British Home Secretary’s communique on reforms (1969)




On August 27th 1969 the British Home Secretary, James Callaghan, visited Belfast and met with representatives of the Northern Ireland government. Three days later Callaghan issued the following communique:



“Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom has reaffirmed the pledges previously given: that Northern Ireland will remain a part of the United Kingdom as long as its Parliament and people so wish, and has assured the Northern Ireland government that this position is unaffected by recent events.

The Home Secretary noted two measures already taken as being of particular importance in the restoration of confidence: the establishment… of a tribunal of inquiry under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Scarman, to inquire into the recent grave disorders; and an Advisory Board… to examine the recruitment, organisation, structure and composition of the RUC and USC and their respective functions…

The Northern Ireland Ministers reported to the Home Secretary on the progress being made with the reforms already announced. They informed him that in addition to legislation already passed… they intend to introduce legislation to establish machinery for the investigation of citizens’ grievances against local authorities or other public authorities…

Recognising as they do the need to maintain the momentum of reform, Northern Ireland Ministers intend to consider the accelerated recall of Parliament to press on with measures which are now being prepared, with a view to their early enactment…

The Home Secretary informed the Northern Ireland Cabinet that the United Kingdom Government had agreed to make a grant of £250,000 in order to relieve the present distress in Northern Ireland. It will be used:

a. to relieve the immediate distress of individuals by providing clothing, food, medical care and essential furniture (eg beds, bedding and cooking utensils);

b. to spread the money as far as possible to satisfy the most urgent needs; and

c. to provide a small cash grant where provision in kind is not appropriate…

It has been agreed that effective action in the following fields is fundamental to the creation of confidence:

1. Equality of opportunity for all in public employment, without regard to religious or political considerations.

2. Protection against the incitement of hatred against any citizen on the grounds of religious belief.

3. Guaranteed fairness in the allocation of public authority housing, with need, assessed by objective criteria, as the only relevant yardstick.

4. Effective means not only for the investigation of grievances against public bodies, but for their ultimate redress if conciliation and other procedures are ineffective.

5. Proper representation of minorities, to be assured at the elected levels of government by completely fair electoral laws, practices and boundaries, and at nominated or appointed levels by a recognition that such minorities have a right to an effective voice in affairs…

The fair allocation of houses by public authorities; the avoidance of any discrimination in any form of public employment; and the promotion of good community relations…

The Home Secretary joined with the Northern Ireland Cabinet in appealing to all citizens of Northern Ireland to use their influence to restore harmony between all sections of the community, in the interests of the well-being and prosperity of the Province. The Home Secretary said that speedy implementation of the reforms already announced and action following the further studies would go far to reduce tension and restore confidence and deserved a co-operative response from all sections of the community in Northern Ireland.”