No Catholics on the Lockwood committee

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Gerry Fitt: ‘The only consideration which activated the minds of the Unionist powers . . . was that two-thirds of the population of Londonderry were Catholics. They sited the university in the heart of Coleraine . . . [a] unionist-dominated area’—widely believed at the time, but is it true? (Victor Patterson)

Gerry Fitt: ‘The only consideration which activated the minds of the Unionist powers . . . was that two-thirds of the population of Londonderry were Catholics. They sited the university in the heart of Coleraine . . . [a] unionist-dominated area’—widely believed at the time, but is it true? (Victor Patterson)

Comment arose that no Catholic was on the Lockwood team. Early on, Stormont considered a committee of just four, all local, with one to represent ‘the Roman Catholic interest’. As a bigger inquiry led by UGC nominees emerged, G.B. Newe of the Northern Ireland Council of Social Service was invited to join but declined because of prior commitments. He regretted that ‘so many of my fellow-Catholics have been slow to serve in this way’. Had the ‘Roman Catholic interest’ been pursued, the committee would have appeared more balanced. But there is nothing to suggest that religion was relevant. The English academics took the key decisions. The committee members were Sir John Lockwood, master of Birkbeck College and former vice-chancellor, University of London; Sir Willis Jackson, Imperial College, London, University Grants Committee; Rosemary Murray, co-founder and tutor-in-charge, New Hall, Cambridge, who had been a wartime Wren in Derry; Sir Peter Venables, principal of the College of Advanced Technology, Birmingham, and later founder of the Open University; John Glen, former civil servant in the Northern Ireland ministry of education, who had attended Foyle College, Londonderry; B.R. Henderson, managing director of Ulster Television; William H. Mol, Ballymena Academy, Ulster Headmasters’ Association; and Denis Rebbeck, chairman of Harland and Wolff.

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