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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 |
21 - 26 October:   | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | Top |

21 October, 1968

Irish News

5,000 sing anthem 'We Shall Overcome' in Derry

Leader: The Derry sit-down protest is a great success, and passes off peacefully, the police on this occasion showing tact in their handling of the situation. 'Within a short time close on 2,500 people of all ages, creeds and classes were sitting on coats, newspapers and strips of cardboard.' Speakers talk of civil rights as the concern of the community as a whole and not one section of it. The call is made for an end to the unfair allocation of jobs and the abolition of the company vote. Claude Wilton says that protestants in Derry must 'stand up and be counted.' Finbarr O'Doherty claims that the Special Powers Act is designed to keep the opponents of Unionism down. The plight of the 'white negroes' of Derry should be addressed by Harold Wilson, for 'even Adolph [sic] Hitler did not have the powers that William Craig has today.' Another speaker, social worker Paddy Doherty, says 'never again must [electoral] boundaries be drawn for political gain.' He also denies that the civil rights movement is under any form of political control. James Doherty emphasises the necessity for one-man-one-vote at local elections Social and economic ills, he adds, must be remedied quickly. John Hume says of the housing situation: 'We have been told that one-third of the houses in Derry have been built since the war. That is true, but it does not present an accurate picture of the situation. It is like a man who employs one man saying when he has employed a second man that he has increased his labour force by 100 per cent.' He points out that one in ten of the city's population lives in terrible conditions, and that few houses have been built in the immediate past. More houses are not being built because of political considerations. A fair points system and a control on rents is necessary. The civil rights movement, he adds, is not about Irish unity or working class unity: it is about morality, not politics. 'We are seeking fair play for all within the existing system.' More demonstrations are planned.

News Letter

Derry protest passes peacefully

Report: 'More than 2,500 people' participate in the Derry sit-down demonstration, which passes off peacefully. 'It proved one of the most peaceful demonstrations ever staged in the Maiden City.' The counter-demonstration having been banned, 'blinds were drawn in the windows of homes in protestant quarters in protest against the demonstration.' 'A handful of the [civil rights] supporters wore miniature tricolours on their lapels, while others carried small emblems which read "we want fair play".' Police take every possible step to ensure a peaceful demonstration. Most speakers call for a modification of the franchise and the introduction of one-man-one-vote. Hume desires a points system for housing allocation. Melaugh calls for greater promotion of industry in Derry by the government. Doherty wishes to see fair electoral boundaries drawn, that do not give advantage to any political party. O'Doherty calls for the repeal of the Special Powers Act, which he feels is used not to protect citizens but as a political expedient. Other speakers stress the need for goodwill and non-violence.

Belfast Telegraph

Students in scuffle at Orange parade: rallies quiet

Report: The DCAC demonstration passes off peacefully, with an attendance of around 3,000 people. Calls for 'equal rights and opportunities' are made, along with a demand for fairer housing allocation. The London rally, organised by the Movement for Colonial Freedom, also passes peacefully, with calls being made for an inquiry into events in Derry, and for British intervention in Northern Ireland. At an Orange march in Scotland, scuffles between some students and marchers take place. A Belfast councillor tells participants in the march that he has no quarrel with genuine supporters of civil rights, but claims that organisations in Northern Ireland have been 'infiltrated with communists and members of the IRA, whose main aim is to damage the image of the Province abroad and wreck the constitution.' The DCAC is compiling a dossier on those hurt during the 5 October disturbances. The Irish Labour Party congratulates demonstrators, who 'threw back in the teeth of Mr Craig his fantastic accusations that it was the demonstrators and not the RUC who caused the bloodshed in Duke Street.' He and the 'local despots…have failed to brand the demand for civil rights as sectarian.'

Irish News

People's Democracy meets tonight to plan further action

Report: The PD is to meet to discuss its future course of action. One suggestion to be placed before the body will call for an inquiry into housing and employment in Northern Ireland. Bernadette Devlin, a member of the PD committee says 'members of the People's Democracy organisation have decided to lay aside all political allegiances and to concentrate on a campaign to unite the people with the sole object of attaining civil rights for all the citizens.' She adds that the civil rights movement cannot be blamed for the violence in Derry, and that the PD is likewise a peaceful organisation. The movement will fight for rights irrespective or religion or politics.

News Letter

Westminster must act in Ulster - MPs

Report: A London rally organised by the Movement for Colonial Freedom calls for Westminster intervention in Northern Ireland. An inquiry is demanded. Fitt says, 'all we ask for is the same facilities as you have here - one man one vote. The Race Relations Act should be applicable to Ulster. We are not prepared to wait indefinitely. Prime minister O'Neill is stalling and hoping that if the [Labour] government is defeated, there will be no need for reform.'

Belfast Telegraph

Unionist clique 'anti-British,' says Miss Sinclair

Report: Also, Sinclair feels that it is the Unionists who, by denying British standards of civil rights and democracy in Northern Ireland, are showing an anti-British attitude. A Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland would have to include one-man-one-vote, reformed boundaries, an end to discrimination, and freedom of expression.

Councillor withdraws Craig motion

Report: A motion of censure on Belfast city council against Craig and police brutality in Derry on 5 October is withdrawn, Councillor Paddy Kennedy stating that he does not wish to harm community relations by allowing Councillor Eileen Paisley to raise tensions with her own opposing motion.

[IN, 23 October]

March cases put off

Report: Court cases resulting from the disturbances in Derry are postponed.

News Letter

'Testing time' for the church

Report: A Belfast church gathering is told that Christians must share in the blame for recent events in Northern Ireland. 'We cannot…evade the truth that for years we have known of various forms of social injustice and political discrimination within our community, and we have found it mentally more comfortable, politically more acceptable, and socially more convenient to acquiesce in these things.' The churches have made 'gentle noises' but have failed to take a firm stand.

Belfast Telegraph

Churches share blame for Ulster disturbances - minister

Report: 'Today we are alarmed, and rightly so, because the organs of protest are being manipulated by the uninformed and the irresponsible and the extremist.' This does not need to happen; Christians must stand up for 'the cause of justice and freedom,' rather than merely talk about it.

News Letter

PM's lonely position

Report: A letter is sent to O'Neill on behalf of the Government Committee of the presbyterian church. 'We would wish to convey to you our appreciation of the rather lonely and difficult position in which you are inevitably placed and of the courage that is shown by continuing to seek for what may be unpopular reforms.'

[BT, 19 October]

Belfast Telegraph

'No friction' at Sea Eagle with RUC

Report: A spokesman for the Derry naval base denies any conflict between staff at the base and the RUC in the light of the Derry disturbances.

We never play politics with jobs - Faulkner

Report: Faulkner accepts that more well-paid jobs and better housing are required in Northern Ireland, and acknowledges the serious housing shortage in Derry. He alludes however to the government's record on housing, and rejects categorically any suggestion that the west has been neglected, arguing that the area is at an economic and geographical disadvantage.

[NL, 22 October]

Irish News

Derry Labour Party accuses Craig

Report: Derry Labour Party criticises Craig, who held back some comments on Fitt because of legal proceedings, but launched a full-scale attack on one of its members.

South Antrim challenge on electoral reform

Report: Coulthard welcomes the apparent support expressed by his Unionist opponent in the forthcoming south Antrim by-election for a universal franchise in local elections, but questions whether the candidate, if elected, would be prepared to vote against a government likely to be dictated to by the lunatic fringe.

Pondering over Derry and its aftermath

Editorial: The press coverage of the events in Derry has portrayed events as they really happened, yet Unionists seem unable to interpret these in any meaningful way. The pictures surely speak for themselves, but Unionists have come up with their own interpretation of events.

Unanswerable questions face O'Neill and Craig

Letter: O'Neill's letter to the American Congress for Irish Freedom, repudiating claims that Northern Ireland is a police state, must now be providing some amusement for its recipients If the situation in Northern Ireland is as good as O'Neill and Craig claim it to be, then they should have no difficulty in calling an inquiry into recent events and the government's conduct of affairs in Northern Ireland. Lawful demonstrations must be continued, and the British people must be kept informed. The Nationalists should not attend Stormont.

Mr Craig's revelations

Letter: Craig has made accusations about the involvement of certain republicans in the civil rights movement; he should step out from behind the cowardly shelter of parliamentary privilege and substantiate his claims, or else withdraw them.

[NL, 23 October]

Election figures: Belfast city council

Letter: Election figures for Derry have been submitted to the Irish News in a recent letter: figures can mean everything and nothing. Similar figures for Belfast demonstrate that Unionist votes in some wards elect many fewer councillors than anti-Unionist votes.

Belfast Telegraph

Where ratepayer pays the piper but doesn't call the tune [Letter]

[NL, 23 October]

Against violence

Letter: McCann's comments in Dublin did not advocate violence; they merely explained the phenomenon of Derry, and why events occurred as they did.

(Eamonn McCann)

Be proud of the students

Letter: To suggest that student grants be withdrawn because students are protesting for basic rights is ridiculous. The students are being educated to take such a role of leadership in society.

Voice of CRA was silent

Letter: The CRA did not speak out when the rights of Paisleyite demonstrators were restricted, or when the police hosed them with water.

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22 October, 1968

Irish News

Labour Party group formed to deal with NI affairs

Leader: The parliamentary Labour Party forms a group that will investigate Northern Ireland's problems and determine party policy on the issues raised. The group is seeking a meeting with Wilson.

News Letter

Labour forms Ulster group

Leader: Additionally, Robin Chichester-Clark criticises 'ill-informed sniping' about Northern Ireland which, he says, causes people to retreat further into entrenched positions.

Belfast Telegraph

Labour Party study group on Ulster gets approval

Report: Further, it is felt that implementing reforms in Northern Ireland will not be easy. It is stressed that the new Labour group will not concern itself with partition. Wilson will be questioned in the commons as to whether he will remove the RUC from the control of the Northern Ireland ministry of home affairs; in another question, he will be asked about the possibility of amending the Government of Ireland Act in order to extend democratic rights to the people of Northern Ireland. Robin Chichester-Clark claims that some comments made at Westminster simply serve to drive Northern Ireland people into more entrenched positions.

Irish News

15 in new march in Derry

Report: A new civil rights march is planned for Derry, but will include only the 15 members of the DCAC. It will take substantially the same route as the 5 October march.

Belfast Telegraph

'Private' march by citizens' group

Summary: The DCAC is planning a demonstration for Derry, on which only the 15 committee members will walk. They commend the conduct of demonstrators on the sit-down demonstration in Guildhall Square.

Protest at Stormont is planned

Report: The PD plans to mark United Nations Human Rights Day with a demonstration at Stormont. A number of student bodies supportive of the aims of the PD have been established in Britain, and a mass demonstration is planned to take place around Christmas.

[NL, 23 October]

Irish News

Willing to forget - if new-deal thinking - McAteer

Report: Faulkner speaks of the right to 'a good house, a fair wage and security for…children.' He rejects notions that the government discriminates in socio-economic terms against areas west of the Bann; such areas, he argues, suffer from industrial and geographical disadvantages. McAteer says that the people of Derry will be willing to forget past wrongs if a genuine new deal is offered to them.

News Letter

Lies - the tragedy of Derry

Report: Faulkner denies that religion or political outlook affects anyone's chances of secure employment in Derry, and laments the damage done to the city's industrial prospects by the general media acceptance of such stories. 'I can assure you that the economic and social advancement of any part of Northern Ireland will never be sacrificed to party or religious considerations by the government.' He argues that there is no government bias towards protestant areas; the fact is simply that some catholic areas are 'industrially at a geographical disadvantage.'

[BT, 21 October]

Belfast Telegraph

Faulkner plans to woo West German firms

Report: Faulkner feels that Northern Ireland has been the victim of unfair bad publicity, arguing that satisfaction with employment or housing felt by the majority of people receives no coverage by comparison with the complaints of a few.

[IN, 23 October]

Irish News

Derry factory chief renounces company votes

Report: A leading catholic Derry businessman surrenders the votes enjoyed by his company at local elections; he urges other companies to follow suit.

'Across barriers fear'

Report: Belfast Council of Churches welcomes the apparent willingness of various groups to communicate with one another despite recent events. The people of Northern Ireland should be permitted to work out their differences amongst themselves, without pressure coming from outside. 'It rests with all of us who claim the name of Christian to exert our full vigour to make sure that unfair discrimination will be utterly outlawed at whatever level it might be authentically felt to threaten or exist.'

Belfast Telegraph

Young idea

Editorial: The recent Belfast Telegraph-sponsored survey of young people has revealed a deep disillusionment with traditional politics in Northern Ireland. Primary concerns lie in the areas of housing and jobs, and less in the realm of civil rights.

32 leading public men declare for O'Neill policy

Report: A letter sent to the Belfast Telegraph by leading non-political figures in Northern Ireland calls for support for O'Neill. It reveals the views espoused by the generally moderate type of unionist whose voice is too often unheard at constituency level.

Business and professional men call for support for prime minister

Letter: 'We wish to declare our support for all who in the present situation call for peace and harmony as against conflict and discord…Only a united community prepared to rise above its present and historic differences, will be able to make the social and economic progress which all our citizens seek.' O'Neill's polities should be supported in view of these facts.

[IN, NL, 23 October]

News Letter

TV programme is slammed

Report: A television programme dealing with the most recent Derry demonstration is criticised by Unionists as 'one-sided' and 'nationalist' in is approach; the government's case did not receive a proper airing, and new factories, jobs and houses in Derry were not mentioned.

Belfast Telegraph

Derry TV feature called biased

Report: Currie asserts that the programme was impartial in its presentation.

Backing for Craig

Report: Tyrone Unionist branch backs Craig's recent actions.

Nationalists degraded themselves says mayor

Report: The mayor of Bangor criticises media coverage of events in Derry, notably accusations of police brutality. A north Down Unionist Association commends O'Neill and Craig for preserving law and order.

Irish News

Civil rights: Luther King's policy urged for Derry

Letter: A policy of peaceful protest is necessary to attain civil rights. 'Anything less than this will bring about a return to the repression and brutality which has been our lot. Violence and direct confrontation with the law will result in the now notorious backlash and set back the cause of human rights for years to come.' The boycott of those who discriminate can be a very effective weapon.

CRA banner

Letter: Suggestions for a CRA banner are unnecessary: the Association already has its own flag.

Belfast Telegraph

The People's Democracy

Letter: Church participation in the civil rights movement would be more than welcome: 'it is our view that Northern Ireland contains men of the potential of Martin Luther King and we want to encourage their emergence.' Critics of the PD look to place a sectarian label upon the movement, but it has 'a commitment above party and religious lines, in the cause of human rights.'

(Kevin Boyle, Bernadette Devlin, and others)

Two sides to every story

Letter: A Belfast Telegraph writer has singled out a remark of Walter Scott's on the press treatment of Derry for vilification. He failed to point out Scott's allusion to the existence of grievances in the city, and his urging on the government of 'greater speed' towards reform.

(Walter Scott)

News Letter

Water tanks

Letter: If water-cannon can be used to disperse demonstrators in Derry, why was the same tactic not employed two years ago against the Paisleyites who caused such trouble outside the Assembly of the presbyterian church?

Orderly students

Letter: The student marchers behaved impeccably, and should not have had their parade re-routed. After all, the Paisleyite demonstration did not suffer such a fate.

March for right to be civil?

Letter: MPs involved in the civil rights movement have got their facts all wrong. Catholics benefit from the generous provision made by the state.

Hate British

Letter: Those demanding civil rights 'don't want civil rights for anybody but themselves. They hate everything British; why don't they go into the South?'

Only RCs

Letter: Protestants in Derry often live in poor housing, are discriminated against when trying to find a job, and often are to be found on the housing waiting list for many years.

Other figures

Letter: Perhaps McAteer would like to provide some figures relating to the employment of protestants in some Derry concerns, or information on housing allocations by Limavady RDC.

Belfast Telegraph

Protestant protest

Letter: Some protestants do not receive housing allocations, yet have worked hard and saved sufficiently to buy their own houses. Catholics should do the same: 'if catholics have to have large families and live in overcrowded conditions, that is their problem and I would suggest they protest to their church leaders, instead of crying out against Captain O'Neill.' In employment, some examples suggest that it is protestants rather than catholics who are being discriminated against.

Telegraph is impartial [?]

Letter: The Belfast Telegraph has backed those elements in favour of disorder during the recent crisis.

Editorial reply: The letters published by the paper are representative of the views expressed by all correspondence received.

News Letter

Baton was stick

Letter: Allegations of police misconduct in Derry are ridiculous and an attack on the constitution.


Letter: Many students on the Belfast sit-down protest wanted a violent outcome.

Ban students

Letter: Student demonstrations should be banned; tax-payers' money is supporting these students.


Letter: Queen's students, if they want to help the people, should refuse their grants. 'The appeal of these motley crowds slithering along our public streets has lost its entertainment value.'

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23 October, 1968

Irish News

Wilson raps Orr as critic of those asking changes here

Leader: In a debate in the British house of commons the sentiment is expressed that O'Neill is severely limited in his scope for manoeuvre by extremists. Paul Rose asks Wilson to amend the Government of Ireland Act so as to remove the RUC from the control of the government of Northern Ireland. Orr deems the RUC 'probably the best and finest police force in the world.' Neil MacDermot MP feels that unless O'Neill implements change soon, Westminster intervention in Northern Ireland will be necessary.

News Letter

Ulster row at Westminster [Leader]

Irish News

As Labour Lawyers' [sic] thought

Report: The Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers feels that Wilson should set a deadline by which the Northern Ireland government must have begun reform. If the deadline is not met, Westminster should intervene.

News Letter

Society of Labour Lawyers

Report: The Society professes to be 'extremely impressed' by the manner of student protest in Belfast, and has appointed as its liaison officer with the students one of its members, Kevin Boyle.

Belfast Telegraph

Labour lawyers['] mission a secret

Report: The Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers says that Wilson's most recent comments on Northern Ireland would appear to confirm the society's belief that the Westminster government not only has the right, but also the duty, to intervene in Northern Ireland.

No. 10 talks - when?

Leader: No date has yet been fixed for the talks due to take place between O'Neill and Wilson. Wilson says 'he would discuss with Captain O'Neill all the main factors underlying the disturbances in Derry.' It is expected that he will demand action on discrimination. Lemass will meet Wilson, but no tripartite meeting will take place. Wilson has said that O'Neill is 'being blackmailed by thugs,' and has suggested that he no longer has to rely on the picture of Northern Ireland presented by Unionist MPs at Westminster. Some Unionist leaders appear to be stiffening in their resistance towards the prospect of British intervention. Faulkner has said, 'we might have to fight to maintain the constitution at some time in the future,' though he later made it clear that the comment was meant not for the Labour government but for certain MPs aiming to alter the constitution. Craig will 'deal firmly with anyone inside or outside Ulster who would try to undermine the constitution.' Richardson will ask at Stormont when the government is going to take action on discrimination.

Ulster storm at Westminster as PM tells of TV evidence

Report: Orr describes the RUC as 'probably the best and finest police force in the world,' and claims that the 'mischief-making' of some Labour MPs is jeopardising good community relations in Northern Ireland. Neil MacDermot MP feels that concern in Britain over discrimination in Northern Ireland is growing, and with it, pressure on the British government to intervene to rectify injustice.

Irish News

Unionist says he spoke against discrimination

Report: At a debate held by the Christian Brothers Past Pupils' Union, prospective Unionist candidate for the Newtownabbey constituency, Robin Bailie, says that he spoke out to Armagh Unionists against discrimination. This sentiment is expressed in reply to Currie's admonition of liberal Unionists for their failure to speak out. Unionists, he says, equate the expression of Nationalist grievances with the IRA or with communism. Nationalists are however only demanding the same rights as 'the people of Birmingham, Manchester, Doncaster or anywhere else.' Constitutional methods having failed, protest has to be taken onto the streets. Marches are usually a safety valve for popular feelings, yet their suppression in Northern Ireland may lead to 'much more trouble in the future.' Bailie claims that discrimination can be tested under the Government of Ireland Act in the courts, so that people calling for civil rights are either insincere or do not have a case to make. He talks of a Bill soon to go through the senate abolishing the business vote and establishing universal adult suffrage. Progress has been made, and taking politics onto the streets will only cause division. Social problems do exist in Derry, but they also exist in other cities outside Northern Ireland; there is no evil design against the people of Derry behind government policy.

Belfast Telegraph

'Confusion between civil rights and civil disobedience'

Report: Bailie draws a distinction between civil rights and civil disobedience. He sees the student protests in Belfast and the DCAC sit-down in Derry as legitimate, lawful protest. It is not necessary to agree with the aims of such protest to support the right to engage in it. He does object to the element of civil disobedience introduced into civil rights protest by Fitt and Currie. He also points out that legal redress of grievances is possible, so that the civil rights protesters, if sincere, should take their cases to court. He admits the existence of social problems in Derry, but argues that the city is far from unique in this respect. Currie, speaking at the same debate, says that Nationalists took a risk in becoming the official opposition at Stormont, but that their courage was not reciprocated by government.

Irish News

'Non-political' citizens urge support for O'Neill policy [Letter]

News Letter

Business men's unique action [Report]

Back PM say top people [Letter]

[see BT, 22 October, Business and professional men call for support for prime minister]

Irish News

Strange plea

Editorial: A letter has been sent to the Irish News that calls for support for the prime minister's policies. The intentions behind the call are undoubtedly sincere, but O'Neill has yet to reassure people that he is serious about reform; he has failed to identify the root causes of unrest. He must examine his conscience, though it may be true that 'he makes no concessions because…[his] supporters will not allow him to carry them into effect.' Many are happy to ignore the truth of the grievances that exist in Northern Ireland in favour of 'a communist-republican myth.'

News Letter

More than good sense

Editorial: The appeal by some of Northern Ireland's leading businessmen for support for O'Neill's policies is a genuine non-political attempt to find a way through present difficulties. 'The real danger today is that recent events may lead, not to enlightenment, but to a hardening of attitudes and a divisiveness well-nigh impossible to bridge.' The formation of the Labour group for Northern Ireland affairs is unhelpful: 'by stimulating hope in one section and suspicion of constitutional change in the other, such interference can only drive people farther apart.' The press emphasis on 'the more distasteful aspects of recent events' is similarly unhelpful. 'Ulster's salvation lies within her own territory and can be achieved only by those in whom the call that has gone out today finds a natural response.'

Irish News

Mr Wilson will have to act quickly

Letter: Opposition parties at Stormont have failed to come together to combat abuses. The government itself could of course grant one-man-one-vote at any time, but the gerrymandered local government boundaries would remain, thus hardly altering the situation in material terms. Wilson must act quickly to bring about reform in Northern Ireland, but this will create a violent Unionist backlash. It must be stated however that 'civil rights is [not] the end-all and be-all of the Six-County problem - as if concessions will satisfy our Northern people.'

Calling the tune

Letter: An effective tactic that should be employed by those seeking civil rights would be 'a massive boycott of all local government revenue.'

Englishman's view

Letter: It is disgraceful that Craig has chosen to defend the disgusting police brutality in Derry. Also, protestant extremists should not be permitted to disgrace the Union Jack by flying it on their counter-demonstrations.

Belfast Telegraph

Challenge to councillor

Letter: Over 60% of local government funds come from central government, and thus ultimately from the taxpayer. The ratepayer franchise is thus flawed, in that it does not represent a significant number of people who contribute to local government funds. A universal franchise at local elections is also justified on the grounds that such a franchise already applies in Britain. Unionists would lose nothing in terms of power, yet gain in esteem, from the introduction of such a measure.

Produce the evidence

Letter: Craig should produce the evidence of IRA involvement in the Derry civil rights march of 5 October which he claims to possess; if he cannot do so, then he should withdraw his accusations.

[see IN, 21 October, Mr Craig's revelations]

News Letter

A solution

Letter: A universal franchise over the age of 21 and a new local rating system should be introduced.

Root cause

Letter: 'The root cause of the trouble in Derry is that the council as at present constituted does not reflect the opinions of the people. This requires electoral reform.'

Where to argue

Letter: O'Neill's statement that 'the place for political argument is in parliament, not in the streets' is dangerously authoritarian in tone. If the prime minister means well by the statement, then he should clarify its meaning.

Students' case

Letter: Students have the right to protest if they see injustice at work. 'Democracy, in reference to Northern Ireland, does not exist.'

Live in peace

Letter: 'The people of Ulster want to live in peace side by side with other religious denominations providing they are not anti-Ulster or anti-British.'

March safeguards

Letter: Marches should not be permitted unless the organisers have arranged for suitable mechanisms to keep their gathering under control.

Votes and rates [Letter]

[see IN, 21 October, Election figures: Belfast city council, BT]

Belfast Telegraph

TV programme 'loaded' against Province

Letter: The most recent programme on events in Northern Ireland broadcast by UTV was strongly biased against Unionism, presenting a selective picture that has done a great deal of harm to Northern Ireland.

Gaelic and the IRA

Letter: The Gaelic banners at Dungannon were not proclaiming allegiance to the cause of civil rights, but rather expressed sympathy with the IRA cause of removing the British presence form Ireland. Such placards were also an expression of sympathy with the 'communist agitators who were also implicated in the civil rights affair.'

Irish News

Truth on the wing

Report: Faulkner feels that bad publicity is all too easy for Northern Ireland to earn, but good publicity costs a great deal of money. 'The news media, by definition, are interested in the ephemeral and the sensational; solid, steady progress just isn't the stuff headlines are made of. The difficulties of one family living in overcrowded conditions make a more dramatic story than the statistics of 250 Ulster families moving into modern homes every week. The complaints of one man out of work for a long time gets [sic] massive coverage; the satisfaction of thousands of others earning good wages in government-sponsored industries is not considered newsworthy.' The poor image of Northern Ireland generated recently can only hurt people financially.

[BT, 22 October]

Craig denies he advised police how to act in Derry

Report: Craig says that the form of action to be taken in Derry on 5 October was a decision left entirely to the police; the minister merely gave the order for any necessary measures to be taken. Diamond says that subsequent events are nevertheless Craig's responsibility. The minister expresses his confidence in and admiration for the police.

News Letter

Craig defends his action [Report]

When Fitt 'sat back'

Report: Robin Chichester-Clark says that Fitt is always talking of human rights, yet has done nothing to fight the closure of the Derry naval base, which will deprive many catholics in the city of the right to work.

O'Neill hits out at Ulster 'hooligans'

Report: O'Neill condemns the hooliganism of recent times and says that RUC preventative measures were necessary to avoid deaths. He stresses that the 5 October march was restricted rather than banned.

MP on civil rights march

Report: Robert Porter says that the Derry marchers on 5 October talked of civil rights but ignored their civic obligations.

Protest march

Report: The Ulster Defenders of the Faith organisation calls a protest march for Derry.

Belfast Telegraph

Support for Craig

Report: The executive of Fermanagh Unionist association passes a resolution supportive of government maintenance of law and order, and of the RUC for upholding those in face of deliberate provocation. 'We would recommend to all parties the accepted and civilised method of influencing public opinion by reasoned argument, not by provocation and coat-trailing demonstrations leading to riot and violence.'

Support for PM's task

Report: Dr Robert Simpson MP believes that the bulk of Unionists appreciate 'the existence of a root cause of discontent'; despite provocation, O'Neill should continue to work for a more equal society.

Wake up Unionism!

Editorial: While the political parties continue to bicker, the Northern Ireland constitution is coming under increasing threat. The government has done nothing to calm the situation, save call a housing conference. The reason for inaction is obvious: Unionists are divided. O'Neill must have the complete backing of his party when he meets Wilson. 'The alternative will be confusion and ultimate disaster.'

British Council asked to pray for Ulster

Report: The British Council of Churches is told that it should be concerned about discrimination in Northern Ireland. The Irish and Belfast Councils have been in touch with all political parties, and have made clear their abhorrence of violence, their wish to see an investigation of injustice, and their desire for a reform of the local franchise.

Segregation in schools breeds suspicion - moderator

Report: 'Segregation in childhood breeds suspicion and misunderstanding which hardens into division and bigotry in later years,' says the moderator of the presbyterian church.

[IN, NL, 24 October]

Irish News

Derry police investigate vandalism

Report: It is expected that thousands will watch the 15-strong 2 November DCAC march in Derry.

Cnclr Kennedy withdraws censure motion

Report: Kennedy withdraws his motion on Belfast city council censuring Craig's actions and police brutality on 5 October. He does not wish to harm community relations by allowing Eileen Paisley to repeat 'scurrilous and untrue statements' about recent events. He adds, 'our just demands must be met in Derry and elsewhere. We cannot wait forever, and I for one certainly do not intend to.'

[BT, 21 October]

Backing for QUB students' aims

Report: The Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers expresses its support for the student civil rights movement at Queen's University, and appoints Kevin Boyle, one of its members, as official liaison with the movement.

News Letter


Summary: A PD protest will be held at Stormont to mark United Nations Human Rights Day.

[BT, 22 October]

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24 October, 1968

Irish News

Whispers of new leadership crisis for Unionists

Leader: Rumours indicate that O'Neill may face a leadership challenge; he is caught between pressure to reform, and the opposition to it from hard-liners. Representatives of the Unionist '66 committee seek assurances on what they conceive to be 'vital issues,' including 'the redistribution of constituencies on democratic lines and one man-one vote in local government elections.'

News Letter

Split in Ulster cabinet rumour denied

Report: Faulkner denies the existence of a split in the Northern Ireland cabinet.

Top three are to meet Mr Wilson

Leader: O'Neill, Craig and Faulkner are to meet Wilson, 'and it seemed clear last night from reaction in Unionist circles that the prime minister will be in no position to present a mutually-acceptable "programme of reform" to the British prime minister.' Elements within the Unionist parliamentary party and the cabinet are resistant to concessions, especially on the local government franchise, an attitude that is hardened by Westminster interference. 'Capt O'Neill will be able to tell Mr Wilson that top priority is being given to the housing problem - recognised by many as one of the main social evils contributing to discontent in Londonderry and other areas. The local franchise question is seen to be closely linked with the review of local government, and thus is not to be considered in isolation.'

Belfast Telegraph

Cabinet meets again at Stormont on Wilson talks

Report: The cabinet meets to discuss the forthcoming talks between Wilson and O'Neill, at which both Craig and Faulkner will be present. Their inclusion in the entourage suggests that the Northern Ireland government will strongly defend its record. There may however be some movement on the local government franchise. O'Neill has met some of the more hard-line MPs for talks. Lynch, in his forthcoming talks with Wilson, intends to raise the issue of partition, which he sees as 'the root cause of the Derry incidents.' Lynch's attention is likely to drive some Unionists further into intransigence. McAteer hopes to meet Stonham.

Irish News

Business vote may be first move by O'Neill

Report: It is rumoured that O'Neill may, as a first step towards reform, abolish the business vote. The Nationalist Party stresses that this, while welcome, would in itself prove insufficient; similarly, the granting of the universal franchise at local elections is considered inadequate without the re-drawing of electoral boundaries to eliminate gerrymandered wards. Currie points to the example of Lurgan, 50% catholic in composition but with no catholic representatives on the local council. O'Reilly feels that Unionists must be forced into reform by Westminster.

Belfast Telegraph

Glib talk on 'rights' easy

Report: An Antrim gathering is told that it is much easier to talk about civil rights than to 'produce policies aimed at relieving the great social need of houses and employment.' The government's housing record is praised.

Irish News

Dungannon plea for combined schools

Report: Withers feels that integrated education would provide for greater mutual understanding and hope in the community.

News Letter

Moderator's plan for a better Ulster

Report: He feels that segregated education and segregated community life serve to perpetuate division and 'a ghetto mentality.' He admits the existence of discrimination.

[BT, 23 October]

Leave Ulster alone - moderator

Report: Withers feels that 'English politicians, journalists and broadcasters' should not interfere in Northern Ireland affairs. Northern Ireland must sort out its own problems. Government should 'speed up its enlightened administration so that justice may not only be done, but may be seen to be done.'

Belfast Telegraph

England 'must not interfere'


Wisdom and temptation

Editorial: Hogg's comment, 'when Englishmen start interfering in things that they do not understand, people are apt to be hurt,' should be noted by Wilson. 'It is to be hoped that the prime minister was merely scoring debating points or seeking more to satisfy the anti-Ulster group in the Labour Party than to open the way towards constitutional changes.'

Wilson warned again not to meddle

Report: A UPV division has sent its second communication to Wilson, warning against British interference in Northern Ireland. It is claimed that, if necessary, 'Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right.'

Irish News

'The time has come,' warning to O'Neill

Report: Coulthard feels that O'Neill should dismiss right-wingers from his cabinet because they are undermining Northern Ireland's position within the UK by denying reforms. O'Neill should press ahead regardless of opposition.

Belfast Telegraph

Drop right-wingers, O'Neill told

Report: Coulthard says that the resistance to reform by some, notably Faulkner and Craig, is dangerous for Northern Ireland's position within the UK. O'Neill should remove such people from office; if reform is not implemented, Westminster will not wait forever before making sure that it is introduced.

Derry Labour deputation going to see Wilson

Report: A deputation from the Derry Labour Party is to meet Wilson, and will present him with a report on the recent disturbances, as well as statistics relating to the electoral system in the city. The DCAC has continued to gather evidence on the disturbances. Many claims for damages resulting from the disturbances have been lodged with Derry corporation. A march from Strabane to Derry is planned, its intended route passing through a predominantly Unionist area. The police have been informed.

Declare reform policy - Fitt

Report: Fitt calls for a government statement indicating an intention to introduce social and electoral reform, including one-man-one-vote and the distribution of houses and jobs on merit. People in Northern Ireland must, he says, 'get the same privileges and freedom as elsewhere in the United Kingdom.' Students who have gone to Stormont may stage a sit-down protest.

Hibernians 'shocked' by police violence

Report: The Tyrone AOH expresses shock at police violence in Derry.

News Letter

Lynch ready for more talks

Report: Lynch, answering questions in the Dáil, says that he is prepared to meet O'Neill, but that no plans have yet been made for such a meeting.

Irish News

Concern for civil rights

Editorial: All young people should support the student movement for civil rights. 'Restraint, goodwill and dialogue are required now on all sides.'

Local government voting in Derry

Letter: Voting figures in Derry have been used to show that Nationalists have received the most votes. However, the figures demonstrate that there are more Unionist voters in the city. 'Mr Fitt's sectarian interpretation of the political situation in Derry is an unreasonable reflection on the local government electors. Not all catholic voters are supporters of the Nationalist Party.'

(John Taylor)

[NL, BT, 25 October]

Local election inequalities

Letter: The electoral inequalities in Belfast pointed out by a Unionist councillor are as nothing in comparison with the inequality suffered by nationalists in Derry.

Siting of new industries

Letter: An example of ministry of commerce policy - the siting of a cigarette factory - would not seem to bear out Faulkner's statements on the lack of government bias on the siting of new industrial development in Northern Ireland.

Support for O'Neill's leadership

Letter: The editorial on O'Neill appearing in the Irish News on 23 October states a worthy case.

Christian Brothers' PPU debate

Letter: The reporting of the debate of the Christian Brothers Past Pupils' Union in the Irish News is a 'travesty of the truth.' Bailie condemned discrimination during the debate only conditionally - inserting the qualification 'if it exists.' If Currie really had a case in Caledon, why did he take the law into his own hands rather than resort to the legal process? His call for a campaign of civil disobedience, made at that time, is to be condemned.

(Robin Bailie)

O'Neill's disclosure on Derry affair

Letter: O'Neill has claimed that the police in Derry were attacked with bricks, stones and bottles before they took action against the marchers. If this is true, it is very strange that these facts were not made clear earlier, and to the world's media.

Orange marchers in Dungiven

Letter: Faulkner led Orangemen through the 90% catholic town of Dungiven in June. Many police were required because the government obviously was aware that the march was taking place through a traditionally nationalist area. The fact that Faulkner can march in Dungiven while McAteer cannot do the same in Derry is indicative of hypocrisy on the government's part.

Student's thanks for Longstone Road revelations

Letter: Given the truth about the Orange march down the Longstone Road, it is a mystery as to why O'Neill keeps men like Faulkner and Craig in his cabinet.

Belfast Telegraph

Inquire into LG elections

Letter: Figures showing that there are electoral discrepancies in Belfast wards as well as in Derry do nothing to justify abuses in either city. A system incorporating 'British standards of justice' should be introduced.

Sit inside the City Hall - not outside

Letter: It was reassuring to hear speakers at the Belfast demonstration telling protesters to go home and confront bigotry in their own families. Despite Craig's smear tactics, it is to be hoped that the student movement will produce a new generation of more honest and sincere politicians.

News Letter


Letter: Arguments on both sides of the civil rights debate are rather poor. Every demonstration against anything cannot expect police protection; but those living in poor conditions cannot be expected to be 'content' with their lot.

Irish News

O'Neill's policy is 'improvement in community relations'

Letter: O'Neill's policy of improving community relations deserves support; if he cannot carry it through, it is doubtful as to whether anyone else could or would do so.

News Letter

Jobs in Derry

Letter: Little sympathy has been expressed for the owners of looted property in Derry by those claiming to favour civil rights. Catholics have jobs in many concerns, and indeed protestant employers have a better record of employing catholics than do catholic employers of employing protestants. Granted, not enough houses have been built in the city, but the majority that have been built have gone to catholics. Their location within the city is irrelevant.

Answers wanted

Letter: Many protestants have left the Republic of Ireland over the years; at least the situation in Northern Ireland is not so bad that catholics have to leave.

Belfast Telegraph

A call for a referendum

Letter: 'We look to the officers and men of the Royal Ulster Constabulary to ensure that the privileges of our cherished democracy are not placed in peril by gangs of religiously intoxicated bigots.' A referendum should be held in each ward to determine which speakers are to be permitted to propagate their views in each locality. It seems doubtful whether 'our accusers' could maintain 'their self-made righteousness' if such polls were conducted.

21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | Top

25 October, 1968

Irish News

Human Rights Day sit-in by students at Stormont

Leader: 72 QUB students stage a sit-in at Stormont in protest at the denial of civil rights. They seek to have every MP sign a declaration 'embodying the basic civil rights - one man-one vote, houses on need, jobs on merit, free speech, fair boundaries and the repeal of the Special Powers Act.' Phelim O'Neill is the only Unionist MP to sign; Long says that the protest has been noted. Further demonstrations at Stormont are expected.

News Letter

Marble Hall sit-in ends

Leader: A few students remain after the general body of their number has dispersed; police watch throughout, but allow events to run their natural course.

Belfast Telegraph

Students occupy Stormont hall in 'rights day' vigil [Report]

Paisley's telegram

Report: Paisley, in a telegram to the attorney-general, demands that student demonstrators at Stormont be brought to court. Action is, after all, 'taken against innocent protestants. [It is] high time law was administered impartially.'

News Letter

Stay out of our show, says committee

Report: The DCAC has called its next civil rights march for 2 November. It will follow the route banned by Craig on 5 October, but only the 15 committee members intend to march, their supporters simply lining the route. Whitaker has called for the establishment of a Royal Commission on Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

Civil rights march is on

Report: The civil rights march planned to take place between Strabane to Derry will go ahead. An organiser says that it will be peaceful.

Irish News

Not until Gerry got hit…

Report: The chairman of the British parliamentary Civil Liberties Committee says that it was violence that brought the Northern Ireland situation into public focus, and that the same may come to be seen by some as the only solution to their ills.

Have courage and act to lessen tensions - Fitt to PM

Report: Fitt says that O'Neill must introduce much-needed reforms as soon as possible in order to lessen tensions. Vivian Simpson (NILP) praises the peaceful nature of the recent student march in Belfast. Diamond argues that a political storm is gathering: the Unionist Party cannot expect to maintain conditions that existed 50 years ago. O'Connor argues that 'there were too many politicians and too few statesmen in Northern Ireland. It was time the government, which enjoyed such immense power and had little cause to fear any political party, treated their [sic] citizens properly.' Currie feels that more might be achieved outside parliament than inside. Murnaghan voices the opinion that if the government is unable to take action on reform, then Westminster should intervene to implement it. O'Reilly feels that one-man-one-vote should not be a party issue, and also states that Unionists are permitted to march anywhere they wish while the same privilege is not extended to nationalists. Gormley feels that only British pressure can secure reforms from Stormont, but that Unionists would not lose power if reforms were to be introduced.

News Letter

Fitt is back - but he is out on a limb

Report: Fitt also questions the government at Stormont on its attitude to human rights. He says that the tense atmosphere that has existed over the past number of weeks 'had been brought about by the government denying social justice and the fundamental freedom enjoyed by citizens in other parts of the United Kingdom.'

Belfast Telegraph

Fitt fails in plea for rights declaration

Report: Additionally, Faulkner declines to debate the civil rights issue at Stormont on a technicality. O'Connor feels that it is fortunate that events have not taken a less orderly turn, and praises the attitudes of the churches and many public figures. Currie feels that more can be achieved outside parliament than inside. Murnaghan regrets that marches are necessary to show government what the public wants.

Irish News

Wilson thinking about Royal Commission for the North?

Report: Wilson indicates, in response to a parliamentary question, that he is considering the appointment of a Royal Commission to investigate allegations and rectify abuses in Northern Ireland. He will discuss the matter with O'Neill when the two men meet. Lynch is also to meet Wilson, and will identify the underlying cause of the problems of Northern Ireland as partition.

Belfast Telegraph

Echoes of Derry

Report: Interest at Westminster in the situation in Northern Ireland is not 'a flash in the pan.' Wilson has been careful to praise O'Neill's efforts, but it seems fair to say that his attitude is hardening. Fitt feels that, if O'Neill were to take a stand against the hard-line elements, he would have the support of the great majority both of catholics and protestants. Unionists do not wish to move quickly however for fear of giving the impression that violence pays. One MP talks of an ameliorative process, arguing that 'you cannot remove prejudices by legislative action or suddenly banish the heritage of centuries.' Wilson's main contention with O'Neill is likely to be over the pace of reform.

Ulster is UK blackspot, says Thorpe

Report: Thorpe expresses his feelings on the situation in Northern Ireland: 'In Ulster, as in Rhodesia, we have the spectacle of a group of reactionary bigots oppressing a large section of their population…The British government can afford to prevaricate no longer. For Mr Wilson to take refuge behind procedural convention while ignoring the letter of the Government of Ireland Act and the spirit of British justice is intolerable.'

Discriminating for years - Lubbock

Report: Westminster Liberal chief whip, Eric Lubbock, claims that the existence of discrimination in Northern Ireland has been known by some for years, yet it has required the recent scenes of violence to bring the problem into public focus. 'Unfortunately, there are people who will draw the conclusion that only violence gets results.' O'Neill will probably not meet Wilson within the next fortnight, but Lynch will meet with him next week.

Irish News

Derry rap for Mr Faulkner

Report: The Industry for Derry Committee criticises Faulkner's comments on 'an irresponsible minority' in Derry, one which he feels is harming the city's image. The government has, says the committee, far from remedied the problems of the city.

News Letter

Students condemn statements

Report: QUB Unionist Association condemns Lynch for his proposal to raise events in Derry with Wilson during the forthcoming meeting between the two men.

QUB Unionists warn Lynch

Report: The Association calls on the Unionist Party to support O'Neill in his coming discussions with Wilson. A Glengall Street meeting praises Craig 'on the stand he has taken to preserve law and order.'

Support for government

Report: A Glengall Street meeting backs Craig's recent actions.

Belfast Telegraph

Roman catholic control is aim - Porter

Report: 'The root cause of the troubles in Northern Ireland stemmed from that section of the minority who were determined to overthrow the British way of life in the Province and to seek to establish a Roman catholic controlled Ireland,' Norman Porter tells a meeting in Belfast. Catholics, communists and humanists are allied under the banner of 'human rights and civil liberties,' but in reality are out to destroy the constitution.

O'Neill attacks press reporting

Report: O'Neill criticises media coverage of recent events in Northern Ireland, feeling that the only news that is seen to be worthy of publicity is always bad news.

Sectarian strife being fanned - candidate

Report: Ferguson feels that 'talk of civil rights is not to further civil rights but to employ a new mode of encouraging sectarian strife and of undermining this community. In a short period they have virtually destroyed the atmosphere of goodwill and tolerance which had been so painstakingly created by our government.' There are genuinely concerned critics of the system, who should not be labelled along with this first group. They desire to 'ameliorate conditions in Ulster…[and] to keep intact the links with the United Kingdom.'

Irish News

Men who fear change

Editorial: O'Neill is 'a well-intentioned prime minister beleaguered by men around him who fear change as much as they fear losing the arrogant power which has been with them since the creation of this area by partition.' Unionists are worried by the vibrancy returning to the catholic, nationalist, and liberal-minded communities within Northern Ireland. It is however 'getting too late in the day' for the Unionist intransigents: 'Mr Wilson is now casting a cold eye on the causes for concern.' The British prime minister 'will demand radical reconstruction of local government - and quickly.'

News Letter

Where it should begin

Editorial: Integrated education, as the presbyterian moderator has suggested, is a way towards the breaking down of barriers in Northern Ireland.

Derry casts a long shadow over Ulster

Comment: Fighting talk on Northern Ireland at Westminster has engendered a hard-line response among some Unionists that is exactly what is not required to further O'Neill's policy of cooling the situation down. Liberal Unionists fear the development of a UDI mentality and feel that Westminster intervention is undesirable, though they do stress the necessity for change. There may well exist a 'personality clash' over the issues presently at stake, even at cabinet level.

Belfast Telegraph

The new balance

Editorial: Unionists must be prepared to change, and to back O'Neill so that he can present to Wilson at the forthcoming talks a reasonable set of proposals.

O'Neill works for plan to avert Royal Commission

Report: O'Neill is likely to try to convince Wilson that real efforts towards reform are being made, in order to prevent or stave off the establishment of a Royal Commission on Northern Ireland. The frequency of cabinet meetings would suggest that O'Neill is finding it difficult to secure the backing of his cabinet colleagues. Continuing Westminster pressure may however swing party opinion behind the prime minister. Robert Simpson says, 'we must accept British standards of electoral procedure.' Wilson indicates that he would 'like to consider' a Royal Commission. Local government reform will probably be deemed necessary by the British government. O'Neill will also consider measures on housing. A debate on the franchise is to be held in the senate.

Getting down to it

Comment: Recent events - the Derry disturbances, the Nationalist withdrawal from the role of official opposition, the forthcoming O'Neill-Wilson meeting, and the student demonstration at Stormont - add up to an uncomfortable and embarrassing sequence of events for government. Some Unionists are now willing (generally in private) to concede the need for the universal franchise to be introduced into local government elections; others, even at cabinet level, remain opposed. It is generally seen that a critical juncture in Stormont-Westminster relations has been reached, and it would appear 'that mistakes have caught up with the government, and that a change of direction is now almost a certainty.'

'One man one vote' says mid-Antrim MP

Report: Robert Simpson is 'of the opinion that we can no longer stay British on our terms alone, but that we must accept in full British standards of democracy and electoral procedure.' He believes there is wide support in his constituency for improving community relations 'despite recent setbacks.' He believes that the British Conservative Party's attitude to reform in Northern Ireland is the same as that of the present Labour government.

Housing conference

Report: A date has now been fixed for the housing conference proposed by O'Neill earlier in the month.

Bishops back 'fair deal' policy

Leader: The Church of Ireland calls for a fair deal for all the people of Northern Ireland, a policy it feels the vast majority of people will support. It will imply justice for all, but it must be achieved in a period of peace to enable progress. Housing is a social rather than a political issue, and one that must be addressed. Additionally, 'a genuine and determined housing policy should be accompanied by a firm action towards justice in every sphere.'

[IN, NL, 26 October]

Paper condemns prejudice

Report: The Presbyterian Herald feels that if Craig's ban on 5 October march was justified by the threat of protestant violence, then protestant extremism is uncomfortably strong, and has been encouraged by the failure of moderates to speak out against 'injustice and intolerance.'

Irish News

Constructive actions needed to solve problems in Derry

Letter: Derry's problems are largely socio-economic in character; it is surprising therefore that so many turn to Tories or to men brandishing idle threats to solve them. Prominent businessmen have written in support of O'Neill because they fear a socialist solution to Northern Ireland's problems.

O'Neill's failure to boast

Letter: Too few people seem to recognise the good work that O'Neill has done.

To call to men of good will

Letter: Even taking into account the problem of the Unionist reactionaries, there is still much that O'Neill could do to demonstrate his goodwill. He has however done nothing, for example, about the problems associated with the Mater Hospital. His departure from office would not necessarily be a catastrophe; a possible successor, Brian Faulkner, is much more a man of action than O'Neill.

'Croppies' won't lie down

Letter: Do those who have written in support of O'Neill 'really expect the people of Derry and elsewhere to wait, cap in hand, for fundamental rights to be granted them - as privileges[?]'

News Letter


Letter: The peaceful manner in which the most recent Derry protest was carried out is indicative of the tolerance and restraint of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland. Even a peaceful counter-demonstration should have been allowed to take place, in order to allow this spirit to triumph.

Political blackmail

Letter: Though it is not always easy to prove discrimination, this is not an argument for saying that it does not exist.

Belfast Telegraph

The People's Democracy

Letter: The PD is a broad front containing unionists and republicans, protestants and catholics, lawyers and factory workers. There is no sign of a great catholic conspiracy to overthrow the Northern Ireland state; why would people fight for civil rights in Northern Ireland, only to throw them away by subsuming themselves in a less democratic Republic of Ireland? The PD is not being manipulated by political parties.

Only cure

Letter: Everyone in Northern Ireland should have civil rights, and all parties should come together to guarantee them.

'Love thy neighbour'

Letter: People are too quick to cast the blame for recent events on people like Craig. Everyone is responsible for the chain of events. People should adhere to Biblical teaching: if they simply do this, 'there would not be discrimination anywhere.'

City councillors should keep out of politics

Letter: Belfast councillors should not pass motions supportive of government, since this gives their opponents ample opportunity to launch attacks.

News Letter

Derry families

Letter: The lack of employment or housing in some areas is not surprising, given the tendency for some catholics to produce such large families. Multiple votes are given equally to those businesses owned by catholics, just as they are given to protestants. Discrimination does exist, but those who complain of it are often those who engage in it most heavily themselves.

Council votes in Londonderry City [Letter]

Belfast Telegraph

Unionists get most individual votes in Derry election [Letter]

(John Taylor)

[see IN, 24 October, Local government voting in Derry]

News Letter

Labour's error

Letter: In calling for Westminster intervention and predicting the degeneration of the situation into violence, the NILP is harming efforts to attract industry to Northern Ireland, and is by no means representing the views of all trade unionists.

Out of order

Letter: Queen's University students demonstrating for civil rights should think of the rights of which many have been deprived to make way for new university facilities.

Chance in Moscow

Letter: If Sinclair is against the denial of free speech, why does she not protest for civil rights in Moscow?

Belfast Telegraph

Interference from South

Letter: Lynch's intervention in the Northern Ireland debate is only contributing to the inflammatory state of affairs in Northern Ireland. Partition has nothing to do with current events, and 'does ill-service to those striving for reform in Northern Ireland.' Craig's blunder in Derry has done much to popularise the reform cause.

21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | Top

26 October, 1968

Irish News

Derry housing 'progress'

Report: A Nationalist motion is to be put before Derry corporation, calling for a meeting to discuss and find remedies for Derry's social problems.

McAteer asks Johnson for a 'nod' to speed reforms

Report: McAteer writes to President Johnson of the United States of America, stating: 'I believe that a nod from you would hasten inevitable reforms here.' Meanwhile, the British Labour Party replies to Corish, recognising his concerns about grievances in Northern Ireland, and stating that police behaviour is a matter for the Stormont government.

Belfast Telegraph

McAteer sends Ulster plea to LBJ [Report]

New hopes for united opposition

Report: The Nationalist Party executive is to explore methods of co-operation with other nationally-minded organisations, capitalising on the present spirit of goodwill.

Direct rule referendum urged by McElroy

Report: McElroy says that Northern Ireland is a 'de facto one party state,' and feels that if partition is to stay, then it would benefit from direct rule from Westminster, decided by a referendum. He feels that there is a conspiracy against O'Neill in the Unionist Party, with Craig seen as a logical champion of the hard-liners.

Liberal MP hits Nationalist support

Report: Murnaghan feels that Nationalists at Stormont have little real interest in civil rights. She rejects a call for her to engage in abstention. McElroy asserts his belief that O'Neill is foolishly surrendering to die-hard extremists in the Unionist party, die-hards who can never be appeased. John Quinn, prospective Liberal candidate for south Down, says that justice and good community relations exist in many areas, but unfortunately problems remain. Public opinion is ahead of government thinking on the issue of reform, and if the Stormont government takes no action, then the Westminster government should intervene. Oliver Napier claims that the only hope for reform lies with Westminster, which should set up a complaints tribunal for Northern Ireland. McElroy praises McAteer for his 'restraint and wisdom' following the events in Derry.

[IN, NL, 28 October]

News Letter

'Wilson cautious on Ulster'

Report: Sources close to the Westminster government indicate that an inquiry into Northern Ireland is a likely course, possibly beginning in 1969 and headed by a high court judge, though not necessarily taking the form of a Royal Commission. Orr feels that people should stay calm despite the tense atmosphere; 'the Ulster government should be encouraged to proceed along its chosen path of fair, impartial and responsible government reforming what requires to be reformed and maintaining resolutely what requires to be maintained.'

Belfast Telegraph

PM replies to Corish on Derry

Report: Wilson, in reply to a letter from Corish protesting at recent events in Derry, says that he is concerned about the situation, and will discuss these concerns with O'Neill.

News Letter

Housing talks

Summary: The housing conference proposed by O'Neill will take place on 30 October.

Stormont's dilemma?

Report: Basil Kelly MP, Northern Ireland attorney-general, speaks of the importance of the question as to whether the liberty to counter-demonstrate should be restricted in order to allow others their own liberty to protest. He goes on to discuss allegations of injustice: 'when charges of unfairness and injustice are levelled at us by even a small section of the community; by even any group whose long-term motives may be impure and destructive, no matter how ill-informed or immature they are as people - even if they are outsiders who have no care for, or stake in this country - we must scrutinise the complaints as thoroughly and as objectively as we can.' If real grievances exist and are addressed, but the critics continue to complain, 'then we can see the true reason for their attacks, and we see them for what they are.'

Belfast Telegraph

Look at critics' claims - Kelly [Report]

Ulster 'is at turning point'

Leader: Bradford warns that UDI is the swiftest route to an all-Ireland republic. He calls for enlightened government incorporating co-operation; the alternative is repression, ultimately leading to anarchy. 'We must act now to clear our name of any allegations of injustice. To do nothing is to invite shame as well as violence. To hesitate is to disregard right as well as reality.' He feels that a crash housing programme for Derry is necessary, and also asserts that the 'clearly archaic' multiple company vote should be examined. He claims that social grievances are real, but that the franchise question has been manufactured for party purposes. If Unionism does not adapt to a changing society, it will be overwhelmed by it. Freedom of speech is denied to no-one, provided that there is no risk to public order. The right to a job is not denied by government but by economic figures; housing is a problem not just in Derry but throughout the UK. The franchise must be looked at as part of the review of local government.

Unionists told to right all wrongs

Report: A Belfast literary gathering is told that Unionists must not be afraid to right wrongs in Northern Ireland; the fear must be banished that catholics would vote Northern Ireland into an all-Ireland republic. Around the world, the new left seizes upon discontent and uses it to foment class hatred.

'Who are the reformers?'

Comment: At most three Unionist backbenchers have declared themselves in agreement with the basic principles of one-man-one-vote. Reformers are however beginning to speak out; opponents of reform are less willing to make a public stand; waverers, it would seem, would probably follow a strong lead in favour of reform if it were given. McQuade asserts that 'jobs and houses are the important issues, not votes.' Robert Simpson believes that the government must respond to protest and can no longer 'remain British on [its] own terms.' Scott fears that resistance to reform will be hardened by recent events, and in particular by pressure from Wilson. Lyons adopts the attitude: 'not a quarter of an inch.' Stormont must defend its authority. Brooke agrees that Westminster intervention must be resisted, 'not necessarily because of the franchise issue,' but on principle. The franchise is in any case fair, and the government should not yield to force. Phelim O'Neill is well-known for his desire to see British standards in Northern Ireland life. Maconachie favours reform, but admits that she does not have a constituency to placate. Isaac Hawthorne is in favour of the status quo, arguing that reform of the voting system is unnecessary because Northern Ireland has three tiers of government, two of which are elected on a universal franchise. Warnock, despite his call for an inquiry, thinks that the one-man-one-vote issue should be left to the cabinet to decide. It would seem that 11 Unionist backbenchers oppose reform, six favour it, while four continue to waver. Possibly, in the end, a quickening of reform - but nothing more - will gain the party's support.

Irish News

Support for a fair deal - C of I

Report: The Church of Ireland hierarchy announces its support for justice without distinction in Northern Ireland; it feels that there is 'massive support for a policy based on a fair deal.' Support for O'Neill is stressed. The prime minister is making efforts 'for the well-being of the whole community.' Additionally, 'a genuine and determined housing policy should be accompanied by firm action towards justice in every sphere.'

News Letter

Bishops support goodwill policy

Report: Church of Ireland bishops state their support for the policy of goodwill associated with O'Neill, believing that most people in Northern Ireland want to see a fair deal. They stand 'unequivocally for the ideal of justice for all without distinction,' and call for a period of peace during which the government 'can move forward.'

'Fair deal' call by bishops

Report: Special emphasis should be given to dealing with the housing issue, but 'accompanied by firm action towards justice in every sphere.'

[BT, 25 October]

Irish News

Votes of confidence

Editorial: Individual clerics, and now the Church of Ireland bishops, have joined in the chorus of support for O'Neill. This is apparently a spontaneous effort designed to help the prime minister confront Wilson. O'Neill supporters 'are making strenuous efforts to manoeuvre those who view them [O'Neill's policies] dimly, into the category of "baddies." Any day, now, the question may be asked "are you for O'Neill or against him?"' 'Our disagreement with the prime minister's policies is about the pace of change.' Nationalist MPs for a long time pointed out that the minority was reaching a state of desperation over its grievances; Stormont, however, did little. 'Some Unionist MPs and their grass-roots supporters are disgusted by the present trend of events and are showing an active resistance to any redressing of wrongs. It is their strength which is no doubt producing the O'Neill rallying-cry. Those who plead on his behalf ought to be reminded that his policies have had a fair trial. Grievances have not been remedied. Common ground has not been found. And the bridges that were to be built are hard to find.' The Church of Ireland bishops have declared, to their credit, that they stand 'unequivocally for the ideal of justice for all without distinction'; they have also spoken of the need to 'remove housing from controversy,' and would hope to accompany such a move with a policy based on 'firm action towards justice in every sphere.' 'A measure of understanding of his [O'Neill's] position has been extended more than half way by most of his political opponents, but at long last they are asking for the fruits.'

News Letter

Wilson's strongest card

Editorial: The latest endorsement of O'Neill, from the Church of Ireland, is particularly welcome so close to the date of the highly important meeting between Wilson and O'Neill. Wilson must make it possible for O'Neill to emerge from the meeting with his position strengthened rather than weakened.

Anger aroused by 'thugs' remark

Report: The Voice of Ulster's Christian Ladies sends a letter to Wilson and Lynch, arguing that Wilson is being used by 'thugs and lawbreakers' to destroy the Northern Ireland constitution. 'Discrimination is being used as a means of achieving a united Ireland.' Lynch has no right to interfere in Northern Ireland affairs.


Editorial: The student protest at Stormont has done nothing for the civil rights cause.

Belfast Telegraph

Crowd attacks civil rights march in Tyrone

Report: A civil rights march from Strabane to Derry is attacked by extreme protestants. McAteer says that the police were informed that trouble was possible, but did little to prevent it. He feels that they must uphold the law impartially rather than act as 'uniformed Unionists.'

[IN, NL, 28 October]

Unionist drive to contradict Derry reports

Report: Burns urges a Unionist publicity campaign to counteract the portrayal of recent events. He says that police only drew batons in Derry after they had been savagely attacked. He cannot understand allegations of discrimination in Derry: four out of every five houses built since the war have gone to catholics. He also feels that some catholics are work-shy, since they receive more from the welfare state to support their large families than they would gain in wages were they to enter employment. Four out of every five better-paid jobs are held by catholics.

Unionist MPs must not panic - McMaster

Report: McMaster feels that civil rights issues are being exploited by some unscrupulous elements in order to attack the constitution.

[NL, 28 October]

Irish News

Signatories asked: spell out the policy you want us to support

Letter: Those who wrote in support of O'Neill said that the public was silent on the issue; this is not so. The expression of public opinion is growing ever louder and more insistent. The television cameras have shown that the politicians are not speaking for the people.

Voting in Derry wards

Letter: Taylor has manipulated the figures to produce a picture of Derry voting patterns favourable to Unionism.

[BT, 30 October, NL, November]

Mr Taylor's figures

Letter: Assuming that Taylor's electoral figures for Derry are correct, they demonstrate that representation on the Derry corporation is inequitable.

Attendance at Stormont

Letter: Most Nationalist voters would probably prefer the party to abstain from Stormont. 'The civil rights movement has done more to focus world attention on the political situation here than 50 years of Nationalist representation.' If the Nationalist party resumes attendance at Stormont, then its voters should abstain at the next election.

Belfast Telegraph

Bonds that unite us

Letter: Prominent people calling for support for O'Neill, 'who leads a party and a government who are perpetuating the policies of those who created and nourished the discord and conflict among the different religious persuasions, a party and government which has thrived on the hateful bigotry resulting from such a policy,' should recognise that any improvement in community relations that has come about is not due to the actions of politicians, but to those of people of goodwill. People should acknowledge political differences and try to find common ground.

Introduction     1968:   | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |
October 1968:   | 1-5 | 7-12 | 14-19 | 21-26 | 28-31 |
21 - 26 October:   | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | Top |

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CAIN is based within Ulster University.

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