The events of that day shaped a political generation: Mayor

President Michael D. Higgins, with the Mayor and Mayoress of Derry and Strabane, Councillor John Boyle and Angela OKane.
President Michael D. Higgins, with the Mayor and Mayoress of Derry and Strabane, Councillor John Boyle and Angela OKane.

The Mayor of Derry & Strabane, Councillor John Boyle, has described it a huge honour to have been involved in the commemoration of the Duke Street march of October 5, 1968, at the weekend.

In his speech welcoming President Michael D. Higgins to the Guildhall on Saturday the Mayor said: “On this occasion it has been important to put aside political affiliations to examine the evolution of civil rights in Derry and across this island.

“However it is also important to remember that no matter how people might try, you can’t edit or revise history. The history makers are a very different breed to the history shapers.”

He said the events of October, 1968 still resonated through the halls and corridors of the Guildhall and that they created the political context for a whole generation.

“Over the years many of us will have often reflected upon the events which took place here in our city on Duke Street in October. 1968. The protestors of those days are 50 years older now and I too am 50 years older.

"However, unlike many of those who addressed the conference and who were there on that day, my second birthday was still a month away in October, 1968.

"The events of that day contributed significantly to shaping my life and the future of my generation. I also reflect upon the fact that it was the courage and determination of the civil rights generation in our city who created the beginning of the conditions which would see very significant change for the better. The path of non-violence which they travelled was a road less taken by some in subsequent years,” he said.

The mayor paid particular tribute to his former party leader, John Hume as well as to the first chair of the Derry Citizens’ Action Committee, Ivan Cooper.

“It is truly appropriate to call to mind the leadership shown at that time and to remember the contributions of people like Ivan Cooper and John Hume to name but two. When you walk the streets of this city it is important to remember that you walk in the shadow of giants,” he added.