The police assault on the march splashed the truth of unionist rule onto television screens across the world.

Formation of Derry Citizens’ Action Committee

On 9 October, the 15-strong, all-male Derry Citizens’ Action Committee (DCAC) was formed, including Catholic and Protestant businessmen and most of the 5 October organisers. Shiela McGuinness was co-opted after protests by women, reflecting the first stirrings of the women’s liberation movement.

Queen’s University students established People’s Democracy to push ahead through direct action. 

A 10,000-strong DCAC march along the 5 October route passed peacefully. There were large NICRA demonstrations elsewhere. Many ended in clashes with police.


In November, O’Neill’s government proposed reforms, including a review of the Special Powers Act, the abolition of Londonderry Corporation and universal local government franchise. Anti-reform unionists within O’Neill’s party pledged resistance. Dr. Ian Paisley led street-protests against change and foretold bloodshed.

The DCAC called a moratorium on marches to give O’Neill’s proposals a chance. But on New Years Day, People’s Democracy set out to march from Belfast to Derry. Marchers were repeatedly attacked by loyalists. At Burntollet, outside Derry, police joined in the assault.

The Bogside was outraged. Youths barricaded the area. In the early hours of 5 January, a police invasion met mass resistance.