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1970: Violence flares as Devlin is arrested

Riots have broken out in Londonderry after it was revealed Bernadette Devlin had been arrested.

The Mid-Ulster MP was to address a meeting in Bogside before handing herself in to police after she lost an appeal against her December conviction.

Miss Devlin, 23, was sentenced to six-months in jail for her part in the Bogside riots in 1969. She appealed against the decision but the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal rejected her application earlier today.

Speaking just before her arrest Miss Devlin said: "I was involved with people in defending their area. They were justified in defending themselves and I believe I was justified in assisting their defence."

"If the same circumstances rose again I would have no problems helping them again" she added.


"Things are going backwards again instead of going forwards"

Brigadier Alan Cowan

The police decided to arrest Miss Devlin at a roadblock just outside Londonderry in the hope it would prevent any violent protests.

But the plan backfired when news of the arrest reached the waiting crowds at Bogside.

Violence flared as youths threw stones and quickly escalated to the use of petrol bombs. Soldiers responded with CS gas.

More than 20 soldiers are reported to have been injured. Four have been taken to hospital.

Brigadier Alan Cowan, Commander of the Eighth Infantry Brigade said: "It is very sad indeed. There have been many weeks of quiet and now things are going backwards again instead of going forwards."

The area around Bogside has now been sealed off to prevent further trouble.

Miss Devlin was convicted on three charges of incitement to riot and one of rioting.

She has now been taken to Armagh jail to start her sentence.

In Context
Bernadette Devlin was released from prison on 21 October having served four months of her sentence for rioting.

Miss Devlin was the youngest-ever woman MP when she was elected at the age of 21 in 1969. She served as the Independent Unity member for Mid Ulster from 1969-73.

Having married in 1974, Mrs McAliskey, as she was then known, was shot and wounded when gunmen broke into her house. She survived the attack and continued to champion the cause of Catholics.

In October 1993, she gave evidence to a court in San Francisco on behalf of James Smyth, who escaped from the Maze in 1983. He was fighting the British Government's attempts to extradite him.


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