Civil Rights, 1968, and all that…

History Ireland Articles PDF

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These three articles appeared in History Ireland September/October 2008, volume 16 No. 5

An accompanying editorial said:

The difference in 1968 was the advent of a university-educated generation fired up by the example of Selma Alabama, Paris ’68, agitation against the Vietnam war and an inchoate counter-culture (although Vinny McCormack admits that there may have been a few covert Val Doonican fans  amongst student radicals!).
The other difference was the violent unionist response (both official and unofficial). Even after the numbing effect of 30 years of violence it is difficult not to be taken aback by the calculated viciousness of the Burntollet ambush. Where did such hatred come from? Roy Garland’s memoir provides a clue.He paints an honest but disturbing picture of a deeply insecure community, easy prey to irrational and contradictory conspiracy theories (both Romanist and Communist). And of course, like all conspiracy theories, their tendency to self-fulfil gives them a veneer of veracity.
Simon Prince controversially points out another difference: the provocative tactics of the civil rights demonstrators. But those other apostles of non-violent protest, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Daniel O’Connell, were equally provocative. In any case, there is no moral equivalence between the (subjective) perception of provocation on the one hand and the (objective) dishing out of physical retribution on the other.

The editorial ends by saying that readers can judge for themselves, and that the strong moral foundations of the civil rights campaign do not make the movement immune to balanced and objective historical investigation. This is the spirit of the 40th anniversary commemoration, and we invite visitors to the site to comment on any of the articles in that spirit.

Screening of “We Shall Overcome”- Recalling Nov. 16th 1968

On Sunday November 16th, the 40th anniversary of Derry’s largest-ever civil rights march, will be marked by the screening of the film “We Shall Overcome“, prior to which the audience will be addressed by civil rights leaders such as Nobel Laureate, John Hume, Ivan Cooper, Denis Haughey and a 1967 co-founder of the movement, local author and historian Fionnbarra O’Dochartaigh. This cross-community event will be held at the Criterion Ballroom, 23Foyle Street, commencing at 8 p.m.The documentary was commissioned by the Civil Rights 1968 Commemoration Committee to mark the movement’s emergence on the streets, across the Six Counties, which began with the Coalisland to Dungannon demonstration in the summer of 1968. Besides those already named it features interviews with Austin Currie, Anne Devlin, Michael Farrell, Ken Maginnis and Edwina Stewart, and includes television and radio material from the RTE Archives. A special feature includes bonus 1968 footage supplied by UTV.

This will be one of the last 1968-69 commemorative events to be held in Derry and is being referred to as a civil rights re-union. Local veterans and others from further afield are expected to attend, many of whom have not met personally since those dramatic days which were pivotal in politically transforming the local status quo, on diverse fronts, as well as having a major impact amongst Irish-Americans which in turn dramatically changed Anglo-Irish relations.

Admission is free of charge but as seating is restricted, and demand has been so intense over recent days, those wishing to obtain the limited number of invitations currently available are requested to collect such at 23 Foyle Street or ring the local civil rights’ veterans’ office, any evening after 6 pm on 028-71-286359.

A buffet supper, music and bar will be provided at the close of this historic commemorative event. Civil rights memorabilia will also be sale so as to defray expenses incurred. The local print, radio and TV media have also been invited to attend.

Newry Peoples Democracy Civil Rights Commemoration Event

Newry Peoples Democracy Civil Rights Commemoration EventFriday 14 November 2008 at 8 pm in Newry Arts Centre.

The Debate is`That the Civil rights movement was not allowed to succeed`

Proposing is Finbar Doherty, Derry citizens action committee and Margo Collins, Sec. Newry PD.

Opposing is Austin Currie, former M.P andT.D. and leader of Caledon squat and first Civil rights march; seconding is Tom Keane, Chair, Newry PD.

The Public are invited and can participate in debate.