Speaking at a public debate on ‘Civil Rights – Lost Opportunities’ as part of the West Belfast Festival / Féile an Phobail, Hugh Scullion of the Workers Party said
Unjustifiable “Had the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and other progressive forces been allowed to pursue their legitimate demands, then those who engaged in the bloody and unnecessary carnage inflicted over three decades could never have purloined the issue of civil rights as a pretext to justify their despicable and unjustifiable campaign of terror.
Thousands of lives were lost as was the opportunity for a united approach to tackling the social injustices of our society”
Divided community “Opportunities were missed”, he said “and opportunists have left us with a sad legacy. Fifty years on, our community is still divided: segregated education and segregated housing are still with us. Thirty per cent of our children are living in poverty. Low income homes are the norm, and forty percent of the population is blighted by fuel poverty. Life expectancy is a postcode lottery.
Socialist society “NICRA won many reforms but the fundamental change required to bring about real equality has yet to be realised. That can only come with the creation of a new future, based on a united working class, a bill of rights that rejects sectarianism and racism and that builds a democratic, secular and socialist society”, he concluded
Panel members: Nelson McCauseland, Brid Rodgers, David McCann (Deputy Editor of the Slugger O’Toole website), Francie Molly and Hugh Scullion