President Michael D. Higgins to address Civil Rights Festival in Derry

President Michael D. Higgins to address Civil Rights Festival in Derry

IRISH President Michael D Higgins has been announced as the keynote speaker at a Civil Rights Festival in Derry in October.

President Higgins will speak at the event commemorating the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march in Derry.

The four-day festival takes place from October 4 to 7, with President Higgins making his address on Saturday October 6.

The event will mark the anniversary of the 1968 Duke Street Civil Rights March, which many consider to be the official start of the Troubles.

The protest aimed to highlight the lack of housing, jobs and electoral fairness in the city at the time.

The RUC blocked the march and used water canons and batons against protesters from the Derry Housing Action Committee and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.

Mayor of Derry John Boyle said that President Higgins was joining an impressive line-up of speakers.

“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," he said.

"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 the festival would host a wide range of events.

"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," he said.

“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."