20th February – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

20th February


Tuesday 20 February 1973

Cupar Street


Two members of the British Army were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in an attack in Cupar Street, Belfast.

Thursday 20 February 1975

A feud began between the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) on one side and the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) on the other.

Hugh Ferguson (19), then chairman of Whiterock IRSP, was shot dead at his place of work in Ballymurphy, Belfast

. It was believed that the OIRA were responsible for this killing.

[There were further incidents on: 25 February 1975, 6 April 1975, 12 April 1975, 28 April 1975, and 5 June 1975, before this particular feud ended.]

A Catholic civilian was shot dead by Loyalists in Belfast.

[Public Records 1975 – Released 1 January 2006: Telegram sent by James Callaghan, then British Foreign Secretary, to the British Ambassador in Dublin.

The telegram contains notes about matters related to Northern Ireland that Callaghan wanted the Ambassador to raise with Liam Cosgrave, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister).]


Tuesday 20 February 1979

‘Shankill Butchers’ Sentenced

Shankill Butchers.

A group of 11 Loyalists known as the ‘Shankill butchers’ were sentenced to life imprisonment for 112 offences including 19 murders. The 11 men were given 42 life sentences and received 2,000 years imprisonment, in total, in the form of concurrent sentences.

Lenny Murphy



[The Shankill Butchers had begun killing Catholics in July 1972 and were not arrested until May 1977. The Loyalist gang operated out of a number of Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) drinking dens in the Shankill Road area of Belfast.

The gang was initially led by Lenny Murphy but it continued to operate following his imprisonment in 1976. The Shankill Butchers got their name because not only did they kill Catholics but they first abducted many of their victims, tortured them, mutilated them with butcher knives and axes, and then finally killed them.]

See Shankill Butchers

See Lenny Murphy

Friday 20 February 1981

 1981 Hunger Strike.

Saturday 20 February 1982

Patrick Reynolds (24), then an Officer in the Garda Síochána (the Irish police), was shot dead by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) when he went to a house in Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, Dublin.

Wednesday 20 February 1985

Margaret Thatcher, the then British Prime Minister, travelled to the United States of America (USA) and addressed the US Congress. In her speech she called on Americans not to give money to organisations, such as NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), that were believed to support Republican paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.

Monday 20 February 1989

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded three bombs in British Army barracks at Tern Hill, Shropshire, England.

Tuesday 20 February 1990

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, met to discuss the possibility of political talks.

Sunday 20 February 1994

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), called on the British government to provide Sinn Féin (SF) with clarification of the Downing Street Declaration (DSD). Dick Spring, then Tánaiste, said that he believed clarification had already been provided.

Monday 20 February 1995

There were clashes between Republicans and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers at the Sinn Féin (SF) offices in Derry. Seven SF members were arrested.

James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held a meeting at Westminster, London.

Tuesday 20 February 1996

John Major, then British Prime Minister, held talks with David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), in Downing Street, London. Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), accepted the offer of talks (issued on 18 February 1996) with David Trimble.

Thursday 20 February 1997

There was a report in the Irish News that a Catholic woman who worked at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) had received damages for sectarian harassment by an aide of Baroness Denton.

It was revealed that the Catholic woman had been moved from her post while the aide responsible for the harassment had been allowed to remain in her post as Denton’s Private Secretary. This was in clear breach of Fair Employment guidelines on such circumstances.

In an article in the Irish News John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), said that if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were not prepared to call a new ceasefire then he would “look elsewhere” for political progress.

The parades committee of the Northern Ireland Forum turned down a request by the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition to make a submission on the issue of parades and marches in its area. The reason given was that the deadline for submissions had passed.

The ‘Bloody Sunday’ Justice Campaign met with the leaders of the Republic of Ireland government as well the leader of Fianna Fáil (FF).

Edward Heath, former British Prime Minister, was criticised by Nationalists for comments he made about the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping and his part in the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Speaking on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme Newsnight Heath said that “we can criticise it [the massacre] in exactly the same way as people criticise ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Northern Ireland, but that isn’t, by any means, the whole story.”

Friday 20 February 1998

Sinn Féin Expelled from Talks

The Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) exploded a large car bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, outside the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in the centre of Moria, County Down. The bomb caused extensive damage to a number of commercial and private premises in the centre of the village.

Eleven people, mostly RUC officers, received slight injuries in the explosion.

Sinn Féin (SF) were formally expelled from the multi-party talks by the British and Irish governments because of allegations of Irish Republican Army (IRA) involvement in two killings in Belfast on 9 and 10 February 1998. The deadline for the return of SF was set as 9 March 1998.

The British and Irish governments issued a statement setting out the reasons why they had taken the decision to exclude Sinn Féin (SF) from the talks. Gerry Adams, then President of SF, described the expulsion as “disgraceful”. Unionists reacted angrily to the 17 day exclusion considering it too short.

[SF organised a number of street protests over the next few days to highlight its opposition to the decision. SF rejoined the talks on 23 March 1998.]

Wednesday 20 February 2002

There was traffic disruption when an explosive device (pipe-bomb) was found on the Glenshane Road, County Derry. The device had been left by Loyalist paramilitaries.

[This was one of a series of attacks over a four-day period. On Saturday 22 February 2002 the Assistant Chief Constable said he believed the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was responsible for the attacks.]

Four men arrested on Sunday 17 February 2002 appeared at East Tyrone Magistrate’s Court in Cookstown on charges of conspiracy to murder members of the security forces and also possession of a grenade launcher and warhead.

About 50 people, mainly friends and relations of the four men, were involved in scuffles with the police when the men were brought to the court. The men all denied the charges. The men were remanded in custody until 19 March 2002.

CHANNEL 4 PICTURE PUBLICITY124 Horseferry Road London SW1P 2TX 020 7306 8685 OMAGH Omagh Bomb Tx: This picture may be used solely for Channel 4 programme publicity purposes in connection with the current broadcast of the programme(s) featured in the national and local press and listings. Not to be reproduced or redistributed for any use or in any medium not set out above (including the internet or other electronic form) without the prior written consent of Channel 4 Picture Publicity 020 7306 8685
Scene of the Omagh Bomb



Groups representing those killed in the Omagh bomb (15 August 1998) met in London to launch a fund-raising campaign to obtain the £2 million required to bring a civil action against those believed to be responsible for the bomb attack.

The meeting was attended by Bob Geldof, musician and Live Aid founder, Barry McGuigan, a former world boxing champion, and Peter Mandelson, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

[The appeal was launched in August 2000 and had raised £800,000. The deadline for raising the funding is August 2002.]

Relatives of those killed in the Omagh bomb wrote a letter to Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), asking for “an independent senior investigation officer” to lead the police investigation. Flanagan later stated that he had no intention of removing the current investigating officer.

See Omagh Bomb



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.

7 People   lost their lives on the 20th  February between 1973– 1989


20 February 1973
Malcolm Shaw,   (23)

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by snipers while on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Cupar Street, Lower Falls, Belfast.


20 February 1973
Robert Pearson,   (19)

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by snipers while on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Cupar Street, Lower Falls, Belfast.


20 February 1975
Gerard McKeown,   (20)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Killed in bomb attack on Railway Bar, Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast


20 February 1975

Hugh Ferguson   (19)

Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA)
Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) member. Shot at his workplace, building site, Whiterock Drive, Ballymurphy, Belfast. Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) / Irish National Liberation (INLA) Army feud.


20 February 1982
Patrick Reynolds,   (24)

Status: Garda Siochana (GS),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot when called to house, Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, Dublin.


20 February 1983

 Edward Magill,  (20)

Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot from passing car while standing outside Warrenpoint Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, County Down.


20 February 1989

Patrick Feeny,   (32)

Status: Civilian (Civ), Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Security man. Shot at his workplace, Liddle’s factory, Donaghcloney, near Dromore, County Down.



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