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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 |
November 1968:   | 1-2 | 4-9 | 11-16 | 18-23 | 25-30 |
1 - 2 November:   | 1 | 2 | Top |

1 November, 1968

Belfast Telegraph

Stress at no. 10 to be on reform

Report: O'Neill is expected to tell Wilson at the talks between the two that housing is being given a new priority by the Northern Ireland government, and that the multiple company vote may be dropped. Further franchise reform however, he is likely to add, cannot be undertaken independently of the review of local government. Lynch says that he felt it necessary to address partition, arguing that the symptoms of a disease cannot be analysed without reference to the disease itself.

After lunch at no. 10

Report: Little information can be expected to be released on the O'Neill-Wilson meeting immediately after it has taken place.

News Letter

O'Neill to address British MPs

Report: Following his forthcoming meeting with Wilson, O'Neill will address a group of British MPs from all parties and is expected to repudiate Lynch's statements on partition. He may also be asked about reform.

Irish News

Is Mr Wilson ready to act?

Editorial: Wilson has said that change in Northern Ireland is possible even before the new Royal Commission on the UK constitution has finished its work. The British government is now less inclined towards non-intervention, thanks to the emergence of the civil rights movement and to the events in Derry. 'An aroused citizenry of the Six Counties…has manifested its disavowal of the assertion that a policy of gradualness will bring about an end to grievances.' Despite attempts to highlight injustice in Northern Ireland prior to 5 October, by Fitt and the CSJ for example, the events that occurred on that day have sparked English interest 'in what was going on in this "integral part of the United Kingdom".' The CRA has widespread support and is not 'indulging in mere protest for the sake of protest.' Westminster has the power to intervene, and should exercise it.

News Letter

Nothing to fear from an inquiry say Unionists

Comment: Unionists generally maintain that they have nothing to fear from an inquiry into Northern Ireland of the kind that will be a part of the work of the Royal Commission that is to be established to look into devolution in the UK. However, recent pronouncements from some previously silent Labour MPs may influence Wilson's determination in the forthcoming talks with O'Neill. The constitutional position of Northern Ireland is not in doubt however, as is made clear by the British prime minister's reaffirmation of the Attlee pledge. The inquiry on Northern Ireland will take account of any changes resulting from the talks. Lynch's remarks may have strengthened O'Neill's position vis à vis that of Wilson; but they have also highlighted difficulty of achieving reform in a society where the first concern of some lies with partition.

Irish News

O'Neill brings defeat on PR into it

Report: O'Neill attacks the Fianna Fáil government of the Republic of Ireland following Lynch's comments on partition, with the assertion that it is attempting to focus attention on Northern Ireland in order to hide its difficulties in the wake of its recent referendum defeat.

News Letter

Premier lashes Lynch [Report]

[BT, 31 October]

'Partition' speech deplored

Report: Unionists throughout Northern Ireland condemn Lynch for interfering in Northern Ireland affairs. A Unionist Party statement on the subject is expected. The Church of Ireland Gazette welcomes the bishops' expressed views on the civil rights campaign. Since some of the issues raised by it are social in character, it would be 'in the interest of the people most concerned if those with political axes to grind were to refrain from involving themselves.' Politicians in the Republic of Ireland, the article goes on, should realise that 'Captain O'Neill constitutes the best hope for the welfare of the minority in Northern Ireland.'

Back to the bad old days

Editorial: Lynch's destructive decision to raise the subject of partition has switched the emphasis away from civil rights. Reform will now be more difficult. O'Neill's position is 'unassailable'; Wilson has reaffirmed the Attlee pledge on the constitutional future of Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill's reaction surprises Lynch

Report: Lynch is surprised by O'Neill's reaction to his references to the Derry situation. He does not agree that he has helped the cause of the reactionary element.

Dublin rather surprised by O'Neill heat

Report: O'Neill's reaction to Lynch's comments on Northern Ireland is met with some surprise in Dublin political circles. Lynch had been on the receiving end of criticism in the Republic of Ireland for having failed to react more strongly to events in Derry. His recent statements were not made in isolation. Opposition parties have come out in support of the taoiseach's stand, although some younger politicians feel that Northern Ireland's problems can best be solved not by intervention, but by the people of Northern Ireland themselves.

What Wilson told Lynch

Report: At his meeting with Wilson, Lynch raises the issue of partition. Wilson reminds Lynch of the Attlee pledge on Northern Ireland's constitutional position, and says that he will discuss matters of concern with regard to Derry when he meets O'Neill.

Westminster views differ on Attlee pledge

Report: Labour MPs at Westminster argue that the Attlee pledge on the constitutional position of Northern Ireland applies only to the status of the border; Conservative members assert that it applies also to the constitutional convention whereby the British government does not intervene in Northern Ireland's transferred areas of jurisdiction.

George Brown says Labour should aim for united Ireland

Report: Kevin McNamara MP tells a meeting of the parliamentary Labour Party that the problems of Northern Ireland have nothing to do with partition, but rather with human rights. He feels that the British government has both the right and the duty to intervene. There is the feeling, he says, that O'Neill is 'playing along' with the government, while hoping for the return of the Conservatives to power. The local government franchise should be reformed to provide for universal adult suffrage. An independent civil service commission should also be established to look at government recruitment and personnel. Orme feels that the Attlee pledge relates to the border only, and not to Northern Ireland's internal affairs. Another speaker points out the dangers inherent in the imposition of change.

Irish News

Let united Ireland be our aim - George Brown

Leader: In response to George Brown MP's remarks about the desirability of a united Ireland, Eric Ogden MP states his own view that even if an end to partition is a worthwhile ultimate aim, it is not relevant to the present situation in Northern Ireland, which requires a reform of electoral law and of local government boards. Ryan believes in O'Neill's sincerity, but feels that no progress has been made in Northern Ireland under his premiership.

News Letter

Ireland 'one' an aim - Brown

Report: McNamara argues that the issue in Northern Ireland at present is not partition but civil rights, and that Westminster should intervene. He believes that O'Neill is biding his time until a Conservative government is returned in Britain. Ryan feels that the situation in Northern Ireland will deteriorate.

Irish News

Inclusion of Northern Ireland welcomed

Report: The Northern Ireland Labour parliamentary party welcomes the royal commission on the constitution announced in the queen's speech at Westminster, as a means for the re-examination of relationships between Stormont and Westminster.

Belfast Telegraph

Debate on Ulster likely soon

Report: A debate on the situation in Northern Ireland is likely to take place at Westminster in the near future.

News Letter

We don't pick English pockets

Comment: Currie and others have charged that Northern Ireland receives vast payments from Britain. Such inaccurate statements as this neglect the contribution made by the Northern Ireland tax-payer to the UK exchequer.

Belfast Telegraph

Armagh people back O'Neill policy

Report: The Belfast Telegraph has received a letter bearing 28 signatures, from a group of county Armagh people who wish to express their support for the policies of O'Neill. He deserves, they claim, the support of all men of goodwill.

Long '100 pc behind premier'

Report: Long expresses his full support for O'Neill's policies.

News Letter

Support for Captain O'Neill [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Take 'middle ground,' MP tells Unionists

Report: The Marquis of Hamilton argues for a recognition that 'not all is well in our society and that evolution is inevitable in Ulster.' He wishes to see moderation and social progress, but states that people must take cognisance of their duties to the state as well as of their rights within it. Changing political thinking in Northern Ireland should not be automatically identified with 'a limited section of extreme anti-partitionists.'

Irish News

Derry commission suggestion turned down

Report: Fitzsimmons says that no special commission will be appointed to direct the Derry area plan.

[BT, 30 October]

Let it be massive and peaceful civil rights turnout - committee

Report: The DCAC intends participation in its planned march to be restricted to the 15 committee members; supporters are asked to line the route. They are praised for their peaceful efforts thus far. Stewards are to receive a final briefing from the committee, which is continuing to gather evidence from those who received injuries on 5 October. The Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers is lending its support to the DCAC, and is defending some of the original organisers of the 5 October demonstration in court. The Derry Labour Party commends the demonstrators for their conduct.

[BT, 31 October]

News Letter

Defence of the Londonderry marchers

Report: The Society of Labour Lawyers is expected to lend its aid to the defence of three of the organisers of the 5 October march in court. The Society will also send members to the planned DCAC march, which will include only the 15 committee members, supporters being asked to line the route. The committee supports Paisley's right to hold a demonstration in Derry on the same day.

Irish News

To march or not to march - decision tonight

Report: NICRA will today decide on whether to hold a civil rights demonstration in Armagh; the UPV warns of a counter-demonstration should any such proposal be accepted.

Belfast Telegraph

Craig and RUC discuss rival Derry marches

Report: Following the announcement by the Loyal Citizens of Ulster of a demonstration in Derry in opposition to that planned by the DCAC, Craig is meeting with police to discuss the situation.

Glasgow marches

Summary: 'It is estimated that about 18,000 people took part in the two protest marches in Glasgow on Sunday in which Mr Wilson was warned not to interfere in the constitutional affairs of Northern Ireland.'

Silence may speak louder than words

Comment: Nationalists are now pursuing a policy of semi-abstention at parliament, concentrating on constituency issues and civil rights almost to the exclusion of all other parliamentary business, to which they have made little contribution. They have shown little enthusiasm for the reforms that are currently being promoted by Bradford and O'Neill because the changes that they wish to see are of the more far-reaching variety. If nothing is done, a policy of civil disobedience could easily result, and from this possibly a full abstention from Stormont.

Irish News

McAteer warns of 'grave consequences'

Report: McAteer warns of the serious problems that could result from the prosecution of those involved in the 5 October demonstration.

Belfast Telegraph

McAteer for London

Report: McAteer is to address a London meeting later in the month on current affairs in Northern Ireland.

Irish News

Labour warning on electors' apathy

Report: Coulthard asks all progressive-minded people in the south Antrim constituency to come out and vote at the forthcoming by-election. If they do not, he says, they are helping government justify its contention that reform is neither necessary nor desired. His Unionist opponent should declare his preparedness to vote against the government on the franchise issue if necessary, and should advise all holders of business votes in south Antrim not to exercise them.

Belfast Telegraph

Walk-out over bypass plan

Report: A Republican Labour member of Belfast city council walks out of a council meeting following a decision on the routing of a bypass. He alleges 'a Unionist conspiracy against the catholic people in the Falls Road.'

[IN, NL, 2 November]

US petition for Ulster inquiry

Report: A San Francisco group calling itself Citizens for Irish Justice plans a nationwide petition in the USA, calling on president Johnson to use his influence with the British government to secure an impartial inquiry into Northern Ireland affairs. Letters have also been sent to Queen Elizabeth, Wilson, de Valera, Thant, and others.

Irish News

'Shocked and dismayed,' says letter

Report: An Irish-American organisation, the Citizens for Irish Justice, in a letter sent, among others, to President Johnson, Wilson, de Valera and U Thant, condemns the British government for its endorsement in Northern Ireland of injustice through the 'narrow-minded gerrymandering dictatorship' that exists there.

'Important' people are showing concern at last

Letter: It is encouraging to see so many people show an interest in civil rights since the events of 5 October, though one might wonder why they had failed to notice injustice prior to this time. The Nationalist Party has leapt on the civil rights band-wagon; the best way of supporting civil rights is by subscribing to and joining NICRA. Catholics who wish to join the Unionist Party will find little support among their community. Wilson will have to force reform on 'the Captain [O'Neill] and his crew.'

(Kevin Agnew)

The answer is Derry

Letter: If Unionists can justify majority control in Belfast, why cannot they support it also in Derry?

[IN, 4 October]

Do C of I bishops support ALL of prime minister's policies?

Letter: The Church of Ireland statement of support for O'Neill's policies of goodwill is welcome, but leaves some questions unanswered. Do the bishops support policies of discrimination in public employment? Do they support government discrimination against catholic maintained schools?

Insisting on civil rights

Letter: Government cannot long resist the civil rights demands of one-third of the people of Northern Ireland; a 'total boycott of public revenue payment' would be highly effective.

Catholics in the Unionist Party 'no help to the underprivileged'

Letter: It is difficult to imagine how anyone can equate the concept of progress with the Unionist party, which is 'the party of reaction and sectarian bitterness; the party which first instigated and later wholeheartedly supported police brutality in Derry; the party which is the greatest single obstacle to a united community and to good community relations.' Honeyed words have delivered O'Neill the support of some middle class catholics, enabling him to strengthen the hand of repression. The presence of a few middle class catholics in the Unionist party will not help the cause of the underprivileged. The religious barrier must be crossed by the working classes; change will not come from 'an alliance between Unionist ascendants and castle catholics.'

Government money for Island: none for Mater

Letter: If the government wishes to demonstrate its goodwill, it should follow up its recent payment to the Harland and Wolff shipyard with a gift to the Mater Hospital.

Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order must relax its grip on Unionist Party

Letter: The Orange Order must exercise less influence within the Unionist Party, and O'Neill should clearly state that non-Orangemen and catholics are welcome to join the party and run for positions as MPs. It is possible to be both politically moderate and a staunch Unionist; the party needs to change.

The right to criticise

Letter: Northern Ireland, as an integral part of the UK, should enjoy full UK standards. A points system for housing is necessary. 'I resent paying full British taxation to Westminster in return for sub-standard administration by Stormont and for local electoral arrangements, which have been out of step with the rest of the United Kingdom for two decades.' It is also wrong that British MPs enjoy less jurisdiction in Northern Ireland than do Northern Ireland MPs over British affairs. Northern Ireland people should also be granted full access to the parliamentary ombudsman.

Turning back the clock

Letter: The government has failed to replace fair words with actions after Derry, and now it is returning to the old partition battles. 'The position of the moderate is continually being eroded by the refusal of those in power to make meaningful concessions and this stubbornness only strengthens the extremists of both orange and green and breeds discord for the future.'

Housewives' plea to Mr Craig

Letter: The extension of British standards to local elections in Northern Ireland is essential. Craig is to be commended for keeping law and order in Derry.

Subsidising Londonderry

Letter: The government's employment record in Derry is creditable, given the city's high birth-rate. Gerrymandering is not to the government's credit, 'but opinions may be divided, with good reasons, on the local government franchise.' It is all very well to talk of rights, but it would be wrong to ignore responsibilities.

News Letter

Derry's birth-rate

Letter: 'Every decent citizen' would like to see the removal of genuine grievances in Northern Ireland, but it is well-known that a high birth-rate, as exists in Derry, is incompatible with prosperity. The people of Derry at least enjoy better social services than exist in the Republic of Ireland. A ratepayer franchise in local government would seem to be fair.

'Placards pool' would be fine

Letter: Sometimes the demands made by the supporters of Fitt and of Paisley are difficult to distinguish.

Second thoughts

Letter: Many protestants supported Fitt at the last Westminster election, but now he is showing his true colours. He is taking part in demonstrations and sharing platforms with known members of the IRA and the Communist Party under the cloak of civil rights. He is costing Labour a lot of votes in Northern Ireland. It is not just the rapidly expanding catholic population of Derry that wants jobs and houses.

No appeasement

Letter: 'Let it be clearly known that protestants have had the raw end of the stick for too long and will not put up with injustices any longer.' When previous Paisleyite marches have been banned or re-routed, Paisley and his supporters have respected the law, unlike republican demonstrators. 'Loyalists who love Ulster obey the law, but we won't be imposed upon[.] Republicans under any guise[,] "civil rights" or any other rights[,] will not be allowed to go through a protestant area while protestants are not allowed to go through a Roman catholic area.'


Letter: Catholic influence in the media is strong, and allows catholics to portray the Northern Ireland situation in a biased light.

Irish News

Orangemen may be allowed to attend catholic services

Report: The Orange Order is to decide whether to allow its members to attend services of catholic worship.

[BT, 31 October]

1 | 2 | Top

2 November, 1968

Irish News

March and counter-march in Derry today

Leader: A group calling itself the Loyal Citizens of Ulster has announced a counter-demonstration in Derry, closely coinciding with the DCAC march. The DCAC feels that its supporters will not allow this provocation to succeed. An LCU spokesman says, 'our demonstration is to protest against the intention of this so-called civil rights movement to establish Roman catholic rule in Londonderry. We are not going to stand by and allow that to happen.' Paisley is asked by a representative of the British Legion to call off a march he has planned for Derry because it coincides with a remembrance event. The PD writes to Paisley supporting his right to march.

News Letter

Rival marches planned in Londonderry [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

RUC hold up counter parade

Leader: Police hold back a march by the Loyal Citizens of Ulster in order to prevent a confrontation with the DCAC march taking place at almost the same time and starting from the same location. When Bunting and his supporters block the march route, police remove them.

[IN, NL, 4 November]

Irish News

Councillor's walkout protest over Hamill Street decision

Report: A Republican Labour member of Belfast city council claims that a decision on the routing of a bypass through a catholic area is 'a Unionist conspiracy against the catholic people in the Falls Road.'

News Letter

'We'll fight to save our homes' [Report]

[BT, 1 November]

Paisleyite motion on GAA refused

Report: Eileen Paisley's motion condemning the recent reception by Belfast city council of Down's GAA football team is rejected by the council, following the acceptance of a motion asking that the council refuse to consider any matter likely to stir up community tension. Paisley sees a conspiracy against her and claims that a supposedly loyalist council should speak its mind, for example, on Craig's courageous actions. She favours the advancement of the whole community, but stresses that relations have been set back by O'Neill's policy of appeasement.

News Letter

Motion condemning Geddis is foiled [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Give parts of Derry city to the Republic, Unionist says

Report: A leading Unionist suggests that the Bogside and Creggan estates in Derry should be handed over to the Republic of Ireland, since they constitute a heavy drain on resources; perhaps Lynch can remedy the complaints of such areas. Other 'politically sick' areas should also be handed over. Another speaker criticises poor housing in Dublin, while a third chides government for its failure to respond effectively to accusations made against it. Fitzsimmons says that differences stretching back over hundreds of years cannot be healed overnight. He feels that extremists do not want change, and adds that some within the Nationalist Party are allying themselves with republicans, communists and revolutionaries. Many catholics will not, he says, associate themselves with civil disobedience. Robin Chichester-Clark criticises Nationalists for discrimination. O'Neill receives a vote of confidence, and Craig and the RUC praise for their handling of events in Derry.

[NL, 4 November]

Prayers for premier

Report: The Evangelical Protestant Society calls for prayers to be said for those who will meet with Wilson, feeling that Northern Ireland's future may be in jeopardy.

Appeal to Paisley

Report: Paisley is asked not to hold a planned demonstration in Derry because it would coincide with war commemoration activities organised by the British Legion.

News Letter

Troubles mean bonus for Unionism

Report: Bradford claims an unprecedented surge of interest in membership of the Unionist Party has resulted from recent events. Wilson outlines the content of his talks with Lynch, wherein he stressed that he would raise matters of concern about Northern Ireland with O'Neill in the coming meeting between the two. Lynch expresses surprise at O'Neill's reaction to his comments on partition.

Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill backed

Summary: A branch of Bannside Unionist Association praises O'Neill for his efforts to improve community relations and for his defence against Lynch's attacks on Northern Ireland's position.

Student group hits at Lynch

Report: The PD sends a letter to Lynch deploring his making political capital out of recent events, and criticises him for his failure to address civil rights issues in the Republic of Ireland.

Irish News

People's Democracy 'deplore' [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Churches 'must speak' despite victimisation

Report: A presbyterian professor says that the churches must not fear to speak out on housing, voting and discrimination, even though some ministers have been driven out by their congregations as a result of doing so. Reform must however be brought about within the law.

[IN, 4 November]

96 sign letter backing PM

Report: The Belfast Telegraph receives a letter backing O'Neill's policies, and arguing that majority opinion in Northern Ireland is behind him. The unrepresentative situation in Derry has been over-emphasised; reform is certainly required there, however. Extremists receive the most publicity, while the opinions of the moderate majority are not communicated effectively.

37 students support PM

Report: 37 students send a letter of support to O'Neill, expressing the hope that moderate opinion will become more articulate in support of his healing policies.

News Letter

Students' support

Report: A group of students sends a letter to O'Neill pledging their support and hoping that their example will encourage other moderate voices to speak out articulately.

Irish News

Taoiseach sees no break-off with North

Report: Lynch expresses surprise at the comments made by O'Neill in the wake of the taoiseach's pronouncements on partition. Wilson, in a written answer to a parliamentary question, says that he has told Lynch that he will raise matters of concern relating to Northern Ireland with O'Neill when the two meet, and has reminded the taoiseach of the British government's commitment to the Attlee pledge on the constitutional status of Northern Ireland

UN and human person

Letter: A 1967 booklet entitled 'the United Nations and the Human Person' should be of particular interest to people in Northern Ireland. It briefly defines human rights and suggests that 'to deny human beings their rights is to set the stage for political and social unrest.'

Judge's remarks

Letter: Fitt and McAteer are right to criticise the somewhat political comments of Mr Justice Lowry on the Derry events; the same judge, it should be pointed out, is chairman of the commission appointed to draw up new parliamentary boundaries.

Introduction     1968:   | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |
November 1968:   | 1-2 | 4-9 | 11-16 | 18-23 | 25-30 |
1 - 2 November:   | 1 | 2 | Top |

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