Northern Ireland

School children to mark Derry civil rights march anniversary

MARCH: The October 5 1968 Northern Ireland Civil Rights' Movement march was baton-charged by police.
MARCH: The October 5 1968 Northern Ireland Civil Rights' Movement march was baton-charged by police.

SCHOOL children from across Derry and Strabane are to be given the chance to question some of the key figures involved in the Northern Ireland civil rights’ movement in 1968.

A workshop will take place at Derry’s Guildhall on Thursday commemorating the civil rights’ movement and the October 5 1968 Duke Street civil rights march. Events have been organised to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march, seen by many as the start of the Troubles.

Organised to demand civil rights for the north’s Catholic minority, it was attended by a number of British Labour MPs. However, it was forcibly stopped by the RUC. Images of the police baton charging marchers, including the MPs, went around the world.

Derry academic and historian Emmet O’Connor will chair a question and answer session featuring some of those involved, including activists Eamonn McCann, Aidan McKinney and Anne Devlin. Dr O’Connor will address the purpose of the movement.

Staff from Derry’s museum service will be on hand to show pupils original artefacts. There will also be a focus on local and international civil rights by Derry’s Nerve Centre. The programme has been designed to help pupils preparing for GCSE history.

Emma McGarrity, of Derry’s Tower Museum, said pupils will have an opportunity to design their own protest murals.

Ms McGarrity said: “The day promises to provide the pupils with active learning that will encourage them to engage with the content being delivered in the classroom.

“It’s so fitting that this workshop is being hosted in the Guildhall as it has been the site of many active protests in the pursuit of civil rights over the years.”

Derry and Strabane mayor, Maolíosa McHugh said the day would give students a chance to find out more about events which impacted on the lives of local people.

“To hear the story from some of the protagonists themselves will be fascinating and a unique opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of some of the events which changed the course of history at that time,” Mr McHugh said.