27 Sept 2022

President Michael D Higgins to speak at Derry event marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March

Michael D. Higgins
The launch of the programme for the international Civil Rights Festival, which will run from 4-7 October 2018, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Duke Street Civil Rights March, will take place this week, 11am on Thursday 16 August 2018 in the Whitaker Room, Guildhall, Derry. The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, will formally launch the programme together with Professor Paul Arthur, Chair of the 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Commemoration Committee. President Michael D Higgins will make a keynote address at the Civil Rights Festival on Saturday 6 October, 2018. Full details of the programme will be announced at the launch on Thursday. Speaking ahead of the event, Councillor Boyle said: “I can think of no greater honour or privilege in my term as Mayor of Derry and Strabane, than to be launching the 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Festival. I believe that it is fitting that this significant anniversary event will be staged in the Guildhall as the events of October 5th 1968 continue to resonate throughout those particular corridors. “I am delighted that President Michael D Higgins has accepted an invite to attend. His officials have confirmed that he will be joining an impressive line-up of speakers and performers who have now committed to attend the Festival. The Mayor’s office is continuing to work along with the festival organisers to secure other contributors from the across the political spectrum on these islands.” Professor Paul Arthur, Chair of the Civil Rights Commemoration, said: “We have tried to make the Civil Rights Festival in Derry as inclusive and reflective as the times demands. We are aware that in the midst of the Decade of Commemorations (and indeed the eighteenth months of the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly) this is the 70th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th Anniversary of the Belfast Agreement. We are aware too that in the context of deeply polarized global politics, creating a climate conducive to human rights is no easy task. “We hope that the programme has begun to address the malign legacy of the Troubles by recognizing that the Civil Rights movement has been an amalgam of the generational, class, gender and ideological struggles that continue to face issues such as spatial segregation, racism, sectarianism and challenges to the LGBT, travelling and migrant communities. “We want to move away from the adversarial debate of ‘them’ and ‘us’ by creating a dialogue of recognition and reciprocity. It is appropriate that we are bringing this together in Derry - the site of that historic event fifty years ago - a truly seminal moment in the struggle for civil rights.”

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