BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT THE Northern Irish Civil Rights movement is stepping up its organisation in this country in a bid to bring pressure on the Ulster government to grant electoral, legal and economic reforms.
The movement intends to form local clubs in all parts of London, open to all regardless of race, creed or political convictions who are sympathetic to its aims.
Mr. Brendan MacGill, chief organiser, told the CATHOLIC HERALD that he has already contacted seven priests who are in sympathy with the movement and he intends to organise in the Brentwood, Southwark and Westminster dioceses at parish level. The campaign opened with a Press conference in London on Saturday, followed by a rally in Trafalgar Square on Sunday. Mr. Michael Farrell, who opposed Capt. Terence O'Neil on a civil rights platform in the recent Northern Ireland election, speaking at the Press conference. said the movement had given the Government a six-week ultimatum to produce clear evidence that it intended to implement reforms. During the first five weeks no evidence had been forthcoming. Accordingly the movement is to resume its campaign of marches tomorrow with one to Strabane, Co. Tyrone. Although the civil rights movement is protesting at discrimination in housing, jobs and franchise against Catholics, it insists that the problem is largely economic, with the religious divisions merely serving to blur the issue.
Miss Bernadette Devlin, M.P. for Mid-Ulster at Westminster. suggested that the civil rights movement would field a candidate in the Prime Minister's constituency of Huyton, where there is a large Irish vote.
Major Ronald Bunting, a leading Paisleyite supporter, has already announced his intention of standing against Mr. Wilson.
Miss Devlin was almost as caustic about the role of the Northern Ireland Churches as she was about Mr. Wilson. She said that having done nothing in the past, it was best for them not to get directly involved, apart from educating their people.