The history of the civil rights movement in Fermanagh will be explored in a new book which will launch next week.

‘The Fermanagh Civil Rights Campaign’, by Dermot Maguire, will be launched next Thursday in Fermanagh House, Enniskillen at 8pm.

Author Dermot – who lives in Newtownbutler – spoke to The Impartial Reporter on his findings from the book.

He has authored books before, but the former teacher conducted much of the research for this book.

“Literally the month of Covid [March, 2020] I was asked to do it. The libraries were not open and I have a fair library myself, and I was given photocopies of The Impartial Reporter and The Fermanagh Herald as well as local sources.

“It was a year or so before libraries opened again and I could get to them and the Linen Hall in Belfast.”

The first two chapters deal with the time preceding the civil rights movement.

Speaking about the period in Fermanagh and its significance in the overall civil rights movement, Dermot said: “You had [notable civil rights events in] Dungannon, Derry and Armagh, and you had the Belfast to Derry walk.

“The Fermanagh Civil Rights Association was formed in February, 1969, and [Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terence] O’Neill had his crossroads election in February, 1969, so quite a bit of civil rights marches [across Northern Ireland] had happened in 1968/9.”

The book explores some of the key people within the civil rights movement within Fermanagh, and the main groupings as well as the context of the time.

“I’ve mentioned some of the People’s Democracy (PD); there was the Fermanagh Civil Rights Association, and the PD, which was a student group. The PD was a bit more radical and a bit less disciplined, you could say. It lasted a few years, and then faded away.”

When asked what he learned in his research, Dermot said: “I learnt how complicated it was!” he said with a laugh.

“There were a lot of agendas, but I went on a few marches, and everything was nice and simple – but when you’re that age and on a march, everything seemed nice and simple.”

Dermot, who was involved “on the fringes” in the early days of the civil rights movement in Fermanagh, added: “The book is not totally dispassionate, but I hope it is seen as fair.

“At the very beginning [of civil rights marches], there was an effort to be broadly-based, but it didn’t last, partly because of mentalities, partly because of attitudes, but it became a more Nationalist thing quite quickly.”

He continued: “The big thing I learned even after all this time was how involved Republicans were at the beginning of the civil rights association, even NICRA [Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association], and they were in there from the beginning.

“NICRA was not the be-all and end-all, but a lot of the civil rights groups were independent.”

‘The Fermanagh Civil Rights Campaign’, by Dermot Maguire, will be available to purchase from Waterstones, Enniskillen and McBrien’s Newsagents, Lisnaskea.

A launch event for the book will take place next Thursday in Fermanagh House, Enniskillen at 8pm.