The Derry March - Summary of Main Events
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Bob Purdie (1990) Politics in the Streets. Belfast: The Blackstaff Press. (p.159)
The police handling of the demonstration
in Londonderry on 5 October 1968 was in certain material respects
ill co-ordinated and inept. There was use of unnecessary and ill
controlled force in the dispersal of the demonstrators, only a
minority of whom acted in a disorderly and violent manner. The
wide publicity given by press, radio and television to particular
episodes inflamed and exacerbated feelings of resentment against
the police which had been already aroused by their enforcement
of the ministerial ban (paragraphs l68 - l7 1).
We had no doubt that 5 October was
going to be a very significant day. (After the meeting at which
the CRA [Civil Rights Association]
had accepted our route Melaugh had remarked: 'Well, that's it.
Stormont is finished.') For six months we had been making steady
and seemingly inexorable progress. We began as a small, disparate
group and by simple direct action tactics we had month by month
accumulated support. ... Now we were in control of an event
which was seriously perturbing the government and exciting concerned
editorials in the Belfast papers.
The Civil Rights march in Derry on 5
October 1968 was organised to draw attention to a series of grievances
over issues related to housing, employment and electoral practices
in the city. The driving force behind the idea for the march
was a group of left-wing radicals who, through the Derry Housing
Action Committee (DHAC) and other organisations, had been taking
non-violent direct action to try and improve conditions in the
area. The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association
(NICRA) was contacted and following a meeting the NICRA decided to support the proposed march. When the march was publicised Loyalists announced that
they were holding an 'annual' parade on the same day, at the same
time, and over the same route. The Stormont government then issued
a banning order on all marches and parades. When the demonstration
went ahead the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) blocked the route
of the march and then baton charged the crowd. The scenes were
recorded by television cameras and the subsequent news coverage
sparked rioting in Derry. Most
commentators consider the 5 October 1968 to be the start date
of 'the Troubles'.
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
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