A slogan taken from a Berkeley University sit-in was written on a gable wall: ‘You Are Now Entering Free Derry’. Radio Free Derry broadcast from Rossville Street Flats. Free Derry was born.

Police incursions were resisted and, for the most part, repelled. 

In the February Stormont election, DCAC vice-chairman John Hume defeated Nationalist Eddie McAteer for Foyle. Civil rights candidates polled well everywhere. Within unionism, anti-reform candidates emerged strengthened. 

Major James Chichester-Clarke replaced Terence O’Neill. 

Demand for and resistance to reform grew in parallel. Many towns saw clashes between civil rights protestors and unionists. The police intervened on the unionist side. 

On 19 April, police burst into a William Street home and battered Sammy Devenny (42) and his family. In the Brandywell, a policeman drew a gun and fired twice – the first shots of the conflict in the city. 

The DCAC, committed to constitutional campaigning in pursuit of moderate aims, faded out of existence. 

Orange marches celebrating the Battle of the Boyne sparked violence on 12 July. At Unity Flats, Belfast, gun-shots were exchanged. The British army was put on standby in Derry

Sammy Devenny died on 16 July. His funeral was the biggest the Bogside had ever seen.

  • Free Derry Corner late 1969

    Formation of the DCDA

    At the end of July, the Republican Club announced that the Derry Citizens’ Defence Association (DCDA) had been established to replace the DCAC. Its purpose was to “defend the area.” Most groups active in the Bogside acquiesced.