Eamonn McCann

Life
1943- ; Derry-born Civil Rights leader (NICRA); ed. QUB; winner of The Irish Times debating award, speaking against the motion that “Ireland's need is socialism”, 1965; became contributor to In Dublin; has written for Sunday World, Belfast Telegraph and Hot Press (columnist); likened to a stormy petrel by Lord Scarman, 1969; issued War and an Irish Town (1973); member of Socialist Workers Party and self-professed Trotskyite; elected vice-Chair of Derry Trades Council; unsuccessful MLA candidate for Socialist Environmental Alliance; present at Bloody Sunday, 29th Jan. 1972; issued Bloody Sunday: What Really Happened (1992) and The Bloody Sunday Inquiry: The Families Speak Out (2005); his part in events was played by Gerard Crossan in the film Bloody Sunday (2002); issued Dear God: The Price of Religion In Ireland (q.d.); a dg. Kitty, with his partner former Mary Holland; now lives with Goretti Horgan.

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Quotations
Civil Rights Association: ‘The CRA had organised a march - the first civil rights march in Northern Ireland - from Coalisland to Dungannon in August to protest against discriminatory housing allocations in that area. About four thousand had marched, and it passed off peacefully despite being prevented by the RUC from reaching its objective, Dungannon market square. / A delegation from the executive of the Civil Rights Association came to Derry to discuss the project with us. The CRA had no branch in Derry. At that point it had few branches anywhere. We met in a room above the Grandstand Bar in William Street. Melaugh, as the man who had thought of the idea, delivered a pep-talk before we went in to meet the delegation: “Remember, our main purpose here is to keep our grubby proletarian grip on this jamboree.” It was good advice. It was immediately clear that the CRA knew nothing of Derry. We had resolved to press for a route which would take the march into the walled centre of the city and expected opposition to this from moderate members of the CRA. But there was none. No one in the CRA delegation understood that it was unheard of for a non-Unionist procession to enter that area. The route we proposed - from Duke Street in the Waterside, across Craigavon Bridge, through the city walls and into the Diamond - was accepted without question. The CRA proposed that all political organizations in the city - including the Unionist Party - should be invited to attend. We argued down the proposed invitation to the Unionists, but accepted that the Nationalists should be asked. We knew that the invitation would put them in a very embarrassing position. If they accepted they would be seen as coming in behind us - a demeaning position for the elected representatives of the people. If they refused we could denounce them as deserters. It was agreed that in the absence of a CRA branch a committee - to be called the Ad-hoc CR Committee - should be set up with one representative from each supporting organization to attend to local details. 5 October was selected as the date for the march because we thought, wrongly as it turned out, that Derry City Football Club was playing away that Saturday. / In the end only five organizations committed themselves far enough to nominate a representative onto the Ad-hoc Committee. It consisted of Johnnie White (Republican Club), Eamonn Melaugh (Housing Action Committee), Finbar Doherty (James Connolly Society), Dermie McClenaghan (Labour Party Young Socialists), and Brendan Hinds (Labour Party). It was suspected that the James Connolly Society existed mainly in Finbar’s mind. The Young Socialists was the Labour Party under another name. Brendan Hinds was a local shop-steward of intermittent militancy who called everyone ‘kid’ and had a penchant for talking in aphorisms, a characteristic which was subsequently to unsettle many a television interviewer’s style. (“Mr Hinds, can you explain the background to these riots?” “Idle hands throw stones, kid.”) / The Ad-hoc Committee never functioned.’ (For longer extract, see infra.)

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[?]War in an Irish Town (1973): ‘At no time between 1918 and 1921 did labour agitation in the North link up with the contemporary struggle for Independence. [...] The tendencies competing for dominance within Sinn Féin were united in one matter - that the class was irrelevant to their struggle, that labour must wait. And wait, and wait, and wait.’ (Q. source.)

Bloody Sunday: ‘In every other atrocity with which Bloody Sunday has been regularly compared or liekened, the victims are acknowledged, more or less universally, as having been wrongly done to death, and the perpetrators damned as wrongdoers. But the Bloody Sunday families were told, in effect, that while they might reasonably, personally, lament the loss of a loved one, they had no wider ground for grievance or legitimate expectation of the killers being punished.’ (Quoted in John Kirkaldy, review of The Bloody Sunday Inquiry; The Families Speak Out, in Books Ireland, March 2008, p.51.)

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References
Refused: Did not respond to Who’s Who in Northern Ireland [1st Edn.] (European Editions, Edinburgh; 1998), and is not included in it.

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