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I.2.c.i. Civil Rights Movement 1967-73
Author was active in PD, but this nonetheless is a dispassionate and sometimes critical account of the movement, which had its origins among student activists at Queens University Belfast in 1968. Recounts internal debates and divisions and shows how PD moved from being a purely civil rights campaign to taking a radical socialist position, and campaigning for a workers’ republic in a re-united Ireland.
Autobiography of one of the most dynamic student leaders of the civil rights movement. Recounts the emergence of People’s Democracy (PD) at Queen’s University Belfast, and includes vivid first-hand accounts of the August 1968 March in Derry, and the Belfast to Derry march by PD in January 1969 which was ambushed by a loyalist mob at Burntollet. Also recounts Devlin’s election to the Westminster Parliament in April1969, her frustration at the limits to her power as an MP, and her participation in the Battle of the Bogside in August of that year.
Describes the genesis of the civil rights and housing action campaign in Derry in which he played a leading role, and the civil rights march through the city in October 1968, which was attacked by the RUC and is now widely regarded as marking the start of the Troubles. Analyzes subsequent political developments from a radical socialist perspective and argues that the solution to the conflict lies in the creation of an all-Ireland workers’ republic. Critical of what he regards as the apolitical stance of NICRA , and of the later Women Together and Peace People campaigns. McCann took part in the Battle of the Bogside in 1969 and the civil rights march in Derry on Bloody Sunday. Argues that there is war in Ireland ‘ because capitalism, to establish and preserve itself, created conditions which made war inevitable.’
Account of origins and development of the movement by an activist who played a key role in its foundation.
Describes the trajectory of resistance from largely nonviolent demonstrations, modeled on the US Civil Rights movement, to riots and finally to virtual civil war in Derry/Londonderry. O’Dochartaigh subscribes to the view that in conditions of civil disorder and conflict ‘the local environment becomes ever more important as a focus of political activity.’ A central thesis of the book is that ‘occasions of violent confrontation play a crucial role in promoting the escalation and continuation of conflict’.
Detailed account of the beginnings of the Troubles in these two cities. Argues that 5 October 1968, the date of the first civil rights march in Derry, which was attacked by the RUC and a loyalist mob, has a strong claim to be ‘the second most significant date in Irish history’ – after Easter week 1916.
Argues that the movement made a strategic error in taking to the streets because of the connection between street demonstrations and sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. Although activists drew inspiration from the US Civil Rights Movement they did not, in his view, take sufficient account of the different circumstances in the two countries.