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I.2.c.ii. Later Campaigns for Rights
Detailed account of the campaign set up by the families of the 13 people killed, and 14 injured, on ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Derry in 1972. The campaign set up in 1992 succeeded, in the face of intransigence by the British authorities and indifference or open hostility of many others, in forcing the government to institute a new inquiry under Lord Justice Saville. This concluded in 2010 that the demonstrators had been unarmed, that no stones or petrol bombs had been thrown and that the civilians were not posing any threat. British Prime Minister David Cameron made a public apology in Parliament, describing the killings as ‘unjustified and unjustifiable.’ The book is written by the niece of one of those who was killed, and includes the testimonies of eyewitnesses, and a foreword by the leading civil rights lawyer, Garreth Pierce.
Contributions by nine activists who had been involved in the Civil Rights movement in 1968. Contributors include Gerry Adams on his experiences as a republican in the civil rights campaign and the Provisionals’case for splitting with what became Official Sinn Fein and IRA; Bernadette (Devlin) McAliskey on her time in the British Parliament which she entitles ‘a peasant in the halls of the great’, and Michael Farrell on the ‘Long March’ from Belfast to Derry in January 1969 and subsequent developments. Carol Coulter describes the reverberations of the campaign in the South and Margaret Ward its influence in the development of feminism in Ireland.
Garvaghy Road, a Catholic area in mainly Protestant Portadown, has been the scene of confrontations down the years during the annual Orange Order parade on the weekend before 12 July, following a service in Drumcree Church. The Orange Order claims the right to march along the road; the residents say that they face abuse and violence when this happens and that there are alternative routes the parade could take. Resistance to the event has included sit-downs, a women’s Peace and Justice Camp and the setting up of Radio Equality. Part 1 of the book is based mainly on the diaries of residents in July 1998 when the parade was banned and police and soldiers erected barricades and dug trenches to prevent the march from entering the road. Part 2 is an edited version of the Residents’ submission in 1996 to the Parades Commission.
In contrast to most accounts of the anti H-block campaign, this book focuses on the popular campaign outside the prison for the restoration of ‘Special Category Status’, originally accorded to both republican and loyalist prisoners in 1972 but phased out by the Labour Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, in 1976. Ross maintains that the campaign that grew around the hunger strikes of 1981 and 1982 was ‘perhaps the biggest and broadest solidarity movement since Vietnam’, much of it driven from the bottom up by the republican grassroots, not its leadership. He also suggests that it propelled the Provisional IRA towards calling a ceasefire and shifting to a political strategy.