Belfast

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Political Oppression of the Catholic Minority in Belfast

The political climate from the early 20th century to the 1970s was tumultuous. The Catholics of Northen Ireland faced political oppression in the form of disenfranchisement and discrimination leading up to an explosion of conflict in the 1960s and 1970s. These ideological differences led both sides to believe they were fighting for their survival. The result of this was the Catholic population facing reduced voting rights, inadequate housing, employment discrimination and gerrymandering to reduce their political voice.

Key conflicts/battles

After generations of Union (Protestant) domination the Catholics began protesting. This period in time has been named "The Troubles". During this time, the Catholic Nationalist population banned together and protested against the discrimination they faced. The Catholics saw Northern Ireland as an unforgiving and difficult place to live. As a result, several conflicts and battles ensued.

The Bogside Battle occurred on Bogside Street, a street that represented the majority of Derry (Londonderry). On August 12, 1969, as the Catholics were protesting their situation, the police used tear gas against them. The major motivation for this protest was the Catholic people felt they were being destroyed. It was a turning point and motivated the Catholics to continue their fight.

Belfast Burning is thought to be the catalyst for the resurrection of the Irish Republican Army. It was yet another battle motivated by Catholics feeling they needed to preserve their existence.

Bloody Sunday occurred January 30, 1972, and is perhaps the most well-known battle. Before the march, the government declared the gathering illegal, but it continued as planned. The march was a peaceful one until the end, when a part of the crowd stormed the British troops. Then is turned bloody. Fourteen Catholics lost their lives that day, and it is considered the day the British government lost complete control over Northern Ireland. The Guardian, a British newspaper, blamed the Catholics for the violence that occurred that day.

Protestant perspective/background

To understand this conflict, it is important to understand the Protestant perspective on the situation. They certainly did not see things the same way as the Catholics did. They were led to believe, by political leaders, that their lifestyle was being threatened. Some even felt that God was a Protestant, definitely not a Catholic. They felt they should have preference for jobs, even believing the Catholics had preferential treatment over them. Robert Babbington, a leader for the Union Party, stated, "The Unionist Party should make it clear that Loyalists have the first choice of jobs."

These ideals made it easy to marginalize the violence and discrimination against the Catholics. It even seemed acceptable since they watched the police participate as well.

In 1969 a Protestant housewife was quoted saying, “It was all ‘the Catholics this and the Catholics that’ [with Loyalists] living in poverty and us lording it over them. People looked around and said, ‘What, are they talking about, us? With the damp running down the walls and our houses not fit to live in." This quote could sum up the beliefs of Protestants during this period.

Catholic perspective & The Northern civil rights association (nicra)

The Catholic population felt they had been ignored for over 50 years by the late 1960s. The voting discrimination they experienced ultimately led to the formation of the Northern Civil Rights Association (NICRA) in 1969 by Bernadette Devlin. Ms. Devlin later went on to found a more radical group, the People's Democracy. Their battle cry was "One Man, One Vote".

Martin Annal, a civil rights campaigner state about the situation, "Our ignorance about Northern Ireland is astonishing. Some of us have been there and experienced this atmosphere of distrust, discrimination, plotting and hate. The silence in England about conditions in ‘Ulster’ almost amounts to criminal negligence.”

Bernadette Devlin refused to make these issues simply Catholic and Protestant. She was quoted as saying, "We refused to accept the politicians’ logic that the problems could be seen in terms of Catholic versus Protestant… The civil rights march was interested in people’s needs.

An unnamed resident of Derry said, “I joined the civil rights marches because it was obvious that some people were being treated better than others. We used to accept bad housing and bad jobs. Most of my friends just went to England and didn’t bother looking for work here. I had never voted and neither had my parents, brothers or sisters. There was no point, you couldn’t really change anything. The marches awoke a sense of injustice in me and a determination to be treated equally.”

voting oppression

Voting inequality was rampant during this period in history. To vote in Northern Ireland you had to be a property owner. This was a considerable problem, consider most Catholics did not own property at that time. To make matters worse, if you were a business owner that owned multiple properties that spanned multiple districts, you received up to 5 additional votes. In theory, one man could vote six times if he was wealthy enough to own several properties. These votes were called Limited Company votes. These issues essentially left Catholics with no voting strength and made them feel they would never gain any political power. Catholics were almost always excluded from any public appointment.

In an original 1965 pamphlet, published by The Campaign for Social Justice in Northern Ireland, statistics were shared on voting numbers for Londonderry in 1964. There were 19,870 Catholics over the age of 21. Only 14,325 voted of that group along with 257 company votes. The Protestants fared better with 9,253 Protestants voting out of 10,573 that were of age along with 902 company votes.

Housing inadequacies

The Catholics faced many challenges when it came to housing. They composed 40% of the population in Northern Ireland and were mostly lower-middle to lower class. They often lived in run down homes or flats ran by unscrupulous landlords. This slum housing, or "ghettoisation" kept them confined to a desired geographical location. This became prevalent because of the Housing Trust. They gave Protestants more housing options, while forcing Catholics to live only in certain areas. In 1964, the North Ward of Derry County contained 2,212 Catholics and 924 people classified as other. This was a stark contract to the rural areas that were mostly Protestant.

In 1964, there were over 2,000 families waiting for housing that were Catholic, while Protestants enjoyed virtually no housing shortage. With few housing options available to Catholic families, they became squatters inhabiting huts that were abandoned by the American Army. These unfair allotments also played into the hand of the voting discrimination, as there were not enough homes to live in.

A journalist said of the situation, “I regret to report that if you want a house in the town of Dungannon, County Tyrone, your chances will depend to a great extent on what church you belong to.”

Employment discrimination

Catholics were 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed during this time period. In Derr County, 1964, 145 Protestants were employed in government jobs while only 32 Catholics were. The police and Constabulary forces were almost all Protestant, which added to growing resentment.

Sean Cronin, an IRA volunteer stated, "I grew up in a situation of such degradation and unemployment that the life our people lived was no life at all… I want something better for my children than this.

gerrymandering

Northern Ireland was controlled by the Union Party, with no Catholics being admitted. Electoral boundaries were drawn in a way to benefit Protestants and keep the Catholic electorate from being heard. If an area became problematic for the Protestants, the boundaries were simply redrawn to neutralize the area. Londonberry is a prime example, as it was divided into two areas for this reason. The boundaries of the city were stretched far into the countryside as so it would include Conservatives. By doing this, they strategically herded Catholics onto one large area and left them politically impotent.

The Campaign for Social Justice in Northern Ireland, stated that in 1961 there were 9,961 Nationalist voters with a representation of 8 Councilors, while the Union with only 7,444 voters had 12 Councilors.

Edmund Warnock, a Unionist MP said of gerrymandering, "“If ever a community had a right to demonstrate against a denial of civil rights, Derry is the finest example. A Roman Catholic and Nationalist city, it has for three or four decades been administered — and none too fairly administered — by a Protestant and Unionist majority, secured by a manipulation of the ward boundaries for the sole purpose of retaining Unionist control.”

Other Civil Rights Issues

In 1972, The Special Powers Act was introduced. This gave the government the ability to detain someone without a trial.

The police were guilty of killing innocent people during raids, even elderly, children and whole families.

Additional relevant quotes

  • “I grew up in that state [Northern Ireland]. So did many generations of Nationalists before me. We experienced, in a very stark way, the denial of human rights. We experienced first hand institutionalised discrimination. Our cultural rights were systematically trampled upon. We were denied democratic participation. Many, many Nationalists… have borne the brunt of various British government attempts to suppress their sense of Irishness and the expression of their Irish identity.” Martin McGuinness, 2013
  • “I was a marked man before the march started. These were storm trooper tactics at their worst. They hit me once, but that wasn’t enough, they had to have another go, and this was the cause of the wound which had to be stitched.” Nationalist MP Gerry Fitt on the NICRA march, October 1968
  • “Showers of rocks crashed round us. I was in the middle of the fourth row and bent double in an attempt to avoid the hail of missiles, when a middle-aged man in a tweed coat, brandishing what seemed to be a chair leg dashed from the left-hand side of the road, hit me on the back, then pulled down the hood of my anorak and struck me on the head. I then tried to crawl away, but, teeth bared, he hit me again on the spot on my skull… I fell, and a fellow marcher picked me up and dragged me up the road. I passed out, and came round in the ambulance on the way to Alnagelvin Hospital.” Judith McGuffin on the Burntollet Bridge ambush, 1969


Sources
Sources

Quotes
  • ""The Troubles came about in the late 1960s following generations of Unionist dominated politics in Ulster ""
  • "A civil rights movement orchestrated by the predominantly Catholic Nationalist population of Northern Ireland caused consternation among the predominantly hardline Protestant Unionists, who responded harshly to protesters. ""
  • ""In Northern Ireland, there were essentially two: Catholic Nationalists and Protestant Unionists (and still are to this day—though this is slowly changing). Over the course of The Troubles, these polarized communities increasingly sought security from non-governmental sectarian groups ""
  • ""In the late 1960s several civil rights movements sprung up in Northern Ireland to protest unfair housing legislation, police brutality, and sectarian discrimination ""
  • ""Ireland to protest unfair housing legislation, police brutality, and sectarian discrimination. The civil rights movement was led by the appropriately named Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), which, beginning in 1969, launched a series of marches primarily in opposition to the absence of a one-man-one-vote policy in Northern Ireland. ""
  • ""A somewhat outdated system of franchise, voters in Northern Ireland were required to be property owners. This was an issue for a large portion of Catholics in Northern Ireland, as they mostly fell in the lower-middle and lower class brackets of the socioeconomic ladder in Northern Ireland. Despite the fact that Catholics possessed nearly 40% of the overall population in Northern Ireland, they were blatantly misrepresented at Stormont, with Protestant hegemony drowning out calls for political reform. As riots broke out in 1969, the opposition’s response was unexpectedly brutal, radicalizing much of the Catholic population across Northern Ireland and repulsing those in the Republic of Ireland ""
Quotes
  • ""Commemorations of events in Northern Ireland tend to focus on 1969, when British troops first landed and set about trying to quell the uprisings in Catholic/nationalist communities, or on 1972, when internment without trial was introduced, 14 civil rights protesters were shot dead by the British Army on Bloody Sunday, and there was open warfare between the IRA and the British in parts of Derry and Belfast.""
  • ""The reason why British observers focus on 1969 or 1972 is because they see the conflict in Northern Ireland as something unusual, an aberration, an embarrassing and old-fashioned nationalist (eeurgh!) struggle against the presence of the British army which had nothing to do with the progressive vision of the 68 generation. In truth, the Troubles were triggered directly by the international, youthful radicalism of 1968.""
  • ""From partition in 1921 to the first Catholic uprisings in 1968, the sectarian statelet of Northern Ireland was a terrible and unforgiving place for a Catholic to live. Catholics suffered systematic discrimination. They were two-and-a-half times more likely to be unemployed than Protestants, and they tended to live in dilapidated homes and flats owned by ruthless "Rachmanite" landlords.""
  • ""The forcing of Catholic communities into slum housing contributed directly to their disenfranchisement from political and public life. I""
  • "" In Britain in the 1960s, all adults aged 21 and over could vote in local elections. Not so in Northern Ireland; there you had to be a homeowner to vote, and Protestants were far more likely to own their home than Catholics were. ""
  • "" In taking to the streets in 1968 to demand better housing, Catholics were not only seeking nicer and roomier places to live - they were also implicitly challenging their political oppression under the yoke of Unionism.""
  • ""Throughout the 1960s, Catholics set up groups such as the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) to challenge their second-class status in Northern Ireland. T""
  • ""the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) was modelled on black civil rights protests in the US and even adopted some of their slogans. Bernadette Devlin, a leading member of NICRA and later a founder of the more radical People's Democracy, met with radical Black Panthers in the US.""
  • ""The housing, employment and youth protesters soon discovered that in challenging the sectarian make-up of Northern Ireland, they were challenging Irish partition itself and raising the question of who should rule Ireland: the British authorities or the Irish people? Through late 1968 and into 1969, as their protests were batoned and shot off the streets, their demand for civil rights became a struggle for national liberation.""
  • ""In January 1972, when British paratroopers opened fire on a civil rights demo in Derry and killed 14 people, British newspapers from the right to the left pinned the blame firmly on the protesters themselves. The Guardian itself, on the day after Bloody Sunday, argued: "The organisers of the demonstration, Miss Bernadette Devlin among them, deliberately challenged the ban on marches. ""
Quotes
  • ""The Northern Ireland state has been controlled for over forty years by the Conservative and Unionist party. No Catholics are admitted to membership of this party. ""
  • ""The Conservatives have, through the years, continued to consolidate their position by strengthening the economy of the eastern half of the state and encouraging few industries to set up in the western counties. ""
  • ""In the past year or two even more determined attempts have been made to further weaken and depopulate the western three counties in the following ways: ""
  • ""1. There were two separate railway lines to Londonderry. In the interests of economy it became necessary to close one of them. The one to be ‘axed’ traversed the western region. This has left Fermanagh, Tyrone and practically all of the county of Londonderry with no railway whatever. The other three counties have two separate systems, one running north from Belfast, the other south. ""
  • ""2. In order to further strengthen the relatively prosperous east, the government of Northern Ireland is to build a New City in County Armagh. Mr. Geoffrey Copcutt was engaged as its chief designer. He is an Englishman who came here after planning Cumbernauld New City near Glasgow. After over a year’s work he resigned sayinig, “I have become disenchanted with the Stormont scene.” He suggested the abandonment of the New City and that the development of Londondeny should be concentrated upon in order to give the province a reasonable balance. ""
  • ""2. In order to further strengthen the relatively prosperous east, the government of Northern Ireland is to build a New City in County Armagh. Mr. Geoffrey Copcutt was engaged as its chief designer. He is an Englishman who came here after planning Cumbernauld New City near Glasgow. After over a year’s work he resigned sayinig, “I have become disenchanted with the Stormont scene.” He suggested the abandonment of the New City and that the development of Londondeny should be concentrated upon in order to give the province a reasonable balance. ""
  • ""GERRYMANDER In the three Ulster counties where the Conservatives are in a minority, control is sill maintained by the manipulation of electoral boundaries in a very undemocratic way known as “gerrymandering.” ""
  • ""There was a separate seat for the city of Londonderry in the early years of the Stormont parliament. Because of the preponderance of Catholics the constituency returned a Nationalist (Catholic) member. In order to neutralise the seat, the electoral division was re-arranged. The city Itself was cut into two, Foyle returning a Nationalist. ""
  • ""The boundary of the ‘City’ was stretched eight miles into the country. The map below illustrates the way this was done and how the planners of the new boundary of the City constituency found it necessary to reach out to include pockets of Conservative (Protestant) voters, without reference to natural geographical features, in order to scrape together a Conservative and Unionist majority. ""
  • ""It is in local government franchise, however, that the “gerrymander” injustice is seen at its worst. In local elections in Britain all adults over twenty-one have a vote. In Northern Ireland only a householder and his wife can vote. In addition limited companies are allotted six votes each. Catholics are denied houses and therefore lose voting strength. This is Conservative policy. ""
  • ""The wards are “gerrymandered” as to size and composition. The surplus Catholics are found in one large ward. ""
  • ""HOUSING INJUSTICES The housing situation causes most misery. The result of the housing qualification is that the Conservative and Unionist dominated Council will build and grant houses to Catholics more readily in the South Ward but, to preserve Conservative voting majority, only a small proportion of North and Waterside Ward houses are allotted to Catholics. ""
  • ""*please note the tendency, widespread in Northern Ireland, of both the Corporation and the Housing Trust to segregate the people into religious ‘ghettos’. ""
  • ""+The Housing Trust is a government sponsored agency which builds houses for letting. It has freedom to choose tenants and usually selects the better off people since they make more stable tenants, the most needy are thus often passed over. ""
  • ""At first sight housing allocations in the Borough appear to be reasonable. This is not so, because: 1. Catholic councillors tell us that there are upwards of 2,000 Catholic families still waiting to be housed. 2. There are practically no Protestants unhoused in Derry. 3. The Catholic population is younger and is growing much faster. There his been an increase of 459 in the Catholic electorate during the past year. ""
  • ""4. The backlog of people waiting to be housed after World War II had a large preponderance of Catholic families. Housing needs at that time were so desperate that hundreds of families, nearly all Catholic, “squatted” into Nissen huts which had just been vacated by the American Army. ""
  • ""Even now, more than twenty years later, many of these people have not yet been re-housed (the precise number at this moment is 59 huts, housing 90 families), in spite of the fact that the huts are in a tumbledown condition and rat-infested. ""
  • ""Springtown Camp, as it is called, has been owned and administered during all this time by Londonderry Corporation. ""
  • ""EMPLOYMENT INJUSTICES The Conservatives see to it that their adherents receive most of the favours. ""
Quotes
  • ""The most important demand was--"One man, one vote"--because the system worked. In Northern Ireland, that at the lowest level, the only people who had the vote were those who paid local taxes or rates, as they were called. And because Catholics tended to be more poor in the Protestant community, to be less likely to have a job, they were less likely to be rate payers. As a result of that, fewer Catholics had a vote for local elections.""
  • ""And as a result of that demand, the Union's government began to feel threatened. They believed that this was a Trojan horse, that this wasn't a demand simply for a vote at local elections, this was a way of pushing the old Nationalist and Republican cause of a united Ireland""
  • ""And because the government reacted so strongly against this demand, the Republican movement began to organize itself, the IRA and Sinn Fein began to come into existence.""
  • "". In the local Parliament, known as Stormont, they had always been in a minority ever since it was formed in 1921. They'd believed that they'd been ignored for over fifty years in that Parliament. They believed that successive British governments had not paid attention to their demands that discrimination be addressed, and they said, "There is nothing for it but to take to the streets."""
  • ""In the 1960s, the Catholic working class in Derry lived under pretty dreadful conditions. Housing was terrible, they tended to be very heavily unemployed, and for the most part they lived in an area which has now become known as the Bogside, but the Bogside was, in fact, one street. ""
  • ""What made it particularly bad for them was that these people from the Bogside represented the majority in the city of Derry, or Londonderry, and yet they were politically impotent. They had no control over their own city because of the gerrymandering in the local government system, and it was they who became the foot soldiers for the civil rights movement.""
  • ""One of the most amazing points about the civil rights movement from the outset was that it could marshal very large numbers out onto the streets for major demonstrations at weekends, where you would have something like 15,000 Catholics marching through the streets of Derry in protest.""
  • ""So you have two things happening simultaneously. You have the conventional, the mainstream civil rights movement trying to make a moral case through numbers, through peaceful numbers; and you have a more radical element saying, this will never wash with a Unionist government, [they] have discriminated against us for so long that they are not prepared to make concessions now""
  • ""The Battle of the Bogside ( August 12, 1969) - A Turning Point- It's difficult to underestimate the symbolic importance of the Battle of the Bogside. The Bogside is in the city of Derry, or Londonderry, the second city of Northern Ireland. It is a city in which there always had been a Catholic majority, but in which Catholics had been systematically discriminated against in terms of political power.""
  • ""The British army was using tear gas, CS gas, in huge quantities against the Catholics, which dramatically escalated the conflict. Those behind the barricades in the Bogside believed this was an attempt by the state to destroy them totally. Not simply in terms of political power, but to destroy them as a people, and they believed that they had to resist.""
  • ""So this became a clarion call to Catholics throughout Northern Ireland for widespread resistance. What started as a small battle in a single Catholic community became a battle which spread throughout the whole territory of Northern Ireland and became turning point in the Irish struggle.""
  • ""It was the burnings in Belfast in August of '69, I'm convinced, which led to the resurrection of the Irish Republican Army.""
  • ""[So] it was the burnings in Belfast which led to a demand by people behind the barricades that they must never, ever again be left undefended, because they couldn't trust any of the forces of law and order. That was when people realized that this has changed from a civil rights campaign, into a campaign for existence. ""
  • ""When we look at how Protestants use violence against Catholics, we have to remember we're talking about a minority of Protestants. One commentator has divided Protestants into the fearful and the confident. ""
  • ""What they saw in August of 1969 they believed was the beginnings of a very careful IRA plot which had been worked over for a number of years which was to try to undermine the state, firstly through passive resistance, and then through armed conflict.""
  • ""And because they were the majority, and because there was some complicity with the security forces they were easily able to inflict more damage on the Catholic community than vice versa.""
  • ""Bloody Sunday (Jan 30, 1972) Bloody Sunday was, if you like, the end of the old, because it was the last time there had been a major march where thousands and thousands of ordinary people came out onto the streets in protest. The march had been declared illegal by the authorities, but it went ahead. The authorities decided it was too large to try and control. When the march was coming to its end, to its destination, at what was known as Free Day Corner, a section of the crowd broke away and started to storm British army troops. ""
  • ""They chased the stone throwers and, in a couple of minutes, they shot 13 dead--a 14th was to die later. That was the first huge assault on the Catholic community, which united the Catholic community.""
  • ""The result was that British authority--not the authority of Unionists, but British authority in Northern Ireland--collapsed completely.""
Quotes
  • ""The Ulster Protestant Voters' Defence Association sent a deputation to Craig in 1924 complaining that Catholics were receiving preferential treatment in public appointments, but such fears were outlandish fantasies, and the Catholics who did find public appointments were sometimes persecuted and harassed.""
  • ""The country's borders were drawn in order to provide an inbuilt Protestant majority, and the electoral process was managed to the same effect. Proportional representation was abolished, against the terms of the Treaty, and electoral boundaries ensured that the old divisions between Unionism and nationalism continued in unequal portion.""
  • ""This process involved ghettoisation for Catholics, keeping them within geographical confines where overall Unionist political dominance was not threatened, ensuring that housing and population relocation became seen by many Protestants as constitutional issues.""
  • ""Derry city, for example, had its ward boundaries redrawn several times to contain the growing Catholic population, and by 1930,9,961 nationalist voters returned 8 councillors while 7,444 Unionists returned 12 (Foster, 1988: 557).""
  • ""In short, the political symbols and myths of the nation were anti-Catholic.""
  • ""In one police raid, searching for Sinn Fein members, the police killed five innocent members of one family sleeping in their beds, including a seventy-year-old man and his seven-year-old grandson lying asleep beside each other. One man in the family was bludgeoned with the sledgehammer the police used to force their way through the front door""
  • ""In another raid, B Specials (a sectarian police force abolished by the British government in 1969) took a Catholic publican, his five sons, and a barman, lined them against a wall and shot five of them dead""
Quotes
  • ""Additionally, the right to vote in local government elections was restricted to ratepayers - again favouring Protestants - with those holding or renting properties in more than one ward receiving more than one vote, up to a maximum of six.""
  • ""Catholic areas also received less government investment than their Protestant neighbours.""
  • ""This bias was preserved by unequal allocation of council houses to Protestant families. Catholic ""
  • ""Police harassment, exclusion from public service appointments and other forms of discrimination were factors of daily life, and the refusal of Catholic political representatives in parliament to recognise partition only increased the community's sense of alienation.""
  • ""The result was the founding of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (Nicra) in 1967. Nicra did not challenge partition - probably in an attempt to draw as much cross-community support as possible - although the membership remained predominantly Catholic. Instead, it called for the end to seven 'injustices', ranging from council house allocations to the 'weighted' voting system. ""
Quotes
  • ""The Unionists were two-thirds of the population, but they held even more clout in Parliament due to gerrymandering (district lines were drawn to favor them and disenfranchise Nationalists).""
  • ""A number of anti-Catholic laws that had remained on the books from the century before were still being enforced; workplaces could discriminate against and refuse to hire Catholics; Catholic areas were offered less governmental support and financing, and received less access to public housing than their Protestant counterparts.""
  • ""That last issue is an important one; being a homeowner was directly tied to being able to vote in local elections. If you owned property in more than one district, you were even allowed more votes. Up to six per person""
Quotes
  • ""Catholics also complained of discrimination in employment and the allocation of social housing, and also protested that their community was the main target of the Special Powers Act which allowed for detention without trial. The armed police forces, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and especially the Ulster Special Constabulary or ‘B Specials’, were almost wholly Protestant and unionist in ethos..""
Quotes
  • ""The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) was formed in early 1967.""
  • ""Achieve one-man one vote (OMOV) for local council elections. If this was introduced, anyone over the age of 18 would be allowed to vote. OMOV would also end the practice of giving multiple votes to business owners.""
  • ""Ensure that local councils allocated their houses fairly. At this time only those who paid rates were allowed to vote in local council elections. If councils did not give Catholics houses then they could not vote.""
  • ""Stop the practice of gerrymandering.""
  • ""Ensure that religion was not used as a factor when allocating government jobs.""
  • ""End the use of the Special Powers Act.""
  • ""Disband the B Specials.""
  • ""Introduce a system that allowed people to report local council violations in any of the above areas.""
  • ""The outcome was the announcement of a Five Point Reform Programme on 22 November 1968. A points system would be introduced to ensure fairer allocation of council houses Londonderry Corporation was to be replaced by a Development Commission. Some parts of the 1922 Special Powers Act would be removed. The removal of additional votes for owners of businesses (along with other reforms to the operation of local government). The establishment of an ombudsman to examine complaints. It was stated that all of these reforms would be put in place by late 1971. ""
Quotes
  • ""“The Unionist Party should make it clear that Loyalists have the first choice of jobs.” Robert Babington, Unionist Party member, 1961 ""
  • ""“I regret to report that if you want a house in the town of Dungannon, County Tyrone, your chances will depend to a great extent on what church you belong to.” Ken Graham, journalist ""
  • ""“Our ignorance about Northern Ireland is astonishing. Some of us have been there and experienced this atmosphere of distrust, discrimination, plotting and hate. The silence in England about conditions in ‘Ulster’ almost amounts to criminal negligence.” Martin Ennals, British human rights campaigner, 1964 ""
  • ""“I grew up in a situation of such degradation and unemployment that the life our people lived was no life at all… I want something better for my children than this.” Sean Cronin, IRA volunteer ""
  • ""“I joined the civil rights marches because it was obvious that some people were being treated better than others. We used to accept bad housing and bad jobs. Most of my friends just went to England and didn’t bother looking for work here. I had never voted and neither had my parents, brothers or sisters. There was no point, you couldn’t really change anything. The marches awoke a sense of injustice in me and a determination to be treated equally.” An unnamed Catholic resident of Derry ""
  • ""“If ever a community had a right to demonstrate against a denial of civil rights, Derry is the finest example. A Roman Catholic and Nationalist city, it has for three or four decades been administered – and none too fairly administered – by a Protestant and Unionist majority, secured by a manipulation of the ward boundaries for the sole purpose of retaining Unionist control.” Edmund Warnock, Unionist MP, describes gerrymandering in Derry, 1968 ""
  • ""“I was a marked man before the march started. These were stormtrooper tactics at their worst. They hit me once, but that wasn’t enough, they had to have another go, and this was the cause of the wound which had to be stitched.” Nationalist MP Gerry Fitt on the NICRA march, October 1968 ""
  • ""“It was all ‘the Catholics this and the Catholics that’ [with Loyalists] living in poverty and us lording it over them. People looked around and said, ‘What, are they talking about, us? With the damp running down the walls and our houses not fit to live in.’ A Protestant housewife in 1969 ""
  • ""“We refused to accept the politicians’ logic that the problems could be seen in terms of Catholic versus Protestant… The civil rights march was interested in people’s needs.” Bernadette Devlin, 1969 ""
  • ""“The civil rights people don’t believe in civil rights at all, they’re just a bunch of republican rebels, that’s what they are. Let’s be very clear about this, they have no time for law and order, they have no time for this country and they mean to destroy this country, and we mean to see that this country will not be destroyed.” Ian Paisley, January 1969 ""
  • ""“Showers of rocks crashed round us. I was in the middle of the fourth row and bent double in an attempt to avoid the hail of missiles, when a middle-aged man in a tweed coat, brandishing what seemed to be a chair leg dashed from the left-hand side of the road, hit me on the back, then pulled down the hood of my anorak and struck me on the head. I then tried to crawl away, but, teeth bared, he hit me again on the spot on my skull… I fell, and a fellow marcher picked me up and dragged me up the road. I passed out, and came round in the ambulance on the way to Alnagelvin Hospital.” Judith McGuffin on the Burntollet Bridge ambush, 1969 ""
  • ""“I grew up in that state [Northern Ireland]. So did many generations of Nationalists before me. We experienced, in a very stark way, the denial of human rights. We experienced first hand institutionalised discrimination. Our cultural rights were systematically trampled upon. We were denied democratic participation. Many, many Nationalists… have borne the brunt of various British government attempts to suppress their sense of Irishness and the expression of their Irish identity.” Martin McGuinness, 2013 ""
Quotes
  • ""For the majority of working-class Catholics who took to the streets in support of civil rights, the cause was personal as well as political. After they married, my parents were on a council house waiting list for 13 years, living for most of that time with my maternal grandparents. For that period and longer, neither of them had a vote in a local election. As with many of their generation, the civil rights protests signalled to them an end to the soul-sapping collective acquiescence that had prevailed in the province for so long, and led to an embrace of a late-flowering activism that was profoundly empowering.""