They did this by discriminating in houses and jobs in favor of Protestants and by gerrymandering local boundaries, which gave Protestants a majority in the local government of Londonderry, a predominantly Catholic area. In 1967 Catholic nationalist and republican leaders formed the Northern Irish Civil Rights Association (NICRA), inspired by the Civil Rights Movement in the US, to campaign against discrimination (Purdy, 2000).
Goulding's plan caused a decisive split in the IRA and its political wing in 1969-70. Traditionalists rejected Goulding and set up the Provisional IRA, taking its name from the 1916 Provisional Government. And it was the 'Provos' (Purdy, 2000) who rigorously stuck to a strategy of bombings and shootings in the 1970s and 1980s with some hardcore support in working-class Catholic ghettos in Belfast and Londonderry. Attacks on the British Army and the Royal Ulster Constabulary were justified by the claim that the Provos were engaged in a war against an occupying power. The political dimension was neglected until some of the younger IRA leaders, notably Gerry Adams and Martin MacGuiness, moved into Provisional Sinn Fein. Then and only then did a disposition to compromise emerge with successive IRA ceasefires, and the amazing recent spectacle of Sinn Fein members taking up appointments in the new Northern Ireland Assembly. The strategy of abstentionism had at long last been cast aside.
In the words of Purdy, (2000) People's Democracy was formed in October 1968 by students at the Queen's University, Belfast, as a radical, socialist offshoot of NICRA. It became the principal initiator of violence in the North, seeking revolution and confrontation as it marched into Protestant areas and helped to destroy the moderate centre in Ulster politics. People's Democracy was at the centre of nearly every violent confrontation between civil rights demonstrators and the unionists, backed up by the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary). On 4 January 1969 there was a civil rights march (based on Martin Luther king's Selma freedom march in 1965) from Belfast to Londonderry, organized by People's Democracy. It was attacked outside Derry by a Protestant mob wielding cudgels: the RUC gave the marchers no protection. Later that day the RUC and 'B' Specials (Protestant special constabulary) went on the rampage in Derry's Catholic Bogside. In retaliation the inhabitants sealed off the Bogside, making it a 'No-Go area' and called it Free Derry (Townson, 2006).
These events broke up the alliance which Terence O'Neill, the Northern Ireland Prime Minister, was promoting between the moderates in both communities. James Chichester-Clark replaced O'Neill as Prime Minister in April 1969 and tried to reduce tension by introducing reforms Catholics had long demanded to end discrimination in housing, jobs and local government, but the reforms came too late. There was serious rioting in the summer of 1969, which the RUC was unable to contain, so