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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 |
18 - 23 November:   | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Top |

18 November, 1968

Belfast Telegraph

The dam bursts

Editorial: The more government displays its reluctance to face reform, the stronger grows the civil rights movement, and the greater the tensions in Northern Ireland. This unhappy situation is something of an indictment of self-government and of the political development of Unionism.

Irish News

Derry is for ALL citizens

Editorial: The civil rights leaders deserve praise for their responsible handling of the Derry march. The breaking of the ban shattered the old idea that all of Derry's citizens are not entitled to march anywhere in their city. The minority is no longer prepared to accept double-talk from O'Neill. The time for Westminster non-intervention has passed, and the Unionist Party must now face the necessity for reform.

News Letter

After Derry - Ulster

Editorial: Craig's bans on 5 October and 16 November demonstrations must be questioned. The tension that they created did not balance out the potential gains. In particular, the requests of church leaders with regard to the most recent ban should have been heeded. The police deserve congratulation for their admirable handling of the situation. O'Neill must rid himself of UDI thinking within the cabinet ranks and within the party, since it is damaging to Northern Ireland and to the economy. Any cabinet member who cannot stand behind O'Neill must resign; the latest retrograde step taken by the Nationalist Party - its adoption of civil disobedience - only adds weight to this suggestion.

Hopeful watch on rights march

Report: In Belfast, there is genuine concern at how events might develop in Derry. One woman criticises extremists 'for deliberately going to Londonderry to incite young people.' She feels that MPs have done little to solve the problem. A man claims that there is nothing wrong with conditions in Derry, and that those demanding civil rights are ill-informed. Another man asserts that there is genuine discontent in relation to housing in Derry, but feels that it will disappear once the Housing Trust has completed new dwellings. Lynch later expresses satisfaction that the march has passed off peacefully, and hopes that reforms will soon be implemented.

Belfast Telegraph

Like soccer fans - but this was not a game

Report: The DCAC demonstration is told of the peaceful intent of the event, and confrontation is initially avoided by dint of a face-saving formula that enables a symbolic penetration of police lines by four men. Some marchers attack police, but stewards intervene. Finding an alternative route into the walled city, some protesters are attacked by extreme protestants. Fitt calls for a pause in agitation until the terms of the queen's speech are known. Craig praises the RUC. Whether the situation calms significantly in Derry, it may be that the city will not return to full normality 'before a Roman catholic takes the mayoral seat.'

Irish News

Four men cross barriers - and Derry is for all citizens

Report: Trouble is largely avoided on the DCAC march, though there are some flare-ups when police refuse to allow the general body of marchers to defy the ban, and when loyalist elements attack marchers. Cooper does not envisage any demonstrations in Derry in the near future. Hanna endorses the symbolic breaching of the barriers. Although some marchers wished to rush the barriers, these were contained by the stewards. Hanna feels that there must be substantial concessions in the queen's speech if the frustrations of the people of Derry are to be allayed. Fitt says that the situation is not one of 'the government versus the catholics' but rather of 'the government versus the people.'

News Letter

Derry's prayers were answered

Report: The DCAC march passes off relatively peacefully in a tense Derry. Violence flares among some demonstrators when they are denied access by police to the area within the city walls to which Craig's ministerial order has forbidden access. Incidents also ensue between loyalists and civil rights marchers. The ban is symbolically broken by four men at the police barrier, and demonstrators make their way into the walled city by another route to hear speeches.

Irish News

15,000 march in peace on behalf of civil rights

Report: That the march passed without bloodshed is a remarkable achievement. This is entirely to be adduced to the responsible arrangements made by the DCAC. The police must also be praised for their 'restraint and commonsense.' The general secretary of the NCCL praises the conduct of marchers and police, and asserts that the peaceful nature of proceedings indicates that there is no need for the Special Powers Act.' The rector of Christ Church Derry praises the peaceful outcome of the demonstration, and commends the part played by the churches in promoting it. McAteer commends the police, while Lynch hopes that reforms will now be forthcoming. Craig justifies his ban and congratulates the RUC.

Belfast Telegraph

Don't use force, RUC told at rights march

Report: Police are ordered to use minimum necessary force in enforcing the march ban: 'a very critical audience of press, radio and television persons will have their sights focused on [police] and…the dignity, firmness and tact of our police force must be clearly evident.'

Unionists are invited to join Derry action

Report: All sections of the community including Unionists, are invited to a DCAC meeting. 10,000-15,000 are believed to have participated in Saturday's march. No marches are planned in the near future, though not as a result of Craig's ban, but because the committee wants 'to tackle other things, such as housing, unemployment and electoral reform.' Cooper praises the work of stewards in controlling the demonstration. 'Mr Vincent Hanna, secretary of the Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers, who acted as adviser to the committee, endorsed the token breaking of the ban by four committee members who clambered over police barriers at Carlisle Square.' Hanna feels that responsible people in the movement will be undermined unless concessions are granted in the queen's speech. Unless such changes are forthcoming, Fitt remains 'pessimistic about peace.' NICRA calls for charges relating to the 5 October march to be dropped, and praises the latest demonstration, feeling that Craig should be dismissed from office. Mid-Down Labour Party praises the DCAC and Derry police, and says that Northern Ireland's constitution is being endangered by Unionists; Craig's position should be considered. A presbyterian church in north Belfast is told, 'from the great mass of the people there goes out a cry for peace, and the urge that if changes must be made let them be made without bitterness and strife.'

Dublin praises marchers - hits at Craig

Report: The Irish Times praises the conduct of the DCAC demonstrators, and the Nationalist Party decision to countenance civil disobedience if the necessary reforms are not granted. The paper feels, as does the Irish Independent, that the march stewards, more than the police, deserve congratulation for preserving law and order. The Irish Press asserts that the 'tactical retreat of the police' was necessary to avoid a repetition of the violence of 5 October.

News Letter

Ban was a success, says Craig

Report: Craig asserts that his ban in Derry has been a success. He professes to be surprised at the number - 2,000-3,000 - of counter-demonstrators who took to the streets, and particularly at the presence among them of some people who would ordinarily be classed as moderates. He feels that numbers would have been greater had it not been for his ban. He praises the work of police in maintaining order. The DCAC indicates that 'there could now be an ease-up in parades.' Among anti-Unionists, 'such is the intensity of feeling at present that only really "concrete" reforms can be expected to placate those in support of the civil rights platform.'

Belfast Telegraph

Saturday's leaders may be prosecuted

Report: Prosecutions may be brought against leaders of the 16 November DCAC demonstration; the event passed largely in peace. The cabinet will now return to discussion of reform, and will then put its proposals to the parliamentary party. A programme of reform may be ready in time for the opening of a new session of parliament on 17 December. There is still considerable feeling on the Unionist backbenches against the reconsideration of the franchise before the overall reform of local government has been completed - a view divergent from that of the Westminster government. 'Reform of the franchise is one of the seven key points in the "minimum immediate demands" announced by the Nationalist Party at the end of its conference at which it was decided to adopt a policy of non-violent civil disobedience…[This step] does not foreshadow a wholesale and widespread campaign of civil disobedience to be implemented at once. The party has retained a freedom of manoeuvre by stipulating that it will be put into operation "at such times and under such circumstances as may be considered expedient".' The Nationalists, and possibly Derry's civil rights campaigners, may await the queen's speech at Stormont before considering any further decisive action.

800 Derry workers defy ban

Report: Derry workers stage a march in defiance of Craig's ban on marches within Derry's city walls.

Protest as 46 are charged at Derry

Report: 46 people appear in court in Derry facing charges relating to their involvement in the civil rights march of 5 October. Demonstrators gather outside the court building. The cases are adjourned. Scuffles between demonstrators and police later develop.

Maghera solicitor challenges RUC in Derry court

Report: 'The police were today challenged by Maghera solicitor Mr Kevin Agnew to investigate statements by 50 people who, he alleged, admitted they took part in the Derry riots on October 5 but were not among 46 summoned at Derry Magistrate's Court today as a result of the incidents.'

News Letter

Derry court cases to be adjourned

Report: Hanna will apply for an adjournment of the court cases against those charged with offences in relation to the 5 October civil rights march. A letter will be sent to the ministry of home affairs stating that 'it will not be possible to have the cases tried by any RM who has been a member of a political party.'

Belfast Telegraph

Bishop's thoughts as Derry prayed

Report: The Church of Ireland bishop of Derry and Raphoe speaks of the night of prayer preceding the Derry march, praises the uniting power of prayer, and feels that the Church of Ireland stands for reconciliation.

News Letter

Packed cathedral prayed for peace [Report]

Irish News

Derry bishop grateful for peaceful city

Report: The catholic bishop of Derry expresses his thanks for the peaceful outcome of the DCAC march.

Civil rights decision tonight

Report: A meeting will be held in Armagh to decide on plans for a civil rights gathering after the 30 November march, following a decision that will prevent a meeting from being held in the City Hall.

[IN, BT, 19 November]

'Drop the charges against 46'

Report: NICRA commends the DCAC for its peaceful demonstration, calling on O'Neill to sack Craig and see to it that proceedings against the 46 accused in connection with the events of 5 October are dropped as a gesture of goodwill.

Belfast Telegraph

Anti-march campaign at Queen's

Report: A new committee is established at Queen's University to express opposition, which it says is felt by the majority of students, to the string of protest marches held by a minority, which only raises strife in the community.

Belfast Telegraph

Nationalists adopt civil disobedience

Report: The special Nationalist Party conference held on 17 November endorses the adoption of non-violent civil disobedience, together with a seven-point programme of 'minimum immediate demands' - the repeal of the Special Powers Act; one-man-one-vote; justice in all areas of local government; the establishment of a Public Appointments Commission; 'the allocation of public authority housing on an equitable points system'; the extension of the Race Relations Act to Northern Ireland, together with an expansion in its scope to encompass 'the conditions and circumstances existing in this state'; and the appointment of an ombudsman for Northern Ireland. 'The conference declared its willingness to support the exercise of non-violent civil disobedience "at such times and under such circumstances as may be considered expedient to cleanse a system which has as its basis a deliberate policy of denying equal treatment and equal opportunity for all".' McAteer says the party is demanding not concessions but rights, and stresses that there has been enough double-talk on the part of government. Though Currie feels that party tactics should be kept secret, 'it is believed…that the civil disobedience could involve the support for meetings and marchers of all kinds, squatting, non-payment of rent and rates and possibly the token occupation of certain public buildings.'

Irish News

Nationalist Party goes over to civil disobedience

Leader: The Nationalist Party's decision is 'the most dramatic and momentous step in the fight for civil rights for the minority in Northern Ireland.' The decision is welcomed in Nationalist circles as 'the strongest challenge yet made to the Unionist government in the 50 years' struggle for civil rights for the minority.' The party, says Currie, 'will not be bought off by a few miserly changes such as the abolition of the company vote in local government elections.'

News Letter

Nationalists decide on civil disobedience

Leader: In addition, 'Last night the reaction of rank and file Unionists was one of dismay and there was a strong feeling that the Nationalists' "all or nothing" declaration may force a reciprocal hard-line attitude on the part of many Unionists.' Craig describes the decision as intimidation.

Irish News

Irish CDP aims to form branches in the Six Counties

Report: The Christian Democratic Party of Ireland intends to establish branches in Northern Ireland in view of the perceived ineffectiveness of the Lynch government in tackling the issues of partition and injustice in Northern Ireland, which are inextricably linked. Party chairman Sean Loftus talks of a letter he as received from the British Conservative Party executive that indicates that party's refusal to urge an inquiry into injustice in Northern Ireland. He feels that the CDP could help mobilise the Irish vote in Britain for Labour if the Labour government would move on the issue of partition.

Belfast Telegraph

Apartheid fighter interested in Ulster situation

Report: A South African anti-apartheid campaigner is visiting Northern Ireland on a speaking tour, and hopes to learn more about the state's problems.

Baptist invites Fitt to rally

Report: The Baptist minister heading the newly-formed Ulster Constitution Reform Committee invites Fitt to speak at a London rally, and challenges Paisley to a television debate, accusing him of adopting un-Christian attitudes.

[IN, 19 November]

News Letter

Pressure group on reform

Report: An English baptist minister forms a committee 'to bring pressure on the British government for reform of the Ulster constitution.'

Belfast Telegraph

No date yet for bishops-PM meeting

Report: No date has yet been specified for a meeting between Derry church leaders and O'Neill, at which the former will call for an investigation into the underlying causes of ongoing unrest.

Irish News

Church must take sides - Withers

Report: Withers feels that the church can no longer afford to sit on the fence with regard to human rights issues.

News Letter

'Church in politics is great tragedy' [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Justice must be seen, says Dr Martin

Report: A former presbyterian moderator calls for fair government, and adds: 'it grieves us to think that a train-load from Belfast, headed by Mr Paisley, marches with bands and banners on one Saturday and the natives of Derry are debarred a week later.' The Nationalist Party and catholic church should also do their part to dispel protestant fears. South Belfast presbytery supports the right to demonstrate, but feels that further demonstrations can only prove harmful.

News Letter


Summary: A local Women's Unionist Association passes a vote of confidence in the RUC and the government.

Irish News

Suggested 'radical reforms': the need for vigilance

Letter: The abolition of the business vote would be virtually meaningless; an inquiry into the events of 5 October would either confirm what people have learned from television pictures or whitewash the whole affair; an ombudsman would be just another piece of progressive symbolism without real powers. Meaningless reforms that fail to address the central theme of social injustice are unacceptable.

What has been reformed?

Letter: Wilson has said that the pace of reform in Northern Ireland is too moderate. Where is the evidence of this reform of which he speaks?

Demonstration in Derry a 'turning point'

Letter: The Derry march may well be a turning-point for the civil rights movement, which can gain nothing but credit for its conduct. The breach of Craig's ban may weaken the minister's position and allow O'Neill to dismiss him.

(Erskine Holmes)

News Letter

'A human right'

Letter: Students have the right to demonstrate for one-man-one-vote, a basic human right, especially if this is the only way in which the message can be communicated.

For what?

Letter: If Cunningham truly believes in the value of the United Kingdom, then he cannot label the concerns of the duly elected UK government as 'interference' in Northern Ireland affairs. 'Sir Knox is like many Ulstermen of all parties; he is not for anything. He is against almost any attitude that might work, including compromise, seeing the other point of view and living in the present.'

Winning friend[s?]

Letter: Rhetoric such as that of Pounder against the Labour government alienates 'about 50 per cent of the British public' from Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph

Student's plea to PD

Letter: Unruly protests by the PD are harmful to the cause of civil rights, in that they serve to alienate the wider community. A large body of students is disturbed by the demonstration mentality.

Student debt to community

Report: Student demonstrations do not advance the cause of human rights. The majority of students are however using their time to learn, and will later use that knowledge for the benefit of society.

People in glass houses

Letter: British critics of Northern Ireland's housing situation should concentrate on their own housing problems.

[NL, 22 November]

News Letter

As a visitor saw it

Letter: At the 9 November Derry demonstrations, the police showed commendable restraint, as indeed did the Paisleyite demonstrators.

Irish News

Empty houses - but none for Belfast family of seven

Report: A number of families living in poor conditions are not being rehoused by Belfast city council despite the temporary availability of some housing. One mother says of her plight that 'anything's good enough for white niggers.'

18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Top

19 November, 1968

Belfast Telegraph

Reform outline soon?

Leader: The government now hopes to be in a position, it is understood, to outline its plans for social and political reform by next week. O'Neill reiterates his refusal to hold an inquiry into 5 October disturbances. A statutory commission is expected to be appointed to administer the Derry area plan, though its powers are not yet clear. Among the other anticipated reforms are the allocation of public housing in accordance with a points system, and the appointment of an ombudsman. It is unclear what measures will be taken on the local government franchise. The '66 committee will meet with some Westminster Unionists. Diamond will ask O'Neill if he has reconsidered his attitude towards an inquiry, and will invite him to make public the programme for reform.

Means to an end

Editorial: The government's move towards stating its intentions on reform is to be warmly welcomed. A Derry development commission is vital in the pursuit of housing and jobs, which are just as important as the franchise and boundary issues. The announcement of a plan to provide a universal franchise would take much of the heat out of the situation both in Northern Ireland and at Westminster. The appointment of an ombudsman with powers to investigate local government and a review of the Special Powers will also contribute considerably. Implementation of the Nationalist policy of civil disobedience at an early date could however only damage prospects.

News Letter

Parliament will decide

Editorial: 'Extra-parliamentary activities in any country carry a danger to democracy, for it is only in parliament that a full and equitable representation of the people is found. However forceful, however clamant, indeed however successful action in the streets is, it is still a sectional movement and, for that reason alone, cannot express the will of the community. Two further threats arise. The first is that extremist opinion tends to harden on both sides and increases the difficulties of those men of moderation who are trying to find a middle way. In the second place, authority that lies in the hands of constitutional leaders is weakened and their successors are invariably "hard-liners" whose policies can never produce an amicable solution.' The Nationalists' adoption of non-violent civil disobedience can only worsen the situation. It is a victory for Currie and a defeat for the wiser approach of McAteer.

Belfast Telegraph

Derry area plan is to get 'high priority'

Report: 'The government is to seek ways to speed up the implementation of the Londonderry area plan and has called for an end to further disturbances in Londonderry so that rational discussion of positive steps can take place.' One measure under consideration is a statutory commission to implement the plan. Beatty says that the underlying causes of the present unrest must be addressed. McAteer sees the government's statement as 'a first grudging instalment of good news.' He also feels that appeals for calm do not mix well with the recent 'shower of summonses.' Hegarty argues that Unionist offers of a long-term solution to Derry's problems are insufficient in addressing the immediate sense of frustration that exists in the city.

Irish News

Call to move top RUC men from Derry

Report: McAteer calls for the removal from Derry of a number of high-ranking RUC officers, whose conduct, he claims, has brought the law into disrepute. The Stormont government promises a comprehensive statement soon on the action it intends to take, and calls for calm. McAteer sees this as 'the first grudging instalment of good news,' though appeals for calm do not mix well with summonses. He adds that he has warned the British home office of the dangers inherent in the Derry situation. The government statement speaks of the possibility of a statutory commission to administer the Derry area plan, but Hegarty feels that immediate problems cannot be addressed via a long-term solution, especially with anger in the city increasing on a daily basis.

News Letter

Cabinet's pledge on Derry

Report: The cabinet states that it is giving consideration to the establishment of a statutory commission for the co-ordination and administration of the Derry area plan. 'The statement shows the measure of support which the prime minister…now has from his cabinet colleagues.' The government calls for an end to disturbances so that the plan can be implemented. The underlying causes of unrest are being examined, and a statement outlining remedial measures will be forthcoming soon. A period of calm in which rational discussion can take place is deemed essential. It has yet to be decided whether prosecutions will be brought against civil rights bodies which defied Craig's ban. Additionally, 'employers are to approach the Ulster cabinet today to express the hope that the situation in the city will soon be eased. The cabinet is to be told of the concern felt at the growing tension in some establishments between employees.'

Just 'instalment' - McAteer

Report: McAteer says that the government's pledge on the Derry area plan is 'merely an instalment of good news' and does not address the issue of votes or that of ward boundaries. Hegarty says that the people of Derry will not be satisfied until they can elect a corporation representative of the majority of the people in the city. Beatty says that the underlying causes of unrest should be tackled as soon as possible.

Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill refuses Derry probe

Report: O'Neill claims that an inquiry into Derry would undermine police confidence, but adds that any accounts gathered by Wilson will be examined in detail. Murnaghan feels that the institution of an inquiry will help restore calm. O'Connor asserts that the need for an inquiry will be obviated by a government declaration that everyone will be given their just rights.

Confidence in PM

Summary: A committee of the Ulster Women's Unionist Council passes a vote of confidence in O'Neill.

Confidence in govt

Report: Victoria Unionist Association expresses its confidence in the government and condemns the Nationalist Party's approval of civil disobedience.

[NL, 20 November]

Protest letter

Summary: Duncairn Unionist Association protests to the vice-chancellor of Queen's University at the behaviour of 'extremist student groups,' which serves to alienate ratepayers. The university authorities are asked to take action to prevent further demonstrations.

Disobedience 'calculated'

Report: Pounder criticises what he perceives as the political irresponsibility of the Nationalist Party which, in embracing a policy of civil disobedience that is 'coldly calculated to raise the political temperature,' is only polarising the community. He is also critical of hooliganism by a minority of students.

News Letter

'Root out' trouble raisers

Report: Responsible student leaders, says Pounder, should exercise their influence to root out the less reasonable element who are giving students as a whole a bad name. He accuses the Nationalist Party, by its adoption of civil disobedience, of further polarising the community. He feels that it poses a threat to the progress that has been achieved under O'Neill.

Belfast Telegraph

Protesting students criticised

Report: Members of Londonderry county council criticise student protesters, particularly in view of the recent demonstration against O'Neill. The suggestion is made that scholarships or grants made to participants should be reviewed. Fermanagh Education Committee discusses similar ideas, and is rebuked by one member.

Loyalists to form action committee

Report: A 'Londonderry Loyal Citizens' Action Committee' is to be formed; those who wish to join must be 'loyal to the constitution and interested in the true welfare of the city.' The organisers' statement adds, 'we support the government and we feel time must be given - in all common sense for the government to work out its programme in the city.'

[BT, 23 November]

UPV plan Maghera parade

Report: The UPV plans a parade in Maghera, and will resist any ban peacefully. It is intended to march through an area in the town from which a previous parade was excluded. Steps are being taken to form a UPV division in Derry.

Irish News

Craig's ban again defied in Derry

Leader: 'The ministry of home affairs' ban on meetings inside the walls of Derry was broken several times yesterday during a potentially explosive period when the civil rights movement virtually took control of the city.' Allegations of excessive police force are made following a demonstration outside the court building, where proceedings relating to the 5 October disturbances are underway, proceedings which are later adjourned. A number of Derry workers join the protest; police do not intervene in their meeting. Hume states, 'the evidence of yesterday and the weekend has been that of a constant peaceful defiance of Mr Craig's ban. It is quite clear it will have to be lifted long before the month is up.' Melaugh calls for a rate strike in Derry to protest at the treatment of citizens by Derry corporation.

Belfast Telegraph

Maydown workers march

Report: A group of Derry workers stages a march in the city, but marchers are prevented by police from passing within the city walls.

Bottles thrown at workers

Report: A number of Derry workers are attacked in a unionist area, some of them participants in a recent civil rights protest.

Irish News

Shirt factory workers attacked

Report: Workers coming home from their place of employment are attacked by a unionist crowd in Derry.

News Letter

Bottle blitz on workers outside Derry factory

Leader: Bottles are thrown at workers as they emerge from the factory at which Ivan Cooper is general manager.

Belfast Telegraph

Charges issued against Craig

Report: Four summonses are issued in the name of Cooper and Hume against Craig, in relation to his conduct on 3 and 5 October. He and the governor of the Apprentice Boys may be summoned as defence witnesses during McCann's trial.

Irish News

Craig to be served with four summonses [Report]

News Letter

Citizens' action against Mr Craig

Report: Meanwhile, further ban-breaking demonstrations take place in Derry, but pass off peacefully, though there are some scuffles between demonstrators and police following the appearance in court of those charged in connection with the 5 October disturbances. Derry workers take part in spontaneous protests. The DCAC plans a meeting for this evening. Melaugh calls on others to follow his own strategy of withholding rate payments.

Belfast Telegraph

'Disorderly' cases again adjourned

Report: PD demonstrators facing charges in a Belfast court have their cases adjourned for the second time.

Riot police query for Craig

Report: Craig will be asked further questions at Stormont on the police, in relation to events in Derry.

Rights venue in Armagh

Report: A NICRA meeting will take place today in Armagh to discuss the proposed civil rights march.

Irish News

Armagh civil rights march meeting

Report: A public meeting will be held in Armagh to discuss the forthcoming NICRA march.

[IN, 18 November]

Belfast Telegraph

Speed up reforms move

Report: Derry businessmen are making moves to arrange a meeting with O'Neill, and are expected to urge a quickening of the pace of reform lest events in Derry degenerate.

Irish News

Baptist minister challenges Paisley to TV debate

Report: The chairman of the Ulster Constitution Reform Committee calls on Paisley to appear with him on television to debate Northern Ireland issues, accusing him of adopting un-Christian attitudes. The committee hopes to collect 100,000 signatures for a petition to be presented to Wilson. It will hold a rally at Westminster at which Fitt will be present as a speaker.

[BT, 18 November]

The meaning of Derry

Editorial: Nationalist people, by standing up for their rights, are already half-way to victory. The Nationalist Party's proposed course of non-violent civil disobedience can be used to help 'reveal the exploitation and prejudice which, for too long, has passed for local government, and by which too many people are being hurt.' Overdue government rethinking is at last beginning. 'If he is courageous enough, the prime minister must eliminate from around him those who insist on preserving the Unionist status quo, as they have known and enjoyed it for so long.'

The week's faces

Comment: O'Neill's televised appeal for calm might have been more effective had he not called for it on the pretext that it would help restore normality. 'I am not a politician but the whole essence of the civil rights movement is that the normal is the normality of injustice, corruption, discrimination and a second-class citizenship.' Lord Erskine's call for love and charity should be heeded by all.

Labour Lawyers at Derry demonstration

Report: Hanna professes to be impressed by the peaceful conduct of the DCAC demonstration, though this statement, he stresses, is made in an informal capacity. He feels that, while Craig's ban was technically breached, this was with the acquiescence of the RUC.

'Dignified and moving' civil rights march

Report: The mid-Down branch of the NILP praises both DCAC marchers and the RUC for their restraint in Derry, while criticising Craig and calling for his dismissal. The Unionist Party is ironically placing the Northern Ireland constitution in danger.

Belfast Telegraph

We must accept all British standards - Brett

Report: Shankill NILP branch is told that Unionists, especially Craig, are adopting an anti-Unionist stance. If Northern Ireland is to enjoy the economic and social benefits of UK membership, then British standards of democracy must also be embraced.

'Sack Craig' demand by Derry Labour

Report: The Derry Labour Party says that Craig and his extremist allies are making a travesty of the law. What is not required is a cooling-off period or the examination of grievances; what is needed is the redress of grievances that are very real. O'Neill must redeem his sullied reputation, and Craig must be dismissed 'before he leads the people of Northern Ireland into a sectarian bloodbath.'

Derry plea on wards change fails

Report: A Nationalist motion put before Derry corporation's law committee, calling for a change in the city's ward boundaries, is defeated.

Irish News


Letter: The treatment of the civil rights issues by the Irish News is worthy of commendation.

Praise for Derry stewards

Letter: The DCAC stewards prevented trouble at the demonstration; they and the marchers are to be commended for their conduct. The RUC does not deserve praise, for despite being equipped with a considerable armoury the force failed to control Bunting's extremist element.

Belfast Telegraph

Tribute to CR leaders

Letter: The civil rights movement, and especially its Derry leadership, deserve thanks for their sterling efforts.

Reform now!

Letter: If O'Neill is truly a liberal reformer, he should implement Wilson's suggestions now, and if the cabinet stands in his way, should put the issue to a referendum.

People who have large families are not being 'irresponsible'

Letter: The separate education of catholics does not breed sectarianism; if anything, it is a symptom of the same. Catholic bishops removed their ban on catholic attendance of Queen's University in 1908, so this factor can have had little influence on the current imbalance in the professional classes. The local franchise should not be restricted only to those who contribute financially to local government: rights are about more than being in possession of money. Housing allocation does not depend on family size alone, but on present living conditions also. Small families admittedly should not be penalised, but neither should their larger counterparts.

News Letter

More symbols

Letter: Bunting should have used his energy on 10 November to place a wreath on his local cenotaph in honour of the dead.

Belfast Telegraph

Benefits are not refused

Letter: It seems that the Nationalist Party has decided on a policy of non-payment of rents and rates; it is noticeable that state benefits are not also rejected. 'This is in line with their policy: "we want all the benefits without the obligations".'

News Letter

Let's all be honest

Letter: In the Armagh village of Charlemont, conditions for protestants are worse than those in Derry, yet there are no marches or speeches from local people; catholics living in nearby Backwatertown are living in good conditions, and do not talk about how well-off they are. 'Let us all be frank and say what we really mean for a change and let the rest of the world know that there is no discrimination here, but that when protestants are badly off they just keep quiet and do the best they can for themselves. We have our pride and as an old RC neighbour of mine said to me, "we live in the best country in the world and I have visited and worked in many".'

Jobs in Derry

Letter: Figures quoted in a recent letter detailing job distribution according to religion in some areas of employment in Derry are ludicrous and omit to mention the small numbers of protestants employed by nationalist businessmen in the city. 'Emigration or the dole is the only answer [writes the previous correspondent]. How does he explain the fact that while the Republic's population is decreasing every year, Northern Ireland's is increasing, mostly by people coming from the South, need I say.'

Only in England

Letter: It is not only in Northern Ireland that violent demonstrations take place, as recent events in England have shown.

End anomalies

Letter: The student movement is attempting to rise above party politics, and contains people of differing political affiliation. It has publicly attacked Lynch as well as Craig, and is fighting on the non-party issue of human rights. 'I plead with all your readers to show their loyalty to Ulster by seeking an end to anomalies in our democracy, ie, to the ward system in Derry and an end to the Special Powers Act which, once a must, is now obsolete and offensive.'


Letter: People should be more patient with the antics of QUB students, who obviously require psychiatric treatment.

General view

Letter: Ratepayers, not protesting students, should decide who governs Northern Ireland, and this is a view held by the majority of people.

Spoilt children

Letter: QUB students are behaving like spoiled children, and should be educated in the virtues of 'patriotism, self-sacrifice, manners, modesty and tolerance.'

18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Top

20 November, 1968

Belfast Telegraph

MPs debate reforms

Leader: The backbench '66 committee meets with Westminster Unionist MPs, while the Northern Ireland cabinet again meets to discuss reform. The signs are that two opposing camps are drawing their battle-lines, though there is, as yet, no sign of a leadership challenge. Those who want a swift declaration of reformist intent to calm the situation both within Northern Ireland and at Westminster will face at the next meeting of the parliamentary party those who dislike outside interference, and who do not wish to be seen as caving in to demonstrations. The latter group argues that government does not have the electoral mandate to introduce significant changes - particularly changes to the local franchise. Many within the Unionist Party are worried at the impunity with which Craig's Derry ban is being defied, and fear loyalist retaliation.

News Letter

Meeting today seen as crucial

Report: The cabinet meets again to discuss reform and the continued breaking of the Derry ban. The government's proposals for reform are expected to be published soon. The '66 Committee, meeting today with Westminster Unionist MPs, will learn of attitudes towards Northern Ireland prevailing in the British parliament. Rumour has it that an intransigent attitude will be resisted by many backbenchers at Stormont. Fitzsimmons meets Derry corporation's mayor and the chairman of the RDC to discuss swift implementation of the area plan, which may include the establishment of 'a statutory commission to co-ordinate and administer the Londonderry area plan.' Taylor says that Unionists do not have an electoral mandate to introduce sweeping changes and feels that an elections should be called before government gives in to the demands of street demonstrators.

For or against Ulster

Editorial: The '66 Committee would be wise to back the cabinet's reform plans; the alternative is a course damaging to Unionism, and to Northern Ireland's security as part of the UK.

Irish News

Promise of reform

Editorial: The government's proposals, when they are made known, must be substantive. The first priority must be Derry, and the government 'must realise the futility of trying to implement the Derry area plan with the aid of people who have done their best to relegate the plan to the limbo of forgotten visions.' Extreme Unionists who stand in the way of change must be opposed.

Belfast Telegraph

Confidence vote

Summary: In correction of a previous report, Victoria Unionist Association did not pass a vote of confidence in the government, but in Craig.

News Letter

Unionist annual meeting

Report: Victoria Unionist Association 'expressed its confidence and support for Mr W Craig…and condemnation of the proposed civil disobedience. Mr Roy Bradford outlined government plans to provide more houses and jobs in the Londonderry area.'

[BT, 19 November]

Belfast Telegraph


Summary: Pottinger Unionist Association passes a motion of confidence in Craig and the police for their handling of the Derry situation.

Factions cause of trouble - Craig

Report: Craig feels that trouble on 5 October was caused by factions willing to exploit Derry's problems.

Party must face facts says Unionist MP

Report: The Marquis of Hamilton calls for support for O'Neill, arguing that Unionism must face change or remain politically stationary, thus losing support. Support for change does not entail any compromise on constitutional principle.

'More strife' warning as PM rejects inquiry

Report: On O'Neill's continuing refusal to hold an inquiry into events in Derry, Diamond asserts that government has done nothing to calm the situation. He rejects Taylor's suggestion of an election, which he says would not be decided on civil rights but on the border issue.

Irish News

O'Neill says no to Derry inquiry

Report: O'Neill rejects opposition calls for an inquiry into the Derry situation, which Murnaghan insists might better serve to cool tempers than any ban. O'Connor asserts that no inquiry would be unnecessary were the government to commit itself to reform. O'Neill feels that an inquiry would undermine police confidence.

News Letter

Inquiry would affect police confidence - PM [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

PM to meet Labour men on reforms

Report: 'Prime minister, Capt O'Neill, has agreed to meet representatives of the NI committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the Labour Party next week to discuss civil rights in Ulster.'

[NL, 23 November]

Election hint on reforms

Report: Taylor feels that government does not have the mandate to carry through far-reaching reforms on the basis of its last election platform. Gradual social and economic progress, benefiting all the people of Northern Ireland, was the government's stated aim, and the demands of street demonstrators should not be permitted to force government to abdicate its responsibility.

Irish News

If government yields to street demonstrators [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Civil rights movement being used - McMaster

Report: McMaster contends that some wish to use the civil rights movement for seditious purposes, while others in Britain want to distract public attention from British government failures. He stresses that some of these critics underestimate the financial contribution to the British state of Northern Ireland's people and industry, and urges support for O'Neill's 'ambitious programme of reform' and industrial expansion. 'Demonstrations which lead to attacks on the police and deliberate attempts to flout law and order and the authority of the government can only play into the hands of our critics and enemies both at home and overseas.'

News Letter

Periods of adversity and unrest

Report: McMaster believes that Northern Ireland is facing its most serious threat since 1920, and calls for support for O'Neill's 'ambitious programme of reform, coupled with essential industrial expansion.'

Belfast Telegraph

Paisley 'not at meeting with baptist'

Report: Paisley hits back at the chairman of the Ulster Constitution Reform Committee, whose 'efforts against Ulster are not worthy of consideration at all.' Norman Porter sends the same man a telegram: 'Ulster needs the prayers and good will of all true Christians, not a stab in the back by a professing protestant minister who associates with the Irish Roman catholic republican MP, Mr Gerry Fitt.'

Reports to be made on area plan

Report: The chairman of Derry rural council will report back to his own council and Derry corporation on talks with Fitzsimmons at Stormont on the implementation of the area plan.

Irish News

Mr Fitzsimmons in Derry plan talks

Report: Fitzsimmons meets with the mayor of Derry and the chairman of the Derry rural council to discuss means for achieving the quick implementation of the area plan. The two latter will report back to their respective councils.

Belfast Telegraph

Derry workless rally

Report: Several hundred unemployed Derry people meet to decide whether or not to stage a march. Cooper appeals for no independent action to be taken.

Bottles fly in Derry

Report: Clashes between rival factions in Derry, leading to confrontation with police, result in some injuries and damage to property. DCAC stewards help control the crowd.

Irish News

9 police, 9 civilians taken to hospital after new Derry clash

Leader: The DCAC is re-elected and calls for an end to further marches while it decides on future strategy. Its secretary, Michael Canavan, states that the support gained from the churches indicates that 'the protestant people of this city would [not] deny their fellow-citizens fundamental human rights.' Cooper asserts that people are sick of promises and want to see action on reform. McCann feels that the people of Derry have shown Craig that a mass-movement can be organised without inciting sectarianism; he stresses that opponents of the movement should be made to see that they themselves are suffering a deplorable denial of civil rights. Hegarty calls for immediate rather than long-term reform. Hume says that when the minority is granted civil rights, it will not take revenge: social injustice should be perpetrated upon no-one.

Derry workers again on the march to defy Craig ban

Report: Further breaches of the ban on marches within the walls of Derry occur when workers stage a number of protests, and a few minor incidents take place between demonstrators and police, and demonstrators and loyalists. A Loyal Citizens' Action Committee is established in the city. A statement issued by the group's organisers says, 'we support the government and we feel that time must be given for the government to go about its programme in the city.'

News Letter

Batons used again in Derry battle

Leader: Further confrontation in Derry follows more breaches of the ban imposed by Craig. Hume appeals for a maintenance of peaceful and dignified methods by civil rights supporters. Stewards do their best to keep demonstrations peaceful.

News Letter

Protest parade cases are adjourned

The cases brought against 9 people for disorderly behaviour on a recent PD demonstration are adjourned.

Irish News

Parade incidents: cases against 9 adjourned [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

March: girls to lose pay

Report: Those who missed work in order to attend yesterday's civil rights demonstration will have appropriate pay deducted.

Ivan Cooper forced to quit home

Report: Cooper is forced out of his home by threats. He deplores recent violence in Derry. The DCAC calls for an end to spontaneous marches while it considers what its next strategy should be.

Call for a halt on unplanned marches

Report: At a DCAC gathering, Cooper calls for an end to spontaneous marches while the committee decides on its future plans. Hegarty asserts that a long-term programme of reform is not acceptable.

Placards in Newry

Report: A small group of demonstrators in Newry calls for the dismissal of Craig.

Armagh rights route motion is rejected

Report: A motion advocating defiance of any ban or re-routing decision on the Armagh civil rights march is heavily defeated at a meeting in the city.

News Letter

Armagh march [Report]

Irish News

Armagh gets ready for 'rights' march on November 30

Report: An Armagh meeting, called to decide on plans for 30 November march, expresses overwhelming support for the concept of a peaceful and proud display. A motion favouring the idea 'that all decisions on the route, and reaction to any ban or re-routing, should be taken by the meeting' is heavily defeated. Lennon stresses the cross-community intention of the march, but warns, 'there must be no toleration of the piecemeal procrastination offered by Captain O'Neill and his government as the remedy for the unrest which his government and their predecessors have begotten and bred by injustice out of bigotry.' He asserts that Armagh is gerrymandered and that employment is denied those who do not support the Unionist Party. The limit of the people's patience has been reached. Kevin Boyle pledges PD support for the Armagh march.

Belfast Telegraph

Dungannon 'concerned'

Report: Hassard says that if reform is extended to Derry, Dungannon must not be overlooked: 'if we are, then we will have Derry all over again in Dungannon.'

Irish News

'To ensure that we are not bypassed' [Report]

News Letter

Churches asked to 'act now'

Report: South Belfast presbytery urges the churches to call for restraint on all sides, feeling that further demonstrations can only damage community relations and the cause of reform. The presbytery also calls for 'equal opportunity for all citizens'; just administration that is manifestly seen to be just; and an allowance for diversity of religious and other beliefs. Its own members are asked 'to speak out as individuals and with others, in support of public policies marked by tolerance and magnanimity, and to exert every effort to secure such policies.'

Belfast Telegraph

A new-found sense of unity

Comment: The current unrest has brought the churches closer together by revealing what they share in common. The recent stance adopted by the Church of Ireland bishop of Derry and Raphoe is particularly commendable.

'Militant moderates'

Comment: The recent outburst of protest from previously docile QUB students is surprising. Most students who have become involved have become so because of their moral indignation at injustice, though admittedly there are dogmatic extremists present in the student movement also. 'It might have been expected that the mob orators would take over the civil rights movement and sway the debates arranged by the People's Democracy. There has indeed been a serious attempt by ex-student demogogues [sic] to move in, but so far they have been kept in check by the large numbers of moderates attending and voting…The danger is that the public tendency to lump all students together will force the moderates to withdraw and leave the fold of action to the extremists and the demogogues [sic].' Both traditional Unionism and Nationalism are under attack from the 'militant moderates' at Queen's.

News Letter

Iron Curtain story with an Ulster moral

Comment: The pre-war Czechoslovak state provides some interesting parallels with Northern Ireland. Sudeten Germans, as a minority group, were accorded equal rights by the state, but lived in areas particularly hard-hit by industrial depression. A small minority of Czech extremists wished to treat these ethnic Germans unfairly, and the resulting irritations were built up by Sudeten German leaders into a set of emotional grievances.

Irish News

Let the minority press hard, but keep the peace

Letter: 'No person on terms with reality can be in any doubt that the Orange-Unionist power clique is not prepared to move on these matters [of reform] unless it is pushed.' The minority must press hard for its rights, while keeping the peace.

Instructions for police in Derry

Letter: It is notable that police received instructions for dealing with the last civil rights march in Derry, whereas on 5 October, the force was left to vent its own feelings in its own way upon the marchers. Television pictures of events on that day have clearly had an effect upon the government.

Behaviour deplored

Letter: The effectiveness of student demonstrations should not be lessened by the pronouncements of ill-informed speakers.

Belfast Telegraph

Won't be 'suppressed'

Letter: It is a shame that student demonstrators are in the minority. With so much apathy towards injustice, demonstrations are needed, since conventional methods of political expression were not being utilised effectively.

The need for moderation

Letter: 'The earlier demonstrations organised by Queen's students made their point with seriousness, self-control and sense. But the point taken, it must not be lost to militant activity which is nothing but making a row.'


Letter: 'I would like to apologise on behalf of the silent majority in QUB for the childish, rude behaviour of fellow students.'

News Letter


Letter: The News Letter's reporting of the rowdy demonstration against O'Neill was sensational and has only further strained relations between students and the general public.

Warm welcome

Letter: O'Neill was met at Queen's University by protesting students, but none of these protesters were from Methodist College Belfast, the students of which establishment gave the prime minister a warm welcome.


Letter: 'The more respectable section of the undergraduate community at QUB' dissociates itself from the 'juvenile behaviour' of some students, who do not consider the implications of their demands or the inconvenience that their demonstrations cause.

Belfast Telegraph

A teach-in on manners

Letter: Demonstrators should organise, and learn from, a teach-in on manners and courtesy.

[NL, 22 November]

18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Top

21 November, 1968

News Letter

O'Neill has still not indicated his reforms

Report: 'With no concerted anti-reform move having emerged at yesterday's meeting of the Unionist backbench '66 Committee, the prime minister and his cabinet were last night regarded as being in a reasonably strong position to push ahead with a programme of social and political reform.' However, it has not yet been made clear to backbenchers what the scope of proposed reforms might be, so that a challenge is still possible. If one-man-one-vote is proposed, it will be resisted by a strong element in the party. The view of many is that the issue cannot be considered in isolation from the overall reform of local government. Speculation about a possible leadership challenge is dismissed. The Marquis of Hamilton 'said that he realised there was a fundamental resistance to change. The truth of the matter was that no-one liked change. But he felt that change was inevitable.' O'Neill's qualities of 'courage and statesmanship' should be recognised and his policies embraced. A group of hard-line MPs meet, supposedly to discuss a motion on law and order that is supportive of the actions of Craig.

Opening round at Stormont

Editorial: The group of Unionist hard-liners are blind to reality. There is no alternative but to accept the government's proposals when they come, since they will have Northern Ireland's best interests as their aim.

Belfast Telegraph

Reform policy ready

Leader: The government will announce its reform proposals tomorrow. A meeting of the parliamentary party will also take place, as a result of backbench pressure. Immediate moves on the local government franchise are not expected, though an acceptance of the principle of a change is possible, a move that some hard-liners may accept provided that no concrete decision is taken independently of the review of local government. Action is also expected on a housing points system, an ombudsman, and the Special Powers Act, though the abolition of the latter is unlikely. A statutory commission to implement the Derry area plan is another possibility.

Orangemen back Mr Craig

Report: Co Antrim Grand Orange Lodge affirms its support for O'Neill and Craig, and will not remain indifferent, it says, to attempts to remove the minister of home affairs from his post. It is believed that 'a deliberate attempt is being made to undermine the position of the legally-constituted authorities.'

News Letter

Support for Mr Craig

Summary: A Young Unionist Association passes a motion of confidence in Craig and condemns the Derry churches for their support of the recent DCAC march.

Answer Ulster smear!

Report: A letter from the vice-chairman of the Ulster-Irish Society in New York states that the image of Northern Ireland in the United States is being smeared, particularly by the American Congress for Irish Freedom. The Northern Ireland government, it is stressed, should respond by setting up an information service in America in order to refute such scandalous charges as those of repression, a police state, or concentration camps.

[see BT, 6 December, Ulster 'image']

Belfast Telegraph

Support for PM

Summary: Two local Unionist Associations pass votes of confidence in O'Neill and Craig. North Down NDP commends the people of Derry on their stand for civil rights and calls for Craig's dismissal.

200 sign support for O'Neill

Report: Only 200 people have come forward to sign a declaration of support for O'Neill, proposed by the mayor of Ballymena. The resolution 'stated that only a united community prepared to rise above its present historical difference would be able to make the social and economic progress which all their citizens sought.'

Calm, then consider change - MP

Report: Brooke tells Cromac Unionist Association that there can be no change in government policy whilst law and order remain under threat. The association passes a vote of confidence in O'Neill.

Irish News

Brooke against votes change and dislikes use of word 'reform'

Report: Brooke says that certain problems in Northern Ireland can be considered when law and order have been established in Derry. He denies that he is being critical of the Unionist leadership 'at this stage.' The franchise cannot be looked at before the reform of local government structures has been completed. He refutes accusations of discrimination in house allocation in co Fermanagh, a point on which Carron later challenges him to produce evidence. Carron cites his own figures, which he says prove anti-catholic bias.

News Letter

Firm stand on question of franchise

Report: Brooke says that law and order must be established before consideration is given to the causes of unrest in Northern Ireland. The franchise cannot be altered independently of the ongoing examination of local government.

Irish News

The delay continued

Editorial: The unusually large number of Unionist meetings currently taking place would lead to the conclusion that O'Neill is facing considerable opposition to reform from within his party. Hard-liners may succeed in diluting some of the proposals that are necessary to remedy discontent.

NDP motions on flags and 'B' Specials

Report: 'The abolition of the "B" Specials and their replacement by a new force founded on a non-sectarian basis' is the substance of one motion to be put before the forthcoming NDP conference. Other motions call for the dismissal of Craig; 'legislation to make illegal the party political or other provocative use of the "flag", colours or national anthem of the United Kingdom'; approval of the civil rights movement; criticism of the government; and the adoption of a points system for housing allocation.

Fitt asks PM for reforms and sacking of Mr Craig

Leader: Diamond, in calling for an investigation into events in Derry, asserts that a change in the franchise would do much to cool tempers in the city. He deems necessary a crash housing programme. Fitt feels that if the government is confident about the good behaviour of the police on 5 October, and that trouble was stirred up by republican, communist or anarchist elements, then it should have nothing to fear from an inquiry. The reputations of many decent members of the RUC would be cleared were such an inquiry to be conducted. O'Neill should introduce reforms and dismiss Craig. O'Neill however refuses an inquiry and argues that the government is going ahead with reform already, having announced the speeding up of the implementation of the Derry area plan. The government will also investigate any evidence sent by London; but a Derry inquiry would serve to undermine police confidence. Murnaghan feels that so much criticism of the police, as is currently being voiced, is much worse for the force than an inquiry designed to uncover the truth about who specifically was at fault for the Derry disturbances. The civil rights movement, she says, is a mass-movement, despite some republican and communist involvement. Boal suggests that order is paramount, and that opinion in Derry has been manipulated by outsiders. Craig welcomes Hume's desire to see a cooling-off period, which the minister still sees as essential if retaliation is to be avoided. He asserts that there is still no evidence to justify a Derry inquiry, and commends the lack of police response to provocation and violence on the latest DCAC march. The great majority of demonstrators, he acknowledges, behaved peacefully, but 'there was within them a substantial element intent on creating disorder.' 'The threat to law and order, he said, did not stem from the political differences between the government and the [then] official opposition but from factions which sought for their own purposes to exploit the difficulties which undoubtedly exist in [Derry].'

News Letter

Inquiry would affect police confidence - PM [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Ban needed as cooling-off period - Craig

Report: Craig speaks of the necessity for a cooling-off period and says that clashes since the ban illustrate the level of tension in Derry. He welcomes Hume's desire to see the situation cool, and criticises opposition MPs, who he accuses of incitement. He praises the conduct of police since 5 October and feels that there is no evidence to necessitate an inquiry into Derry.

Civil unrest to be studied

Report: The Council of Labour in Ireland will meet to discuss civil rights, electoral reform and civil unrest in general in Northern Ireland. The Society of Labour Lawyers will make submissions on the behaviour of police in Derry on 5 October.

[IN, 22 November]

Derry has quiet night

Report: A heightened police presence in Derry helps ensure a trouble-free night in the city. McAteer appeals for complete obedience to the DCAC, without which the cause of civil rights will be put at risk by sectarian outbreaks.

Irish News

Extremists in Derry foiled by 'Operation Side-Door'

Report: Additionally, the DCAC is now clearly evincing a desire for no further spontaneous marches. Its new plans will probably be revealed soon. More anger is likely to be generated in Derry by the area plan scheme to house significant numbers of catholics outside the city. Cooper, having received loyalist threats, leaves his home. McAteer calls for discipline and obedience among Derry citizens to the DCAC; he feels that spontaneous demonstrations are stoking community tensions. Hume says that those who cause trouble in the name of civil rights are not true civil rights supporters.

News Letter

The voice of peace booms out in Derry

Report: Hume and Cooper appeal for an end to spontaneous demonstrations in Derry in the interests of the city's people. Cooper has received threats. O'Leary is shouted down by demonstrators, one of whom accuses him of fomenting civil war. The San Francisco-based Citizens for Irish Justice group plans a nationwide petition on civil rights, to be passed to President Nixon in the hope that he will urge action on Wilson.

Belfast Telegraph

Woman may join action committee

Report: With new officers to be elected to the newly-mandated DCAC, it is expected that a woman will be co-opted onto the committee. Its plan of action, according to Cooper, will be announced soon.

Derry citizens talk with premier

Report: A group of Derry people meet with Faulkner and O'Neill to express their concerns about the immediate future. Diamond will ask Craig at Stormont about the proposed UPV march through Maghera and the threats made against Ivan Cooper.

Meeting on civil rights booking

Report: A special meeting of Armagh council is called to consider the application for a civil rights meeting in the City Hall.

[IN, NL, 22 November]

News Letter

Bid to defy ban is beaten

Report: An Armagh meeting rejects a call to defy any ban or re-routing of the proposed 30 November civil rights march. Lennon says that there must be no violence despite provocation.

Plan to defy

Summary: A UPV division plans a march through Maghera, which it says will go ahead even should a ban be imposed.

Belfast Telegraph

Civil rights campaign stepped up in Province

Report: The PD arranges public meetings for Dungannon and Omagh, and adds to its demands 'one man, one job' and 'one family, one house,' in order to demonstrate the cross-community need for civil rights. More leaflets will be distributed in Belfast to this effect. The group will also participate in and provide stewards for the NICRA march in Armagh. Three further pre-Christmas rallies are planned.

[IN, NL, 22 November]

Rights: baptist pledges support

Report: The Ulster Constitution Reform Committee holds its first meeting. It plans to make the situation in Northern Ireland widely known throughout Britain and will lobby MPs as well as collecting signatures for a petition to be presented to Wilson. Rallies will be organised, at the first of which Fitt and a Westminster Liberal MP will speak. The committee chairman criticises Paisley, saying that he 'and his colleagues are fanning the flames of religious hatred to gain political power for themselves.' Paisley says he has met the chairman of the committee previously, but not under the circumstances reported.

Irish News

'To uncover the Ulster pit' [Report]

Westminster urged to take control of the Six Counties

Report: The East of Scotland Irish Association calls on the British government to assume control over Northern Ireland, 'in the interest of civil rights and democratic freedom of protest.' The Northern Ireland government is seen by the Association to be under the control of extremists such as Craig. Sinclair tells a Glasgow meeting that the fight for civil rights will go on to the bitter end.

Belfast Telegraph

QUB Students' Council condemn[s] 'rights' violence

Report: Queen's University SRC condemns the use of violence in the cause of civil rights, and makes reference to recent scenes on O'Neill's visit to the university. The feeling is expressed that such displays only damage the cause. A letter of apology will be written to O'Neill, among others. The council is also to look at the composition and working of the PD.

'Cannon' humane, says Craig

Report: Craig justifies the use of water-cannon in Derry, and also states that proceedings are being brought against three people implicated in trouble with reference to the Strabane-Derry civil rights march.

USC men may be mobilised

Report: The ministry of home affairs announces that the USC may be mobilised if trouble in Derry persists, in order to release more members of the RUC for duty should an emergency situation arise.

Housing allocation defended

Report: The secretary of Fermanagh Unionist Association refutes comments by the catholic bishop of Clogher on housing allocation, and argues that almost three-quarters of houses in Enniskillen have been allocated to catholics since the war.

News Letter

MPs' [sic] deny bishop's allegations

Report: The catholic bishop of Clogher praises the discipline of Derry demonstrators and alleges housing discrimination in rural parts of county Fermanagh. Brooke and West reject the criticism, and castigate the bishop for his failure to speak out against anti-protestant discrimination in employment in co Monaghan.

Commando force

Letter: Police brutality did occur in Derry on 5 October; thousands of people cannot be lying.

Belfast Telegraph

A month of reform now!

Letter: Unionists have stoked the boiler of nationalist resentment for years, and now Craig is removing the safety valve of marches. What is needed urgently is not a month-long ban, but a month of reform.

Student 'outraged' by grants threat

Letter: Those who wish to deny students their grants on the basis of what they choose to do with their own free time are attempting to suppress freedom of expression, which is an essential ingredient for change in any society.

'Ungrateful' students

Letter: Students are by no means ungrateful for the grants they receive; however, they are surely to be permitted their leisure-time as well as the necessary time for study.

News Letter

Responsibility for 'not an inch'

Letter: It is the task of responsible students to control those of their fellows who are less responsible in order to preserve their good name. Most protestants are not against reform, but the Republic of Ireland's constitutional claim over Northern Ireland inhibits progress towards a more tolerant society.

Belfast Telegraph

Let church leaders be seen together more

Letter: Feelings are running high on all sides of Northern Ireland, and must not be allowed to lead to violence. No-one can justify the denial of one-man-one-vote at local elections; an ombudsman could investigate charges of discrimination on both sides of the community. Religion should also be removed from the political sphere, and real issues leading to better government examined. Church leaders should come together more often to highlight similarities rather than differences.

News Letter

Paisley debate

Letter: Paisley and a number of other influential figures in Northern Ireland should be given the opportunity to defend their views on television.

Use the Specials

Letter: If criminals are benefiting from the stretching of RUC forces on the days of demonstrations, would it not be reasonable to supplement the regular RUC with USC members?

Time of restraint

Letter: Demonstrations are heightening tensions in Northern Ireland: Craig's ban therefore is welcome, though perhaps it should be extended to encompass the whole of Northern Ireland. Demonstrations should not be seen as 'the most effective and constructive instruments for mooting opinions and attractive public sympathy and support.'

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22 November, 1968

Irish News

Today will tell what plans for reforms

Report: The government's reform proposals will be made public today. 'The scope of the statements, it is felt, will indicate how successful the premier was in convincing his party, particularly the intransigent elements, that the new reform must be speeded up…Leaders and supporters of civil rights have shown in unmistakable terms that they will not be fobbed off by a government statement of promises. Derry especially will be looking to Stormont today for clear signs that the urgent measures needed to relieve tensions in the city will be forthcoming.' Craig's decision to deploy the USC in unaffected areas may be an ominous sign that the RUC is expected to be required again in strength for Derry. The DCAC wants no further public action before it has had time to consider the government's proposals. Currie warns of an escalation into violence if civil rights demands are not met. 'Currie…said the majority of civil rights workers were catholic, which was natural, since there was more discrimination against catholics. But one reason why the Unionist Party was afraid of the movement was that protestants were involved in it.' He argues that 'catholics who accept the constitutional position cannot be treated equally with protestants because catholics cannot be members of the Orange Order,' which controls all important positions within the state. Closing off the safety valve of marches is more likely to lead to violence. MacGiolla states that republicans are taking a back-seat in the civil rights movement, because of allegations that it is an IRA conspiracy.

News Letter

Day of decision for government

Leader: The cabinet view, shared by many Unionist backbenchers, is understood to be that the franchise question 'is not in itself the root cause of the discontent in Londonderry and other areas.' It would appear that there will be no acceptance of the principle of one-man-one-vote. This should help avoid a bitter battle within the Unionist Party. It is increasingly evident that the government intends that the proposed development commission should replace Derry corporation and RDC. When the corporation meets next week, the local Nationalist Party will expect 'an absolute guarantee of something solid - nothing less will do at this time.' Other expected reforms are the introduction of an equitable housing points system, the appointment of an ombudsman, and the amendment of the Special Powers Act. Many MPs are prepared to accept the amendment of the Special Powers Act; but a significant number within the parliamentary party fear that a housing points system could discriminate against protestants in view of the generally large size of catholic families. 'At lease 12 Unionist backbenchers are known to be against "one-man-one-vote" and four cabinet members are also thought to be opposed to change in this direction.' There are now at least 16 backers for a motion supportive of Craig, and Taylor has indicated that he will support legislation that does not ignore the principles of defence of the constitution, unity of the Unionist Party, and a fair deal for all sections of the community.

Irish News

Time for decision

Editorial: Pressure from demonstrations and from Whitehall has undoubtedly forced the Northern Ireland government to move on the issue of reform; now, Stormont must reveal as soon as possible what it proposes to do about grievances. O'Neill must choose between a divided Unionist Party and a divided community.

Belfast Telegraph

Premier quizzed at long, tense meeting

Report: The cabinet outlines to Unionist backbenchers its agreed programme of reform. The programme is expected to include the adoption by local authorities of a points system for housing allocation, the appointment of an ombudsman with similar powers to those wielded by the British equivalent office, the institution of machinery to fulfil a similar role for local government affairs, no consideration of the local government franchise until local government reorganisation has been completed, and the placement, whenever feasible, in 'cold storage' of the Special Powers Act, which will then be used only in an emergency situation. Additionally, a statutory commission to speed implementation of the Derry area plan is envisaged, a commission that will perhaps ultimately supersede the Derry corporation and Derry rural council. A number of MPs fear that a lack of movement on the franchise will perpetuate unrest in Derry; others feel that an announcement of the terms of reference for the statutory commission will suffice.

Opposing forces within the party

Comment: There are two distinct schools of opinion in the Unionist Party on the issue of reform. The first advocates immediate and effective reform; the other opposes any scheme which could be construed as a concession on the part of government. The cabinet's policy has been shaped not only be the O'Neill-Wilson meeting, but also by events in Derry and the opinions held by Unionist backbenchers. One MP was heard to advocate reform undertaken willingly, feeling that pressure will in any case bring it about, so that the government must try to take some credit before it is too late to do so. Another argued against concessions under duress. One MP remarked on the local franchise: 'if the government said now that it intended to bring forward legislation to introduce one-man-one-vote before the reorganisation of structure and functions of local authorities is decided it would split the Unionist Party from top to bottom.' In any case, the MP argued, the government has no mandate to make such a change. With the government's decision not to raise the franchise issue however, a backbench revolt would appear unlikely.

Agitators plan to take over

Report: The secretary of the Ulster Young Unionist Council feels that the choice must be made between parliamentary democracy and rule by agitators.

News Letter

'Government by duress or democracy?'

Report: She feels also that civil rights organisations are not necessarily representative, though they do promote the aim of agitators who cloak their true motives.

Only 'antics' of few make headlines

Report: At a school prize distribution ceremony, pupils are told that the antics of those seeking publicity always make good headlines, but that those in search of change should bring it about slowly. The existing system does not need to be torn down.

Belfast Telegraph


Summary: Taylor says that he will support any legislation consistent with three principles: 'the defence of Ulster's constitution…unity of the Unionist Party…[and] a fair deal for all sections of the community.'

Use all your powers, Craig told

Report: 'Antrim County Grand Lodge of the Independent Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland has passed a resolution calling on the minister of home affairs to "use all the powers at his disposal" to insure the maintenance of law and order in the community.' The disturbances are deplored. Randalstown Unionist Association passes a vote of confidence in O'Neill and in Minford. East Down NDP congratulates 'the people of Derry for their stand for civil rights,' and demands Craig's resignation, and a full programme of reform including the repeal of the Special Powers Act, the establishment of British electoral standards, the removal of housing and employment anomalies and the appointment of an ombudsman.

[NL, 23 November]

Nationalists' civil disobedience will be met - Craig

Report: Craig says that the Nationalist Party's civil disobedience policy will be dealt with by 'all the force the law can muster.' Of the 5 October march, he says, 'I cannot recall at any time when in any gathering there was such a large group of rogues and rascals from many parts of the country using the occasion for their own ends - ends which deliberately envisaged public disorder and riot.' He says also that Nationalists favoured a similar government ban on marches in Belfast when Paisleyites had been raising tensions; everyone has the right to march so long as this activity does not threaten the peace. Coat-trailing demonstrations and provocation cannot be permitted.

News Letter

Rascals want disorder and riot, says Craig [Report]

Irish News

Craig claims Oct, 5 ban 'right decision'

Leader: In addition, O'Reilly feels that civil disobedience will be carried out within the law. O'Connor says that Craig's 5 October ban made a success of the demonstration. Craig replies to the opposition that its civil disobedience will be dealt with by 'what forces the law can muster.'

Won't be judged by court - Craig

Report: O'Connor calls for an amendment to the law such that ministerial orders under the Public Order Act may be challenged in the courts. Craig refuses to consider a change in the law.

History and use of RUC water cannons

Report: During a discussion of the history and use of the water cannon in Northern Ireland, opposition MPs assert that a more positive attitude towards reform would make such devices obsolete.

Belfast Telegraph

Protests disgust majority, says MP

Report: Scott condemns marches and civil disobedience, for which punishment should be meted out. Government should however ensure that it dispels the impression 'that fair and just treatment is withheld from a large section of the community.' Existing reforms should be hastened and measures taken to address complaints where these are genuine.

News Letter

Mob rule warning

Report: He also feels that the Unionist Party is unjustly blamed for all the divisions in the community, and must act to show that justice is being done.

Warning from Currie

Report: Currie warns that unless the immediate demands of the civil rights movement are met, violence will inevitably ensue. Marches are a safety-valve, and closing that valve off can only produce violence.

Belfast Telegraph

Derry group cautious on area plan talks

Report: 'Nationalist members of Derry corporation have given a cautious welcome to a special council meeting next Monday for a report from…Beatty…on his talks with…Fitzsimmons…on the Londonderry area plan.' However the party's statement makes clear that 'all necessary reforms [must] come before time runs out.' The proposals must therefore contain 'something absolutely guaranteed.'

Irish News

Getting a move-on in Derry [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

'Explosive' situation

Report: A Dublin meeting of the Irish branch of Amnesty International is told that the situation in Northern Ireland is explosive, and that Craig has made matters worse by employing a private army against the people. This is dangerous, and may help bring the gun back into Irish politics.

Ombudsman debate next week

Report: A private Bill calling for the introduction of an ombudsman will be debated at Stormont next week. Diamond will also ask what reforms the government plans before the next general election.

The imbalance of Belfast's old ward boundaries

Comment: Derry is by no means the only local government area in Northern Ireland in which boundaries need to be redrawn. In Belfast, for example, the existing outdated boundaries do not provide for fair representation and in some areas permit religion rather than politics to be the deciding factor in municipal elections. Reform must be undertaken now, since Stormont's local government reorganisation will not envisage any action on the Belfast situation.

Housing bias retort

Report: An Enniskillen councillor challenges Brooke and West to answer charges of housing discrimination in Fermanagh.

Crowd chants as Newry houses go on free vote

Report: 'Newry urban council allocated 126 houses on a free vote last night to very audible calls of "houses on need" - "points system" and other slogans chanted outside by placard-carrying members of the local [P]eople's [D]emocracy committee.'

Irish News

Pickets at Newry council house letting meeting [Report]

News Letter

Cases arising out of march

Report: Court cases arising out of incidents that took place on the Strabane-Derry civil rights march are adjourned.

Belfast Telegraph

Fast change in Ulster - Callaghan

Report: Callaghan tells concerned MPs that he expects rapid improvements in the Northern Ireland situation.

Debate on Northern Ireland

Report: A Westminster commons debate on Northern Ireland may be held in the near future.

Irish News

Labour MP's civil rights plan

Report: Whitaker puts forward a five-point plan for civil rights in Northern Ireland: '(1) a multi-religious commission to investigate and rectify alleged religious discrimination in Northern Ireland; (2) the Race Relations Act should be extended to prevent religious discrimination, and to include Northern Ireland; (3) there should be an ombudsman for Northern Ireland; (4) there should be universal adult franchise for local elections; (5) the Special Powers Act should be repealed, since the normal law provided sufficient protection against violence.' He asserts that Britain's financial contribution to Northern Ireland should be conditional upon the removal of discrimination.

Strabane civil rights officers

Report: The new CRA branch in Strabane pays tribute to the work of the DCAC.

Lawyers to report on 'October 5'

Report: 'A detailed report on the behaviour of the police in Derry on October 5 will be submitted by the Northern Ireland Society of Labour Lawyers at a meeting in Belfast tomorrow of the Council of Labour in Ireland.' The meeting will see discussion of civil rights, electoral reforms and all aspects of civil unrest in Northern Ireland.

[BT, 21 November]

Strabane to Derry march - 3 summoned for attack

Report: Craig reveals that three summonses relating to the attack on the Strabane-Derry march have been served, and says that he is satisfied with the precautions taken by police on the day.

Two PD meetings tomorrow

Report: The PD announces its plans for civil rights activities in the lead-up to Christmas. These include public meetings in Dungannon and Omagh tomorrow, as well as three further rallies, some in Belfast. Demands for 'one man, one job' and 'one family, one house' are also to be made, in order to demonstrate the cross-community nature of the civil rights cause. More leaflets will be distributed in Belfast to this effect. The PD will also take part in and provide stewards for the forthcoming march in Armagh.

News Letter

PD plans ahead [Report]

[BT, 21 November]

Irish News

Action, or 'another Derry on your hands'

Report: Hassard predicts trouble in Dungannon unless Stormont reforms include a crash housing and jobs programme for the area. He also insists, 'unless a points system is introduced soon there will be a revolution in the area.' Patricia McCluskey echoes the call for jobs and houses.

News Letter

Council calls special meeting

Report: A special meeting of Armagh council is called to decide on whether or not to grant civil rights demonstrators the use of the City Hall on 30 November.

Irish News

Now before instead of after

Report: Also, the PD has already announced the format of its continuing campaign, including a number of public meetings and rallies. 'One man, one job' and 'one family, one house' have been added to the list of the group's demands, in an effort to promote the cross-community appeal of civil rights issues. The PD also plans to take part in and provide stewards for the forthcoming civil rights march in Armagh.

[BT, 21 November]

Belfast Telegraph

March: vote may be disregarded

Report: NICRA member Frank Gogarty says that a recent meeting in Armagh had not the power to decide on whether or not a ban on the proposed march should be defied. Concern is also expressed at a CRA meeting at the 'growing pressure' being placed on QUB authorities to stifle the free speech of students.

Irish News

'Concern' at 'intimidation of students' [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Appeal for calm in Derry

Report: Hume says that the DCAC does not rule out future non-violent action, though such action, he feels, should not be taken in the near future, while the committee is considering its strategy.

News Letter

Halt to rights action in Derry

Report: 'No further action on civil rights in Londonderry should be taken until the government has had an opportunity to put its case for reform, the campaign organisers agreed last night.'

The Derry record is still on

Comment: Wearisome opposition demands have continued at Stormont this week. The Nationalist Party's declaration in favour of non-violent civil disobedience has not helped the political atmosphere. One Unionist backbencher says 'that the policy decision was made less to force change on the government than to reinvigorate a disillusioned Nationalist grass-roots.' But in the end, it would seem reasonable to conclude that both sides must share the blame for inaction; government has not pushed ahead with necessary reform, while opposition has engaged in destructive criticism.

Belfast Telegraph

Jesuit praises non-violence

Report: A Belfast meeting is told by a Jesuit of the merit of a non-violent policy of resistance to social injustice, including the possibility of civil disobedience.

Irish News

'Social injustice retards community progress' - Jesuit

Report: A Jesuit talks of the harm done by social injustice to the whole community, and the aggression it can breed. He feels that injustice can arise from institutional defects, and can lead to a vicious circle of increasing discrimination. He adds that civil disobedience, if properly controlled, can be a highly effective approach.

Belfast Telegraph

TV programme on Ulster

Report: The BBC will tonight broadcast a special programme on the political situation in Northern Ireland.

Irish News

Dangers of sectarian and party distrust

Letter: The border issue can be put aside while difficulties in Northern Ireland are worked out. The civil rights movement provides a vehicle for such an approach.

Belfast Telegraph

PM should dismiss the reactionaries

Letter: The people of Northern Ireland are not trapped by the bitterness of the past; O'Neill should draw confidence from this fact and dismiss the reactionaries from the cabinet.

Unionist reforms

Letter: With ideas of reform in the air, it is time that the Unionist Party reformed itself, in an attempt to make itself more broadly-based.

Ecumenism at Christmas

Letter: The churches have done good work in their statements on the Derry situation. They should promote the spirit of ecumenism over the Christmas period.

The Diamond desecrated

Letter: There is only one road to peace, and that is not appeasement but righteousness.

News Letter

'Cathy Come Home' [Letter]

[See BT, 18 November, People in glass houses]

Appeal to students

Letter: 'A short time ago many people approved of the ideals of student, and other demonstrations while condemning the violence which inevitably accompanies them. Now, however, large sections of the rate-paying public would support more strenuous control over student activities and even the removal of student grants…I would, therefore, appeal to student demonstrators to consider the damage that will ultimately be done to their colleagues and indeed to their cause if they persist in marches, sit-ins and violent demonstrations.'

Organise offer

Letter: Demonstrations curtail the rights of police and inconvenience ordinary people. They should be dealt with accordingly. Student protesters should be warned to cease their activities or lose their grants.

Item for Festival

Letter: A teach-in should be held in order to inform PD and other demonstrators of the merits of good manners and courtesy.

[see BT, 20 November, A teach-in on manners]

Scruffy lot

Letter: Craig should ban all marches for good, and those students involved in protests should be deprived of grants.

18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Top

23 November, 1968

Belfast Telegraph

'We fight on' - pledge

Leader: The DCAC states that it will continue its campaign until one-man-one-vote is granted, in light of the government's five-point reform programme. Whether and when demonstrations will be resumed is as yet unclear. The committee welcomes the government's statement on reform, though criticises its vagueness and lack of commitment to a change in the franchise, which is the 'root cause' of present discontent. The Nationalist Party will consider whether or not to revert to the role of official opposition, and McAteer acknowledges that O'Neill has 'some difficulties.' However, 'what is beyond doubt after the flurry of political activity during the past few days is that any immediate move [on franchise reform] would have split the Unionist Party completely and precipitated a leadership crisis which Capt O'Neill could not have survived.' There is increasing recognition nevertheless that such a reform must come with the reorganisation of local government. The government can only hope that the now statutory commission will reduce immediate pressure for franchise reform. The reform plan does not meet all of Wilson's requirements, but is likely to reduce intergovernmental strains. The proposed ombudsman will enjoy powers similar to those exercised by the occupant of the British equivalent office; with regard to local government concerns, one option under consideration may be some form of complaints tribunal at the local level. Action is to be taken on a housing points system, and the Special Powers Act can be looked at, according to government, when 'this can be done without undue hazard.'

[IN, NL, 25 November]

News Letter

Five-point reform is 'a triumph for O'Neill'

Leader: 'Delighted [Unionist] Party officials were looking on the crisis of the past few weeks as definitely over and hoped now for an atmosphere of co-operation throughout the Province behind the government's programme of reforms and communal justice and harmony.'

Irish News

Disappointment at Stormont 5-point plan for reform

Leader: 'When the flood of talk from Stormont, television and radio finally ended last night there was the distinct impression that the government's proposals for social and political reform in Northern Ireland were a big disappointment…Overall, the concessions made to the clamant demands for justice and fair play in the public life of the community were seen as meagre and falling far short of what was expected.' McAteer and Hume express disappointment at the lack of franchise reform, though McAteer does recognise O'Neill's difficulties. Lennon feels that the Northern Ireland government is trying to give the impression of reform while retaining as much as possible of the status quo. He decries the lack of action on one-man-one-vote, justice in all areas of local government, a public appointments commission, an immediate repeal of the Special Powers Act or any mention of the Public Order Act, or of the Race Relations Act. He sees the programme offered by the government as 'far too little far too late.' A cautious welcome is given to the proposed housing points system, but it is felt that this should be imposed on reticent local authorities. The lack of power over local government of the ombudsman is also deemed a disappointment. Sinclair expresses doubts as to the probability of a fair reorganisation of local government. Cooper says that the proposals do not go far enough, but expresses confidence that further marches in Derry will not be spontaneous, and will not take place unless organised and publicised by the committee.

Belfast Telegraph

'Unity' on reform

Report: O'Neill says that the decision in favour of reform was taken by a united cabinet and then by a united party, and that no vote on the subject was required. He adds that, while the new ombudsman will not be empowered to examine local government grievances, government may well consider other means of addressing the issue. He hopes that the programme of reform will put an end to unrest in Northern Ireland. Craig says that the Special Powers Act will be amended only on police advice. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland states its resentment at Wilson's intervention, which it feels will undermine the Stormont administration and promote violence. The statement continues, 'we call on all brethren within Northern Ireland to impress upon their parliamentary representatives the seriousness of the situation and to take all lawful and effective steps to resist this encroachment upon our constitutional rights under the crown.'

Irish News

O'Neill is guarded at press probe

Report: O'Neill says that the duties of the ombudsman might possibly be extended to local government, or similar duties be carried out by a separate official. He reveals that the Derry development commission will have the power to take over administration in the area. He hopes that the programme will bring unrest to an end.

Belfast Telegraph

Five pointers for reform

Report: The parliamentary Unionist Party approves the five-point programme of reform worked out by the cabinet, but warns against further defiance of the law. It is felt that progress will be set back by further action outside the normal constitutional channels. Allegations that new industry has been sited by government with sectarian considerations in mind, and that government appointments are made according to principles other than merit, are refuted. Valid criticisms will however be dealt with. Few of the many house allocations made each year are deemed unfair, but a points system will be introduced in order to ensure fairness. The local government company vote will be abolished at an early stage, but the wider franchise question will not be examined before the overall reorganisation of local government has been completed. Those who continue with agitation from this point are concerned not with change but with disruption, and the government, says the statement, should be supported by all moderate-minded people in its efforts to deal with such elements.

Irish News

The five-point plan for reform [Report]

News Letter

Government states its intentions [Report]

Belfast Telegraph

Nationalist chief in Derry 'happy about ombudsman'

Report: Hegarty welcomes news of government plans for an ombudsman and a development commission for the Derry area, so long as the latter is not 'just another Unionist junta.' Hume and Cooper feel that the government has not gone far enough, though they welcome any efforts toward change. Cooper adds that the ombudsman idea, as set out in the government's statement, is 'vague'; he expresses his disappointment at the lack of movement on the franchise. Currie feels that the programme offers 'too little, too late' - 'one-man-one-vote is the kernel of the problem, and the programme announced is based on the lowest common denominator in the Unionist Party.' O'Neill, he says, has once more given in to the extremists. Fitt also feels that the franchise issue should have been dealt with. Napier opines that government has performed a volte face over the idea of a Derry development commission, in face of pressure. He asks why government has to be pushed into granting reforms. Murnaghan agrees that the programme is a step forward but questions the lack of movement on one-man-one-vote. Lennon feels that only a 'meagre concession' has been offered. Sinclair offers a noncommittal response the programme. In addition, 'The Irish News says today there surely can be nothing sweeping about a programme of political reform which does not call for the implementation of the principle of one-man-one-vote, the basis of every normal democratic system.' More reform must come now. The Irish Times feels that the programme has been whittled down by the extremists, and hopes that the government can back up its words with sincere actions, and more reform. The Irish Independent says that reforms should be given a chance: 'it will not strengthen Captain O'Neill's hand if his nearest opponents are able to claim that reforms do not avert trouble.'

News Letter

Cautious reaction in Derry

Report: Unionists are quiet in Derry, while Nationalists are cautious in their reaction to the reform proposals. The DCAC defers comment until it has had the opportunity to meet. Hegarty is cynical about the proposed points system, since the corporation has already decided to adopt such a system, and feels that the decision taken on the Special Powers Act is designed to 'keep Wilson quiet for a couple of years.' On the proposed commission, he is cautious, but says that a Unionist 'junta' will not be acceptable. He asserts that taxpayers should enjoy a say in local government, since 80% of local expenses are met out of central government coffers.

Long way to go yet, says Mr McAteer

Report: McAteer welcomes the government's reform programme in as far as it goes, but contends that 'the biggest weakness in the government's package' is the lack of movement on the franchise. Doherty agrees that the reforms do not go as far as moderate people would like. Cooper is disturbed that there is still to be no majority rule in Derry. Hume is dissatisfied that another election, to be held in 1970, will still take place in the context of a 'gerrymandered' ward system. George Currie MP contends that the reforms were forced on government by Wilson's pressure, and asserts that housing allocation in the Enniskillen area has favoured catholics. He is opposed to a non-ratepayer franchise in local government. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland condemns the 'ultimatum backed by financial threats' issued by Wilson, which it feels undermines the Northern Ireland government. Orange brethren should 'take all lawful and effective steps to resist this encroachment upon our constitutional rights under the crown.'

Changes welcomed by most

Report: Most people in the street appear to welcome the government's programme. Three interviewees argue that the changes are not enough; one asserts that they have been brought about under duress.

United front on reform

Editorial: The Unionist Party, not without some difficulty, has been brought firmly behind O'Neill and his reform package, which had full cabinet backing. It now remains to be seen whether Wilson and those to whom the programme is directly addressed will be satisfied with less than their full demands. It would be unwise for anyone to push for too much too soon by way of reform.

Irish News

Too little and too late

Editorial: 'Too little and too late…is a verdict which, history teaches us, has had to be passed time and time again upon the concessions finally and reluctantly wrung from autocratic regimes or the entrenched upholders of privilege when they felt that they could no longer withstand the pressure of forces outside their control…Had they [the proposals] been issued in the first year of Mr O'Neill's premiership, when we were all riding high on hopes inspired by his ecumenical addresses - novel indeed on the lips of a Unionist politician up to then - about the dawn of a new era in community relations, they might have been taken at their face value. And let us add, real progress in community relations would have been made had they been issued then. But even then they would never have been described as "sweeping." There surely can be nothing sweeping about a programme of political reform which does not call for the implementation of the principle of one-man-one-vote, the basis of every normal democratic system…We want more, and we want it now. We want full democracy for everyone - and not in the seventies or eighties.'


Report: East Down NDP passes a resolution commending the people of Derry. Craig is called on to resign and demands are made for a programme of reform incorporating the repeal of the Special Powers Act, the establishment of British standards of electoral qualifications, an end to anomalies in local government housing and employment and the appointment of an ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

News Letter


Report: East Down NDP congratulates the people of Derry for their stand on civil rights.

Irish News

Tremendous victory - Sinn Fein

Report: MacGiolla sees concessions from Stormont was a tremendous victory, and asks that the civil rights movement step up pressure until full democratic rights have been achieved. In practice, Craig does not intend in any way to alter the Special Powers Act.

Resolution condemns police brutality

Report: A resolution condemning police brutality in Derry is adopted by Monaghan UDC, with the one dissenting voice coming from the vice-chairman, a member of the Protestant Association, who objects to the resolution on the grounds that 'we shall put our own house in order before we interfere with another country.'

'Out with British troops' says [sic] San Francisco Irish

Report: 'Concern at the present unrest in the Six Counties and a demand for the withdrawal of British troops are expressed in resolutions passed recently by the Irish Freedom League in San Francisco.' The root cause of civil rights abuses is identified as partition. Police brutality is condemned.

Belfast Telegraph

Orr asked to 'meet['] the people

Report: Newry PD invites Orr to a meeting where he would hear the grievances of ordinary people. At this same public meeting, resolutions will be considered which will call for a march by the unemployed of the town to meet Faulkner; for the group to make clear its willingness to investigate grievances, to express its support for the Armagh civil rights march, and to assert citizens' rights to march; a further resolution will call for pressure to be placed on government to amend the Public Order Act.

Irish News

Newry PD branch has 14 motions for next meeting

Report: Pressure is also to be placed on Stormont to build more houses.

Professor on the strange phenomenon of student revolt

Report: Prof James Scott, discussing the topic of student revolt, mentions in passing the role of the PD at Queen's University, and argues that the ongoing change must be a component part of every society.

Belfast Telegraph

Trouble at meeting

Report: A Dungannon PD meeting is disrupted by a crowd of loyalists. Police make some arrests after minor scuffles.

Workless answer to MP critic

Report: A group of Derry unemployed, planting saplings to mark National Tree Week, says it is also engaging in a protest at Burns' comment that the unemployed of Derry are 'work-shy.'

[IN, NL, 25 November]

News Letter

O'Neill to meet deputation on citizens['] rights

Report: O'Neill will meet various labour organisations' representatives for discussions on civil rights. The contents of a document presented to the government in 1966 are likely to be raised; 'the document called for electoral reform, boundary revision, and redistribution of seats at Stormont and local government elections, the representation of minority groups on government-appointed public bodies, measures to diminish discrimination on religious or political grounds in employment, measures to diminish discrimination on religious grounds in the allocation of houses, the appointment of an ombudsman, and measures to bring trade union law into accord with that in Gt Britain.' At the previous meeting, it is claimed that some of the listed reforms were considered by ministers to be unjustifiable.

[BT, 20 November]

Belfast Telegraph

Backing for Craig

Report: Antrim Unionist Association passes a unanimous vote of confidence in Craig and his 'firmness' in handling recent disturbances.

News Letter

Resolution deplores disturbances

Report: The Antrim county lodge of the Independent Orange institution calls on Craig to preserve law and order, protecting loyal citizens from 'the activities of those who seek to destroy the peace and prosperity of our country.'

[BT, 22 November]

Anti-partition losing appeal - MP

Report: Henry Clark MP says that O'Neill's leadership is weakening the anti-partition cause. The chairman of the Iveagh Unionist Association says there is a need for the re-shaping of the Unionist Party in the light of the events of the past weeks. The grass-roots should be given a greater say. Robert Porter welcomes the announcement of the Derry commission, and feels also that a housing points system will remove a lot of groundless criticism. Magowan feels that the Unionist Association has insufficient funds for publicity purposes.

Irish News

Is UN interested?

Letter: The British government seeks reform in Northern Ireland because of financial difficulties at home and prestige considerations overseas. A fight should be undertaken on all fronts to free the six north-eastern Irish counties from British rule.

'Let us march again'

Letter: McAteer may be prepared to accept crumbs from the Unionist table, but 'what is needed now is not a servile acceptance of these Unionists['] handouts but a full acceptance by the government of all our demands. What is needed now is not an Eddie McAteer but a Martin Luther King.' Marches should go on until full rights have been achieved.

'One big bluff'

Letter: The government reform programme is 'one big bluff,' and is tailored to Derry while failing to address issues elsewhere in Northern Ireland. 'It is also very clear that never again if Unionists have their way will the people of Derry have control of their city. They will be liquidated by immersion in the greater Derry area plan, and that was the trump card played by O'Neill to buy unity for his party. There is no victory in this for the people of Derry. Nothing has yet been won.' Civil rights organisations should continue their struggle.

'No real change'

Letter: The government reforms are to be welcomed, but are unsettling in their vagueness. If the section referring to the Special Powers Act means nothing to Craig, then what does the rest of the package mean to him? 'The deferment of the franchise reform, without even promise of reform, is a dangerous symptom of no real change of heart in the Unionist Party.' The powers of the proposed ombudsman are insufficient.

[BT, 25 November]

Belfast Telegraph

Voice of the moderates

Letter: Media coverage often tends to concentrate on the sensational, and this is true also of the situation at Queen's University, where the vast majority of the student body does not espouse the extreme views of those who are placed, particularly by television, in the spotlight.

Introduction     1968:   | June | July | August | September | October | November | December |
November 1968:   | 1-2 | 4-9 | 11-16 | 18-23 | 25-30 |
18 - 23 November:   | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | Top |

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
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