3rd December – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

3rd December


Monday 3 December 1973

Francis Pym succeeded William Whitelaw as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

[Many people were critical of this particular change given that the talks on the crucial issue of the Council of Ireland were scheduled to begin on 6 December 1973. Pym it was believed had comparatively little knowledge of Northern Ireland.]

Harry West and other ‘unpledged’ Unionists announced the setting up of a new group called the Ulster Unionist Assembly Party (UUAP). The UUAP later held a joint meeting with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Vanguard in the Ulster Hall, Belfast.

Tuesday 3 December 1974

Members of the Maguire family, who later became known as the ‘Maguire Seven’, were arrested at their home in London. They were held on suspicion of making the bombs used in the explosions in Guildford on 5 October 1974. [The ‘Maguire Seven’ were convicted on 3 March 1976 of possession of explosives (although none were found) and some served 10 years in prison before the convictions were overturned.]

Friday 3 December 1976

Patrick Hillery became the President of the Republic of Ireland.

Saturday 3 December 1977

Seamus Twomey, formerly Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), was arrested in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

Thursday 3 December 1981

Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), claimed that the ‘Third Force’ had between 15,000 and 20,000 members. James Prior, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said in response that private armies would not be tolerated. [ Political Developments. ]

Tuesday 3 December 1985

Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, expressed his regret for a speech he made in Brussels in which he had said he thought the Irish government accepted that there would never be a united Ireland.

Wednesday 3 December 1986

Two Republicans, Brendan McFarlane and Gerard Kelly, who had escaped from the Maze prison on 25 September 1983 were extradited from Holland to Northern Ireland and appeared in a Lisburn court on charges related to the escape.

Thursday 3 December 1987

George Seawright died from wounds having been shot by the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO) on 19 November 1987.

See George Seawright

Thursday 3 December 1992

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded two bombs in Manchester, England, injuring over 60 people.

Friday 3 December 1993

The Irish Times (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) reported the results of a poll on the options for a political settlement in Northern Ireland. Among Catholic respondents 33 per cent favoured the option of joint authority while 32 per cent wanted to see a United Ireland. Of those Protestants asked 35 per cent favoured closer integration with the United Kingdom (UK).

Saturday 3 December 1994

Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said that his party would try to wreck any new Assembly.

Tuesday 3 December 1996

An Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) delegation met Al Gore, Vice-President of the United States of America (USA), and a number of members of Congress, in Washington.

Wednesday 3 December 1997

Sinn Féin (SF) produced a dossier outlining their case that the party was being discriminated against in the allocation of committee chairs at Belfast City Council.

[SF was the joint largest party in the council along with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) both of whom had 13 councillors. However, whereas Unionists parties including the Alliance Party had 93 per cent of the committee chairs and 87 per cent of vice-chairs, SF had no positions.]

Thursday 3 December 1998

There was further violence at Drumcree, County Armagh, where the Orange Order was continuing its protest at not being allowed to walk down the mainly Catholic Garvaghy Road. Up to 1,000 Loyalists clashed with police at Drumcree. John Taylor, then deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), told journalists reporting the discussions on the setting up of departments and the North-South Ministerial Council to take a week off “because nothing will be happening”.

[The Unionists were blamed for the breakdown of an agreement on the issue.]

David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, travelled to Washington, United States of America (USA).

Sunday 3 December 2000

A Catholic couple and their 12 year old daughter escaped injury after a pipe-bomb was thrown at their home in Harper’s Hill, Coleraine, County Antrim. A Catholic man and his two sons escaped injury after a pipe-bomb was thrown at their house on the Old Glenarm Road in Larne, County Antrim. Both attacks were carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.

Monday 3 December 2001

Frankie Mulholland (43), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries shot as he sat in a car on the Upper Crumlin Road, close to Horseshoe Bend, north Belfast, at approximately 8.00pm (2000GMT).

A second man in the car was taken to hospital suffering from shock. The Red Hand Defenders (RHD), a cover name previously used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), claimed responsibility for the attack.

[At the time police said they were investigating a motive for the killing but thought it might be drugs related.]

Two Catholic teenagers escaped injury when a pipe-bomb was thrown at them close to the Hillman Street and Duncairn Gardens interface in north Belfast. Three men had thrown the device over the peaceline. Residents claimed that the attack was sectarian. Component parts of a pipe-bomb were found in the front garden of a house in Whitewell Road, north Belfast. British Army technical officers were called to deal with the device.

A number of armed and masked men hijacked a van and left it on the Derry to Strabane Road. The road was closed as a result and a number of families evacuated from their homes. John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, addressed a meeting of the British-Irish Interparliamentary Body (BIIB) in Bournemouth, England. Reid said that the Good Friday Agreement was the “golden thread” on which political progress in Northern Ireland must be based and if the Agreement was implemented in full it would mean the same rights and respect for everyone.

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), called on Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, to investigate accusations of collusion between the British security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries in the killing of Nationalists in Northern Ireland. Mark Durkan (SDLP), then Minister of Finance and Personnel, presented his budget to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly debated the budget on Tuesday 11 December 2001. Durkan announced an additional €39m  funding for public services from the cross-departmental Executive Programme Funds. Among the 30 spending proposals was a special fund to help victims of violence. Other sectors to benefit from the extra funding were health, community regeneration, education, equality promotion, and sport.

Sylvia Hermon (Lady), then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP, became the first member of the UUP to address a meeting of Fianna Fáil (FF). Hermon had been invited to give a speech to the Dublin South association of FF.

[Hermon had previously invited Mark Durkan, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), to address a meeting North Down Association of the UUP on 19 November 2001.]

John de Chastelain (Gen.), then head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD), travelled to Dublin to present a progress report on contacts with Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries. The General Consumer Council issued a report entitled ‘The Price of Being Poor’ which claimed that 2,000 people in Northern Ireland die prematurely because of poverty. It was estimated that 25 per cent of all households in the region have income below the poverty line.




Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live  forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

8  People lost their lives on the 3rd December  between 1972 – 2000


03 December 1972

Samuel Hamilton,   (50)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Republican group (REP)
Found shot Comber Street, Short Strand, Belfast.


03 December 1973

Joseph Walker,   (18)

Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during attempted ambush of British Army (BA) mobile patrol, The Rath, Central Drive, Creggan, Derry.


03 December 1976

Joseph Scott,   (49)

Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty reservist. Shot while working as traffic warden, Circular Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone


03 December 1979

William Wright,   (58)

Status: Prison Officer (PO),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot at his home, Lyndhurst Drive, off Ballygomartin Road, Belfast.


03 December 1979

David White,   (35)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot at his home, Brooke Crescent, off Black’s Road, Belfast.


03 December 1987

George Seawright ,  (36)

Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO)
Loyalist activist. Died two weeks after being shot while sitting in stationary car, Dundee Street, Shankill, Belfast.

See George Seawright


03 December 1990

David Shiels,  (30)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot at his mobile home, Crew Road, Maghera, County Derry.


03 December 2001
Francis Mulholland,   (34)

Status: Civilian (Civ)

Killed by: Red Hand Defenders (RHD)
Shot while sitting in his stationary car, opposite petrol filling station, Upper Crumlin Road, Belfast. 





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