24th January – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

24th January

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Friday 24 January 1969

Faulkner Resigned Brian Faulkner, then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce, resigned from the Northern Ireland cabinet in protest at the policies of Terence O’Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, and the lack of ‘strong government’.

Monday 24 January 1972

Frank Lagan, then Chief Superintendent of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) notified Andrew MacLellan, then Commander 8 Infantry Brigade, of his contact with the Civil Rights Association, and informed him of their intention to hold a non-violent demonstration protesting against Internment on 30 January 1972.

He also asked that the march be allowed to take place without military intervention. MacLellan agreed to recommend this approach to General Ford, then Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland. However Ford had placed Derek Wilford, Commander of 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment, in charge of the proposed arrest operation.

[The broad decision to carry out arrests was probably discussed by the Northern Ireland Committee of the British Cabinet. Edward Heath, then British Prime Minister, confirmed on 19 April 1972 that the plan was known to British government Ministers.]

Saturday 24 February 1979

Two Catholic teenagers, Martin McGuigan (16) and James Keenan (16), were killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in a remote controlled bomb explosion at Darkley, near Keady, County Armagh.

[It is believed that the two teenagers were mistaken in the dark for a British Army foot patrol.]

Tuesday 24 January 1984

Londonderry District Council was given permission by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to change the name of the council to Derry District Council. The official name of the city remainsed Londonderry but many Unionists are upset by the name change. Derry District Council also voted to stop flying the Union Jack flag on council property

Friday 24 January 1986

Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that he was encouraged by the swing away from Sinn Féin (SF) in the Westminster by-elections.

Saturday 24 January 1987

Neil Kinnock, then leader of the British Labour Party, visited Northern Ireland.

Sunday 24 January 1988

Representatives of constituency members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) stated their support for the talks between John Hume, then leader of the SDLP, and Gerry Adams, then leader of Sinn Féin (SF).

Thursday 24 January 1991

A British Army spokesperson confirmed that the British government had withdrawn the 600 soldiers brought to Northern Ireland before Christmas.

Monday 24 January 1994

Incendiary devices that had been planted by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), were found at a school in Dundalk, Republic of Ireland, and at a postal sorting office in Dublin.

Tuesday 24 January 1995

The report of the Parliamentary Boundary Commission proposed that the number of Westminster constituencies should be increased by one to 18. The new constituency was to be West Tyrone. All the other constituencies, with the exception of North Antrim, had revisions to their boundaries.

Wednesday 24 January 1996

Mitchell Report on Decommissioning

The report of the International Body on arms decommissioning, the Mitchell Report, was published (the report is dated 22 January 1996) in Belfast. Included in the report were six principles (the ‘Mitchell Principles’) by which parties could enter into all-party talks and at the end of the report there were a number of confidence building measures.

The main conclusion of the report was that decommissioning of paramilitary arms should take place during all-party talks rather than before or after as some parties wanted. The report was welcomed by the Irish Government and opposition parties, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI). Sinn Féin (SF), the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) accepted the report as a way forward.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) rejected the report and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) expressed reservations. In a move which surprised many observers John Major, the British Prime Minister, ignored the main elements of the report and focused on the “elective process” mentioned as one of a series of confidence building measures. The UUP and the DUP welcomed the proposed elections while the SDLP initially rejected the proposal. The Irish Government accused the British of not consulting them on the announcement.

[Relations between the two Governments were soured for some days afterwards.]

Saturday 24 January 1998

John McColgan (33), a Catholic man, was shot dead in Belfast and his body left on the Upper Glen Road, Belfast. The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) claimed that its members carried out the killing but there were immediate doubts about who was responsible. The shooting occurred late in the evening when McColgan, who was a taxi driver, picked up a number of men on the Anderstown Road at around 9.00pm.

These men forced McColgan to drive to Hannahstown Hill then shot him around 9.30pm and left his body on the road, and drove off in the taxi.

[McColgan’s death brought the number of Catholics killed since 27 December 1997 to eight.]

A car bomb exploded outside an entertainment club, the ‘River Club’ on Factory Road in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. Warnings about the bomb were received at 7.30pm and the bomb exploded at around 9.30pm. The building was extensively damaged but there were no injuries.

[A Republican paramilitary group, the ‘Continuity’ Irish Republican Army (CIRA) was thought to be responsible.]

There was also a hoax bomb alert at Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh. The funeral of Ben Hughes, shot by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) / Ulster Defence Association (UDA), took place at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast.

A number of his Protestant work colleagues took part in the funeral. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that many Nationalists would be sceptical of the claims by the UFF that it had resumed its ceasefire.

Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), said, in an interview, that the multi-party talks process now faced a moral dilemma. Mallon said that he found it morally questionable and distasteful that “parties connected with those that kill should remain in the talks”.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) held a meeting in Dublin to discuss the killings in Northern Ireland. [The IRSP is considered to be the political wing of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).] A march to commemorate the dead of ‘Bloody Sunday’ took place in London. Anthony Farrar-Hockley, former commander of British Army land forces in Northern Ireland, said that he saw no need to apologise for the killing of 14 people in Derry on ‘Bloody Sunday’.

Sunday 24 January 1999

David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), stated that the political process could be “parked” if decommissioning of paramilitary weapons did not take place.

Wednesday 24 January 2001

Mandelson Resigned

Five members of a Catholic family – including a six year old girl – escaped injury when a pipe-bomb exploded in the living room of their home shortly before 1.00am. The device caused extensive damage to the interior of the terraced house and blew in all the windows downstairs. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries. Peter Mandelson, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, resigned from the British cabinet (for the second time in his political career) over his alleged role in the Hinduja passport affair. His departure came in the midst of a further crisis over the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. John Reid, then Secretary of State for Scotland, was appointed to succeed Mandelson. He was the first Catholic to hold the post.

Thursday 24 January 2002

Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), travelled to Omagh, County Tyrone, to present his response to the earlier report by Nuala O’Loan, then Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI), on the investigation into the Omagh Bombing (15 August 1998).

The summary of O’Loan’s report was published on 12 December 2001 and it was critical of some aspects of the investigation into the bombing. In his (unpublished) report Flanagan stated that he dealt with each of the points raised by O’Loan. With regard to O’Loan’s recommendations, some were accepted but a key one was changed.

This was the recommendation by O’Loan that a police officer from outside Northern Ireland should be appointed to takeover the Omagh investigation. Flanagan announced that a senior detective from Merseyside would be appointed to ‘advise’ the investigation. Flanagan met the relatives of the victims of the bombing and later gave a press conference.

Some of the relatives said they were not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. Some relatives revealed that they were close to withdrawing support for the police investigation.

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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 24th  January  between  1975– 1998

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24 January 1975
Thomas Lea,  (32)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died eight months after being injured in bomb attack, Colinward Street, off Springfield Road, Belfast. He was wounded on 5 May 1974

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24 January 1976


Patrick Quail,  (37)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot while walking along Clifton Street, Belfast.

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24 January 1976


David McDowell,   (26)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Off duty. Shot while driving bus at British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Middletown, County Armagh.

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24 January 1982


Anthony Harker,   (21)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)
Shot while standing outside supermarket, Lower Irish Street, Armagh.

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24 January 1998


John McColgan,   (33)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF)
Taxi driver. Found shot by the side of the road, Hannahstown Hill, Hannahstown, Belfast.

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