Cameron Report on unrest in Northern Ireland (1969)

The Cameron Report, handed down in September 1969, was a British inquiry into the causes of unrest on Northern Ireland between October 1968 and January 1969. The inquiry examined contributing factors on all sides. The report’s conclusions were as follows:

“Having carried out as full an investigation as lay within our competence we can summarise our conclusions upon the immediate and precipitating causes of the disorders which broke out in Londonderry on October 5th 1968 and continued thereafter both in Londonderry and elsewhere on subsequent dates. These are both general and particular.


1. A rising sense of continuing injustice and grievance among large sections of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland, in particular in Londonderry and Dungannon, in respect of (a) inadequacy of housing provision by certain local authorities (b) unfair methods of allocation of houses built and let by such authorities, in particular; refusals and omissions to adopt a ‘points’ system in determining priorities and making allocations (c) misuse in certain cases of discretionary powers of allocation of houses in order to perpetuate Unionist control of the local authority.

2. Complaints, now well documented in fact, of discrimination in the making of local government appointments, at all levels but especially in senior posts, to the prejudice of non-Unionists and especially Catholic members of the community, in some Unionist controlled authorities.

3. Complaints, again well documented, in some cases of deliberate manipulation of local government electoral boundaries and in others a refusal to apply for their necessary extension, in order to achieve and maintain Unionist control of local authorities and so to deny to Catholics influence in local government proportionate to their numbers.

4. A growing and powerful sense of resentment and frustration among the Catholic population at failure to achieve either acceptance on the part of the Government of any need to investigate these complaints or to provide and enforce a remedy for them.

5. Resentment, particularly among Catholics, as to the existence of the Ulster Special Constabulary (the ‘B’ Specials) as a partisan and paramilitary force recruited exclusively from Protestants.

6. Widespread resentment among Catholics in particular at the continuance in force of regulations made under the Special Powers Act, and of the continued presence in the statute book of the Act itself.

7. Fears and apprehensions among Protestants of a threat to Unionist domination and control of Government by increase of Catholic population and powers, inflamed in particular by the activities of the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers, provoked strong hostile reaction to civil rights claims as asserted by the Civil Rights Association and later by the People’s Democracy which was readily translated into physical violence against Civil Rights demonstrators.


8. There was a strong reaction of popular resentment to the Minister’s ban on the route of the proposed Civil Rights march in Londonderry on October 5th 1968, which swelled very considerably the number of persons who ultimately took part in the march. Without this ban the numbers taking part would in all probability have been small and the situation safely handled by available police forces.

9. The leadership, organisation and control of the demonstrations in Londonderry on October 5th 1968, and in Newry on January 11th 1969, was ineffective and insufficient to prevent violent or disorderly conduct among certain elements present on these occasions.

10. There was early infiltration of the Civil Rights Association both centrally and locally by subversive left wing and revolutionary elements which were prepared to use the Civil Rights movement to further their own purposes, and were ready to exploit grievances in order to provoke and foment… disorder and violence in the guise of supporting a non-violent movement.

11. This infiltration was assisted by the declared insistence of the Civil Rights Association that it was non-sectarian and non-political, and its consequent refusal to reject support from whatever quarter it came provided that support was given and limited to the published aims of the Association.

12. What was originally a Belfast students’ protest against police action in Londonderry on October 5th and support for the Civil Right movement was transformed into the People’s Democracy – itself an unnecessary adjunct to the already existing and operative Civil Rights Association. People’s Democracy provided a means by which politically extreme and militant elements could and did invite and incite civil disorder…

13. On the other side the deliberate and organised interventions by followers of Major Bunting and the Reverend Dr. Paisley, especially in Armagh, Burntollet and Londonderry, substantially increased the risk of violent disorder on occasions when Civil Rights demonstrations or marches were to take place, were a material contributory cause of the outbreaks…

14. The police handling of the demonstration in Londonderry on October 5th 1968 was in certain material respects ill co-ordinated and inept. There was use of unnecessary and ill controlled force in the dispersal of the demonstrators, only a minority of whom acted in a disorderly and violent manner. The wide publicity given by press, radio and television to particular episodes inflamed and exacerbated feelings of resentment against the police, which had been already aroused by their enforcement of the ministerial ban.

15. Available police forces did not provide adequate protection to People’s Democracy marchers at Burntollet Bridge and in or near Irish Street, Londonderry on January 4th 1969. There were instances of police indiscipline and violence towards persons unassociated with rioting or disorder on January 4th-5th in Londonderry and these provoked serious hostility to the police, particularly among the Catholic population of Londonderry, and an increasing disbelief in their impartiality towards non-Unionists…”