17th March – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

17th March

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Monday 17 March 1975

Thomas Smith (26), then an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner, was shot dead by the Irish Army during an attempted escape from Portlaoise Prison, County Laois, Republic of Ireland.

Wednesday 17 March 1976

Four Catholic civilians were killed by a bomb planted by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) outside the Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

See Hillcrest Bar Bombing

Friday 17 March 1978

David Jones (23), a British soldier, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during a gun battle in a field near Maghera, County Derry.

Jones had been undercover at the time. Francis Hughes, then a member of the IRA, was arrested following the incident.

Wednesday 17 March 1982

Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), paid a visit to the United States of America (USA) as part of St Patrick day celebrations. During the visit he called on the US government to put more pressure on Britain to consider the possibility of Irish unity.

Thursday 17 March 1983

Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States of America (USA), said that those who supported terrorism were no friends of Ireland. Edward Kennedy, then a United States (US) Senator, proposed a senate motion calling for a united Ireland.

Saturday 17 March 1984

Dominic McGlinchey, then considered leader of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was recaptured after an exchange of gunfire with the Garda Síochána (the Irish police) and immediately extradited from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland.

He became the first Republican to be extradited to face charges related to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Monday 17 March 1986

Garret FitzGerald, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), was in Washington for the St Partick’s Day celebrations and to meet with Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States of America (USA).

Tuesday 17 March 1987

St Patrick’s Day. Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States, announced the first payment of $50 million to the International Fund for Ireland (IFI). The IFI was one of the initiatives in the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Thursday 17 March 1994

Bill Clinton, then President of the USA, attended a St Patrick’s Day conference in Washington and called upon the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to “lay down their arms”.

The Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) held its annual general meeting. James Molyneaux, then leader of the UUP, addressed the meeting and rejected any proposals for north-south political institutions as part of a political settlement.

Friday 17 March 1995

Adams Attends White House Reception

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), attended the St Patrick’s Day reception hosted by Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), at the White House. A delegation from the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) also attended the reception. The group met with Edward Kennedy, then a US Senator.

Monday 17 March 1997

Billy Hutchinson, then a spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), received a warning from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) that the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) was planning to assassinate him.

John Kinsella, who had been sentenced in 1994 for 20 years for possession of explosives, had his case referred to the Court of Appeal in London.

John Major, then British Prime Minister, announced the date of the general election as 1 May 1997.

Tuesday 17 March 1998

First St Partick’s Day Parade in Belfast Loyalist paramilitaries carried out a bomb attack on St. Comgall’s parish centre in Larne, County Antrim.

[It was believed that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was responsible for the attack. There were no injuries and only minor damage to the hall.]

An ‘official’ St. Patrick’s day parade took place in Belfast.

[This was the first time since the establishment of the state that a parade had received backing from Belfast City Council. The organising committee had stated their wish to have a cross-community celebration. Following the parade a number of Unionist councillors, particularly members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) claimed that Irish Republican Army (IRA) slogans were shouted by people in the crowd. Unionists also objected to the fact that the ‘tricolour’ (the Irish national flag) was displayed by some spectators. The objections following the parade in 1998 was to result in Belfast City Council withdrawing funds for future parades.]

In the cafeteria of the House of Commons Ken Maginnis, then Security Spokesperson of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), took down two ‘tricolour’ flags that were part of a display for St. Patrick’s day and threw them into the Thames river saying he “did not think they would pollute the river too much”.

This incident happened while his colleague and party leader David Trimble was in the United States of America (USA) for the St Patrick’s day celebrations. While in Washington Trimble had a meeting with Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA). Clinton was believed to have urged Trimble to hold a face-to-face meeting with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF).

[The UUP later said that it was not interested in a “stunt meeting” with Adams.]

A number of other Northern Ireland politicians also made the trip to the USA for St. Patrick’s day.

Wednesday 17 March 1999

Frankie Curry, a prominent former member of the Red Hand Commando (RHC), was shot dead in a street off the Shankill Road. The Red Hand Defenders (RHD) blamed the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) for the killing.

[The shooting raised fears of a potential feud amongst Loyalist paramilitaries. In an interview published in the Sunday Life (a Belfast based newspaper) after his death Curry admitted killing 16 people but he denied that he was a member of the RHD. In 2001 it became apparent that the RHD was a cover name used by both the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the UVF.]

There were violent confrontations in Portadown, County Armagh, with 40 Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers being injured. Vigils were held across Northern Ireland in protest at the killing of Rosemary Nelson on 15 March 1999.

Bill Clinton, then President of the USA, urged political leaders in Northern Ireland to lift their sights above short-term difficulties when he was presented with shamrock by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), at the White House.

David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), held a 30 minute meeting in the White House with Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF).

While St Patrick’s Day events took place in over 500 cities all over the world there was no official parade in Belfast.

The Unionist controlled Belfast City Council had withdrawn funds for the parade.

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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.

14  People   lost their lives on the 17th March between 1973 – 1999

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17 March 1973
Michael Gay,  (21)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Parkanaur, near Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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17 March 1973
Lindsay Mooney,  (19)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Died in premature bomb explosion while parking car outside Kirk’s Lounge Bar, Cloughfinn, near Lifford, County Donegal.

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17 March 1974


Cyril Wilson,   (37)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) mobile patrol, Rathmore, Craigavon, County Armagh.

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17 March 1974
Michael Ryan,  (23)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Foyle Road, Brandywell, Derry.

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17 March 1975
Thomas Smith,   (28)

nfNIRI
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: Irish Army (IA)
From County Dublin. Shot during attempted escape from Portlaoise Prison, County Laois

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17 March 1976


Joseph Kelly,  (57)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in car bomb explosion, outside Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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17 March 1976


Andrew Small,   (62)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in car bomb explosion, outside Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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17 March 1976


James McCaughey,  (13)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in car bomb explosion, outside Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone

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17 March 1976


Patrick Barnard,  (13)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed in car bomb explosion, outside Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone.

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17 March 1977


Daniel Carville,   (35)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Shot while driving his car slowly over ramps, Cambrai Street, Shankill, Belfast

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17 March 1978
David  Jones,   (23)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Undercover British Army (BA) member. Shot during gun battle with Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit in field, Lisnamuck, near Maghera, County Derry.

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17 March 1989
Niall Davies,   (42)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot at his home, Church Road, Glengormley, near Belfast, County Antrim

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17 March 1993


Lawrence Dickson,   (26)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Bog Road, Forkhill, County Armagh

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17 March 1999

Frankie Curry,   (46)

Protestant
Status: Red Hand Commando (RHC),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot while walking across waste ground, off Malvern Way, Shankill, Belfast. Red Hand Commando (RHC) / Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) dispute.

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