Northern Ireland news

Ulster Unionist peer to address civil rights' commemoration

Ken Maginnis will speak before President Michael D Higgins. Picture by Ann McManus
Seamus McKinney

ULSTER Unionist peer Lord Ken Maginnis is to deliver an address to mark the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Derry.

President Michael D Higgins will deliver the main speech at the four-day festival which starts next Friday.

Many observers view the 1968 march - which civil rights’ campaigners, including British Labour Party MPs were baton charged – as marking the start of the Troubles.

Organisers of the festival, including some of those involved in the original march, have revealed that former Fermanagh and South Tyrone Ulster Unionist MP and former UDR major, Lord Maginnis will speak before President Higgins's address.

Leading human rights lawyers, including Michael Mansfield QC and Guildford Four solicitor Gareth Pierce will also address the festival at Derry’s Guildhall. Other speakers will include former Police Ombudsman Baroness Nuala O’Loan as well as Eamon McCann, Fionnbarra O Dochartaigh and Aiden McKinney who were involved in the original march. The John Hume Civil Rights’ lecture will be delivered by journalist Fergal Keane.

Chairman of the civil rights’ committee, academic Paul Arthur said the range of events at the festival reflected an inclusive approach to the anniversary.

"The Derry programme is the culmination of a series of meetings held throughout the north this year from the Skainos centre in east Belfast to the NewGate festival in the Fountain to the Hewitt School in Armagh and the McCluskey summer school in Dungannon.

“All of these meetings have engaged with human, civil, social and political rights in this the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights,” Professor Arthur said.

Sinn Féin has also organised a march in Derry on Saturday October 6 to commemorate the 1968 march.

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