31st March – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

 Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

31st March

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Tuesday 31 March 1970

There were riots in the Springfield Road area of Belfast following an Orange parade. The British Army used ‘snatch squads’ to make arrests of Catholic youths.

The confrontations were intense with 38 soldiers injured together with an unknown number of civilians. The Army used CS gas for the first time in large quantities.

Wednesday 31 March 1976

Three British soldiers were killed in a land mine attack carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Belleek, County Armagh.

Tuesday 31 March 1981

hungry strikes

See 1981 Hunger Strike

Monday 31 March 1986

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) announced a ban on a planned Apprentice Boys of Derry march in Portadown, County Armagh.

The decision sparked serious rioting between Loyalists and the police that was to continue off and on over the following weeks. Loyalist gangs carried out petrol bomb attacks on 11 Catholic homes in Lisburn, County Antrim. RUC officers were also the subject of

Thursday 31 March 1988

The Human Rights organisation, Amnesty International, announced that it was to investigate the deaths of the three Irish Republican Army (IRA) members in Gilbraltar on 6 March 1988. intimidation from Loyalists.

gib3 with text

See Gibraltar SAS

Sunday 31 March 1991

Republicans held commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the Easter Rising that took place in Dublin in 1916.

easter rising

See Easter Rising

Thursday 31 March 1994

The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), carried out two gun attacks on Catholics.

Two Catholic men were injured in Belfast and a third was injured in Antrim.

Cahal Daly, then Cardinal, said that the announcement of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire was an indication that Republicans were sincere in their desire for peace.

Friday 31 March 1995

Statistics were released on the level of paramilitary ‘punishment’ attacks since the ceasefires on 31 August and 13 October 1994. Republican paramilitaries had been responsible for 51 ‘punishment’ beatings while Loyalist paramilitaries had carried out 39 such attacks.

Senior representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held a meeting in Belfast.

[This was the highest level contact between the two parties since disputes following the publication of the Downing Street Declaration (DSD) on 15 December 1993.]

Monday 31 March 1997

The Belfast Walkers Club of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) voluntarily rerouted their parade to avoid the lower part of the Ormeau Road.

Tuesday 31 March 1998

UN Report Critical Of RUC

A report by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights accused the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) of engaging in widespread intimidation of lawyers involved in defending Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries.

The report also called for an independent investigation into the death (on 12 February 1989) of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane to determine whether any of the security forces had colluded with the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), in his killing.

In the multi-party talks at Stormont the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) confirmed that it would like to see an Executive to head up the proposed Northern Ireland Assembly.

This was in contrast to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) position of arguing for a series of committees to deal with the major government departments. It was reported that Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, had drawn up a working paper on the structure and powers of planned cross-border bodies and presented the paper to the UUP for consideration.

Wednesday 31 March 1999

A Catholic businessman from Dungannon, County Tyrone, discovered a pipe-bomb attached to his car. The device failed to explode.

Another pipe-bomb was found in north Belfast. Army technical officers dealt with the device. The Red Hand Defenders (RHD) claimed responsibility for both bombs.

[In 2001 it became apparent that RHD was a cover name used by both the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).]

Participants in the talks at Hillsborough Castle reported some progress following the issuing of the Irish Republican Army’s (IRA) Easter statement which read: “we wholeheartedly support efforts to secure a lasting resolution to the conflict”.

Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), accused David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), of taking part in “surrender negotiations”.

A group of anti-Agreement Loyalists staged a protest outside Hillsborough Castle. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued an Easter statement. Visitors to the Republic of Ireland were discovering “an atmosphere which is almost rude, brusque and indifferent”, a senior tourism executive warned.

Wednesday 31 March 2000

A Catholic businessman discovered a pipe-bomb attached to his car and removed the device and threw it into a nearby hedge in Dungannon. Meanwhile, a second pipe-bomb was discovered at the rear of a garden in Gray’s Lane off the Antrim Road in north Belfast. Both attacks were claimed by the Red Hand Defenders (RHD) a Loyalist paramilitary group

Saturday 31 March 2001

Loyalists Mortally Wound Protestant Man

Trevor Thomas Lowry (49), a Protestant civilian, was badly beaten, and mortally wounded, in an attack in Glengormley, Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

He was found at 11.30pm (2330BST) and taken to hospital. [Lowry died on Tuesday 3 April 2001.]

Police said that they believed the attack was a sectarian one carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries who thought that Lowry was a Catholic.

[In April 2001, members of the (Ulster) Young Militants (YM), the youth wing of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), appeared in Belfast High Court accused of his murder. It was reported that Lowry was repeatedly stamped upon during the attack.]

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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 31st  March between 1974– 1980

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31 March 1974


Sean McAstocker,  (28)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Found shot, Lagan Street, Markets, Belfast.

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31 March 1976
David Ferguson,  (20)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Carrickgallogly Bridge, near Belleek, County Armagh.

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31 March 1976
Roderick Bannon,  (25)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Carrickgallogly Bridge, near Belleek, County Armagh.

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31 March 1976
John Pearson,  (23)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Carrickgallogly Bridge, near Belleek, County Armagh.

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31 March 1980


Paul Moan, (15)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot while travelling in stolen car at British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), junction of Shaw’s Road and Glen Road, Andersonstown, Belfast.

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