Belfast Telegraph

SDLP veteran Brid Rodgers leads civil rights commemoration

By Eamon Sweeney

The SDLP has chosen one of the leading members of its negotiating team in the talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement to head up a committee marking the 50th anniversary of the dawn of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.

Brid Rodgers became involved in the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s.

Born in Donegal, she was educated at University College in Dublin.

A founder member of the party, Mrs Rodgers has held political office north and south of the border.

In 1978 she became the chairperson of the SDLP, later rising to become its deputy leader.

Speaking at a launch for the Civil Rights Committee in Londonderry, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said that 2018 offered an opportunity to deliver "on the lasting legacy of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland on its 50th anniversary".

One of the seminal events at the outset of the Troubles, which alerted the world to the quickly changing political scene here, happened in Derry in 1968. On October 5 that year TV and media images of a civil rights demonstration being attacked by the RUC were beamed around the globe.

Mr Eastwood added: "The movement for political, social and economic rights for every citizen in the North was a watershed period in this island's history.

"The broad coalition of activists - (John) Hume, (Paddy) Devlin, (Ivan) Cooper, (Austin) Currie and others - changed this place through the politics of persuasion. Their fierce endeavour took on a unionist establishment consumed with the denial of rights and they broke down that edifice.

"The civil rights movement belongs to no one person and no one party. But it undeniably played a pivotal role in the history of the SDLP.

"That's something we are immensely proud of and we'll be marking the 50 year anniversary with a series of commemorative events.

"Brid Rodgers played a critical role in the struggle for equal civil and political rights in the North. I'm delighted that she has agreed to lead the efforts to mark the 50th anniversary of the movement."

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