Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles
Monday 6 June 1983
The State Department in the United States of America (USA) refused an application for a visitors visa by Bernadette McAliskey (formerly Bernadette Devlin).
Wednesday 6 June 1990
A former member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and his wife were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bobby trap bomb in Belfast.
Sunday 6 June 1993
The Ministry of Defence announced that, as from October 1993, women soldiers would be armed with SA80 rifles.
Tuesday 6 June 1995
Michael Ancram, then Political Development Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), and Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), shook hands in public at an international conference on peace and reconciliation in Belfast.
Friday 6 June 1997
General Election in Republic of Ireland
There was a general election in the Republic of Ireland.
[When the count was finished the ruling coalition government of Fine Gael, Labour, and Democratic Left, obtained 77 seats but was defeated by a coalition of Fianna Fáil, Progressive Democrats, and a number of independents, who obtained 81 seats.
Sinn Féin (SF) won its first seat in the Daíl since its decision in 1986 to end its policy of abstentionism. The incoming government was led by Bertie Ahern who became the new Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). On 26 June 1997 Ahern finished appointment of his cabinet.]
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) proposed ignoring the question of decommissioning so long as SF were excluded from the talks. David Trimble, then leader of the UUP, said that SF could only enter talks when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had called a ceasefire and handed over some of its weapons.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) derided the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition (NIWC) as being comprised of “feckless women” with “limited intellect”.
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.
6 People lost their lives on the 6th June between 1972 – 1991
06 June 1972 Gorge Lee (22)
nfNI Status: British Army (BA),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Ballymurphy Parade, Ballymurphy, Belfast.
06 June 1972 Charles Coleman (29)
nfNI Status: British Army (BA),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Tullymore Gardens, Andersonstown, Belfast.
06 June 1979 Alexander Gore (23)
Protestant Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot during gun attack on Malone British Army (BA) base, Malone Road, Belfast.
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed, together with his wife, by booby trap bomb attached to their car, which exploded shortly after leaving their home, while driving along Ballygomartin Road, Belfast.
06 June 1990 Ellen Sefton (65)
Protestant Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed, together with her former Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) member husband, by booby trap bomb attached to their car, which exploded shortly after leaving their home, while driving along Ballygomartin Road, Belfast
06 June 1991 Ruairi Finnis (21)
Catholic Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Found shot behind row of shops, Central Drive, Creggan, Derry. Alleged informer.
Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016) was an English actor and director, known for playing a variety of roles on stage and screen, often as a complex antagonist. Rickman was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company performing in both modern and classical theatre productions. His first major television role came in 1982, but his big break was his role as the Vicomte de Valmont in the stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Rickman gained wider notice for his film performances as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series.
Rickman died of cancer on 14 January 2016 at the age of 69
Rickman was born in Acton, London, to a working class family, the son of Margaret Doreen Rose (née Bartlett), a housewife, and Bernard Rickman, a factory worker. His ancestry was English, Irish and Welsh; his father was Catholic and his mother a Methodist. His family included an older brother, David (b. 1944), a graphic designer, a younger brother, Michael (b. 1947), a tennis coach, and a younger sister, Sheila (b. 1950). Rickman attended Derwentwater Primary School, in Acton, a school that followed the Montessori method of education.
When he was eight, Rickman’s father died, leaving his mother to raise him and his three siblings mostly alone. She married again, but divorced his stepfather after three years. “There was one love in her life”, Rickman later said of her. He excelled at calligraphy and watercolour painting. From Derwentwater Junior School he won a scholarship to Latymer Upper School in London, where he became involved in drama. After leaving Latymer, he attended Chelsea College of Art and Design and then the Royal College of Art. This education allowed him to work as a graphic designer for the radical newspaper the Notting Hill Herald, which he considered a more stable occupation than acting. “Drama school wasn’t considered the sensible thing to do at 18”, he said.
After graduation, Rickman and several friends opened a graphic design studio called Graphiti, but after three years of successful business, he decided that if he was going to pursue acting professionally, it was now or never. He wrote to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) requesting an audition and was awarded a place at RADA, which he attended from 1972-74. While there, he studied Shakespeare and supported himself by working as a dresser for Nigel Hawthorne and Sir Ralph Richardson. He left after winning several prizes, including the Emile Littler Prize, the Forbes Robertson Prize and the Bancroft Gold Medal.
His role in Die Hard earned him a spot on the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains as the 46th best villain in film history, though he revealed he almost did not take the role as he did not think Die Hard was the kind of film he wanted to make. His performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves also made him known as one of the best actors to portray a villain in films.
Rickman was chosen by Empire as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (No 34) in 1995 and ranked No 59 in Empire’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” list in October 1997. In 2009 and 2010 Rickman ranked once again as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars by Empire, both times Rickman was placed 8th out of the 50 actors chosen. Rickman became Vice-Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 2003.
He was voted No 19 in Empire magazine’s Greatest Living Movie Stars over the age of 50 and was twice nominated for Broadway’s Tony Award as Best Actor (Play): in 1987 for Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and in 2002 for a revival of Noël Coward‘s Private Lives. The Guardian named Rickman as an “honourable mention” in a list of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.
Two researchers, a linguist and a sound engineer, found “the perfect [male] voice” to be a combination of Rickman’s and Jeremy Irons‘s voices based on a sample of 50 voices.
Rickman featured in several musical works – most notably in a song composed by the English songwriter Adam Leonard entitled “Not Alan Rickman”. Moreover, the actor played a “Master of Ceremonies” part in announcing the various instruments in Mike Oldfield‘s Tubular Bells II on the track The Bell. Rickman was one of the many artists who recited Shakespearian sonnets on the 2002 album When Love Speaks, and is also featured prominently in a music video by the band Texas entitled “In Demand“, which premiered on Europe MTV in August 2000.
In 2015, Rickman confirmed that they had married in a private ceremony in New York City in 2012. He was an active patron of the charity Saving Faces and honorary president of the International Performers’ Aid Trust, a charity that alleviates poverty in some of the world’s toughest conditions.
When discussing politics, Rickman said he “was born a card-carrying member of the Labour Party”.
Rickman’s family reported on 14 January 2016 that he had died, aged 69. He had been suffering from cancer
1441 British armed force personnel died in Operation Banner
During the 38 year operation, 1,441 members of the British armed forces died in Operation Banner. This includes those who were killed in paramilitary attacks as well as those who died as a result of assault, accidents, suicide and natural causes
The main opposition to the British military’s deployment came from the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). It waged a guerrilla campaign against the British military from 1970-97. An internal British Army document released in 2007 stated that, whilst it had failed to defeat the IRA, it had made it impossible for the IRA to win through violence, and reduced substantially the death toll in the last years of conflict
Number of troops deployed
At the peak of the operation in the 1970s, the British Army was deploying around 21,000 soldiers. By 1980, the figure had dropped to 11,000, with a lower presence of 9,000 in 1985. The total climbed again to 10,500 after the intensification of the IRA use of barrack busters toward the end of the 1980s. In 1992, there were 17,750 members of all British military forces taking part in the operation.
The British Army build-up comprised three brigades under the command of a lieutenant-general. There were six resident battalions deployed for a period of two and a half years and four roulement battalions serving six-months tours.
The British military was responsible for about 10% of all deaths in the conflict. According to one study, the British military killed 306 people during Operation Banner, 156 (~51%) of whom were unarmed civilians.
Another study says the British military killed 301 people, 160 (~53%) of whom were unarmed civilians. Of the civilians killed, 61 were children.
Only four soldiers were convicted of murder while on duty in Northern Ireland. All were released after serving two or three years of life sentences and allowed to rejoin the Army. Senior Army officers privately lobbied successive Attorney Generals not to prosecute soldiers, and the Committee on the Administration of Justice says there is evidence soldiers were given some level of immunity from prosecution.
Elements of the British Army also colluded with illegal loyalist paramilitaries responsible for numerous attacks on civilians (see below). Journalist Fintan O’Toole argues that “both militarily and ideologically, the Army was a player, not a referee”.
Northern Ireland in the 1960s/1970s Documentary
Relationship with the Catholic community
Many Catholics initially welcomed the British Army’s deployment, as Catholic neighbourhoods had been attacked by Protestant loyalists and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
However, relations soured between the British Army and Catholics. The British Army’s actions in support of the RUC and the unionist government “gradually earned it a reputation of bias” in favour of Protestants and unionists.
In the British Army’s campaign against the IRA, Catholic areas were frequently subjected to house raids, checkpoints, patrols and curfews that Protestant areas avoided. There were frequent claims of soldiers physically and verbally abusing Catholics during these searches.
In some neighbourhoods, clashes between Catholic residents and British troops became a regular occurrence. In April 1970, Ian Freeland — the British Army’s overall commander in Northern Ireland — announced that anyone throwing petrol bombs would be shot dead if they did not heed a warning from soldiers.
A memorial to those killed by British soldiers during the “Ballymurphy Massacre”
The Falls Curfew in July 1970, was a major blow to relations between the British Army and Catholics. A weapons search in the mainly Catholic Falls area of Belfast developed into a riot and then gun battles with the IRA. The British Army then imposed a 36-hour curfew and arrested all journalists inside the curfew zone.
It is claimed that, because the media were unable to watch them, the soldiers behaved “with reckless abandon”. A large amount of CS gas was fired into the area while hundreds of homes and businesses were forcibly searched for weapons.
The searches caused much destruction and there were scores of complaints of soldiers hitting, threatening, insulting and humiliating residents. The Army also admitted there had been looting by some soldiers. Four civilians were killed by the British Army during the operation and another 60 suffered gunshot wounds.
On 9 August 1971, internment (imprisonment without trial) was introduced in Northern Ireland. Soldiers launched dawn raids and interned almost 350 people suspected of IRA involvement. This sparked four days of violence in which 20 civilians were killed and thousands were forced to flee their homes. Seventeen civilians were killed by British soldiers, 11 of them in the Ballymurphy Massacre.
No loyalists were included in the sweep and many of those arrested were Catholics with no provable paramilitary links. Many internees reported being beaten, verbally abused, threatened, denied sleep and starved. Some internees were taken to a secret interrogation centre for a program of “deep interrogation”.
The operation led to mass protests and a sharp increase in violence over the following months. Internment lasted until December 1975 and during that time 1,981 people were interned.
Banner and crosses carried by the families of the Bloody Sunday victims on the yearly commemoration march
The incident that most damaged the relationship between the British Army and the Catholic community was “Bloody Sunday“, 30 January 1972. During an anti-internment march in Derry, 26 unarmed Catholic protesters and bystanders were shot by soldiers from the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment; fourteen died. Some were shot from behind or while trying to help the wounded. The Widgery Tribunal largely cleared the soldiers of blame, but it was regarded as a “whitewash” by the Catholic community.
A second inquiry, the Saville Inquiry, concluded in 2010 that the killings were “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
On 9 July 1972, British troops in Portadown used CS gas and rubber bullets to clear Catholics who were blocking an Orange Order march through their neighbourhood. The British Army then let the Orangemen march into the Catholic area escorted by at least 50 masked and uniformed Ulster Defence Association (UDA) militants.
At the time, the UDA was a legal organization. That same day in Belfast, British snipers shot dead five Catholic civilians, including three children, in the Springhill Massacre. On the night of 3–4 February 1973, British Army snipers shot dead four unarmed men (one of whom was an IRA member) in the Catholic New Lodge area of Belfast.
In the early hours of 31 July 1972, the British Army launched Operation Motorman to re-take Northern Ireland’s “no-go areas“. These were mostly Catholic neighbourhoods that had been barricaded by the residents to keep out the security forces and loyalists. During the operation, the British Army shot four people in Derry, killing a 15-year-old Catholic civilian and an unarmed IRA member.
From 1971–73, a secret British Army unit, the Military Reaction Force (MRF), carried out undercover operations in Belfast. It killed and wounded a number of unarmed Catholic civilians in drive-by shootings. The British Army initially claimed the civilians had been armed, but no evidence was found to support this. Former MRF members later admitted that the unit shot unarmed people without warning, both IRA members and civilians. One member said :
“We were not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group”.
At first, many of the drive-by shootings were blamed on Protestant loyalists. Republicans claim the MRF sought to draw the IRA into a sectarian conflict and divert it from its campaign against the state. The MRF was succeeded by the SRU, and later by the FRU.
Over time, the British Army modified its tactics and curbed the worst excesses of its troops in crowd control situations, leading to a gradual reduction in civilian fatalities. By the 1990s, these were a rare occurrence.
Three civilians were hospitalized with gunshot wounds. As a result, the Parachute Regiment was redeployed outside urban areas and the brigadier at 3 Infantry Brigade, Tom Longland, was relieved of his command.
Collusion with loyalist paramilitaries
A republican mural in Belfast with the slogan “Collusion Is Not An Illusion”
In their efforts to defeat the IRA, there were incidents of collusion between the British Army and loyalist paramilitaries throughout the conflict. This included soldiers taking part in loyalist attacks while off-duty, giving weapons or intelligence to loyalists, not taking action against them, and hindering police investigations. The Army also had double agents and informers within loyalist groups who organized attacks on the orders of, or with the knowledge of, their Army handlers.
The De Silva report found that, during the 1980s, 85% of the intelligence that loyalists used to target people came from the security forces. A 2006 Irish Government report alleged that British soldiers also helped loyalists with attacks in the Republic of Ireland.
The Army’s locally-recruited Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was almost wholly Protestant. Despite the vetting process, loyalist militants managed to enlist; mainly to obtain weapons, training and intelligence.
A 1973 British Government document (uncovered in 2004), “Subversion in the UDR”, suggested that 5–15% of UDR soldiers then were members of loyalist paramilitaries.
The report said the UDR was the main source of weapons for those groups,although by 1973 weapons losses had dropped significantly, partly due to stricter controls.
By 1990, at least 197 UDR soldiers had been convicted of loyalist terrorist offences and other serious crimes including bombings, kidnappings and assaults. Nineteen were convicted of murder and 11 for manslaughter.
This was only a small fraction of those who served in it, but the proportion was higher than in the regular British Army, the RUC and the civilian population.
Operation ‘Banner’ 1969 – 2007
Initially, the Army allowed soldiers to be members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Despite its involvement in terrorism, the UDA was not outlawed by the British Government until 1992. In July 1972, Harry Tuzo (the Army’s GOC in Northern Ireland) devised a strategy to defeat the IRA, which was backed by Michael Carver, head of the British Army.
It proposed that the growth of the UDA:
“should be discreetly encouraged in Protestant areas, to reduce the load on the Security Forces”,
and suggested they “turn a blind eye to UDA arms when confined to their own areas”.
That summer, the Army mounted some joint patrols with the UDA in Protestant areas, following talks between General Robert Ford and UDA leader Tommy Herron.
In November 1972 the Army ordered that a soldier should be discharged if his sympathy for a paramilitary group affects his performance, loyalty or impartiality. Within three years, 171 soldiers with UDA links had been discharged.
In 1977, the Army investigated a UDR battalion based at Girdwood Barracks, Belfast. The investigation found that 70 soldiers had links to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), that thirty soldiers had fraudulently diverted up to £47,000 to the UVF, and that UVF members socialized with soldiers in their mess. Following this, two soldiers were dismissed on security grounds.
The investigation was halted after a senior officer claimed it was harming morale. Details of it were uncovered in 2011.
During the 1970s, the Glenanne gang—a secret alliance of loyalist militants, British soldiers and RUC officers—carried out a string of attacks against Catholics in an area of Northern Ireland known as the “murder triangle”.
It also carried out some attacks in the Republic. Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland claims the group killed about 120 people, almost all of whom were reportedly uninvolved Catholic civilians.
The Cassel Report investigated 76 murders attributed to the group and found evidence that soldiers and policemen were involved in 74 of those. One member, RUC officer John Weir, claimed his superiors knew of the collusion but allowed it to continue.
The Stevens Inquiries found that elements of the British Army had used loyalists as “proxies”.
Through their double-agents and informers, they helped loyalist groups to kill people, including civilians. It concluded that this had intensified and prolonged the conflict.
The Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU) was the main agency involved. Brian Nelson, the UDA’s chief ‘intelligence officer’, was a FRU agent. Through Nelson, FRU helped loyalists target people for assassination. FRU commanders say they helped loyalists target only republican activists and prevented the killing of civilians
The Inquiries found evidence only two lives were saved and that Nelson/FRU was responsible for at least 30 murders and many other attacks – many of them on civilians.One victim was solicitor Pat Finucane. Nelson also supervised the shipping of weapons to loyalists from South Africa in 1988. From 1992–94, loyalists were responsible for more deaths than republicans, partly due to FRU.
Members of the security forces tried to obstruct the Stevens investigation.
During the 38 year operation, 1,441 members of the British armed forces died in Operation Banner. This includes those who were killed in paramilitary attacks as well as those who died as a result of assault, accidents, suicide and natural causes.
692 soldiers in the regular British Army were killed as a result of paramilitary violence while another 689 died from other causes.
197 soldiers from the Ulster Defence Regiment were killed as a result of paramilitary violence while another 284 died from other causes.
7 soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment were killed as a result of paramilitary violence while another 60 died from other causes.
9 soldiers from the Territorial Army were killed as a result of paramilitary violence while another 8 died from other causes.
2 members from other branches of the Army were killed as a result of paramilitary violence.
21 Royal Marines were killed as a result of paramilitary violence while another 5 died from other causes.
8 Royal Navy servicemen were killed as a result of paramilitary violence while another 3 died from other causes.
4 Royal Air Force servicemen were killed as a result of paramilitary violence while another 22 died from other causes.
Crossmaglen RUC/Army base, showing a watchtower built during the operation that was later demolished as part of the demilitarisation process. The barracks were handed over to the PSNI in 2007
The operation was gradually scaled down since 1998, after the Good Friday Agreement, when patrols were suspended and several military barracks closed or dismantled, even before the beginning of IRA’s decommissioning.
The process of demilitarisation started in 1994, after the first IRA ceasefire. From the second IRA ceasefire in 1997 until the first act of decommission of weapons in 2001, almost 50% of the army bases had been vacated or demolished along with surveillance sites and holding centers, while more than 100 cross-border roads were reopened.
Eventually in August 2005, it was announced that in response to the Provisional IRA declaration that its campaign was over, and in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement provisions, Operation Banner would end by 1 August 2007.
This involved troops based in Northern Ireland reduced to 5,000, and only for training purposes. Security was entirely transferred to the police. The Northern Ireland Resident battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment — which grew out of the Ulster Defence Regiment — were stood down on 1 September 2006. The operation officially ended at midnight on 31 July 2007, making it the longest continuous deployment in the British Army’s history, lasting over 38 years.
While the withdrawal of troops was welcomed by the nationalist parties Social Democratic and Labour Party and Sinn Féin, the unionist Democratic Unionist Party and Ulster Unionist Party opposed to the decision, which they regarded as ‘premature’. The main reasons behind their resistance were the continuing activity of republican dissident groups, the loss of security-related jobs for the protestant community and the perception of the British Army presence as an affirmation of the political union with Great Britain.
Adam Ingram, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, has stated that assuming the maintenance of an enabling environment, British Army support to the PSNI after 31 July 2007 was reduced to a residual level, known as Operation Helvetic, providing specialised ordnance disposal and support to the PSNI in circumstances of extreme public disorder as described in Patten recommendations 59 and 66, should this be needed, thus ending the British Army’s emergency operation in Northern Ireland.
Analysis of the operation
In July 2007, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the Ministry of Defence published Operation Banner: An analysis of military operations in Northern Ireland, which reflected on the Army’s role in the conflict and the strategic and operational lessons drawn from their involvement.
The paper divides the IRA activity and tactics in two main periods: The “insurgency” phase (1971–1972), and the “terrorist” phase (1972–1997). The British Army claims to have curbed the IRA insurgency by 1972, after Operation Motorman. The IRA then reemerged as a cell-structured organisation.
The report also asserts that the government efforts by the 1980s were aimed to destroy the IRA, rather than negotiate a political solution. One of the findings of the document is the failure of the British Army to tackle the IRA at strategic level and the lack of a single campaign authority and plan.
The paper stops short of claiming that :
“Northern Ireland has achieved a state of lasting peace” and acknowledges that as late as 2006, there were still “areas of Northern Ireland out of bounds to soldiers.”
Martin van Creveld has said that the British Army is unique in Northern Ireland in its success against an irregular force. It should be recognised that the Army did not ‘win’ in any recognisable way; rather it achieved its desired end-state, which allowed a political process to be established without unacceptable levels of intimidation. Security force operations suppressed the level of violence to a level which the population could live with, and with which the RUC and later the PSNI could cope. The violence was reduced to an extent which made it clear to the PIRA that they would not win through violence. This is a major achievement, and one with which the security forces from all three Services, with the Army in the lead, should be entirely satisfied. It took a long time but, as van Crefeld [sic] said, that success is unique.