20th March – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

20th March

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Monday 20 March 1972

Donegall st bomb.jpg

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a car-bomb in Lower Donegall Street, Belfast bomb, which killed 6 people, mortally wounded one person who died on 5 April, and injured approximately 100 others.

Two of those killed were Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers who were trying to evacuate people from the area. Another of those killed was a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and the rest were Protestant civilians.

See Donegal Street Bombing

Tuesday 20 March 1973

A government White Paper entitled ‘Northern Ireland Constitutional Proposals‘ was published which proposed a devolved power-sharing 78 member assembly in Northern Ireland and a Council of Ireland.

The election would take place under Proportional Representation (PR) and Westminster would retain the powers relating to law and order matters. These proposals followed on from a discussion paper that had been issued on 30 October 1972 entitled ‘The Future of Northern Ireland’.

[There was an element in Unionist political opinion which was opposed to the idea of power-sharing and still favoured majority rule as the only basis for government. However, the idea of close links with the Republic of Ireland through the proposed Council of Ireland was one which would prove problematic to many Unionists.]

Wednesday 20 March 1974

Two British soldiers were shot dead by mistake by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) at Mowhan, near Markethill, County Armagh.

The soldiers were believed to be part of an undercover operation but this was denied by Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland.

Friday 20 March 1981

Patrick McNally (20), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), while he was ‘joy riding’ in a stolen car on the Ross Road in the Lower Falls Road area of Belfast. [ 1981 Hunger Strike.]

Monday 20 March 1989

Harry Breen

Harry Breen, who was then a Chief Superintendent of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and Ken Buchanan, who was then a Superintendent, were both killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ambush as they crossed the border in South Armagh.

 

Friday 20 March 1992

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), took part in a debate on BBC radio.

Saturday 20 March 1993

Warrington Bombs

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded two small bombs in litter bins in Bridge Street, Warrington, England, killing Johnathan Ball aged 3 years and mortally wounding Timothy Parrry aged 12 years who died on 25 March 1993.

[The IRA had provided inadequate warnings which resulted in the deaths and the 56 injuries. The killings of the two boys led to public protests in England and in the Republic of Ireland against paramilitary violence. The killings also led to the establishment of Initiative ’93.]

See Warrington Bomb

Sunday 20 March 1994

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) fired a mortar at a British Army (BA) base in Crossmaglen, south Armagh, causing an army helicopter to crash.

Monday 20 March 1995

James Kilfedder, the Ulster Popular Unionist Party (UPUP) MP, died while in London.

[His death led to a Westminster by-election on 15 June 1995 in the North Down constituency.]

Wednesday 20 March 1996

Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs), had a briefing with Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on plans for elections in Northern Ireland. Dick Spring refused to publicly support the plans.

Thursday 20 March 1997

It was announced on behalf of Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, that she would stand as a ‘unity candidate’ in Mid-Ulster in the general election.

[On 23 March 1997 McAliskey’s name was withdrawn as neither Sinn Féin (SF) nor the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) were prepared to stand down.]

Friday 20 March 1998

The centre of Derry was cleared for four hours while the British Army defused a bomb.

[It was claimed that a Republican challenged two Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) members as they planted the bomb in the Northern Bank in Guildhall Square, Derry.

It was also claimed that one of the CIRA men pulled out a gun to stop anyone interfering with them.]

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Resurrection Man

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The film Resurrection Man went on general release in Northern Ireland. The film was based on the killings carried out by of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) ‘Shankill Butchers’ gang.

[There was a mixed response to the film, some people accused the film-makers of dredging up painful memories for the relatives of those killed while others felt that the events were a legitimate subject for the cinema.]

Saturday 20 March 1999

A 13 year-old boy was badly injured in a Loyalist paramilitary ‘punishment’ attack by a gang of masked men in Newtownards, County Down.

The boy who received a broken arm and broken fingers was ordered to leave the area by the gang.

[The boy was one of the youngest people to be the subject of a ‘punishment’ attack.]

In a speech to the Annual General Meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC), David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), assured delegates that there would be Irish Republican Army (IRA) decommissioning.

Trimble was heckled during his speech.

His supporters dominated the election to the vice presidents’ positions, but three of the four honorary secretaries elected were supporters of the dissident Union First group.

Jim Nicholson, then UUP MEP, narrowly won the backing of delegates to continue as the UUP vice-president. Nicholson had earlier admitted that he had had an extra-marital affair.

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was also guardedly optimistic, saying that SF would try to find “some accommodation”.

The funeral procession of Frankie Curry, a prominent dissident member of the Red Hand Commando (RHC) who had been shot dead on 17 March 1999, passed down the Shankill Road in Belfast and was watched by hundreds of people.

 

 

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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.

17  People   lost their lives on the 20th March between 1972– 1993

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20 March 1972


Ernest McAllister,   (31)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in car bomb explosion, Donegall Street, Belfast. Inadequate warning given.

See Donegal Street Bombing

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20 March 1972


Bernard O’Neill,  (36)

Catholic
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in car bomb explosion, Donegall Street, Belfast. Inadequate warning given

See Donegal Street Bombing

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20 March 1972
Ernest Dougan,   (39)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in car bomb explosion, Donegall Street, Belfast. Inadequate warning given

See Donegal Street Bombing

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20 March 1972
Samuel Trainor,  (39)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Killed in car bomb explosion, Donegall Street, Belfast. Inadequate warning given.

See Donegal Street Bombing

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20 March 1972
James Macklin,   (30)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in car bomb explosion, Donegall Street, Belfast. Inadequate warning given.

See Donegal Street Bombing

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20 March 1972
Sydney Bell,   (65)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in car bomb explosion, Donegall Street, Belfast. Inadequate warning given

See Donegal Street Bombing

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20 March 1972
Henry Miller,   (79)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Injured in car bomb explosion, Donegall Street, Belfast. Inadequate warning given. He died 5 April 1972

See Donegal Street Bombing

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20 March 1972
John Taylor,  (19)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, William Street, Derry.

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20 March 1973
Bernard McErlean,  (16)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot from passing car while walking along Grosvenor Road, Belfast.

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20 March 1974
Michael Herbert,  (31)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot, in error, while sitting in stationary British Army (BA) civilian type van, Mowhan, near Markethill, County Armagh.

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20 March 1974
Michael Cotton,  (36)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC)
Shot, in error, while sitting in stationary British Army (BA) civilian type van, Mowhan, near Markethill, County Armagh.

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20 March 1981
Patrick McNally,   (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)
Shot while travelling in stolen car, Ross Road, Lower Falls, Belfast

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20 March 1989


Robert Buchanan,   (55)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while travelling in Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) armoured patrol car, Edenappa, near Jonesborough, County Armagh.

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20 March 1989


Harry Breen,   (51)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while travelling in Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) armoured patrol car, Edenappa, near Jonesborough, County Armagh.

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20 March 1990


William McClure,   (44)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO)
Shot at his home, Skegoneill Avenue, Skegoneill, Belfast.

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20 March 1993


Jonathan Ball,   (3)

nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed when two bombs placed in litter bins exploded, Bridge Street, Warrington, England. Inadequate warning given.

See Warrington Bombs

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20 March 1993


Timothy Parry,  (12)

nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Injured when two bombs placed in litter bins exploded, Bridge Street, Warrington, England. Inadequate warning given. He died 25 March 1993.

See Warrington Bombs

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