8th July – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

8th July


Thursday 8 July 1971

Two Men Killed by British Soldiers


Seamus Cusack  & Desmond Beattie

Seamus Cusack (28), a Catholic civilian, was shot and mortally wounded by a British soldier during street disturbances at Abbey Park, in the Bogside area of Derry.

The shooting happened at approximately 1.00am and Cusack died in Letterkenny Hospital at approximately 1.40am.

[The British Army later claimed that Cusack had been armed with a rifle but local witnesses denied this.]

The death of Cusack led to further disturbances in the Bogside and at approximately 3.15pm Desmond Beattie (19), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by British soldiers at Lecky Road.

Again the circumstances of the shooting were disputed.

[The British Army later claimed that Beattie was about to throw a nail bomb when he was shot; local people insisted he was unarmed at the time of his killing.]

The rioting in Derry intensified following the two deaths.

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) withdrew from Stormont on 16 July 1971 because no official inquiry was announced into the killings.

An unofficial Inquiry was chaired by Lord Gifford (QC), an English barrister, and assisted by Paul O’Dwyer, an American lawyer, and Albie Sachs, a South African lawyer.

The Inquiry was held at the Guildhall, Derry, but the British Army (BA) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) refused to participate. The Report of the Inquiry was published in August 1971.

Thursday 8 July 1976

A Catholic civilian died one day after being shot by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Wednesday 8 July 1981

Fifth Hunger Striker Died

Joe McDonnell (30) died after 61 days on hunger strike. McDonnell had gone on strike to replace Bobby Sands.

The Irish Commission for Justice and Peace (ICJP), which had been established by the Catholics Bishops Conference, accused the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) of retreating from earlier offers made to the ICJP on the hunger strikers five demands.

See Hungry Strikes

John Dempsey

A member of the youth section of the IRA was shot dead by the British Army in Belfast.

Friday 8 July 1983

The Northern Ireland Assembly voted by 35 to 11 for the introduction of the death penalty for terrorist murders

Wednesday 8 July 1987

James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said they would use the Unionist Task Force report in talks with the British government.

Wednesday 8 July 1992

There were heated exchanges between local residents and Orange Order members taking part in a parade through the mainly Catholic lower Ormeau Road area of Belfast.

Orange Order members shouted “Up the UFF” and held up one of their hands showing five fingers – a reference to the shooting dead of five Catholic civilians in a Bookmaker’s shop on the lower Ormeau Road.

The parade went right past the site of the shooting.

[Later Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that the actions of the marchers “would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals”.]

Thursday 8 July 1993

The Guardian (a British newspaper) published an interview with Dick Spring, then Tánaiste (deputy Irish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs).

In the interview Spring suggested that the two governments draw up a framework settlement and then put the proposal directly to the public by means of a referendum.

There was a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC).

Monday 8 July 1996

Many aspects of life in Northern Ireland were disrupted as protests were mounted across the region in support of the Drumcree Orangemen.

The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) fired plastic bullets to control protesting crowds in Drumcree (Portadown), Sandy Row (Belfast) and Ballymena.

At the multi-party talks in Stormont, Belfast, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the United Kingdom Unionists (UKU) all pulled out of the talks in protest at the decision of the RUC to prevent the march at Drumcree.

“Fire and brimstone” speeches by unionist politicians were claimed by the McGoldrick family to be partly to blame for their son’s death on 7 July 1996.

Tuesday 8 July 1997

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) threatened to attack Orangemen whom it viewed as responsible for forcing parades through Nationalist areas.

The Dublin to Belfast train was stopped at Newry and damaged by petrol bombs.

The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) joined together to stage an armed paramilitary display which was recorded and broadcast by Ulster Television (UTV).

The UDA and UVF claimed that the display was intended to “reassure and calm Protestants”.

A Northern Ireland Office (NIO) document was leaked to the media. The document suggested that the decision to allow the Drumcree parade to proceed down the Garvaghy Road on 6 July 1997 had been taken by Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in conjunction with security leaders as early as 21 June 1997.

This in spite of Mowlam’s assertion that the decision was not made until the eve of the march.

Mowlam subsequently launched an inquiry into who leaked the document.

Nationalists, who were still protesting against the events at the Garvaghy Road, announced that they would block Orange Order parades planned for 12 July 1997 from passing through Nationalist areas in Armagh, Bellaghy, Belfast (lower Ormeau Road), Derry, Newry, and Strabane.

People in these areas called for Nationalist to travel to the parade routes to add their support for rerouting of the planned parades.

Wednesday 8 July 1998

drumcree church at night

The situation at Drumcree deteriorated considerably with sustained violent attacks on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and British Army barricades by protesting Orange men.

See Drumcree

An estimated 5,000 Orangemen from county lodges in Derry and Tyrone joined the protest at Drumcree.

Attacks against Catholic homes, businesses, schools, and churches continued to be a feature of Loyalist violence.

Eight blast bombs were thrown at Catholic homes in the Collingwood area of Lurgan in the early hours of the morning. Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), went to the Garvaghy Road to speak to the local Residents Group.

[Mallon was heckled by local residents as he left the meeting and looked to be shaken by the experience.]

In a show of support Catholics from other areas of Northern Ireland sent food supplies to the residents of the Garvaghy Road.

Thursday 8 July 1999

Loyalists left a pipe-bomb outside the house of a Sinn Féin (SF) member in Ballycastle, County Antrim.

There were two arson attacks on houses in north Belfast which the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) described as sectarian.

Barry Morgan (24) was found guilty of the murder of Cyril Stewart, at the time a retired Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) reservist, in Armagh on March 1998.

The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) was responsible for the attack.

A disagreement arose between Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), over whether or not Sinn Féin (SF) was now a separate organisation from the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Ahern said on BBC Radio Ulster that they were two separate organisations but senior police sources on both sides of the Border supported Blair’s stated view that the two organisations were “inextricably linked”.

Orangemen from Portadown, County Armagh, held talks about the Drumcree issue with Tony Blair at Downing Street, London

Sunday 8 July 2001

The annual Orange Order parade at Drumcree, County Armagh, which had been the setting for violent confrontation for several years, passed off peacefully under a heavy security presence.

[However, in the following days there were violent clashes in north Belfast.]


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.

11 People lost their lives on the 8th July between 1971 – 1996


08 July 1971

Seamus Cusack  (27)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Abbey Park, Bogside, Derry


08 July 1971
Desmond Beattie  (19)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during street disturbances, Lecky Road, Bogside, Derry.


08 July 1972
Laurence McKenna   (22)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Died three days after being shot at the junction of Falls Road and Waterford Street, Lower Falls, Belfast


08 July 1976
James Rooney  (43)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Died one day after being shot at his greengrocer’s shop, Upper Newtownards Road, Ballyhackamore, Belfast.


08 July 1979
Alan MacMillan   (18)

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by remote controlled bomb while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Crossmaglen, County Armagh.


08 July 1981

Joe McDonnell   (30)

Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Died on the 61st day of hunger strike, Long Kesh / Maze Prison, County Down.


08 July 1981

John Dempsey   (16)

Status: Irish Republican Army Youth Section (IRAF),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by British Army (BA) sniper during arson attack on bus depot, Falls Road, Belfast


08 July 1986

John McVitty   (46)

Status: Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot at his farm, Drumady, near Rosslea, County Fermanagh.


08 July 1988

John Howard   (29)

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb when British Army (BA) patrol arrived at the scene of earlier explosion, outside Falls Baths, Falls Road, Belfast.


08 July 1992

Cyril Murray   (51)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot at his home, Kerrsland Drive, Bloomfield, Belfast.


08 July 1996

Michael McGoldrick  (31)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Taxi driver. Found shot in his car, Montiaghs Road, Aghagallon, near Lurgan, County Antrim.




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