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Civil Rights

Reform or Rebellion?

What were the specific objectives of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland? Was it a desire for reform or rebellion? Who were the key personalities behind the calls for reform? What political changes were enacted as a result of the campaign?



How did the Ulster Unionist Party react to the demands of the civil rights movement, and proposals for power-sharing with the Nationalist community? What political programme did Unionism put forward to restore stability?



The late 1960s exposed existing divisions between the communities in Northern Ireland. What were the causes of these divisions? How true were the accusations of sectarianism and discrimination against the Stormont government?

Political Failure

Protest and Violence

The failure to resolve the political crisis by the end of the 1960s meant the government had to rely on the RUC to enforce its writ. Political protest quickly descended into violence as political divisions were played out on the streets.



Northern Ireland was one of many places demanding political change in 1968. The Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia came to an end on 20th June 1968, four days before the first civil rights march in Northern Ireland took place.

Key Personalities


The 1960s witnessed the emergence of new leaders, notably Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez in the United States and Bernadette Devlin in Northern Ireland. What policies did they espouse and were there any similarities?