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Derry 1968-2004: The Struggle Goes On

category derry | history and heritage | feature author Sunday October 03, 2004 16:56author by Various from Derry Report this post to the editors

Celebration of Civil Rights March Anniversary Expresses Outrage at Racist and Homophobic Attacks

From The Newswire: I don't really think yesterday's march should be described as a commemoration march. Sure, it was held to coincide with the 36th anniversary of the Oct. 5th march that is seen as starting the whole civil rights movement. But the idea for the march came first and then got hooked into the Oct. 5th thing. Basically, the SEA (Socialist Environmental Alliance) was looking for some way of responding to the high level of homophobic attacks in the city and also wanting to do something about racist attacks (there have been verbal attacks in Derry, but no physical ones). We thought we should link these two hate crimes and then thought the obvious thing to do was to call a "civil rights for all" march and link it to the history of civil rights activism in Derry.

We contacted the Rainbow Project and the people there thought it a really great idea. Since three of the organisers of the original 5th Oct march are associated with the SEA - Eamonn McCann, Dermie McClenaghan and Johnny White - they spearheaded the calls for the march. Having decided to make it a civil rights march, it was clear that the demands had to include Seamus Doherty, a republican 'dissident' who is being framed by the PSNI. In fact, his framing is so obvious that even the police ombudsman is suggesting the officer in charge of his case should be prosecuted for 'perverting the course of justice'. The march managed to smoke out Sinn Fein and even the SDLP to support the campaign against this miscarriage of justice. It was great to see something between 700 and 1,000 people march down Shipquay Street in support of gay rights and civil liberties and against racism - in spite of it being a wet and blustery day.

Photoessay

This is the original post on this subject.

Several hundered people took part in this years Civil Rights commemoration in Derry.

Several hundered people took part in this years Civil Rights commemoration in Derry.

Representatives from most political parties (SDLP, SF, IRSP and SEA) as well as trade union and community organisations (Derry Trades Council, UNISON, Rainbow Project)took part in an effort to so their disgust and outrage at continuing racist and homophobic attacks.

The family of Derry man Seamus Doherty, currently being held on false charges also spoke of his continuied imprisonment.

Derry Rainbow Project activists at yesterdays rally
Derry Rainbow Project activists at yesterdays rally

author by Raymondpublication date Sun Oct 03, 2004 15:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

These are further images of yesterdays march and rally

Rainbow Project activists
Rainbow Project activists

Eamonn McCann
Eamonn McCann

1968 - 2004 Civil Rights organisers
1968 - 2004 Civil Rights organisers

Free Seamus Doherty Campaign
Free Seamus Doherty Campaign

Demanding Justice for Seamus Doherty
Demanding Justice for Seamus Doherty

author by Michael - SEApublication date Sun Oct 03, 2004 16:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't really think yesterday's march should be described as a commemoration march. Sure, it was held to coincide with the 36th anniversary of the Oct. 5th march that is seen as starting the whole civil rights movement. But the idea for the march came first and then got hooked into the Oct. 5th thing.
Basically, the SEA (Socialist Environmental Alliance) was looking for some way of responding to the high level of homophobic attacks in the city and also wanting to do something about racist attacks (there have been verbal attacks in Derry, but no physical ones). We thought we should link these two hate crimes and then thought the obvious thing to do was to call a "civil rights for all" march and link it to the history of civil rights activism in Derry.
We contacted the Rainbow Project and the people there thought it a really great idea. Since three of the organisers of the original 5th Oct march are associated with the SEA - Eamonn McCann, Dermie McClenaghan and Johnny White - they spearheaded the calls for the march.
Having decided to make it a civil rights march, it was clear that the demands had to include Seamus Doherty, a republican 'dissident' who is being framed by the PSNI. In fact, his framing is so obvious that even the police ombudsman is suggesting the officer in charge of his case should be prosecuted for 'perverting the course of justice'. The march managed to smoke out Sinn Fein and even the SDLP to support the campaign against this miscarriage of justice.
It was great to see something between 700 and 1,000 people march down Shipquay Street in support of gay rights and civil liberties and against racism - in spite of it being a wet and blustery day.

author by Michael - SEApublication date Sun Oct 03, 2004 16:25author address Derryauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Have just been informed there are more photos of yesterday's Civil Rights March here:
http://homepage.mac.com/grow/PhotoAlbum37.html

author by Confusedpublication date Mon Oct 04, 2004 16:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is this the struggle for civil rights? I was under the impression that civil rights have been won. Or maybe you're linking the struggle for equal rights with that for a united Ireland? Is that what the march in Derry was about?

author by Badmanpublication date Mon Oct 04, 2004 17:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It clearly states the reason for the civil rights march in the text. Why don't you read it before bothering to comment?

author by David McSwigganpublication date Mon Oct 04, 2004 20:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The battle for civil rights is constant and on going. It is important that groups such as the SEA and the rainbow project continue to stand up to those who wish to erode civil and human rights, show them that ordinary people will not stand for racist, and homophobic Attacks against inocent members of our comunities.
Confused if you open your eyes and look around at the state of Northern Ireland and contemporary western society in general there is plenty of evidence that the need for civil rights is ever present.

Well done Derry Marchers

author by Confusedpublication date Mon Oct 04, 2004 20:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'The battle for civil rights is constant and on going. 'It is important that groups such as the SEA and the rainbow project continue to stand up to those who wish to erode civil and human rights, show them that ordinary people will not stand for racist, and homophobic Attacks against inocent members of our comunities.'


Well, let me tell you why I am confused. The use of the word 'Civil Rights' in this country (I live in the north by the way!) recalls, for most people, the struggle of the Catholic population for social equality in the late sixties. ..the denier of those rights being the Stormont regime. Now as corrupt as that regime was, it is a bit much to compare it to the mindless idiots who go around the streets of the north beating up gays and attacking immigrants. The mindless idiots who beat up gays can belong to either community, after all. For the latter, yes, human rights are the issue but connecting one struggle with the other is a blatant attempt at nationalist jingoism...as is the use of the word 'struggle' above (in the loaded context of the north).

I support wholeheartedly the marchers commemorating the Civil Rights movement of the sixties. I support any desire to gain human and civil rights for all. You don't have to be a republican to do so.

As for the SEA/SWP and their concern for 'civil rights'. As usual the concern of the SWP leadership is recruitment.

author by Confusedpublication date Mon Oct 04, 2004 20:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And quite obviously gays were being beaten up before 68!

author by ali la pointe - Captain White's flying Columnpublication date Mon Oct 04, 2004 22:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Take for example "Confused"'s comment:

"I was under the impression that civil rights have been won."

Indeed has it? So "Confused" would have us believe that there is no more discrimination against Catholics (not to mention, women, lesbians and gays, people of colour, disabled people, etc. but lets stick to Catholics for this section), A police force that treats both communities equally? Offers them both equal protection? is representative of both communities? a civil service that has equal members of Catholics and Protestants? What about big business? the relative rates of male unemployment in both communities? The judiciary?

Now, I'm not saying that the battle hasn't been won in terms of the very important markers of the demand for one person ("man") one vote, an end to internment (applied in a grotesquely sectarian way by a State which behaved, in spite of what "confused" believes, like a gang of skinheads), decent housing for all and an end to gerrymandering, but to say that the battle had been won, even from the narrow perspective of Catholic civil rights, is plain ludicrous.

"Confused" then goes on to say:
"as corrupt as that regime was, it is a bit much to compare it to the mindless idiots who go around the streets of the north beating up gays and attacking immigrants. The mindless idiots who beat up gays can belong to either community, after all."

Is it really too much to compare a state that has advocated ethnic cleansing, and guarantees impunity for sectarian killers that do its dirty work, whether from within state forces (RUC, British Army, UDR etc) or through the proxy forces that it gave cover and sustenance to over the years (UDA, UVF, and all their noms de guerre).

I think comparing the northern irish state to a bunch of thugs is a gross understatement given its history.

"Confused"'s monicker is well chosen!

author by Jackpublication date Mon Oct 04, 2004 23:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

During the speeches outside the Guilhall, Eamonn McCann rightly defended the fact that Civil Rights should include all the marginalised and all those whose rights are denied, even if prevailing opinion might justify denial of these rights.

It was interesting, therefore, to observe some of the SEA members at the reception in Pepe's afterwards. The Mayor, Gerry O'Hara, who hosted the reception, supported McCann's proposal that a new Civil Rights Association be started to take up the issues which were raised in the march. However, when he said a few words in Irish, and even had the temerity to suggest that the rights of Irish speakers could be included in Civil Rights, there were lots of eyeball-rolling and sarcastic mutterings among the SEA heads. Not unlike, for instance, the reaction of some extreme right-wingers to talk of black culture or the rights of ethnic minorities!

Seems that, to the SEA, there's marginality and marginality in it. Some civil rights are worht fighting for, others are less worth than the latest dogshit walked on (maybe because there's not enough mileage in them?)

How about it, comrades? Do you agree that civil rights are also denied to Irish speakers and their rights are also worth fighting for?

author by No longer confusedpublication date Tue Oct 05, 2004 00:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Take for example "Confused"'s comment:

"I was under the impression that civil rights have been won."

Indeed has it? So "Confused" would have us believe that there is no more discrimination against Catholics (not to mention, women, lesbians and gays, people of colour, disabled people, etc. but lets stick to Catholics for this section),

No, and this is the problem. You, and the title of this thread, are confusing the historical demands of the 1960's Civil Rights (notice the use of capital letters) movement which was what the march in Derry sought to 'commemorate' with the civil and human rights demanded by immigrants and gays. I am simply pointing out that republican/nationalist rhetoric like 'struggle' '1968-2004' is being tacked on to the demands that gays and immigrants have for fair treatment. Now when I say, that 'civil rights have been won" I am talking about the historical demands made at that time: end of internment, gerrymandering etc...The plight of lesbians, gays, people of colour was not high on the agenda in 1968. There is no point trying to say it was.

The point being that, outside of purely totalitarian regimes, it is not the state that persecutes immigrants and gays but individuals in those states with particular mindsets, driven on by, among other thngs, a right-wing media. In your glorious united Ireland, the same racism and homphobia would still exist. Do you think it wouldn't?

Is it really too much to compare a state that has advocated ethnic cleansing,

But is 'Brits Out' not ethnic cleansing?

and guarantees impunity for sectarian killers that do its dirty work, whether from within state forces (RUC, British Army, UDR etc) or through the proxy forces that it gave cover and sustenance to over the years (UDA, UVF, and all their noms de guerre).

The point you are missing is that although the Orange and British states have been guilty of this(never said they hadn't), they have not out-lawed homosexuality, immigration (although I would guess both Ireland and Britain like to outlaw the latter). The behaviour of one state in 1968 cannot be inextricably linked to mindless, homophobic and racist morons in 2004 unless you are saying that people in the north are more racist and homophobic than in France, Spain, the deep south of the US etc....

author by Daithi - SEApublication date Tue Oct 05, 2004 09:44author address Derryauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Quick response to Jack before going to work. This is yet more evidence of the paranoia of Sinn Féin supporters in Derry who think that anyone who is not with them must be a member of the SEA [or the SWP, as they like to paint us all. If the SEA was really just an SWP front, as they keep telling us - as opposed to the broad alliance it actually is - then the SWP really would be the 'mass revolutionary party' they keep going on about].

In fact, most of the eye-rolling Jack talks about was being done by the gay community and, it is true, a few SEA members mainly from the Protestant community, who do not necessarily agree with those SEA members who were involved in organising the very lively Irish language contingents on anti-war demonstrations in the North. The idea of people who do not toe the line to the letter is, of course, shocking to the apparatchiks of New Sinn Féin.

Related Link: http://www.socialistenvironmentalalliance.org
author by observerpublication date Tue Oct 05, 2004 10:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

McCann got 1.6% of the vote in the Euro elections - mainly on the basis of the fact that he is a celebrity. And yet Daithi contends that if the SWP had attained that level of support it would be a mass revolutionary party!!!

author by No longer confusedpublication date Tue Oct 05, 2004 10:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'If the SEA was really just an SWP front, as they keep telling us - as opposed to the broad alliance it actually is - then the SWP really would be the 'mass revolutionary party' they keep going on about].'

The whole point of a front group is to set up broad alliances from which it can hope to recruit. The concept has no meaning if all the members were SWP. The reason SWP is not a 'mass revolutionary party' is because its members leave once they realise how perverse its politics are, once they witness first hand its lack of democracy, and that their only contribution to the movement is selling papers. Hence, the need for recruitment, front groups and so it goes on...

author by ali la pointe - Captain White's flying Column ( neither SF, SWP nor SEA)publication date Tue Oct 05, 2004 15:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I just wanted to raise my voice above the sound of glass houses breaking and salute all the comrades of every hue and none who helped make this important event come together.

author by otto ruhlespublication date Tue Oct 05, 2004 23:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

And let the historical struggle for gays and immigrants (which had its birthday in 1968 and never existed before) continue. Their day will come!!!

author by Daithi - SEApublication date Tue Oct 05, 2004 23:36author address Derryauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Saturday WAS brilliant. And as someone else pointed out, a whole lot of people of very different hues made it a great day. There was a follow-up meeting last night at which I hear it was decided to have a phone tree and a support network in case any other gays are attacked or in case racist attacks start happening here too. Not sure how people can join that network, probably by contacting the SEA or the Rainbow Project.

On the subject of the SEA, McCann won 5.5% of the vote in Foyle in November. While he may be seen as 'a celebrity' in other parts of Ireland, he isn't in Derry. Just ask the Council workers or the train drivers or the NIPSA workers. Anyway, some of us - most if not all the people in the SEA - see elections only as a chance to raise issues more widely. Not sure if anyone, especially McCann, wants to actually get elected. But this way of thinking is totally foreign to New Sinn Féin whose only goal in life these days is to get into power and stay in power.

Related Link: http://www.socialistenvironmentalalliance.org
author by jackpublication date Wed Oct 06, 2004 00:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nice one Daithi trying to paint anybody who supports the rights of irish speakers as "New Sinn Fein", which by the way I'm not a memeber or supporter of.

Then we get these gems:

"most of the eye-rolling Jack talks about was being done by the gay community"

Ah, the gay "community" were collectively rolling their eyebrows? Are you suggesting there are no gay Irish speakers, and that gay people in general oppose civil rights for irish speakers?

" and, it is true, a few SEA members mainly from the Protestant community,"

Ah yes, if you're protestant then it's OK to oppose civil rights for Irish speakers!

" those SEA members who were involved in organising the very lively Irish language contingents on anti-war demonstrations in the North. "

Yes, very exotic weren't they? Pray, where and when did SEA members organise "Gaeil in eadan an chogaidh"? Is this another phantom triumph being heralded by the SEA? I'm sure the people of "Gaeil in eadan an chogaidh" would love to hear about this.

Let's repeat the question, Daithi. Does the SEA, or indeed you in particular believe that Irtish speakers are not being denied civil rights, or if they are that it's not worth considering? And if this is so, where does that put McCann's talk of "marginalised" groups?

author by An Scriostoirpublication date Wed Oct 06, 2004 17:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I guess your just ignorant like the rest of the S.E.A swp, maybe youd be best joining Nu Sinn Fein im pretty sure youd fit in nice enough, if you cant respect the rights of Irish language Activists thats maybe where ye belong. SF do nothing but pay lip service to the language so dont tar me with that brush please, not expectin much from you spooks anyway

author by mucklepublication date Wed Oct 06, 2004 17:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If the SEA is different from the SWP, how come the "Socialist Worker" and no other paper is sold at their events? And that only SWP members such as Columb Brice and Eaman McCann stand for election on the SEA ticket?

Don't waste your breath with them Jack. To these wasters in the SWP, Gay rights, the war in Iraq, or anti-racism is just the latest issue du jour, in thier long-term dream of seeing thousands of people marching behind their banners chanting "Revolution" as the vanguard of the working class, in the guise of whatever front organisation they set up for the purpose - be it the Irish Anti-war Movement, SEA and DAWC in Derry (and the latest the "Derry Civil Rights" - same faces/faeces, different day) - yup as they've been aptly called : "Monopolise Resistance"!

They're wreckers, not doers. Take it from me - I was a member once when younger and foolisher.

author by Daithi - SEApublication date Thu Oct 07, 2004 10:05author address Derrtauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Jack and others attacking the SEA would need to get their facts rights. First, in relation to the Irish language, go and ask "Gaeil in eadan an chogaidh" about the involvement of SEA members. They will confirm it.
Second, of the three candidates who stood in the local elections, just ONE Colm Bryce, was an SWP member. Of the other two, Bill Webster is a former member (long time fulltimer for The Militant) of the Socialist Party while Shauna Deery was never a member of any party. As to standing McCann in both the Assembly and European elections, he was obviously by far the best candidate.
Finally, if you think there was nothing new about the people involved in last Saturday's march, it just shows what an armchair moaner you are - you obviously did not help in organising it in any way. Were you even on the march? Maybe the rain put you off.

Related Link: http://www.socialistenvironmentalalliance.org
author by -publication date Thu Oct 07, 2004 12:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I dare say they probably were, and perhaps by some who wanted civil rights at the time.

Nice "revindication" all the same.

author by jackpublication date Fri Oct 08, 2004 00:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"First, in relation to the Irish language, go and ask "Gaeil in eadan an chogaidh" about the involvement of SEA members. They will confirm it. "

Name one! Being a member of Gaeil in Eadan an Chogaidh, I just asked myself that. No - I didn't see any SEA members running around organising us. If any political group had a strong hand in it, it was probably the Communist Party at the Ionad Buail Isteach (bet you don't even know who they are).

"you obviously did not help in organising it in any way."

Why would I? It's just more front for the SEA.

" Were you even on the march?"

Yes. And in Pepe's afterwards. Not the first time I've been there btw. That's when I observed the SEA cultural intolerance I've described above. And I can most definitely assure you that the Gay "community" as such do not share your bigotry.

I notice you haven't answered Muckle's queries about the "Socialist Worker" being the only paper sold at SEA functions. I never saw the Socialist party rag being sold at the SEA stand outside the Richmond Centre, or any other paper. Not even the "Starry Plougfh"!

author by Daithi - SEApublication date Fri Oct 08, 2004 11:17author email seaderry at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I live in Derry I know Ionad Buail Isteach is in Dublin where the SEA does not organise, so naturally our gaelgóirs will not have been involved down there. They were here in Derry though. I don't imagine you expect me to name the SEA people involved in Gaeil in eadain cogaidh here - I assume the spooks are reading. But if you or anyone wants to email the above address and ask to be put in touch with SEA members who helped organise Gaeil in eadain cogaidh in Derry, someone will sort that out.
As for the thing about Socialist Worker being the only paper sold on SEA stalls - again not true. Every once in a while, the Communist Party turn up and their paper is sold. But the SWPers are there every week.
I was in Pepes also - as I am every weekend and too often during the week also! - and I did not see any more eye rolling for O hEara's bit as gaeilge than about some of the other things he said as bearla, some of which I and my friends [I am part of the gay community here in Derry] found patronising.
I find this discussion very frustrating because it is so ill-informed. To say you had nothing to do with organising the march because it was 'another SEA front' suggests huge ignorance. There were meetings to organise the march attended by SF, SDLP, Rainbow, Pat Finucane Centre as well as SEA - although it's true the initiative came from the SEA.
I suggest that anyone who wants to know the truth behind all this contacts the Rainbow Project in Derry and ask them for the true version of events, because I'm getting fed up of responding to this mud-slinging. Slán

author by Scath Shéamaispublication date Fri Oct 08, 2004 14:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"And that only SWP members such as Columb Brice and Eaman McCann stand for election on the SEA ticket?"

To be fair, Marion Baur (who stood in the Assembly election for SEA) is a member of the CPI as far as I know. While the SEA is essentially a SWP front, it has been given backing by the Communist Party in the six counties.

author by jackpublication date Sat Oct 09, 2004 03:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

" I don't imagine you expect me to name the SEA people involved in Gaeil in eadain cogaidh here - I assume the spooks are reading. "

Is the SEA a secret organisation? You think the spooks are worried about the SEA?

" I did not see any more eye rolling for O hEara's bit as gaeilge than about some of the other things he said as bearla, some of which I and my friends [I am part of the gay community here in Derry] found patronising."

What exactly did he say that you found patronising? I heard him too, and while the guy can be an arrogant arsehole he was right on the button this time.

Or is that it's simply that he's SF that you want to have a go and invent stuff for O'Hara, a favourite tactic by the SWP/SEA for political oponents? You don't regard McCann's desription of migrants who have been attacked here as "black" (Eastern Europeans and Chinese who have born the brunt of these attacks) as "patronising" and dressing up of the facts? And how abvout your own deliberate mispelling of "GaeilgeoirI" as"Gaelgoirs"?

McCann also made the extraordinary statement that there was no racism in Derry in the 60's because there were no black people here then! Is his theory that you need the presence of black people for racism to exist - a pretty good shifitng of the blame onto the victim! In point of fact, there was at least one black person who was not only in Derry at the time but who also took part in marches- a well known driving instructor of Jamaican origin. McCann didn't know this ????

"I find this discussion very frustrating because it is so ill-informed."

On the contrayr I'm only too well informed.

author by mucklepublication date Mon Oct 11, 2004 19:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Nice one Jack.

Another thing McCann said during his speech, referring to black people and gay people, was that "they're just like us". Perhaps McCann would like to elaborate on who "they" and "us" are.

This remark from McCann isn't just condescending. It's racist.

author by rónán - Gaeil In Éadan An Chogaidhpublication date Thu Oct 21, 2004 16:44author email eolas at craiceailte dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

A Chairde,
Ar eagla na mí thuisceana .... Cúpla focal i mBéarla leis an scéal a chur ina cheart....Gaeil In Éadan An Chogaidh, is based in Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal, but we have members in Letterkenny, Derry, Belfast, Dublin, and Galway. Gaeil In Éadan An Chogaidh was set up by a number of Gaeltacht people, who are not part of any political party or group. Members of S.E.A., Conradh na Gaeilge, Sinn Fein, Republican Sinn Fein, Fíanna Fáil, Gaeilgeoirí Aeracha Aontaithe, Conamara In Aghaidh An Chogaidh , and un affiliated Gaeil joined us on anti war protests in Shannon, Dublin, Belfast, Galway, and Derry in the past few years. We welcome all Gaeil, regardless of political affiliation. Our comrádaithe in Ionad Buail Isteach, an Irish language drop in centre in Dublin, also organised a lively contingent at the march in Dublin, during the Bush visit.
Níos lú den chacamas anois, a shóisialaithe neamhshóisialta.
Further information on Gaeil In Éadan An Chogaidh is available at www.craiceailte.com
Tiocfaidh Ár mBláth!

Related Link: http://www.craiceailte.com
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