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Brendan Mac Lua Commemorative Lecture
‘Why 1968 still Matters – Northern Ireland at the Crossroad’
Guest Lecturer Professor Marianne Elliot
The attack on the Civil Rights Association march in Derry on 5 October 1968 is marked as the beginning of a thirty year period of civil unrest and violence in Northern Ireland. In her lecture almost fifty years to the day of the anniversary of this seminal event Professor Marianne Elliott will discuss the background and development of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association including its impact on Queens University Belfast where she was a student at the time. Professor Elliott will ask why then, as now, despite consistently moderate views being expressed in opinion polls in Northern Ireland, local politics there always seems to be undermined in reality by a pervasive and persistent sectarianism. Terence O’Neill, Northern Ireland’s Premier at the time said famously that “Northern Ireland is at the Crossroads”. Marianne argues that fifty years later his words are still extremely relevant in Northern Ireland.
Professor Marianne Elliott is Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool. She was born in Belfast and was Director of the Institute from 1997 to 2014 and was the first Chair of Irish Studies from 2007 to 2014. She is the author of “Wolfe Tone: Prophet of Irish Independence”; “The United Irishmen and France”; “Robert Emmett: The Making of a Legend” and “The Catholics of Ulster: A History”.
Professor Elliott has played an important role in the promotion of peace efforts in Northern Ireland, most notably serving in the Opsahl Commission in 1993 and co-writing its report, “A Citizens Enquiry”. In 2000 she was awarded an OBE for services to Irish Studies and the Northern Ireland peace process.
Copies of Marianne Elliott’s latest book , “Hearthlands” (Blackstaff Press), will be available for sale at this lecture. This is a portrait of White City, a mixed religious housing estate in North Belfast where Marianne grew up. The book captures the pre- Troubles era and the subsequent political and social changes that destroyed such estates throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland.
This lecture will be the centrepiece of the University of Nottingham Trent Civil Rights 50th Anniversary “Voices of 68” exhibition which will be displayed at the Irish Cultural Centre 8th October -21st October.
Brendan Mac Lua who died in 2009 was the co-founder and long-serving editor of the “Irish Post” newspaper.