Mr Billy Kelsall, a former member of the Derry Citizens Action Committee (DCAC) has passed away, the Journal can reveal.
Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh cofounder of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association said: “On behalf of former veterans, and as the coordinator the Civil Rights Network, I wish to express our shock and sadness at the week-end passing of Mr. Billy Kelsall, a former member of the Derry Citizen’s Action Committee.
“That organisation became a broad front determined to bring about major reform, in voting rights, housing, religious discrimination, repressive laws etc,. imposed by the Stormont regime, dating back almost half a century.
“It was created on October 9th 1968, following the dramatic events on Duke Street, where the RUC viciously attacked the city’s first official NICRA demo, four days earlier. After speaking from the floor at the City Hotel on the need for the committee to be broadened to take on board at least one representative of the local long-term unemployed, amid loud applause, and after being urged by the audience, Billy accepted an invitation from the platform party to join the DCAC,
“Billy remained an activist in spite of many threats and attacks. Like many others, he was part of the backbone of what became a mass movement. Billy had a low-profile presence within the DHAC, never joining its executive, nor did he become a prominent public speaker at various sits-downs, marches and rallies. But his influence was considerable among the grass-roots of the movement and his dedication is reflected in the fact that he rarely missed regular meetings or any event organised to bring about major social changes, not only in Derry, but across the Six counties.”