This paper illuminates two forms of street politics – ‘ban-the-bomb’ and housing tenants’ protests – prevalent in Belfast in the 1960s prior to the civil rights movement (CRM). This is done to highlight the role they played in developing forms of non-violent direct action which directly contributed to the repertoires of protest utilised by the CRM. This has hitherto been downplayed in existing literature on the development of CRM. The paper also contextualises the ambivalent position that these street politics occupied regarding the question of Northern Ireland’s constitutional status, which meant that they could be co-opted by the metanarratives of groups representing nationalism and unionism. Finally, the extent to which such grassroots collective action can be viewed as part of ‘right to the city’ struggles is also examined.