or sectarian prejudice.' An inquiry into police brutality is also deemed essential.

[BT, 9 October]

'Government were engineering situation'

Report: The NDP executive is 'of the opinion that the government were deliberately engineering a violent situation in Derry with the intention of discrediting the civil rights movement, and polarising opinion along sectarian lines.' An inquiry into the reasons for the ban, and into police brutality, is required.

'Unprovoked police brutality' in Derry strongly condemned

Report: A meeting of the Newry Nationalist Party condemns police brutality in Derry, and the ban on a peaceful march for civil rights. The government fears the lunatic fringe of Orangeism and so panders to this fringe. Derry provides the worst example of Unionist abuses.

'Violence and civil disturbance no solution'

Report: Grievances in Northern Ireland, says the Northern Ireland Committee for Human Rights, must be addressed, but this should not be attempted through violence or civil disobedience.

News Letter

'Violence is not the solution'

Report: A statement issued by the Northern Ireland Committee for Human Rights Year recognises 'that many deep-seated grievances are felt by different sections of the Northern Ireland community and that ways must be found for redressing those grievances,' but feels that violence offers no solution.

Belfast Telegraph

Appeal sent to O'Neill and Craig [Report]

Irish News

Human rights discussion 'out of order'

Report: The chairman of Strabane urban council rules out of order a discussion of events in Derry because he deems it 'political' in nature.

Irish News

Politics seem to dictate Craig bias - Lawyers

Report: The Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers contends that Craig's ban on the march was dictated by political rather than security considerations, and points to the indulgence extended to Orange parades through nationalist areas. Counter-demonstrations are too often the excuse for such a ban. The following proposals would offer a more just framework for decisions on marches: a week's notice of any planned demonstration should be provided; the intention to ban a demonstration should be communicated to its organisers within 48 hours of receipt of notice; the capacity of ministerial decisions to be appealed in court; the prohibition of counter-demonstrations. Westminster should intervene if Stormont does not take action within a specified time.

News Letter

Ban counter-demonstrations, say the Labour Lawyers [Report]

[BT, 9 October]

Irish News

Approach to United Nations mentioned in McAteer-Lynch talks

Report: McAteer has spoken to Lynch of the possibility of approaching the UN on Northern Ireland. He says that O'Neill's backing for the police action in Derry has disappointed many who had high hopes for his premiership. Considering the atmosphere of tension in Derry, Craig's decision against an inquiry into events in the city was irresponsible.

[BT, 9 October]

News Letter

Lynch - now we know

Editorial: O'Neill extended the hand of friendship to the Republic of Ireland, but now Lynch is using Northern Ireland's difficulties for his own political gain. Even Wilson is unlikely to intervene too deeply in Northern Ireland, so Lynch's interference should go unheeded.

Irish News

Irish-Americans send telegram to U Thant

Report: The AOH, representing 235,000 Americans, sends a telegram to U Thant, asking that the problems of Northern Ireland be placed on the UN agenda.

Australian PM asked to intervene

Report: The Australian prime minister is asked to intervene in Northern Ireland, but refuses to do so.

News Letter

'Religious persecution in Ulster' [Report]

[BT, 9 October]

Irish News

Boxer cries off in protest at Derry happenings

Report: A Derry boxer withdraws from the Northern Ireland team in protest at events in the city.

No excuses left for Mr O'Neill

Editorial: What O'Neill says is not what he does. Police action in Derry was designed not to separate conflicting groups, but to 'teach a lesson to those who had dared to assert their right to march and to protest.' Demand is growing for a Westminster investigation 'of the whole political system and the maintenance of law in the area…For his procrastination, he [O'Neill] cannot even plead the excuse of the extreme protestant element. Whatever he does will earn their criticism. The implementation of more liberal policies is within his power. Why does he continue to tarry?' If it has done nothing else however, the Derry events have brought the situation in Northern Ireland to the attention of Westminster.

Parliamentary boycott can be effective weapon

Letter: Undemocratic representation can be effectively countered by a policy of active abstention by the opposition parties, which should be carefully co-ordinated against the Unionists.

Democracy is dead

Letter: Every citizen should fight the deplorable state of affairs that persists in Northern Ireland.

No batons in Craven Street

Letter: Police may act against protestant extremists on occasion, but they never draw their batons to deal with them. If parades are only permitted to pass through their own denominational areas, then one might ask why Orangemen were permitted, for example, to march through catholic Dungiven.

The police warning at Derry

Letter: The police clearly intended to use force to break up the civil rights march from the first. 'The most disgusting, nauseating and horrifying feature of the whole affair was the obvious pleasure derived by many of the police from beating defenceless men and women.' Craig could have allowed the march to go ahead, and have had the leaders arrested after it had dispersed; instead, he chose the path of confrontation.

[NL, 12 October]

Belfast Telegraph

A day of prayer

Letter: Methodists should pray for improved community relations in light of events in Derry.

[IN, 11 October]

He who pays the piper…

Letter: 'I wonder how much longer Westminster, whilst subsidising the Stormont government, is prepared to stand aside and permit these terrible scenes to occur.' It is the British taxpayer, after all, that supports Northern Ireland.

Westminster has the power to intervene in Northern Ireland

Letter: 'The existence of Stormont is not a right, but a privilege, granted by Westminster.' Westminster has the authority to intervene to correct Unionist abuses of power. If a confrontation should occur between London and Belfast, Unionists must ask themselves how much their Britishness means to them; they cannot preach loyalty whilst practising disloyalty.

Full inquiry is needed

Letter: Craig's denial of police brutality in Derry is farcical. 'Admittedly the participants went outside the law, but they did nothing at all to justify the reaction of the police. Nor was there the slightest evidence to suggest that had the march been permitted to continue it would have resulted in riots.' Responsible people wished to register legitimate protest, but were prevented from doing so by Craig. The disturbances were 'a direct result of the police action.' An inquiry into allegations of police brutality is necessary.

Mr Currie's prophecy'

Letter: Currie, by predicting squatting and civil disobedience a year ago, was not making a threat; he was merely pointing out the obvious. The civil rights march was not a sectarian event, and thus its route should have remained unrestricted. The police started the violence; if the marchers had wanted to participate in a riot, they would have come prepared for it. If the IRA really was involved in the march, why did the police not arrest such participants? Craig is merely using the IRA to direct attention away from his own actions.

Stop student marchers

Letter: Students receive many benefits at the expense of the ratepayer; they should not be repaying this favour with disruptive demonstrations.

RUC not a 'Gestapo'

Letter: Only the student marchers have emerged with any credit from recent events. However, their comparison between the RUC and the Gestapo is inappropriate. The police were in a difficult situation in Derry.

When law is flouted…

Letter: 'When the law is flouted, you should expect to get clouted.' The Northern Ireland government should not surrender to 'the tide of republicanism.'

News Letter

Affairs in Newry

Report: Newry Young Unionist Association condemns as undemocratic the suggestion that Newry should be administered by a commissioner, and that housing allocation should lie in the hands of the housing manager alone.

[BT, 1 October]

7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Top

11 October, 1968

Irish News

Quit as the official opposition role [sic] - Derry Nationalists

Leader: Derry Nationalists vote in favour of the withdrawal of their party from its role as the official opposition at Stormont. Their resolution will be passed on to a meeting of the party executive. It is also suggested that while Derry continues to be ruled by a minority, the potential for further unrest remains, and that 'the ban was entirely responsible for the violence which followed.' Calls for a judicial inquiry are supported. Currie tells Tyrone Nationalists that the role of official opposition will be brought to an end. The role was taken up in good faith and high expectation, but it 'has been a degrading one-way process of all give and no take.' Derry has remained quiet. John Hume talks of the meeting to be held in Derry on 19 October, which will have placed before it 'a programme of peaceful action.'

News Letter

Call by Derry Nationalists [Report]

Irish News

We quit as official opposition - Currie

Report: Currie feels that more emphasis should be placed on the Nationalist Party's grass roots and less on 'parliament and traditional constitutionalism.' Continued injustice will mean the inevitable spread of civil disobedience. Civil rights is a cause attracting not only catholic support, but also that of liberal protestants.

News Letter

'Civil disobedience will spread'

Report: Currie feels that civil disobedience will spread if the Unionist government maintains its 'not an inch' psychology. He feels that a great deal of faith in parliamentary methods among the minority has been lost, and sees the civil rights campaign as gaining increasing support, especially from liberal protestants. The Nationalist Party, he adds, will end its role as the official Stormont opposition. Civil disobedience, he feels, is a non-violent safety valve for protest. 'If the government insists in [sic] closing off the safety valve then the government must accept the consequences.'

Belfast Telegraph

Nationalist MPs may decide to abandon their official role

Report: Fitzsimmons expresses his anxiety over the state of community relations, and his regret that a march 'started in the name of civil rights should have been exploited by extremist elements determined to provoke communal strife.' The Liberal Party representative investigating Northern Ireland says that the situation is better known in Britain now thanks to television coverage of recent events. He feels that Liberals want to see British standards applied to Northern Ireland. Derry presbytery regrets the damage done by recent events to community relationships, calls for respect for the law, and asks for people to work and pray for 'that peace and justice which all men of goodwill desire.' York Street District Tenants' Association congratulates Craig for his 'courageous decision in banning the so-called Londonderry civil rights march.…We are amazed that so many Roman catholics have suddenly discovered they are British citizens.' Newtownards Unionist Women's central branch also congratulates Craig. Derry Trades Council endorses the sending by its chairman of a telegram to Wilson alleging police excesses. It calls on trade unionists to attend the forthcoming DCAC demonstration.

News Letter

The long-term answer

Editorial: O'Neill has done more than anyone to heal Northern Ireland's divisions, yet the radicalisation of events makes him easy prey to the crossfire between reactionaries on his own side and his opponents'. In the long-term, only the Northern Ireland electorate can decide on the pace and extent of reform; Westminster cannot provide a solution by exerting pressure on the Northern Ireland government.

Ulster didn't give birth to discrimination

Comment: Northern Ireland should not be viewed in isolation, or compared with some abstract ideal of justice, when the question of discrimination is raised. Discrimination in Northern Ireland would not appear to approach the level at which it must have existed in the Republic of Ireland; while in Northern Ireland the catholic population has been growing, in the Republic the protestant minority has been shrinking considerably as the years have passed and the young have been unable to find work.

Irish News

Wronging the rights

Report: Fitzsimmons claims that the civil rights march was 'exploited by extremist elements determined to provoke communal strife.' Advances have been made in Northern Ireland, especially in housing, where the government realises the necessity of providing decent living conditions. Another speaker advocates the removal of all possible grievances.

Belfast Telegraph

Derry housing record is defended

Report: Fitzsimmons speaks of the considerable building programme that has been undertaken in Derry in recent years. Admittedly, in the very recent past, few houses have been built, but this is because of a lack of space within the city bounds and the existence of a longer-term development plan. He argues that 'Northern Ireland is not the only region where people have to endure less than desirable living conditions and a lengthy wait on the housing list.' Housing, he stresses, is a priority policy for government.

Irish News

Scenes on TV 'not typical'

Report: Faulkner says that 'the leadership of the so-called civil rights march [in Derry]…was strongly political.' The government acted wisely in curbing the march and helped avoid possible deaths. Derry is 'a city on the march industrially,' and TV scenes do not reflect the reality of life in the city.

News Letter

Derry wages in jeopardy

Report: Faulkner talks of opposition politicians' irresponsibility in placing at risk jobs in Derry by their conduct. The Derry march was 'strongly political' in character, and the Northern Ireland government took necessary action to avoid widespread violence and possibly even deaths. A true picture of Derry is provided not by recent events but by the city's march towards industrial progress. The three British MPs who were present on the day of the march forward their report on events to Callaghan. Elder calls for a conference of Unionists to be called to ascertain who incited mobs to attack Derry police; why the lie has been published that the parade was banned; and who controls the media in Northern Ireland. He praises Craig and attacks 'power-crazy fanatics' who are damaging Derry's economic prospects. The Daily Express draws a distinction in the civil rights movement between the majority of ordinary catholics involved to express their real grievances, and 'professional agitators who have an ulterior political motive,' and who have capitalised on rising expectations brought on by O'Neill's progressive regime. This 'gives tremendous opportunities for reactionary elements who object to improvement to crack down with a ruthlessness not normally tolerated in a democratic society.' Further resolutions have been passed in support of Craig and the RUC. Derry Trade Union Council calls for attendance at the planned DCAC demonstration. The Derry Nationalist Party speaks of the possibility of further unrest so long as minority rule continues in the city. The mayor of Derry will meet NICRA members today. The Church of Ireland Gazette says that much harm has been done to community relations, and that the churches must work against injustice.

Frost on an Ulster Friday

Report: A television debate on Northern Ireland, focusing on recent events, is to be broadcast by UTV.

Irish News

No seconder for motion on Derry methods

Report: A motion expressing concern at the handling of the Derry march is unable to find a seconder on Castlereagh rural council. Another councillor feels that government measures 'averted a very serious disaster in Northern Ireland.'

Belfast Telegraph

'Tragic setback to PM's efforts'

Report: Orr, in a letter to the Times, expresses the belief that O'Neill's efforts to improve community relations have been set back by the activities of 'politically-motivated agitators.' The Derry demonstration 'represented an alliance between nationalist, extreme republican and IRA elements with extreme Labour elements. It sought to exploit certain real or imaginary grievances for the purpose of creating a situation of serious tension.' The demonstration also had strong sectarian overtones. He points out that it was not banned but re-routed. The interfering Labour MPs have always been enemies of the Northern Ireland government, a fact which should be borne in mind when contemplating their claims about Derry. The police 'made no move until half an hour after they were first assaulted.' Derry's economic future is placed in jeopardy by the irresponsible actions of those involved in the current wave of protest.

Objection by Paisley

Report: Ian Paisley protests at the proposed meeting, organised, he claims, by the Wolfe Tone Society, at Queen's University, at which Conor Cruise O'Brien will give a lecture on civil disobedience.

Irish News

Mrs Paisley's Fitt censure motion

Report: Councillor Eileen Paisley is to put down a motion censuring Fitt for his conduct in Derry and supporting the actions of the police.

[BT, 10 October]

Act now or further riot danger

Report: The NILP sends a memorandum to Wilson and Callaghan outlining the danger of a return to sectarian conflict and an escalation of violence if grievances in Northern Ireland are not addressed. Many, especially the young, 'now feel that constitutional means have failed and unconstitutional methods are justified.' Also, 'the fact that communists and perhaps IRA joined with members of other opposition parties in these civil rights demonstrations, does not invalidate the objectives of the demonstrators.' Craig's ban was 'unreasonable and oppressive, and based on a put-up job - an almost imaginary rival demonstration conjured up at the last moment.' Both police and marchers are responsible for the trouble, and an inquiry should be held.

News Letter

Labour Party puts forward a plan for Ulster

Report: The party feels that an inquiry would however leave underlying grievances unresolved, and could thus only serve as a temporary remedial measure. Further violent outbreaks are likely unless something is done. The Derry demonstration was 'lawful, peaceful and entirely legitimate.'

[BT, 10 October]

Irish News

'Unionist-style democracy'

Report: Coulthard condemns the Young Unionists, who have called for the arrest of MPs involved in the Derry march.

Liberal envoy here to investigate

Report: A Liberal Party representative from Britain has come to Northern Ireland to investigate the Derry disturbances. He feels that the situation has become better-known in Britain as a result of television coverage. Murnaghan calls for the implementation of the principles of her Human Rights Bill and of one-man-one-vote.

A march is called off

Report: A march by NUU students is called off in light of fears that it might cause ill-feeling.

[BT, 10 October]

Belfast Telegraph

No parades in city

Leader: Craig and Paisley meet to discuss the situation with regard to marches. Craig is thought to have urged restraint on Paisley, who may call off his demonstrations following the postponement of the proposed second student march in Belfast. It is thought that the Nationalist Party will withdraw from its role as the official opposition party at Stormont. The party's 'discontent and disillusionment' have been reinforced by the government's decision to put down at Stormont a motion supportive of its handling of recent events. Bloomfield Unionist Association condemns as 'biased' media coverage of events in Derry. McAnerney and Sinclair meet Beatty to discuss recent events.

News Letter

Police study city march routes

Report: QUB students alter their proposal for a civil rights march, postponing it on discovering that the UCDC has lodged its own request for a parade. The Nationalist Party is meeting to decide whether to abstain from Stormont, and the possibility of a campaign of civil disobedience may also be debated, both now and at a planned private special conference to take place soon. The Derry disturbances may be debated at Westminster. A British Liberal Party envoy is in Northern Ireland conducting a fact-finding mission. Councillor Eileen Paisley is placing before Belfast city council a motion condemning Fitt over his role in Derry and supporting the actions of the police. Lisburn Young Unionists condemn all MPs who took part in the Derry demonstration, calling for the arrest in view of their 'open defiance of the law and blatant attempts to provoke civil unrest.' Government should not be intimidated by 'threats from Westminster' and should 'stamp out the recent threat to Ulster's existence.' North Tyrone NDP and Newry Nationalist Party condemn the actions of the police in Derry.

Students jeer and booh Long

Report: Long, invited to address the Civil Rights Action Committee at Queen's University, comments on charges of police brutality, saying that the RUC 'could not be accused.' His remarks are jeered.

Belfast Telegraph

Students shout down Capt Long

Report: The token strike called for Derry in protest at the events of 5 October is cancelled.

Regular ambulance runs 'hit by march'

Report: Non-emergency ambulance services were affected by the rival student and Paisleyite demonstrations in Belfast.

Irish News

Two of 12 houses for catholics

Report: Dungannon RDC is understood to have allocated only two of 12 houses to catholics.

News Letter

Nationalists walk out over housing in Dungannon [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Nationalist councillors walk out [Report]

Irish News

To attention of UN court of public opinion

Report: The AOH in America has asked that Northern Ireland be placed on the UN agenda.

News Letter

IRA attack on the 'brutal' Eire police

Report: The IRA, hitting out at police methods in the Republic of Ireland, draw comparisons with the police conduct that it condemns in Derry.

Irish News

Mr Faulkner's parade through Nationalist Longstone Road area

Letter: It surely cannot be true that Faulkner once led a parade along the Nationalist Longstone Road, when he is now so concerned about the harm done in Derry to Northern Ireland's image, and if O'Neill has chosen to include him in his cabinet. O'Neill will undoubtedly sack Craig, though not while tensions remain high.

Agreed programme of political action needed

Letter: Non-Unionist parties must agree to a long-term programme of action on civil rights. A detailed investigation of the Derry situation must be carried out. Action should be taken, rather than promises made, to improve community relations. Demonstrations must be tightly controlled. 'A good cause must not be allowed to lose its relevance in a sorry confusion of riots and bloodshed.'

Questions for Mr Craig

Letter: Why did Craig ban a mixed - not sectarian - demonstration from marching through a mainly business district to an area within the city's walls, which themselves enclose a majority catholic population?

Petition for Royal Commission

Letter: Opposition parties should organise a petition to the Westminster government, asking for a Royal Commission 'to investigate the whole political system and the maintenance of law here.'

Community relations [Letter]

[see BT, 10 October, A day of prayer]

Liberals and civil rights

Letter: The Liberals have 'leapt on the band-wagon' of civil rights, while people like Fitt and McAteer have highlighted minority grievances for years.

Republicans and the march

Letter: The ban on the march in Derry was unjust, and the CRA is to be commended for its stand. Its aims have widespread support. The cabinet has made excuses that do not stand up to analysis: the march would not have caused conflict; republicans did take part, but in no sense control the CRA, although 'we agree with its aims and support it as we would any other body working for the same ideals.' Republicans have cause to support such aims, for they have been discriminated against more than most. It is to be hoped that the CRA will succeed, and make 'Tone's dictum' a fact: 'catholic, protestant, and dissenter, united under the common name of Irishman, with equal rights and opportunities for all.'

Belfast Telegraph

What price civil rights?

Letter: Will civil rights have to be paid for in blood, as in America?

Brutality deplored

Letter: Police brutality in Northern Ireland is a cause for concern; Northern Ireland's government cannot genuinely call itself Conservative.

Craig wrong: C of I canon [Report]

Derry clergyman in favour of an impartial inquiry

Letter: Recent events have led to the depiction of Derry 'as a strife-ridden community, full of sectarian bitterness.' Police intervention in the civil rights march was not necessary, since there was no likelihood of a confrontation. It provided the demonstration with much more publicity than it would otherwise have received. Police were however in the unenviable position of having to enforce Craig's unnecessary ban. Community relations have been improving in Derry, and to portray matters otherwise, as has been done in the media, is wrong. 'The civil rights movement has made certain allegations about housing, etc. Many people feel that the honest, democratic and Christian thing to do is to invite an impartial inquiry into these allegations…If the allegations have some substance they can then be rectified. If not the government and local authorities will be publicly vindicated.' In fairness to Derry corporation, it is difficult to keep up with the social demands generated by the population explosion in the city. 'Also, it should be noted that many protestants feel themselves discriminated against when they see the bulk of new houses being allocated to Roman catholics.'

Must businessmen be held up to ransom?

Letter: The actions of student marchers are to be condemned, although the students are not contemptible in the same way as are 'the republicans, communists, socialists and anarchists' involved in the civil rights movement.

Overgrown schoolboys

Letter: Students are demonstrating considerable naïveté if they think that protest marches will overcome 'problems like religious discrimination, gerrymandering, and multiple votes.' Such marches can do more harm than good to community relations.

RUC had no alternative

Letter: The RUC on 5 October in Derry did what had to be done. 'Londonderry is not the only place in Northern Ireland where houses and work are scarce.'

The march of civil rights

Feature: The civil rights movement 'is still far from a mass movement, but even the most complacent Unionists can hardly fail to have noticed how its appeal cuts across normal party political lines, uniting opposition forces as never before…Pundits are already describing the Derry disturbances as a turning point in the political history of Northern Ireland and certainly there is a greater awareness on both sides of the issues involved.' The latest phase of Northern Ireland's history seems to have its roots in the NILP's move towards demanding British standards for a British state; such demands were respectable because the NILP did not question the constitutional status of Northern Ireland, but concentrated its attention on issues other than the border. O'Neill's premiership raised hopes of change, but as early as 1963 discontent was manifesting itself, with the formation of the CSJ a symptom. The Campaign gathered, for the first time, documentary evidence for its claims of injustice. Hopes of change were again raised by the O'Neill-Lemass meetings, but in 1966, 'a group of Belfast people of different political and religious persuasions - but with a definite republican bias,' formed NICRA. It sought support from all shades of opinion. At Westminster the CDU was calling for action, and as a result the Society of Labour Lawyers instituted an inquiry into Northern Ireland. Its August interim report was 'something of a fiasco' since it called for some reforms that had already been implemented by Stormont. It was during the Dungannon demonstration 'that the movement earned for itself an anti-partition reputation, chiefly through the speeches of Mr Currie and Mr Fitt and the behaviour of many of the crowd…The 50-member CRA claims to be non-political, interested only in basic human rights, but it has difficulty maintaining this posture. Politicians like the headstrong Mr Fitt can hardly be turned away, since they are fighting the same battle, and the movement is open to infiltration by dissenters of all forms, including communists and extreme republicans.' It has ironically polarised Northern Ireland politics once more rather than brought opposing forces closer together.

When will Capt O'Neill meet Wilson?

Comment: It is not yet clear when O'Neill and Wilson will meet for talks on the present Northern Ireland situation.

News Letter

Hogg sad on Derry events

Report: British shadow home secretary Quentin Hogg counsels against Westminster intervention in Northern Ireland, feeling that it might only worsen matters.

[BT, 10 October]

7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Top

12 October, 1968

Irish News

Civil rights group assailed by mob after TV programme

Leader: Fitt and Currie are among those who face a hostile crowd outside UTV's studios following a TV programme. Fitt claims that the crowd is not representative of 'many thousands of decent protestant people,' who support the cause of civil rights.

News Letter

Ulster cleared in Frost trial

Leader: Charges of discrimination and gerrymandering are effectively combated on the television debate on Northern Ireland broadcast by UTV.

Belfast Telegraph

Frost's 'fiasco' on Friday

Report: The programme offered a poor quality debate in which those who tried to put their points across were consistently shouted down.

Irish News

Protest by workers in Derry

Report: A number of Derry workers stage a sit-down demonstration on the steps of the Guildhall in support of civil rights and in condemnation of police brutality.

Paisley calls off two parades

Report: Following the cancellation by QUB students of a civil rights march, Paisley calls off two counter-demonstrations.

News Letter

Protest marches are called off

Report: The civil rights march organised by Queen's University students, and the two Paisleyite parades due to take place at the same time in Belfast, are cancelled. Despite the cancellation of the token Derry strike, about 100 people stop work in protest at the ban on the 5 October march. Meanwhile, in a meeting between Derry mayor William Beatty and leading civil rights figures, Sinclair assures Beatty that the 5 October march had no political or sectarian motivations, and that the violence is regretted. Housing issues are also discussed. Craig has been sent evidence of an injury sustained on the Derry demonstration by McAteer, in view of the minister's claim that he has no evidence of police brutality. Paisley has met Craig to discuss recent events.

Belfast Telegraph

Confusion as tenants' march is cancelled

Report: A march against Housing Trust rent increases is cancelled because its organisers do not wish it to be seen as political, as they believe it would be perceived were it to be associated with either of the forthcoming student or Paisleyite marches.

[NL, 14 October]

Education chiefs rap students

Report: The Association of Northern Ireland Education Committees criticises the conduct of some QUB students who heckled Long at a meeting at the university. Free speech is the right not only of students, but also of government ministers.

Sit-down rally planned in Derry

Report: The DCAC's first demonstration will take the form of a sit-down protest. The Committee wishes to see no further disturbances. An appeal for funds to support those facing court proceedings over their part in the 5 October march is to be made. Evidence will be gathered to support claims as to the underlying causes of civil rights agitation.

[IN, 14 October]

Irish News

Civil rights party see Derry mayor

Report: Leading civil rights figures, notably Sinclair [now chairman of NICRA] and McAnerney, meet the mayor of Derry to discuss recent events. They assure him that the march was non-political and non-sectarian, and express regret at the ensuing violence. Issues relating to housing are also raised.

Withdrawal as opposition, maybe some abstention

Report: The Nationalist Party executive recommends that the parliamentary party withdraw from its role as the official opposition at Stormont, and feels that some abstention may be justified. McAteer says that there is still a possibility that the government can prevent this from happening. The executive calls for an inquiry into the Derry ban and police conduct. The government is criticised for its 'absolute failure…to extend justice and goodwill to the minority.'

News Letter

'Withdraw as opposition, but door not slammed' [Report]

Parliament's new session likely to be stormy

Report: Confrontation over the Derry disturbances is expected when Stormont reassembles soon. The government will put down a motion in support of Craig's handling of the situation.

Craig supported

Summary: Newtownards Unionist Women's central branch congratulates Craig and the police on their handling of events in Derry.

Belfast Telegraph

Unionists back Craig

Report: A Derry Unionist Association is to send a letter to Craig in praise of his actions and those of the RUC.

Brooke praises premier

Report: Brooke praises O'Neill, Craig and the RUC for their handling of the Derry march. Stewart criticises Queen's students over their sit-down protest. Certain MPs are condemned for disrupting 'excellent community relations.' Duncairn Unionist Association has passed a similar resolution, supporting Craig and the RUC.

News Letter

Deputation to minister

Report: Craig has assured Paisley at a meeting between the two that the rights of all groups to demonstrate will be safeguarded.

Belfast Telegraph

Paisley and Craig silent on talks

Report: Paisley and Craig reveal little about the substance of their talks, though Paisley cancels the demonstrations he had planned for Belfast, in light of the students' decision to postpone their own parade.

DATA men opposed to civil rights resolution

Report: Various trade union groups dissociate themselves from their unions' condemnations of Craig's conduct. One says, 'while we uphold civil rights and the right of people to protest and demonstrate peacefully against injustices, real or imaginary, in the administration, we abhor the efforts of known proponents of anarchy and violence to manipulate the legitimate vehicles of protest for their own ends.'

A new judgement?

Editorial: Protestant church leaders, in calling for a period of calm, are necessarily inexplicit and ambiguous in their phrasing, given the highly charged atmosphere now in Derry. 'They are more than half-way to saying that there are wrongs in Northern Ireland affecting the Roman catholic minority and that the attempt must now be made to cure them…Nothing in the situation created by the Derry incidents is more deplorable than the blatant way in which so many Unionists have treated it as just another old-time political barney. The time is past when politicians can persuade the people that back is white and white is black.'

Church leaders urge calm

Leader: Protestant church leaders desire a period of calm and reflection that will allow people to consider the implications of recent events. The official organs of the Church of Ireland and of the methodist church call for measures to put an end to social injustice in Northern Ireland. Conor Cruise O'Brien describes the risks of a policy of civil disobedience, although he believes such a policy can be used effectively. The Nationalist parliamentary party is expected to withdraw from its official role as Her Majesty's loyal opposition at Stormont, which action will constitute a 'severe embarrassment' for the government. The party may not attend the debate on the government motion expressing support for its actions on 5 October, but long-term abstention is unlikely. The change in Nationalist Party policy worries some, who feel that 'parliament may become the lifeless and unreal institution it was in the days when Nationalists seldom bothered to attend.' The party's executive calls for an impartial inquiry on Derry. O'Connor writes to Craig, telling of an injury sustained by McAteer on the Derry march; he wishes to refute claims that there is no evidence of the use of police batons on the groin area of demonstrators. Elder hits out at violence used against the police. A New Statesman editorial claims that the Northern Ireland government has had ample time to introduce reforms and cannot delay indefinitely.

Church papers want action on Derry problems

Report: The Church of Ireland Gazette advises the church to take a more active stand rather than watch as community relations deteriorate. The methodist Irish Christian Advocate says that if problems are not tackled now, then trouble is merely being 'stored up for the future.' Fair representation on local councils is seen as a vital step. The catholic Tablet calls on Westminster to ensure that British standards apply to Northern Ireland; if it does not do so, then 'yet another tragic chapter in Irish affairs will shortly open.'

Thorpe's man arrives in Derry

Report: The Liberal representative engaged in an investigation of Northern Ireland is now in Derry. He has had talks with Craig, and feels that the ban on the 5 October march was 'unfortunate,' and that the police used 'unnecessary violence.' Liberals 'regard it as a scandal that the blatant wrongs of the minority have gone unaddressed for so long. This is a separate issue from the division of Ireland, in which we recognise that democrats of goodwill might hold different views.' The extremists enjoy too much power over the government; it is time that the Westminster authorities ceased hiding behind parliamentary convention; something must be done about the situation in Northern Ireland. He feels that the introduction of proportional representation would be a constructive step.

[NL, 14 October]

Irish News

Craig told of McAteer's groin injury

Report: Craig is informed of an injury caused to McAteer by a baton, a decision taken in order to counter Craig's claim that there is a lack of evidence of injuries to the marchers.

Ending a farce

Editorial: The Nationalist Party entered into the role of official opposition in good faith, but got nothing in return. O'Neill's words did not equate with his actions. The party is therefore justified if it decides now to abandon the role.

News Letter

Good counsel this time

Editorial: The Society of Labour Lawyers' proposals regarding measures to cope with counter-demonstrations are welcome. 'Attempts to stifle free speech and freedom of protest by this device are nothing short of provocation and in the delicately balanced state of community relations in Ulster can be equated with incitement to violence.' All responsible organisations should now stay off the streets to allow the creation of a calmer atmosphere.

Irish News

Derry City GAA board protest

Letter: Derry's GAA board has passed a motion condemning the ban on the civil rights march in the city and also police brutality; it has appealed for no further violence.

Police brutality

Letter: The Northern Ireland cabinet's justification for its actions in Derry is 'pitiful.'

News Letter

Avoiding the riots [Letter]

[see IN, 10 October, The police warning at Derry]

Belfast Telegraph

Was Caledon house case root cause of trouble at Derry?

Letter: Perhaps if the unjust housing allocations in Caledon had been put right at the time they were publicised, events since might have taken a difference course. The student marchers set a fine example of 'tolerance and restraint' which has not been adopted by demonstrators elsewhere.

Round table conference

Letter: Allegations of discrimination in Northern Ireland have their basis in fact. O'Neill wants reform but is held back by 'fanatical sectarians.' Lynch's intervention is unhelpful. Protestants must show a willingness to embrace reform; nationalists should rid themselves of any IRA element.

News Letter

Craig is 'greatest'

Letter: Thousands of loyalists are justly congratulating Craig and the police for their handling of the 'Irish republican mob' in Derry. The so-called civil rights demonstrators are 'composed of the greatest mixture of discontent and trouble-makers possible,' and are neither non-sectarian nor non-political. 'How Northern Ireland Labour became involved with communists, Liberals, Young Socialists and IRA is not understood.'

TV at Derry

Letter: The BBC did make clear that the march in Derry was not banned and also broadcast the police warning given to demonstrators before trouble began. The News Letter's claims on this subject are therefore unfair.

Editorial reply: Clarification of these points by the BBC was nevertheless inadequate.

No brutality

Letter: There was no police brutality in Derry. The marchers attacked police with sticks, bottles and other weapons, and the treatment they received in return was thoroughly deserved. Some demonstrators dishonoured the city's war memorial - perhaps because it was a British symbol.

Press asked to leave

Report: Conor Cruise O'Brien tells students to embrace the practice of non-violent civil disobedience. Reporters are barred from the meeting.

Belfast Telegraph

Reporters barred from QUB meeting [Report]

Can't see end to partition -O'Brien

Report: Conor Cruise O'Brien expresses the view that while civil disobedience can be highly effective in combating injustice, it would entail considerable risk and sacrifice. If such a policy is to be embarked upon, it must be given very careful consideration.

[IN, NL, 14 October]

'Red' plot

Letter: 'The present trouble in Northern Ireland is not protestant versus Roman catholic but is a deep laid communist plot which will assume international significance in the years ahead.'

Open letter to Mr Fitt

Letter: Fitt is reinforcing the very sectarian divisions which he purports to condemn.

Introduction     1968:   | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |
October 1968:   | 1-5 | 7-12 | 14-19 | 21-26 | 28-31 |
7 - 12 October:   | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | Top |

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

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