Madge Davison Lecture – ‘Inequality and Unfairness in 2018: What Would Madge Have Said? – Tue 25 September 2018, 7pm

Speaker: Professor Brice Dickson

Location: The Moot Court Room (Level 2, room 006), School of Law, Main Site Tower, Queen’s University Belfast

Chair: Ann Hope

50 years after the civil rights marches, Brice Dickson will give the Madge Davison Lecture which will highlight Madge’s role in civil rights and cover issues close to Madge’s heart, including discrimination, poverty, sectarianism, racism and domestic violence.

Book your free place 

Inez McCormack Civil Rights Women’s Conference – Saturday 8 September 2018

PRONI, Titanic Quarter, Belfast

Celebrating the life of Inez McCormack and women who led civil rights and who campaign for human rights and equality today.

Speakers include: Baronness May Blood, Susan McKay, Patricia McKeown, Lily Kerr, Brid Rodgers, Lynda Walker, Kellie Turtle and Vinnie McCormack

For booking detail go to:

Civil Rights Leader Bernadette McAliskey to Speak at The McCluskey Civil Rights Summer School

The 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Commemoration Committee invite you to the McCluskey Civil Rights Summer School on Saturday 18 August 2018 in the Junction,12 Beechvalley Way, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, BT70 1BS

This event honours the role of Dr Conn and Patricia McCluskey in the Campaign for Social Justice.

The theme is  “50 Years On – The Civil Rights Challenges in Ireland Today – Tackling Poverty, Sectarianism, Racism and Inequality”

Speakers include Bernadette McAliskey, Les Allamby, NI Human Rights Commission, Bronagh Hinds, Dympna McGlade, Michael McLoughlin, Denise Wright, South Belfast Roundtable, John O’Doherty, Rainbow Project and Dr Grainne Healy Together for Marriage Equality and political representatives.

To book a place:

Get your free tickets for Civil Rights Missed Opportunity Event as part of Feile Festival Fri, August 3, 2018


  • Brid Rodgers, Civil Rights Activist and former Deputy Leader SDLP
  • Declan Kearney MLA, Sinn Féin National Chairperson
  • Nelson McCausland former DUP MLA
  • John Lowry Workers Party

For further information contact Cllr Tim Attwood Secretary 07802279939 or

Organised by The 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Commemoration Committee and Slugger O’Toole.

Event is free but to help us plan numbers please do book your tickets here…

Get your free tickets for The Civil Rights Movement: From Anger to Action

50 years after Civil Rightscivil rights activists will speak personally about why they got involved in civilrights and social change, what barriers were in their way, how were they treated and what impact did civil rights have?

Speakers: Fionbarra O’Dochartaigh, Derry, founding member of NICRA, Eileen Weir, Shankill Women’s Centre and trade unionist Joe Bowers.

Part of the Belfast Pride Festival.

Tickets are free but please book so we can manage numbers.

Book your free tickets….

Get your free tickets for Housing Then and Now, Jun 15, 2018


The Junction, 12 Beechvalley Way, Dungannon, BT70 1BS

View Map


About the Event

9.30 Registration

10.00 A History of Housing in Northern Ireland – Professor Paddy Gray

11.00 Coffee

11.30 Caledon – Austin Currie

12.00 Housing Conditions and Allocations in the Seventies and Since – Joe Frey

1.00 Lunch

2.00 How do we achieve shared housing?

Presentation by Housing Students chaired by Nicola McCrudden CIH

followed by panel discussion Ted Cantell, Duncan Morrow, Richard Mealey, Housing Association Integration Project NIFHA, Eileen Patterson Director of Communities Radius Housing,

4.00 Closing comments


  • Paddy Gray, Emeritus Professor in Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment at Ulster University
  • Austin Currie retired politician and civil rights leader who, in June 1968, occupied a house in Caledon, Co Tyrone in protest over housing discrimination by the local council.
  • Joe Frey Former Head of Research NIHE
  • Nicola McCrudden Chartered Institute of Housing Director
  • Professor Duncan Morrow Director of Community Engagement
  • Eileen Patterson Director of Communities Radius Housing,
  • Richard Mealey, Housing Association Integration Project

For further information contact Tim Attwood Secretary 07802279939

Book your free tickets below:


Margaret Ritchie MP MLA, Leader SDLP, speaking at the McCluskey Civil Rights Summer School in Carlingford, Co Louth on the topic of the future of constitutional nationalism, said the key traits of progressive nationalism namely a successful economy and reconciled people can lead to the ultimate goal of a united Ireland – a goal unreachable by ‘resentful nationalists.’

 She said: “Those who mark Sinn Fein moving onto the traditional SDLP ground of ‘constitutional nationalism’ should try to see the broader picture. With their disavowal of violence, Sinn Fein are merely rejoining the mainstream of Irish Nationalism. Meanwhile the SDLP will continue to occupy the principled social-democratic ground at the centre of nationalism on the island. Time will tell if the authoritarian Sinn Fein can ever join us there.

“I would tend to categorise the nationalism of the SDLP as progressive nationalism. The progress we have made in recent years with the Good Friday Agreement allows us to develop a progressive nationalism that could not have been developed before.  Because the legitimacy of the political pursuit of Irish unity is now accepted on a par with the legitimacy of maintaining the Union, then that surely allows us to look forward and to be more progressive. 

“There is no longer a justification for a nationalism that is categorised by resentment or bitterness.  That is why I have said recently that we want to make Northern Ireland an economic success.  Resentful nationalism says we don’t care about the economy; we are just biding our time until Northern Ireland is over.

“But the old nationalist ambivalence about the Northern Ireland economy cannot be justified. In the coming weeks the SDLP will set out in detail an economic vision for Northern Ireland which recognises that notwithstanding our political goal of Irish unity we must make this place as good as it can be for the people who live here now. The other nationalism remains ambivalent on the Northern Ireland economy. Indeed it cannot bring itself to utter the words Northern Ireland. It remains suspicious of investors and entrepreneurs, and resentful of profit.

“But perhaps the biggest difference between progressive nationalism and resentful nationalism is the view they take of society itself.  SDLP progressive nationalism says we want a shared society.  That means a society that is not only non-violent, but which welcomes, cherishes and embraces different traditions and actively sets out to end segregation and division.  Our vision of a shared society is one where people with different religions and races can live side by side in the same areas, sharing the same communities totally at ease with each other. 

“Other nationalists reject this vision, largely because they feel it may reduce their control in their single identity communities. 

“Then there is the question of Irish unity itself.  Progressive nationalists see a unity that is a coming together of the two traditions on the island and not a hostile take over.  Our strategy is to provide assurances about the continuation of the institutions of Northern Ireland in any new United Ireland. And also an acknowledgement that the challenge for Irish nationalists is to make the case to unionists in a way that has never been done before.  What happens to the National Health Service in our vision of a United Ireland?  What happens to our Social Welfare System?  What happens to our Police Service?  These questions have to be answered. And we will try to answer them in a positive spirit.”

All Our Futures Must Be Shared

Roy Garland Irish News 30 August 2010

The McCluskey Civil Rights Summer School addressed serious issues at Carlingford on Saturday.

The most contentious revolved around “armed struggle”.  I chaired this session feeling somewhat like a referee between opponents whose antagonism was reminiscent of the enmity between the UUP and DUP.

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie depicted her party as progressive nationalism moving towards Seamus Heaney’s “farther shore”.

The freedom for this became possible when the pursuit of unity was accepted as just as legitimate as the pursuit of maintenance of the union.  There was “no longer a justification” for “resentful nationalism”.  NI was to be made an economic success but “resentful nationalism” didn’t care but waited “until Northern Ireland is over”.

Resentful nationalism, she claimed, had difficulty with the word “Northern Ireland” and were suspicious of entrepreneurs, investment and profit.

The SDLP had a vision of a shared society in which different religions and races could live together “totally at ease with each other”.

The SDLP was “more confident, more optimistic and more ready to engage wholeheartedly with unionists”.

However, Sinn Fein in practice did engage with unionists since as far back the late 1980s and often on a regular basis and at greater depth.

The SDLP engaged but apparently less so and most unionists remained reluctant to so engage.  But some of us felt impelled to do so to help end the conflict.

The SDLP leader said progressive nationalism saw Irish unity being created through a coming together of two traditions not through a hostile takeover. NI institutions would remain but the SDLP had a credible plan for persuasion on unity.

“The battles of the past are over.  The only battle now is the battle of ideas”, she said.

 Much of this was gratifying.  I could not envisage any unionist leader offering similar words.

Too many are still defending the union against real or imaginary enemies.

Austin Current, former SDLP politician famous for squatting in Caledon, sat on my right, while Danny Morrison – Daniel in the lions’ den – sat on my left.  Inevitably sparks would fly.  The topic boiled down to whether Danny Morrison could justify past violence.

But he insisted that he was never at ease with violence but like other nationalists felt oppressed for many years.

Morrison was involved in civil rights and managed to convey the sense of nationalist alienation on the streets.  It was a failure of civil rights that led to violence which was easier to start than finish.

This was true also for loyalists, some of whom shared feelings of alienation while identifying with a state that treated them as “cannon fodder”.

I said I had not been aware of the “oppression” of nationalists.  This prompted Austin Current to question me.

I replied that I grew up on the Shankill Road in a strongly religious non-political family.  My dad said politics was a “dirty fame”.  He voted for independents hoping they were less corrupt.

Dad left school aged 12 years while I was “privileged” to remain until aged 14.  I was vulnerable to propaganda suggesting that Nicra was not more than an IRA conspiracy to destroy.

Austin Currie grasped what I meant so I felt gratified.  I had never been able to convey this to nationalists before.

Danny Morrison said his united Ireland could take different forms including a unitary state or confederation.  The latter is not too far from where we now are.  Degrees of autonomy, including independence, now exist across these islands.

 The day was enlightening but served to heighten my regret that unionism in all its forms is in a terrible mess.

I deeply regret that the PUP, which espoused progressive thinking on behalf of the working class, now seems in decline.  But I also expressed frustration with all shades of unionism at a time when, as Margaret Ritchie said, the battle is over.

In my view, until unionist can acknowledge that we belong together on this island, we will stumble along rather than lead our people to a better future.

Professor Arthur Aughey referred to recent articles on the future of the union in which he detected much confidence.

 I agreed but not long ago the UUP/Conservative link was being sold as a means of strengthening the Union.

 This suggests that at the highest level siege mentality either dominates or remains a tool with which to manipulate the “cannon fodder”.

The reality is that all our futures must be shared together or damanged by the remnants of siege and victim mentalities.


“The Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement”

Saturday 28 August 2010


Holy Trinity Church, Carlingford, Co Louth

Speakers include:

  • Margaret Ritchie MP MLA
  • Dr. Martin Mansergh TD
  • Austin Currie
  • Danny Morrison
  • Tom Elliot MLA
  • Roy Garland
  • Alex Attwood MLA
  • David McKittrick

To RSVP or for further information contact:
Tim Attwood 07802 279939 or Email:


9.30am             Registration and Refreshments


I.  How might the Civil Rights campaign have developed,   had there been no “armed struggle”?

Chair: Dr. Brendan Lynn

Austin Currie

Danny Morrison


II.  What is the Future of Constitutional Nationalism?

Chair: Dr. Eamon Phoenix

Margaret Ritchie MP MLA

Dr. Martin Mansergh TD


III.  What is the Future of Progressive/Liberal Unionism?

Chair: Prof. Arthur Aughey

Tom Elliot MLA

Roy Garland


IV.  If the present Executive falls…. is there an alternative?

(Can we go back to the centre?)

Chair: A.N. Other

Alex Attwood MLA

David McKittrick


Presentation of the Con McCluskey Civil Rights Award


The turmoil of the civil rights campaign 1968/69 changed the course of Northern history.  It reordered and redefined the political agenda, and completely reshaped our political party structures.  For instance, many of those involved became convinced of the need for a new political approach to the issues raised in the civil rights campaign, and went on to found the SDLP — 40 years ago this summer — which quickly eclipsed and replaced all previous “Constitutional Nationalist” groupings.  Others discerned a need for armed defence of the nationalist population, and some saw an opportunity for an armed assault upon the Northern Ireland state.  The result was the division of Sinn Fein and the IRA, with the majority becoming known as the “Officials”, and the minority founding Provisional Sinn Fein, and the Provisional IRA, (and going on to become much the stronger grouping) — 40 years ago last winter.  At the same time, the problems and pressures generated by all this upheaval, caused serious strains and fissures within political Unionism.  The problem of responding to Civil Rights demands for change, led to deep divisions within the venerable Ulster Unionist Party which had ruled Northern Ireland from the foundation of the state.  Ultimately it led to the splintering of Unionist politics, with a number of new Unionist groupings being formed, the most lasting being the “Official” Unionist Party (now, simply the UUP), and the Democratic Unionist Party.  Ominously, however, some in the Unionist community felt a need to respond to the situation with force, and loyalist paramilitary groupings mushroomed.  The consequent threat of all out sectarian conflict persuaded many of the need to build cross-community politics and structures, giving rise to the New Ulster Movement and ultimately the Alliance Party.  The political groupings formed out of this upheaval have dominated northern politics ever since.

Forty years later, an awful lot of water has passed under the bridge:- the Sunningdale Agreement, the 73-74 Assembly and the first Power-Sharing Executive;    the Constitutional Convention, the Atkins Talks, the Hunger Strikes, and the 82-86 Assembly;    the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the Brooke-Mayhew talks, Hume-Adams and the Good Friday Agreement; the Trimble-Mallon Power-Sharing Executive;   and various refinements of the GFA, elaborated at Leeds Castle,. St Andrews, and Hillsborough Castle leading to the current DUP/SF-led Power-Sharing Executive.  The first two power-sharing executives were based on the so-called “centre parties” of moderate Unionism and moderate Nationalism, along with the Alliance Party.  Both failed to bed down and take root, the first lasting barely six months, the second lasting for a rocky three years.   The present Executive, however, is led by parties notionally representing the polar “extremes” of the two communities, and was represented by many as the “ultimate agreement”.  Yet, it has failed to produce the promised consensus on many important issues, and has also experienced a number of serious wobbles.

The McCluskey Civil Rights Summer School will, this year, examine the long-term legacy of the Civil Rights agitation, and where it has brought us today. We ask a number of serious questions.  How might things have turned out had there been no recourse to violence?  What is the future for moderate nationalism and moderate Unionism, now that each has been eclipsed within its own community, by the supposedly more “extreme” parties on both sides?  Can the present Executive survive, and bed down?  And if it falls, can the “centre parties” take the weight again, and regain the necessary voting strength?  The four sessions of the Summer School are devoted to discussion of these questions.  In each session the Chair will open the discussion with a short address, setting out the main issues needing debate, and perhaps offering a personal view in brief terms.  The chair will then introduce the contributors who will speak for about 15 minutes each, leaving an hour for audience participation, (moderated by the Chair), by way of questions, or the offering of viewpoints,.

Tribute to the late Paddy O’Hanlon

Co-founder of SDLP for whom the courts were a fitting forum

Irish Times Obituary 11 April 2009

PADDY O’HANLON , who has died aged 64, was a civil rights activist, a founder member of Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party, and the party’s chief whip during the ill-fated powersharing administration at Stormont in the 1970s.

In later years, he practised as a barrister in Northern Ireland and the Republic. He had been ill for some months and died in Dublin’s Mater hospital.

Born in Drogheda, Co Louth, in 1944 and educated at UCD, Paddy O’Hanlon was closely associated with south Armagh, an area he represented in the old Stormont parliament in from 1969 until its prorogation in 1972.

As an Independent MP, he was active in the civil rights movement in the heady days of the late 1960s, but he was also a committed sportsman and teacher with an deep love of the arts.

Politically he was committed to the unity of Ireland by consent and he was vociferously opposed to violence, state repression and sectarianism. He used his considerable powers of eloquence to argue for a new democratic model in Northern Irelandand between North and South.

He was among those who opposed the entrenched injustice of the old Stormont regime as much as he confronted the violence of republican paramilitaries and the state’s authoritarian response.

The term conviction politician applied especially well to him. He was among the diverse group of people, including John Hume, Austin Currie, Gerry Fitt, Eddie McGrady and Paddy Devlin, who rejected the old Nationalist party at Stormont and in August 1970, founded the SDLP.

In those early turbulent years, he was an architect of the fledgling party’s new-style political philosophy. His influence behind the scenes was key. He was a delegate to talks with the Irish government in 1973 and was successful in standing for a seat in the new powersharing Assembly for Armagh from 1973 to 1974. He was chief whip of the party.

However, his career as an elected representative was marked by some narrow failures and significant setbacks.

He stood unsuccessfully for his constituency in the first of the two British general elections in 1974 and was narrowly defeated by party colleague Hugh News in the elections to the Constitutional Convention in 1975 and again in 1982 to the Assembly set up by then Northern secretary James Prior in the aftermath of the republican hunger strikes. He lost both times on transfers.

With Séamus Mallon the established SDLP candidate for his constituency and the party deputy leader, O’Hanlon stepped back from full-time politics.

He studied law and was called to the Bar in 1986. Colleagues say his sharp mind and love of debate particularly suited his new-found vocation. Party leader Mark Durkan, who joined John Hume’s staff in 1983 and helped organise Séamus Mallon’s victory in the Newry and Armaghbyelection in 1986, claims that O’Hanlon’s influence was always felt.

“Even when standing well back from the political frontline his compelling political insight, and the integrity of his commitment to social justice was apparent in all the activism and advice he offered.”

Durkan believes the courtroom was an apt place for a man with O’Hanlon’s skills.

“In the legal vocation which he found he was able to give . . . expression to his sense of justice, his instinct for challenge and his love of able argument. So much of Paddy O’Hanlon’s contribution epitomises the debt which this society owes to the activists of the civil rights movement who never deviated from non-violence and who sustained the quest for a new agreed democratic order,” said Durkan.“He was sharp in his observation and straight in his counsel. Whether in his private conversation or public speaking he always impressed with the purity of his principle and the clarity of his case and the sincerity of the advice he offered.”

Paddy O’Hanlon was predeceased by his wife, Dr Ann Marley, and he is mourned by many, including his cousin Dr Rory O’Hanlon, the former ceann comhairle and Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan.

Among the many political tributes paid was that from Newry-Armagh Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy. “He was entirely dedicated to achieving his political goals by exclusively peaceful means, and as a public representative he worked hard to achieve better living and social conditions for a great many people,” said Mr Kennedy.

Paddy O’Hanlon: born May 8th 1944; died April 7th 2009