RTÉ's 'Eye Witness' programme looks back at the Caledon protest in a 1979 studio discussion.

In this extract, presenter Tom Savage gives the background to Northern Ireland in 1968, the lead-up to Caledon and the beginnings of civil disobedience as a form of protest.

Tom Savage talks about "feared abbreviations" that have emerged in the language of Northern Ireland such as UDA, UVF, and PROVO, which didn’t exist 12 years previously. He also talks about the notion of "pre-ordained politics" amongst unionists and nationalists.

This report provides the background to the Caledon protest and the resulting civil unrest.

In June 1968, a Catholic family were evicted from a house in Caledon in Co. Tyrone, where they had been squatting. On the 13th of the month, a 19 year old single girl was moved into the house next door. She was a Protestant and secretary to a Unionist politician.

All hell broke loose and Austin Currie made a claim of blatant discrimination and took the case through all the proper channels but achieved nothing. In Stormont, John Taylor MP, strongly defended the actions of the council and in the course of a stormy session, Austin Currie was ordered by the speaker to leave the house. In protest, Currie went back to the council house in Caledon and occupied it with two friends until they were evicted by police in a barrage of publicity.

This affair created ripples with a protest march planned with the support of the Campaign for Social Justice and the Civil Rights Association. Currie argued that if justice was not forthcoming, then it might be time to resort to civil disobedience. Eddie McAteer, leader of the Nationalist Party, warned at Stormont that the incident at Caledon could lead to further civil unrest.