15th January – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

15th January


Wednesday 15 January 1969

Terence O’Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, announced the setting up of an official inquiry into the disturbances in Derry and elsewhere. The inquiry, under the chairmanship of Lord Cameron, a Scottish judge, was asked to look into the causes of the civil unrest.

Friday 15 January 1971

Riots broke out in the Ardoyne area of Belfast.

Thursday 15 January 1976

Harold Wilson, then British Prime Minister, held an all-party meeting at Downing Street, London, to consider the security situation in Northern Ireland.

Monday 15 January 1982

James Prior, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced the setting up of a Committee of Inquiry into the sexual abuse of children who lived in the Kincora Boys Home in Belfast.

[The Kincora Scandal first broke on 3 April 1980 when three staff members of the Kincora Boys Home, Belfast, were charged with acts of gross indecency. Allegations continued to be made that elements of the security service, civil servants and a number of Loyalists had been involved in the abuse of young boys at Kincora. One of those sentenced was William McGrath who was the leader of a Loyalist paramilitary group called Tara.]

Sunday 15 January 1984

Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, sparked controversy when he criticised the visit of Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, to the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) base in Armagh. At the time several members of the UDR in Armagh were accused of the killing of Catholics and Ó Fiaich described the visit as ‘disgusting’.

The Cardinal also drew criticism when he stated that people may be morally justified in joining Sinn Féin (SF) if they joined to work on community issues. [The Irish government distanced itself from the Cardinal’s remarks.]

Tuesday 15 January 1985

Paul Kelly (17), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), as he ran away from a stationary stolen car at a UDR check-point at Kennedy Way, Belfast.

Saturday 15 January 1994

Edward Kennedy, together with three other Irish-American Senators, appealed to Bill Clinton, then President of the USA, to grant a visa to Gerry Adams, then President of SF.

Sunday 15 January 1995

The British government announced that the ban on ministers engaging in contacts with Sinn Féin (SF), the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), or the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), would end.

Monday 15 January 1996

The British and Irish Governments and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held a first tripartite meeting. The three members of the International Body on Arms Decommissioning met with Northern Ireland Office (NIO) ministers, and representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Sinn Féin (SF) in Belfast.

Wednesday 15 January 1997

billy writgt

The trial of Billy Wright, then a leading Loyalist figure from Portadown, began at Belfast High Court. Wright was charged with threatening a witness.

[Wright was believed at this time to be the leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). The LVF was considered to be composed mainly of former members of the mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Wright was killed in the Maze Prison on 27 December 1997.]

See Billy Wright page

Thursday 15 January 1998

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) accused Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers of physically assaulting its Vice-Chairman Martin Morgan when he went to speak to protesters in the Whitewall Road area of Belfast. Morgan sustained a broken arm and bruising in the incident.

[Morgan had criticised the RUC in media reports about an incident in north Belfast on 1 January 1998. The RUC later announced an inquiry into the events surrounding Morgan’s injury.]

Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), said that he did not want RUC officers to belong to the Orange Order or any of the other loyal orders. The statement was made in the Channel 4 programme ‘Dispatches’.

In the same programme a group of defence lawyers claimed that there was compelling evidence that the RUC and the British Army had been involved in “numerous” illegal killings.

Sinn Féin (SF) staged a protest outside Antrim Road Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Belfast. SF called for the release of ballistic reports on the gun which was used by Loyalist paramilitaries in the killing of Eddie Traynor on 31 December 1997. SF claimed that RUC ballistics reports were available within 24 hours whenever incidents involving Republican paramilitaries occurred.

Seven Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners who had been serving sentences in jails in Britain were transferred to Portlaoise Prison in the Republic of Ireland. Mary McAleese, then President of the Republic of Ireland, paid her first official visit to Britain since her election. She spoke of the prospect of the British and Irish people standing “on the threshold of a new and very healthy phase” in their relationship.

Friday 15 January 1999

The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) warned that paramilitary prisoners who had been released on licence as part of the Good Friday Agreement could become involved in crime if they were unable to find employment.

Tuesday 15 January 2002

Daniel McColgan (20), who was killed by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) on Saturday 12 January 2002, was buried in Carnmoney cemetery after a service at the Star of the Sea Church in nearby Whitehouse. There was a large attendance at his funeral.

Postal services in Northern Ireland were disrupted as many postal workers attended the funeral. Patrick Walsh, the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, said,

“Daniel was singled out for murder for one reason and one reason only – that he was a Catholic.” Walsh went on to say that he had been killed by, “an organisation that is driven by a single agenda of sectarian hatred of Catholics”.

During the evening the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name used by the UDA issued a statement saying that it “unreservedly” condemned the death threats issued against Catholic teachers and Catholic postal workers. The statement further said that it was ordering the Red Hand Defenders (RHD), also a cover name used by the UDA, to stand down within 14 days.

[On Wednesday 16 January 2002 the RHD issued a statement to say it would stand down its members. Nationalists reacted sceptically to the two statements.]

It was revealed during a court case that British police investigating the Manchester bombing in 1996 agreed to a secret request from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) not to arrest and interview a prime suspect. As a result there was a 16 month delay in sending a file to the Crown Prosecution Service. The claim was made by a former head of Greater Manchester Police Special Branch who also said that a “cover story” was invented to account for the fact that no arrest had been made.



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.

5 People   lost their lives on the 15th January  between  1973 – 1989


15 January 1973
David Bingham,  (22)

Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Abducted while driving his car along Grosvenor Road, Belfast. Found shot in abandoned car, Institution Place, off Durham Street, Belfast, on 16 January 1973.


15 January 1985

Paul Kelly,  (17)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)
Shot while running away from stationary stolen car, at Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Kennedy Way, Belfast.


15 January 1986

Victor Foster,   (18)

Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed by booby trap bomb attached to his car outside his home, Gamble Park, Castlederg, County Tyrone.


15 January 1988

William Kane,  (20)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot at his home, Upper Meadow Street, New Lodge, Belfast


15 January 1989

Harold Keys,  (25)

Status: ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary (xRUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
From Northern Ireland. Shot outside his girlfriend’s home, Ballintra, County Donegal


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