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Communique and Declaration by the British and Northern Ireland governments, 19 August 1969

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Text: British and Northern Ireland governments ... Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh

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Northern Ireland
Text of a Communiqué and Declaration
issued after a meeting held at
10 Downing Street on
19 August 1969


Presented to Parliamnet by the Prime Minister
by Command of Her Majesty
August 1969

Cmnd. 4154


A meeting was held at No. 10 Downing Street this evening between the Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Mr. Michael Stewart, the Home Secretary, Mr. James Callaghan, the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. Denis Healey, and the Minister of State at the Home Office, Lord Stonham, and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Major Chichester-Clark, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. J. L. 0. Andrews, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. R. W. Porter, and the Minister of Development, Mr. Brian Faulkner.

In a six-hour discussion the whole situation in Northern Ireland was reviewed. It was agreed that the GOC Northern Ireland will with immediate effect assume overall responsibility for security operations. He will continue to be responsible directly to the Ministry of Defence but will work in the closest co-operation with the Northern Ireland Government and the Inspector-General of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. For all security operations the GOC will have full control of the deployment and tasks of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. For normal police duties outside the field of security the Royal Ulster Constabulary will remain answerable to the Inspector-General who will be responsible to the Northern Ireland Government.

The GOC will assume full command and control of the Ulster Special Constabulary for all purposes including their organisation, deployment, tasks and arms. Their employment by the Northern Ireland Government in riot and crowd control was always envisaged as a purely temporary measure. With the increased deployment of the Army and the assumption by the GOC of operational control of all the security forces, it will be possible for the Special Constabulary to be progressively and rapidly relieved of these temporary duties at his discretion, starting in the cities. The question of the custody of Special Constabulary arms will similarly be within his discretion. Consideration will be given to the problem of country areas and the defence of vital public service installations.

The Northern Ireland Ministers agreed that an appeal should be made to all members of the public to hand in unauthorised weapons under an amnesty.

In order that British troops can be withdrawn from the internal security role at the earliest possible moment the two Governments will discuss as a matter of urgency the future of the civilian security services of Northern Ireland which will take over when the troops withdraw.

Major Chichester-Clark said that it was the intention of the Northern Ireland Government to set up forthwith an impartial investigation into the recent grave public disorders. Further details will be announced very shortly by the Northern Ireland Minister of Home Affairs.

The United Kingdom Ministers proposed and the Northern Ireland Ministers readily agreed that two senior civil servants from London should be temporarily stationed with the Northern Ireland Government in Belfast

to represent the increased concern which the United Kingdom Government had necessarily acquired in Northern Ireland affairs through the commitment of the Armed Forces in the present conditions.

The question of detainees was discussed.

The two Governments agreed to a joint Declaration on the principles which should govern their future actions.

The Ministers agreed to meet again early in September.

10 Downing Street, S.W.1,
19th August, 1969.



(1) The United Kingdom Government re-affirm that nothing which has happened in recent weeks in Northern Ireland derogates from the clear pledges made by successive United Kingdom Governments that Northern Ireland should not cease to be a part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland or from the provision in Section I of the Ireland Act 1949 that in no event will Northern Ireland or any part thereof cease to be part of the United Kingdom without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. The Border is not an issue.

(2) The United Kingdom Government again affirm that responsibility for affairs in Northern Ireland is entirely a matter of domestic jurisdiction. The United Kingdom Government will take full responsibility for asserting this principle in all international relationships.

(3) The United Kingdom Government have ultimate responsibility for the protection of those who live in Northern Ireland when, as in the past week, a breakdown of law and order has occurred. In this spirit, the United Kingdom Government responded to the requests of the Northern Ireland Government for military assistance in Londonderry and Belfast in order to restore law and order. They emphasise again that troops will be withdrawn when law and order has been restored.

(4) The Northern Ireland Government have been informed that troops have been provided on a temporary basis in accordance with the United Kingdom's ultimate responsibility. In the context of the commitment of these troops, the Northern Ireland Government have re-affirmed their intention to take into the fullest account at all times the views of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, especially in relation to matters affecting the status of citizens of that part of the United Kingdom and their equal rights and protection under the law.

(5) The United Kingdom Government have welcomed the decisions of the Northern Ireland Government in relation to Local Government franchise, the revision of Local Government areas, the allocation of houses, the creation of a Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in Northern Ireland and machinery to consider citizens' grievances against other public authorities which the, Prime Minister reported to the House of Commons at Westminster following his meeting with Northern Ireland Ministers on May 21 [1969] as demonstrating the determination of the Northern Ireland Government that there shall be full equality of treatment for all citizens. Both Governments have agreed that it is vital that the momentum of internal reform should be maintained.

(6) The two Governments at their meeting at 10 Downing Street today [19 August 1969] have re-affirmed that in all legislation and executive decisions of Government every citizen of Northern Ireland is entitled to the same equality of treatment and freedom from discrimination as obtains in the rest of the United Kingdom irrespective of political views or religion. In their further meetings the two Governments will be guided by these mutually accepted principles.

(7) Finally, both Governments are determined to take all possible steps to restore normality to the Northern Ireland community so that economic development can proceed at the faster rate which is vital for social stability.


[This Joint Declaration later became known as the 'Downing Street Declaration', a name which was then applied to another document on 15 December 1993.]

[See also: Joint Communique by British and Northern Ireland governments, 29 August 1969]

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