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Life of Civil Rights unsung hero to be recalled in talk

Bridget Bond, pictured at Derry's Guildhall beside a young Bernadette Devlin, was a driving force in the emerging civil rights' movement of the 1960s.
Seamus McKinney

THE life and work of one of the great heroes of the early civil rights movement will take centre stage in a talk by fellow campaigner, Eamonn McCann.

Bridget Bond was a driving force in the campaign for better housing conditions in her native Derry in the early 1960s.

Unionist leaders refused to build houses for the city's growing Catholic majority to ensure they retained a gerrymandered-control of the city's corporation.

Mrs Bond became heavily involved in the campaign for better housing after a number of women forced to live in a disused US army camp starting protesting against the lack of housing.

From there she became a pivotal figure in the growing civil rights campaign and a lynchpin for the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in Derry.

In 1972, the Derry woman used her links with Catholic police commander, Frank Lagan in a bid to have the Parachute Regiment withdrawn on Bloody Sunday.

Mrs Bond informed the police chief that original plans to push the anti-internment march through to the city centre had been abandoned in favour of marching to Free Derry Corner.

However, when Mr Lagan informed military leaders on Bloody Sunday, his intelligence was dismissed by Robert Ford, the British Army's commanding officer in Northern Ireland and the original military plan was maintained.

As part of a series of talks to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the start of the Troubles, veteran civil rights campaigner Mr McCann will share his memories of Mrs Bond at a talk in Derry's Tower Museum next Tuesday evening at 7pm.

Emma McGarrity, learning and engagement officer at the Tower Musuem said the talk would provide an insight into the roles of women who refused to “live with oppression and prejudice.”

Ms McGarrity said: “Local women including Bridget Bond had a powerful voice within the movement and Bridget and figures such as Bernadette McAliskey (Devlin) led from the front when they move took to the streets.”

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