by Democrat reporter
A BROADLY-BASED committee is planning an extensive programme of events throughout to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.
It is hoped that commemorative events will take place throughout the the six-counties, and beyond, opening with a reunion in Derry for by local civil rights' veterans.
Derry is well represented on the commemoration committee. Its regular meetings are attended by prominent figures such as John Hume, Ivan Cooper, Austin Currie, James Doherty, Brid Rodgers, and former Labour MP, Kevin McNamara, to name but a few.
Committee patrons include Dr. Conn McCloskey and his wife Patricia, founders of the Campaign for Social Justice in Northern Ireland, Michael Canavan, former treasurer of the Derry Citizens' Action Committee, Dublin academic Dr. Anthony Coughlan, former MPs Paul Rose, Frank Mc Manus, and Bernadette McAliskey (nee Devlin), well known local solicitor Claude Wilton, local retired GP, Dr. Raymond McClean and Jane Coyle, wife of the late Vincent 'Vinny' Coyle, who was the Chief Marshall of the local 700-strong civil rights stewards' organisation.
An executive member of the anniversary committee, Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh, a co-founder of NICRA in 1967, is currently working with documentary-makers and other interested sections of the mass media. He hopes that people interested in the anniversary project will make contact with the committee, which is chaired by Denis Haughey, a NICRA executive member. The vice-chair position is occupied by author and human rights lawyer, Michael Farrell, a co-founder of the university student-movement, People's Democracy.
Mr. O'Dochartaigh said:
"The planned reunion is highly desirable as we are conscious that we have not been able to reach all those who were involved in the leadership of the Civil Rights movement in 1968 at a central or local level. We would appeal to anyone whom we have not been able to contact and who is interested in attending this reunion to contact us."
"The reunion is not just for prominent figures of the civil rights era, but aimed also at those many grass-roots' people such as the dockers who downed tools, the shirt factory 'girls' who left their respective workplaces to defy the ban imposed on marches inside Derry Walls, former residents of Springtown Camp and the homeless families who occupied Derry Guildhall, and many more besides. Our invitation is also being extended to those who took part in the 1968 October 5th march and those who made up the mass demonstration in mid-November, the various sit-downs and other protests which took the civil rights struggle into the living rooms of countless millions across the globe". "This planned reunion is already attracting a great deal of interest particularly as many involved in those days have not met for many years, and wish to renew old acquaintances. Interest is also being expressed by younger generations, as well as several community-based groups. It certainly could turn out to be a truly historic get-together and an occasion to remember, for us "oldies", our families, and friends and of equal import, youthful supporters, mindful and appreciative of the principled stand taken and sacrifices made, also for them, by their parents' and grandparents' generations."
Those wishing to participate in the reunions or other 40th anniversary events are invited to contact the local organisers, after 6 pm any evening, on Derry 71-286359 or by firstname.lastname@example.org
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