In October 1968, when television pictures of RUC officers baton-charging a civil rights demonstration in Derry were shown around the world, the Northern Ireland civil rights movement became international news.
This push for civil rights was backed by a wide range of political and social activists. It was influenced by television coverage of the black civil rights protests in America and the student protest movement across Europe. The main areas where reforms were sought were: the allocation of public housing, a "one man, one vote" electoral system, fair employment practices in the public service and a restructuring of the RUC. With the population of Northern Ireland divided two-thirds Protestant and one-third Catholic, it was the minority who felt the brunt of discrimination. Public housing was granted by local government authorities, and there was much evidence of discrimination against the Catholic population by local councils in the allocation of houses. Prior to 1969, elections were not held on a "one person, one vote" basis, and gerrymandering was used to secure unionist majorities on local councils.
Gerrymandering is the practice of manipulating geographic boundaries in order to gain political advantage and influence a desired electoral result.
In 1963, Terence O'Neill became Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Seen as a moderate unionist, he set about reforming the economy. He also expressed a desire to improve community relations in Northern Ireland and create a better rapport with the government in Dublin, hoping this would address the sense of alienation felt by Catholics towards the political system in Northern Ireland. However, reforms were too slow in coming for the minority Catholic population, and O'Neill's meeting with the Taoiseach, Seán Lemass, in 1965 raised the ire of loyalists led by the Reverend Ian Paisley. Within his own Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), O'Neill also met with opposition from William Craig and Brian Faulkner.
From the autumn of 1968 onwards, a wide range of activists marched behind the civil rights banner, adopting civil disobedience in an attempt to secure their goals. Housing activists, socialists, nationalists, unionists, republicans, students, trade unionists and political representatives came together across the North. Many of the protesters were bright young university educated Catholics, who had been able to avail of the free education brought in by the 1949 Education Act. This movement attempted to bring a new dynamic to Northern Ireland politics. The demand for basic civil rights from the Northern Ireland government was an effort to move the traditional fault-lines away from the familiar Catholic-Protestant, nationalist-unionist, republican-loyalist and Irish-British divides by demanding basic rights for all citizens of Britain. However, as the civil rights campaign gained momentum, so too did loyalist opposition. Heightened sectarian tension became more difficult to control, and civil disobedience events began to descend into occasions of civil disorder.
This exhibition offers the chance to look at and listen to RTÉ radio and television coverage of the civil rights movement between the summer of 1968 and the spring of 1969. It also shows the reaction to the Cameron Report, which was commissioned to investigate events leading up to the Derry civil rights march of 5 October 1968 and the subsequent unrest. The archive footage displayed here represents the bulk of RTÉ's coverage of the main civil rights events of 1968 and the spring of 1969. Some of the television news clips have no audio because they would have been filmed mute, and would have been voiced by a reporter as they were broadcast.
The accompanying image of the civil rights logo was provided courtesy of the artist Sheila McClean and the Civil Rights Commemorative Committee.
RTÉ's 'Eye Witness' programme looks back at the Caledon protest in a 1979 studio discussion.
The Catholic Goodfellow family were evicted from 11 Kinnard Park, Caledon, where they had been squatting. Mrs Goodfellow describes the eviction.
Angela McCrystal gives a personal account of the housing situation in Dungannon and the formation of the Homeless Citizens League.
Nationalist MP, Austin Currie, locks himself into a council house in protest against the unfair allocation of houses.
Austin Currie talks about the impact of his occupation of a house in Caledon in protest at housing discrimination.
Civil rights demonstrators arrive in Dungannon, where Gary Lennon is served with a notice from the RUC not to enter the Market Square.
RTÉ Radio's 'World This Week' looks back at the beginnings of the campaign for change in Northern Ireland.
Over one hundred demonstrators protested against housing conditions at Londonderry Corporation's monthly meeting by occupying the Guildhall chamber.
In 1972, RTÉ Radio looked back at the Derry march of 5 October 1968 and talks to Austin Currie about his memories of the event.
Pat Sweeney reports on the situation in Derry prior to the civil rights rally.
This report captures the Derry Civil Rights demonstration in full swing.
This report shows a high angle view of the mêlée in Duke Street, showing demonstrators caught between two lines of police.
Pat Sweeney reports on scenes in Derry after the trouble at the civil rights march sparked rioting.
Forty eight hours of rioting followed the disturbances at the civil rights march. Pat Sweeney reports from Derry city, which is now quiet again.
RTÉ's John O'Donoghue interviews William Craig, Northern Ireland Minister of Home Affairs, in the aftermath of the civil rights march in Derry.
RTÉ News footage shows students setting out from Queen's University Belfast and Ian Paisley and his supporters holding a counter-demonstration.
Students from Queen's University Belfast have their civil rights march halted by police.
Nationalist Party leader, Eddie McAteer, is pictured meeting with the Taoiseach Jack Lynch to discuss the situation in Northern Ireland.
Demonstrator, Ciarán McKeown, talks about the aftermath of the student protests and the potential for further demonstrations.
Reporter Pat Sweeney in Portballintrae tries to get reaction from Unionists on the situation in Derry.
On 2 November 1968, John Hume and Ivan Cooper lead members of DCAC (Derry Citizen's Action Committee) along the intended route of the 05 October 1968 march.
Terence O'Neill answers questions following his meeting with Harold Wilson.
At another civil rights march in Belfast, there were scuffles between students and loyalists in Shaftsbury Square.
Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Terence O'Neill appeals for calm and restraint ahead of the Derry march which is due to take place tomorrow.
On the eve of the civil rights demonstration, Minister of Home Affairs William Craig speaks to reporters and outlines his fear of disorder across Ulster if there is trouble in Derry.
On 16 November 1968, the Derry Citizen's Action Committee lead a march through the city of Derry.
The people of Derry hold vigils at St. Eugene's Cathedral in the city to pray for peace.
Eddie McAteer, leader of the Nationalist Party, talks about the mood for civil disobedience in Derry and the new policy adopted by his party.
Workers from the Maydown Industrial Estate, Derry, have their march to the city blocked at Ferryquay Gate by a police truck and sit down in protest.
John Hume, vice-chairman of the Derry Citizens' Action Committee (DCAC), speaks to Pat Sweeney about sectarianism and the civil rights movement.
Shop-fronts boarded up on 29 November, 1968, the eve of the Armagh demonstration.
Loyalist protesters and civil rights marchers gather in Armagh and are separated by a RUC cordon.
Following the demonstrations, shopkeepers remove the protective hoardings from their shop fronts.
Cardinal Conway addresses the congregation of St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, and compliments them on their restraint during the civil rights demonstration.
Ronnie Turner reports on cabinet reaction to the Armagh civil rights demonstration.
John McAnerney, Secretary of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), talks to Ronnie Turner about the RUC's decision to stop their march in Armagh.
William Craig talks about the demonstration in Armagh, the actions of the police, "one man, one vote" and calls for his resignation.
Ian Paisley outlines what he and his followers are trying to achieve.
'This Week' looks back at the calm interviews given to RTÉ Television by Ian Paisley and William Craig and compares them to the more rousing addresses each gave their own supporters that same week.
Derry citizens march to protest at the hearings of cases against people summoned in relation to the civil rights march on 05 October 1968.
This news clip shows the damage caused as a result of altercations following a disrupted civil rights meeting in Dungannon, Tyrone.
Annita Currie, wife of Nationalist MP Austin Currie, describes the intimidation and threats of violence that she has been subjected to at her home in Donaghmore, Tyrone.
In a demonstration inspired by the US civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, a People's Democracy march consisting mainly of students sets out for Derry from Belfast.
The student protesters and members of the Loyal Citizens of Ulster face each other at the railway bridge outside Antrim Town.
There are scuffles at Randalstown, Antrim, where opponents of the People's Democracy march have gathered, led by Major Ronald Bunting.
More scuffles on the civil rights march route, this time at Toome, Antrim, after a flower-pot hits Major Ronald Bunting's car.
Michael Farrell, spokesman for the People's Democracy march, defends the route they have taken and is critical of the protection they have received from the authorities.
A RTÉ News report showing the damage done to a number of buildings in Maghera, Derry, after hours of rioting.
Following a meeting with the Minister of Home Affairs Captain Long, Ian Paisley and Major Ronald Bunting talk to journalists about the People's Democracy march and their own plans.
As Ian Paisley and Major Ronald Bunting addressed their loyalist supporters in the Derry Guildhall, a large crowd of Catholics grew hostile outside.
The People's Democracy march leaves Claudy, bolstered by local support. Michael Farrell addresses his fellow-marchers before they come to Burntollet Bridge, informing them of police warnings. Farrell also provides instruction on the route they will take and how to avoid confrontation. Once they arrive at the bridge, the marchers come under attack and many of the police officers flee.
Students describe how they were attacked at Burntollet Bridge and the failure of the police to take action in their defence.
Gerry Fitt MP addresses a crowd in a nationalist area of Derry and calls on them to defend their property against the police.
Paul Grace, chief steward of DCAC (Derry City Action Committee), explains how they have ended their ban on street demonstrations as a result of the People's Democracy march from Belfast to Derry and subsequent events.
Tom McGurk and Bernadette Devlin, participants in the People's Democracy march, talk to John Howard of RTÉ.
Protestant marcher John McGuffin gives his views on the People's Democracy march in a studio discussion.
Bernadette Devlin, John McGuffin and Tom McGurk, participants in the People's Democracy march, discuss the role of partition in the civil rights protests with Ernest Blythe and Peadar O'Donnell.
In a report for RTÉ's "Seven Days", Rodney Rice looks back on the Belfast to Derry march and the escalation of violence across Ulster.
Donal Kelly reports from a barricade St. Columb's Street, Derry, where police attacked houses in the early hours of the morning on Sunday 5 January 1969.
On a foggy day in Newry, Co. Down, stewards try to organise a civil rights march that would eventually number 5,000.
A civil rights march in Newry begins peacfully protesters marching hand in hand and singing "we shall overcome" but ends in violence. The march descends from a passive protest to violence.
Michael Keogh of the Nationalist Party blames the rerouting of the civil rights march by the police and government for the disturbances in Newry.
Tom Keane talks to RTÉ News reporter, Donal Kelly, about the disturbances of the previous day.
A commission is set up to investigate the violence and civil unrest that has been going on in Northern Ireland over the past months.
The Northern Ireland Chief Whip Roy Bradford talks to RTÉ reporter Ronnie Turner about the commission established by the Government to examine the causes of unrest in Northern Ireland.
Lord Cameron explains why the sittings of the commission of enquiry will be held in private.
Following the publication of the Cameron Report on 12 September 1969, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland James Chichester-Clark, Minister of Development Brian Faulkner and Minister of Home Affairs Robert Porter answer questions from the media.
Martin Wallace reports on the publication of the Cameron Report and the initial reaction from the Northern Ireland Government.
The Northern Ireland Minister for Home Affairs, Robert Porter, on what, if any, impact the Cameron Report will have on the police force and the Special Powers Act.
RTÉ Radio gets reaction to the Cameron Report from William Craig, John Hume, Ronald Bunting, Bernadette Devlin, Eddie McAteer and Gerry Fitt.
Brian Faulkner gives his reaction to the Cameron Report and says that the findings of the report justify the government's line.
Eamonn McCann describes his disappointment with the report and describes it as "under-researched" and "over-written" and contains factual inaccuracies about the injury toll.
Nationalist Party MP Eddie McAteer on the Cameron Report.
On his return from America, Ian Paisley talks to Eddie Barrett about the Cameron Report and his trip abroad.
Michael Farrell talks to Pat Sweeney about references to the People's Democracy in the Cameron Report.
Ronald Bunting gives his reaction to the Cameron Report.
William Craig gives his reaction to the Cameron Report.
Frank Gogarty of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) gives his reaction to the Cameron Report.
As the parliament meets at Stormont to debate the Cameron Report, thousands of loyalists join Ian Paisley in a protest outside.
Martin Wallace reports from outside Stormont on the Cameron Report debate, which has continued into a second day.
Bernadette Devlin gives her reaction to the Cameron Report. Devlin identifies basic social deprivation, lack of jobs and lack of housing as central to the unrest that took place 5 October.
Ivan Cooper gives his reaction to the Cameron Report. Cooper describes the findings of the report as "revealing".
John Hume gives his reaction to the Cameron Report and points the finger at the unionist supporters as the cause of the trouble.