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Abstract of Important Events -
Reforms, 1968 and later



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Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
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Introduction

This is one of a number of files which provide a very brief abstract of important events during the Northern Ireland conflict. Some of the events are dealt with in greater detail elsewhere (check, for example, Key Events and the corresponding entry in the chronology).


The reforms introduced to answer Catholic grievances, 1968 and later

The first reforms and policy initiatives were announced towards the end of 1968 and the following years saw a number of provisions introduced to address allegations of discrimination and malpractice on the part of public agencies and government departments in Northern Ireland. Some of the reforms involved merely a change in legislation and quickly achieved the desired effect, such as those reforms related to universal adult suffrage in local government elections. Other reforms have proved more problematic and appear to have had less of an impact, for example, despite several pieces of legislation aimed at achieving fair employment, the level of Catholic male unemployment has remained much higher than the Protestant level.

The series of reforms were opposed by a large section of unionist opinion, indeed the issue of reform was to see the fragmentation of the Unionist Party which had ruled Northern Ireland for 50 years. There was also violent opposition in working-class Protestant areas to some of the measures. On 11 October serious riots followed protests by Loyalists against the disbandment of the 'B Specials'. Later Loyalists open fire on officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) (who were blocking their route to a Catholic area of Belfast) killing the first RUC officer to die in the present 'Troubles'.



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