20th May – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

20th May

Monday 20 May 1968

Terence O’Neill

 

 

Terence O’Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, was showered with eggs, flour and stones after a meeting of the Woodvale Unionist Association.

Monday 20 May 1974

Day 6 of the UWC strike

Michael Mallon (20), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) a covername for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and left by the side of the road at Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast.

Many roads in Northern Ireland were closed because of barricades. Electricity generation dropped to about one-third of normal levels. People were asked only to use telephones in an emergency.

Five hundred additional troops arrived in Northern Ireland.

An advertisement in the News Letter (a Belfast newspaper), which had been placed by Unionist politicians, called for support of the strike.

Stanley Orme, then Minister of Sate at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), repeated the government’s position of not negotiating with the Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC) Strike Committee.

 [Public Records 1974 – Released 1 January 2005:

Note of a statement made by Stanley Orme, then Minister of Sate at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), to the House of Commons. The statement sought to explain the circumstances surrounding the decision by Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, to announce a State of Emergency (Section 40, Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973) on 19 May 1974.]

Friday 20 May 1977

Daniel McCooey (20), a Catholic civilian, died three weeks after he had been severely beaten by members of a British Army foot patrol in Castle Street, Belfast.

A member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in County Tyrone.

Tuesday 20 May 1980

Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, stated in the House of Commons:

“The future of the constitutional affairs of Northern Ireland is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland, this government and this parliament and no one else.”

This statement was made the day before Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), was due to arrive in London with talks with Thatcher.

Wednesday 20 May 1981

District Council Elections

Local government elections were held in Northern Ireland against the backdrop of the continuing hunger strike. In the increased tension in the region, ‘moderate’ parties all suffered a decline in support.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) achieved 26.6 per cent of the vote compared to the 26.5 per cent recorded by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) obtained 17.5 per cent of the first preference votes compared to 20.6 per cent in 1977.

 See  1981 Hunger Strike

Monday 20 May 1985

 

RUC  Collage

Four Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in a mobile patrol were killed when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in a parked trailer at Killeen, County Down.

Tuesday 20 May 1986

Nicholas Scott, then a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Minister, provided information in the House of Commons on the level of intimidation that Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers had faced from Loyalists during protests at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Scott said that there had been 368 cases of intimidation.

[Later information provided by the RUC indicated that the final number was over 500 homes attacked and 150 RUC families forced to move.]

Monday 20 May 1991

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) announced that it was leaving the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) until such time as the procedures for the main talks were agreed by the other parties.

Thursday 20 May 1993

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb, estimated at 1,000 pounds, in Glengall Street, Belfast. Thirteen people were injured in the explosion. The bomb was placed outside the Grand Opera House and close to the Headquarters of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

[Later estimates put the cost of the damage at £6.5 million.]

Friday 20 May 1994

There was serious rioting in Protestant areas of Belfast following the appearance in Belfast Magistrates’ Court of a man accused of ‘directing the activities’ of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Monday 20 May 1996

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), said that SF was prepared to accept the six ‘Mitchell Principles’ if the other parties agreed to them.

Tuesday 20 May 1997

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the British government to conduct a new inquiry into the events of ‘Bloody Sunday‘ in Derry on 30 January 1972.

Jack Straw, then British Home Secretary, announced that two Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners, Danny McNamee and Liam McCotter, would be transferred to prisons in Northern Ireland.

Wednesday 20 May 1998

Blair’s Pledges

Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, delivered a speech at the Coleraine campus of the University of Ulster in which he unveiled a hand-written set of pledges to the people of Northern Ireland in advance of the Referendum on 22 May 1998. The text of the pledges was as follows: “I pledge to the people of Northern Ireland:

  • No change in the status of Northern Ireland without the express consent of the people of Northern Ireland.
  • Power to take decisions returned to a Northern Ireland Assembly, with accountable North/South co-operation.
  • Fairness and equality guaranteed for all.
  • Those who use or threaten violence excluded from the Government of Northern Ireland.
  • Prisoners kept in unless violence is given up for good.

Whatever the Referendum result, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I will continue to work for stability and prosperity for all the people of Northern Ireland

.” Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), sent a personal message to the people of Northern Ireland calling on them to vote ‘Yes’ in the

forthcoming referendum.

In the final hours of campaigning David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), took part in a live television debate.

The 10 minute encounter took place on the BBC’s ‘Newsline’ programme. The debate was heated with Paisley accusing Trimble of being prepared to “break the union”.

Thursday 20 May 1999

There were disturbances involving Loyalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in Portadown, County Armagh.

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) delegation did not arrive for a second day of talks at Downing Street. The UUP stated that it had not been informed of the continuation of the talks.

Sinn Féin (SF) accused the UUP of a deliberate snub of the Prime Minister.

garvaghy road residents coalition 2

The Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC) called for the Parades Commission to re-route the part of the Drumcree parade which passed close to Obins Street and St John’s Catholic Church.

Paul Berry, then a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Assemblyman, responded in an interview on Radio Ulster and said Loyalists would not be stopped from getting down the Garvaghy Road,

“If it is a matter of taking the law into our own hands then we are going to have to do it. That is a threat.”

(Reported in ‘Fortnight’ magazine, September 1999, p6). Mr Berry later denied making a threat. Planners from the Department of the Environment (DOE) in Northern Ireland told a regional planning conference in Dublin that Derry would be developed as the growth hub of the north-west.

 

 ——————————————

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.

10 People lost their lives on the 20th  May between 1972 – 1986

 ——————————————

20 May 1972
Henry Gillespie  (32)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on Ulster Defence Regiment mobile patrol, Killyliss, near Dungannon, County Tyrone.

 ——————————————

20 May 1974
Miicahel Mallon   (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Found shot by side of Milltown Road, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast.

 ——————————————

20 May 1977


Robert North  (52)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty reservist. Shot while driving school bus along Drumlee Road, near Benburb, County Tyrone

 ——————————————

20 May 1977


 Daniel McCooey  (20)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Died three weeks after being badly beaten by British Army (BA) foot patrol, Castle Street, Belfast.

 ——————————————

20 May 1979


Stanley Wray  (50)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot shortly after leaving Claremont Presbyterian Church, Northland Road, Derry.

 ——————————————

20 May 1985


William Wilson   (28)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb, hidden in parked trailer, detonated when Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) mobile patrol passed, Killeen, County Armagh.

 ——————————————

20 May 1985


Stephen Rodgers   (19)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb, hidden in parked trailer, detonated when Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) mobile patrol passed, Killeen, County Armagh.

 ——————————————

20 May 1985


David Baird   (22)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb, hidden in parked trailer, detonated when Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) mobile patrol passed, Killeen, County Armagh.

 ——————————————

20 May 1985

Tracey Doak   (21)

Protestant
Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb, hidden in parked trailer, detonated when Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) mobile patrol passed, Killeen, County Armagh.

 ——————————————

20 May 1986
Colm McKevitt  (30)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot shortly after being abducted from his sister’s home, Killeen, County Armagh. Alleged informer.

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