We'll Sing It All Over
Tommy Sands © Elm Grove Music

The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement began in 1968 with five basic demands:
1- One man, one vote
2- an end to gerrymandering
3- an end to discrimination in housing
4- an end to discrimination in jobs
5- the disbandment of the B-Specials

It had initial support from a wide embrace of the community, Ivan Cooper, a Protestant was one of the early leaders but the Northern Ireland government of the time regarded the movement as a front for Republicanism and Communism. Many Loyalists regarded it as the thin edge of the wedge in the struggle for a United Ireland. Like in all movements towards equality and change, those who were liable to gain were enthusiastic and those who might lose were suspicious.

I wrote this during the late Sixties and early Seventies as a kind of Anthem for the Civil Rights movement and with the Sands Family sang it during a very tense night in Newry October 1971. British Soldiers positioned on the roof of Woolworth’s shop in Newry had shot dead three local youths, whom I had known at school, and the town was in an uproar. An unofficial curfew was imposed, the lights were turned off and people were afraid to come out on the streets. In the darkness we began to sing this song in answer to a request from Civil Rights leaders. Slowly people returned to the streets and joined us. Soon afterwards the lights were switched back on again.


We’ve been to school we’ve learned the rules
We learned them on a Saturday and now we know the truth
We’re on our way, we demand fair play
We’ll march for it we’ll sit for it we’ll sing for it all day

We’ll sing it all over we’ll sing it down under
We’ll sing it wherever we can
In mountains and highways in valleys and byways
We’ll sing it all over the land

We’re on the bru*, that’s nothing new
Our daddies and our mammies and our grannies were there too
But we’ve been to school we’ve learned the rules
A man has the right for to live as he should

The world will hear our call Civil Rights for all
It’s singing from the rooftops and it’s written on the walls
A house where we can live, a job to pay the bills
A vote to give us hope for the future of our children

So just don’t stand and stare you can do your share
No matter what religion or the colour of your hair
The wrong has to cease the right must prevail
Even though they lift us and they lock us in the jail

*bru=unemployment