A time of change in the sixties

THE sixties in Lurgan indicated a time of changes both in politics and public life.

Sunday, 2nd June 2013, 4:00 pm

Some 500 people in January 1969 packed into the LCA in town to form a ‘non-sectarian, non-violent’ Lurgan branch of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association.

Twelve committee members were appointed out of the 26 people nominated.

There was a conspicuous absence of Protestants and one speaker pointed out that every church body and organisation in town had been invited to attend.

The aims of the group were justice, freedom and truth and their policies were non-political, non-sectarian and non-violent.

Members of the first committee were: Dr D. Deeney, Alf Murray, A. J. Kennedy, Jarleth Campbell, Tom French, Joe O’Hagan, Pat McMahon, Esther McMahon, John Murray Sen, A. Nangle and Mary Keville.

Mr Pat McMahon, presiding, said at the outset that the composition of Lurgan Borough Council at the time was sufficient reason for a Civil Rights branch in Lurgan.

Earlier that year Alderman William Gordon was elected as Mayor of Lurgan.

After 20 years service with the council he succeeded the youngest ever Mayor of the town, Councillor Samuel Gardiner.

Alderman Gordon would be the last Mayor of Lurgan as the local council came under the umbrella of Craigavon Borough Council following local government re-organisation in the early seventies.

Better road links to the town were set to improve with the M1 likely to be open six months before schedule.

Then Minister of Development, Mr William Craig, said that work was progressing well and the link to Belfast should be operating by January 1966.

On a more sinister note there was a growing problem of men trying to entice children into cars.

One young girl was approached by a man who said he was a photographer and made certain suggestions to her.

There was also an assault on a girl and a case of indecent exposure.

Head Constable, Patrick McCullough, said there was hardly a week passed without the police receiving a report of such incidents.

“We are very perturbed about this definite increase,” he said. “All children should be aware of the dangers.”