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Policy initiatives introduced during the period of 'the Troubles'

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Text: Martin Melaugh ... Research: Martin Melaugh and Fionnuala McKenna
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change


The following is a draft (v4) list of the various policy initiatives that have taken place during 'the Troubles'. Each of the items listed below will be the subject of additional information ranging from a few paragraphs to a few pages. Once the web pages are completed information will be available by clicking on highlighted items.

Many of the earlier policy initiatives were made during the first few years of 'the Troubles' in direct response to the political agitation and street protest of the Civil Rights Movement.

  • The Northern Ireland Government announced on 22 November 1968 that a five-point reform programme would be implemented. The package of reforms was to include:
    • a nine member 'Development Commission' to take over the powers of the Londonderry Corporation;
    • an ombudsman to investigate complaints against government departments;
    • the allocation of houses by local authorites to be based on need;
    • the Special Powers Act to be abolished as it was safe to do so; and
    • some reform of the local government franchise (the end of the company votes).

  • On 15 January 1969 an official inquiry, under the chairmanship of Lord Cameron, a Scottish judge, was announced. The inquiry was to look into the causes of the civil unrest.
  • On 11 March 1969 the Parliamentary Commissioner Bill was introduced to allow an Ombudsman to investigate complaints against government departments.
  • On 23 April 1969 the Northern Ireland Government announced that it would accept universal adult suffrage in local government elections. One of the key demands of the Civil Rights Movement had been for 'one man, one vote'.
  • On 26 August 1969 the Hunt Committee was appointed to consider the structure of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the Ulster Special Constabulary (USC).

  • Further reforms were agreed in a communiqué following a visit by James Callaghan, then British Home Secretary, on 29 August 1969. The measures suggested were mainly in the area of government administration.

  • On 29 August 1969, Justice Scarman was appointed to inquire into the causes of the civil unrest during the summer months.

  • Northern Ireland. Parliament. (1969) Disturbances in Northern Ireland: Report of the Commission Appointed by the Governor of Northern Ireland, [Cameron Report], (Cmnd. 532), (12 September 1969). Belfast: HMSO.
  • Northern Ireland. Parliament. (1969) Report of the Advisory Committee on Police in Northern Ireland, [Hunt Report], (Cmnd. No.535), (10 October 1969). Belfast: HMSO.
  • On 10 October 1969 the Hunt Report was published. The Report recommended that:
    • the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) should become an unarmed force;
    • the Ulster Special Constabulary (the 'B Specials') should be disbanded;
    • a new RUC Reserve should be set up; and
    • a new locally recruited part-time force should be established under the control of the British Army (this force was to become the Ulster Defence Regiment, UDR).

  • Following a second visit by James Callaghan, then British Home Secretary, on 9-10 October 1969, plans for other reforms were agreed in a communiqué. The matters covered included:
    • the establishment of a central housing authority (which became the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, NIHE);
    • reforms to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), in light of the Hunt Report;
    • reforms to the legal system; and
    • the issue of fair employment.

  • The Act establishing a Ministry for Community Relations was passed on 29 October 1969.

  • Commissioner for Complaints Act (NI) became law on 25 November 1969.

  • On 25 November 1969 the Electoral Law Act became law. The main provision of the act was to make the franchise in local government elections in Northern Ireland the same as that in Britain.

  • On 27 November 1969 a Commissioner for Complaints was appointed to deal with matters related to local government and public bodies.

  • The Prevention of Incitement to Hatred Act became law on (day? month?) 1970.

  • The Police Act (NI) came into force on the 26 March 1970. Under the act the Northern Ireland Police Authority (NIPA) was established.

  • The Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was inaugurated on 1 April 1970

  • The Ulster Special Constabulary (the 'B Specials') was disbanded on the 30 April 1970.

  • Northern Ireland. Parliament. (1969) Local Government in Northern Ireland, [Macrory Report], (Cmd 546), (29 May 1970). Belfast: HMSO.
  • The Housing Executive Act (NI) became law on 25 February 1971.

  • The Local Government Boundaries Act (NI) became law on 23 March 1971.

  • Decision to appoint a Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland was announced on 13 May 1971.

  • Interment introduced on 9 August 1971.

  • Great Britain. Parliament. (1971) Report of the enquiry into allegations against the security forces of physical brutality in Northern Ireland arising out of events on the 9th August, 1971, [Compton Report], (Cmnd. 4832), (16 November 1971). London: HMSO.
  • Independent Director of Public Prosecutions established on (day? month?) 1972.

  • Great Britain. Parliament. (1972) Report of the Committee of Privy Counsellors appointed to consider authorised procedures for the interrogation of persons suspected of terrorism, [Parker Report], (Cmnd. 4901), (9 February 1972). London: HMSO.
  • Great Britain. Parliament. (1972) Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969, [Scarman Report], (Cmd. 566), (6 April 1972). Belfast: HMSO.
  • Great Britain. Parliament. (1972) Report of the Tribunal appointed to inquire into the events on Sunday, 30th January 1972, which led to loss of life in connection with the procession in Londonderry on that day, [Widgery Report], (HC 220), (18 April 1972). London: HMSO.
  • Great Britain. Parliament. (1972) Report of the Commission to consider legal procedures to deal with terrorist activities in Northern Ireland, [Diplock Report], (Cmnd. 5185), (20 December 1972). London: HMSO.
  • Northern Ireland Office (NIO). (1972) The Future of Northern Ireland: A Paper for Discussion, (Green Paper; 1972). London: HMSO.
  • Great Britain. Parliament. (1975) Report of a committee to consider, in, the context of civil liberties and human rights, measures to deal with terrorism in Northern Ireland, [Gardiner Report], (Cmnd. 5847), (30 January 1975). London: HMSO.
  • The Fair Employment (NI) Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on 5 May 1975.

  • The Prevention of Terrorism Act (1976) was extended to Northern Ireland on 26 March 1976.

  • The Fair Employment Act became law on 1 December 1976.

  • Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights (SACHR). (1977) The protection of human rights by law in Northern Ireland, (Cmnd. 7009). London: HMSO.
  • On (day? month?) 1977 the Police Complaints Board was established to carry out independent investigations of complaints against the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

  • Great Britain. Parliament. (1979) Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Police Interrogation Procedures in Northern Ireland, [Bennett Report], (Cmnd. 7497), (16 March 1979). London: HMSO.
  • Northern Ireland Office (NIO). (1985) Police complaints and discipline: a consultative paper. Belfast: HMSO.

  • Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights (SACHR). (1987) Religious and political discrimination and equality of opportunity in Northern Ireland: report on fair employment, (Cm. 237). London: HMSO.
  • The Northern Ireland Office (NIO). (1987) Religious Equality of Opportunity in Employment: An Employers' Guide to Fair Employment. Belfast: HMSO.
  • Northern Ireland Office (NIO). (1988) Fair employment in Northern Ireland, (Cm. 380), (May 1988). London: HMSO.
  • On 5 October 1988 the Minister for education said that the Department of Education for Northern Ireland (DENI) should promote integrated schools.

  • New Fair Employment Bill for Northern Ireland was introduced on 15 December 1988. [A Fair Employment Commission was part of the legislation.]

  • On 4 January 1990 the government launched the Community Relations Council (CRC).

  • Great Britain. Parliament. (1990) Review of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987, [Colville Report], (Cm. 1115). London: HMSO.

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