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Peoples Democracy Member 1969 – by Peter Cosgrove – Part One. October 7, 2014

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Irish Politics, The Left.

Peter Cosgrove a former Peoples Democracy member sen’t a history of the events of 1969 and the early Peoples Democracy to The Irish Republican & Marxist History Project. Its a fascinating read and another voice on that tumultuous period.

Peoples Democracy Member 1969 – by Peter Cosgrove – Part One.


1. roddy - October 8, 2014

Although barely 11 yrs old ,I remember a lot of what Peter mentions about 1969.Even then my family were tuned into politics big time. The situation was constantly discussed by my parents and older brothers and sisters.There was a great sense of having arrived at a place where things would never be the same again.Our recently acquired TV was switched to all the bulletins from BBC ,UTV and “Athlone” as my father called it. I gladly forsook my favourites like “bonanza” and “The Saint” to watch momentous events unfolding ,some involving people and places I knew well.My 10 yr old brother and me were only home from school when the Burntollet march came up our road .Children roamed freely in rural areas in those innocent times and we immediately joined in and followed the march for up to a mile.We fell out when we reckoned we were too far from home and returned to our mother for our tea.She passed no remarks on our marching as if it was the most natural thing in the world.When Da came home from work ,he contacted my uncle who drove a car load to Brackareilly that night with us youngsters packed in along with the rest.I remember the marchers in the hall but to be honest I saw no armed guard ( although they could have been out of sight for tactical reasons).I also remember vividly Bernadettes election campaign and attending outdoor meetings with my parents and elder siblings.There was also great mirth about the ammount of personation that went on “just to make sure”! Before the usual suspects jump in about “the resident shinner” etc ,republicanism showed no signs of division ( in my area at least) at this time and everyone pulled together in the one cause.


2. NollaigO - October 18, 2014

The Irish Republican & Marxist History Project has now put Part Two up on their website. I hope that the document will now be part of the Archive.As your introduction says it’s a fascinating read. It is written in a very easy-to-read style.

While the Belfast to Derry January march of 1969 (often described as the Burntollet march) has been much commented on then and ever since*, other parts of Peter Cosgrove’s memoir describe events which are less well recorded: The Peoples Democracy [PD] participation in the 1969 Stormont election; Bernadette’s election for Mid Ulster; Peter’s experiences trying to work in the Northern Ireland schools where he fell foul of the Catholic hierarchy; August 1969 behind the barricades** and the PD’s launch of Radio Free Belfast where they experienced the heavy hand of a political censor sent up by the Dublin Republican leadership (Shorely Editor?!); again the role of the Catholic Church is recorded where their antics in the areas behind the barricades is described.
This historical record has been available for some time but is only now being made publically available on the net.
Long overdue!

* Apart, possibly, from the anecdote ” …..In Antrim we picked up an elegant young man who was reading “Dialectical Materialism” by Henri Lefevre. He was Paul Bew who had come over from Cambridge to join the march…….”
Bew used to intimate that he had been on the march from the beginning – “I should have stayed in bed that morning!”

** “….After a while Gerry Fitt MP came in. He had come to ask for an armed escort to Aldergrove airport ….. The young man in charge who later became a well known Republican detailed two men to take him to the airport….”
Can’t for the life of me work out who the young man might have been!


WorldbyStorm - October 18, 2014

Will definitely add that into the Archive NollaigO, indeed had always intended to do so but have a list of stuff weeks long to get through – which is a good sign! 🙂


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