Civil rights veteran who helped organise the October 5th march in Derry in 1968 have announced plans to establish a cross-community “social justice network.”
A meeting will be held in the city tomorrow night to bring together interested individuals and groups representing unionist, nationalist, republican, loyalist traditions, as well as groups representing Travellers and other ethnic minorities.
It is being billed as a “grass roots bridge-building gathering” which will lead to the formation of a Social Justice Network which would promote human rights and civil liberties on a truly cross community basis,” the organisers have said.
The organisers, which include Fionnbarra O’Dochartaigh, one of the founders of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, have said that the network will be non-party political and anti-sectarians in order to “cater for the widest possible diversity of organisational and personal perspectives.”
Invitations have been issued to a number of groups, including Travellers advocates, ethnic minority support groups, the SDLP, and representatives of loyalist communities.
A number of figures from the main churches have also been invited to attend and the organisers have said that Rev David Latimer from First Derry and Claremont Presbyterian Church has signalled his intention to come along.
Rev Latimer made history last month when he became the first protestant cleryman in the North to attend a Sinn Féin ard fheis and described Martin McGuinness as one of the great leaders of modern times.
Civil Rights veteran and former Stormont minister for community relations, Ivan Cooper, has also agreed to attend.
The meeting will be held on October 5th to mark the first anniversary of the first civil rights march held in Derry in 1968. On that occasion civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten by the RUC.
The events of the day were filmed by the world’s media and were broadcast around the world, bringing international attention to the situation in the North and the demands of the civil rights movement.
The day has been described by many historian and commentators as the start of the Troubles.
The October 5th Civil Rights Veterans Association have championed several causes in recent years, including conditions for republican prisoners held in Maghaberry jail.
A spokesperson for the organisers of tomorrow night’s event said; “The proposal to create a Social Justice Network will form part of an open agenda, followed by a finger buffet and traditional music. Further details are available on request from firstname.lastname@example.org, Tom on 07840117491 or Fionnbarra on 02871286359.”