A joint communique on Northern Ireland (1969)

In August 1969 the British Home Secretary, James Callaghan, held meetings with the Northern Ireland prime minister, James Chichester-Clark. On August 29th they signed a joint communique on the future of Northern Ireland:

“Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have 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 have assured the Northern Ireland Government that this position is unaffected by recent events.

The Home Secretary noted two measures already taken… the establishment… of a tribunal of inquiry… to inquire into the recent grave disorders; and [the establishment] of an advisory board under the chairmanship of Lord Hunt to examine the recruitment, organisation, structure and composition of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Ulster Special Constabulary and their respective functions; and to recommend, as necessary, what changes are required to provide for the efficient enforcement of law and order in Northern Ireland…

Attention was drawn to the Northern Ireland government’s white paper on reshaping of local government reforms published in July, which embodied firm proposals for the designation by an independent body of the electoral divisions within the new local government areas. The latter proposal will be implemented by legislation this session. The Home Secretary also noted the Northern Ireland government’s decision to introduce legislation to set up a community relations board, to promote good relations between all sections of the community. Half the members of the board would be Protestant and half Roman Catholic.

Recognising 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… 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 their ultimate redress if conciliation and other procedures are ineffective.

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

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 and well being and prosperity of the province…”