Ulster step nearer one man one vote
AS ULSTER this week struggled through one of the blackest and most critical periods in its histoty, Captain O'Neill, Prime Minister of N. Ireland won support from his ruling party for the principle of "one man one vote" demanded by the civil rights movement.
Parliamentary members of his Unionist Party voted by 28 to 22 in favour of the municipal elections reform after the Premier had threatened to resign if they rejected the move. The vote of support for Captain O'Neill, whose conciliatory policies toward the Catholic minority have brought him under party attack, ended the immediate threat of a Government collapse. But the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. James Chichester-Clark, regarded as an O'Neill supporter, announced his resignation immediately after the stormy party meeting.
He said he was resigning "purely on the question of the timing of reform. It may possibly incite the Protestant militants to bloodshed md will not stop the civil rights campaign."
Since the present crisis began at the weekmd, following clashes between the police and civil rights demonstrators in Londondeny and Belfast, no official statement on the situation has been made by the Irish Conference of Bishops.
On Sunday, however, at the height of the disturbances at Bogside, leading churchmen of all denominations and MPs issued a combined appeal. Bishop Farren, Catholic Bishop of Deny; Bishop Tindle, Anglican Bishop of Deny and Raphoe; and leaders of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches asked the people of Bogside to keep calm and stay off the streets. They also asked the not squad police to withdraw from the area for five hours.
In the House of Commons on Tuesday Miss Devlin, 22, MP for Mid-Ulster, made an eloquent and provocative maiden speech during the emergency debate on Ulster. Mr. Callaghan, Home Secretary, made it plain that the British Government supported a "one man, one vote" policy.
In Ulster itself tension grew as more violence occurred in Belfast. Riot police charged after militant civil rights demonstrators after stones were thrown at buses and windows.
The Catholic Herald, April 25, 1969.