Tuesday, July 27, 2010


PRESS RELEASE – Derry & North-West Civil Rights Network – rights.civil@ googlemail. com

Derry Civil Rights vets plan return to streets

“It is like putting the clock back instead of moving towards a more progressive society. Is this not a return to the Special Powers Act?

Fionnbarra O’Dochartaigh

Published works include, “Ulster’s White Negroes - From Civil Rights to Insurrection” (AK Press)

“Support for the idea of a civil rights march against the draconian public order law the DUP/Sinn Fein coalition wants to bring in appears to be growing.

Eamonn McCann

Published works include, “War and an Irish Town” {Pluto Press}


Report by Michael Mc Monagle

Derry Journal, Friday 23rd July 2010

Civil rights founder to oppose protest laws


One of the founders of the civil rights movement has said that many of the original members of the campaign are opposed to new legislation on parades and protests.

Fionnbarra O’Dochartaigh, a co-founder of the N. Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1967, said he has been in contact with several civil rights veterans who are concerned about the proposed legislation, which could make spontaneous protests illegal.

Mr. O’Dochartaigh said:”During the 40th anniversary commemorations which took place in 2008 we set up a Derry and North West Civil Rights Veterans Network. I have discussed this planned legislation with a number of those people and we are intending to do everything we can to oppose it.”

The civil rights campaigner said they intend to lobby politicians regarding their concerns.

“We will write to councillors, MLAs and MPs from all parties, as well as the Deputy First Minister voicing our opposition to this legislation, which in my view is more or less a return to the Special Powers Act. It is like putting the clock back instead of moving towards a more progressive society,” he said.

Mr O’Dochartaigh also said the civil rights veterans will be supporting a march, on a date to be decided, around the October 5th 1968 anniversary against the new laws.

“We support any call for a public demonstration. We will be taking part in the march and we would encourage other groups to do the same,” he said.

Veteran civil rights campaigner Eamonn McCann has also announced that he is planning a civil rights protest march in early October in relation to the legislation.

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Eamonn McCann’s Opinion/Comment Column – The Derry Journal- July 27th


Ready to protest march again

Support for the idea of a civil rights march against the draconian public order law the DUP/Sinn Fein coalition wants to bring in appears to be growing.

Meanwhile, the strategy of supporters of the proposed Public Assemblies, Parades and Protest Bill is to direct all argument towards contentious parades, ignoring the fact that the most contentious aspect of the measure itself lies in its effect on public assemblies of a different sort.

The meeting at Ardoyne last Thursday evening protesting against rioting in the area would have been illegal under the DUP/SF measure. So would the protests against the killing of Kieran Doherty last year. Likewise, anti-racism rallies at the time of attacks on Roma in south Belfast, or the instant demonstrations against the Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2008. In none of these cases would the time-frame [37 days] have allowed the required permission to be obtained from the suggested new Public Assemblies, Parades and Protests Body. Participants would have been liable to arrest without warrant by any police officer and in danger of six months imprisonment or a £5,000 fine or both.

To recap: The proposed legislation was drafted by a working group set up last February during the Hillborough talks on policing to come up with a replacement for the Parades Commission. Members of the group were Nigel Dodds, Stephen Moutray and Jeffrey Donaldson of the DUP and John O’Dowd, Michelle Gildernew and Gerry Kelly of Sinn Fein, advised by former Loyalist Commission chairman Mervyn Gibson and ex-commander of the IRA in Belfast Sean Murray. None of these eight has so far offered any explanation of how a mandate to devise a new way of dealing with Orange marches came to be interpreted as an invitation to impose drastic restrictions on the right to public assembly.

One possible explanation is that the two parties are preparing in advance to curb and control reaction to the spending cuts which are coming. Both the DUP and Sinn Fein vehemently deny this motivation. But what, then, prompted them to produce a draft law reminiscent of the old Special Powers Act?

If, prior to the proposed October 5th march, any DUP or SF member of the Assembly would care to debate the issue in public, I’m sure it can be arranged.



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