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10th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

10th August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Tuesday 10 August 1971

During the 9 August 1971 and the early hours of the 10 August Northern Ireland experienced the worst violence since August 1969.

Over the following days thousands of people (estimated at 7,000), the majority of them Catholics, were forced to flee their homes. Many Catholic ‘refugees’ moved to the Republic of Ireland, and have never returned to Northern Ireland.

Saturday 10 August 1974

The body of Patrick Kelly (33), a Nationalist councillor, was discovered in Lough Eyes, near Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh. Kelly had disappeared on 24 July 1974 after leaving Trillick, County Tyrone, to travel home.

Sunday 10 August 1975

There was an outbreak of shooting between the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the British Army in west Belfast.

     

Siobhan McCabe, & Patrick Crawford,

Two Catholic children, aged 4 and 15 years, were killed in the crossfire during separate incidents and another eight people were injured.

[These incidents mark a further dilution of the IRA truce.]

Tuesday 10 August 1976

Peace People (Women’s Peace Movement) Established

A member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was shot dead, by a British Army mobile patrol, as he drove a car along Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

The car then went out of control and ploughed into the Maguire family who were walking on the pavement.

Three children were killed as a result of this incident, Joanne Maguire (9), John Maguire (3) and Andrew Maguire (6 weeks).

Two of the children died at the scene and the third died the following day. In the aftermath of these deaths there were a series of peace rallies held in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.

There were rallies on 12 August 1976, 14 August 1976, 21 August 1976, 28 August 1976 and in London on 27 November 1976.

Mairead Maguire, July 2009
Mairead Maguire

The rallies were organised by the children’s aunt, Mairead Corrigan, and another woman, Betty Williams (they were later joined by Ciaran McKeown).

Betty Williams.jpg
Betty Williams

Initially the group called itself the Women’s Peace Movement as the rallies were mainly attended by women from both the main communities. Later the name was changed to the Peace People.

The rallies were the first since ‘the Troubles’ began where large number of Catholics and Protestants joined forces on the streets of Northern Ireland to call for peace. On 10 October 1977 it was announced that Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams would receive the Nobel Peace Prize for their work. On 5 October 1978 the original leaders of the Peace People announced that they were stepping down from the leadership of the organisation.

Wednesday 10 August 1977

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a small bomb in a garden on the campus of the New University of Ulster which was visited by the Queen as part of her jubilee celebrations. The bomb exploded after the Queen had left and it caused no injuries, nor was the Queen’s schedule affected. Members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) refused to attend a reception in her honour.

Monday 10 August 1981

Patrick Sheehan

Patrick Sheehan, then an Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner, joined the hunger strike.

Friday 10 August 1984

Francis Hand (Garda Siochana )

A member of the Garda Siochana (GS) was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in County Meath. A member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) was accidentally killed as he tried to escape from the Maze Prison.

Monday 10 August 1992

UDA Banned

( See UDA Page for background & History )

Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) was to be proscribed (banned) as of from midnight.

The move was welcomed by Nationalist politicians who felt the decision was long overdue.

Many commentators felt that the timing of the move was related to the recent upsurge in Loyalist violence. During the first six months of the year the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), had killed more people than the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Wednesday 10 August 1994

Harry O’Neill (60), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

He was killed while working as security man at a supermarket, Orby Link, Castlereagh, Belfast.

Saturday 10 August 1996

In a decision taken during the morning the Apprentice Boys of Derry organisation decided not to try to walk along the section of closed-off Derry walls. The main parade through the centre of the city went ahead as planned. Contentious parades in Newtownbutler and Roslea, County Fermanagh went ahead after compromises were reached with local residents. There was trouble in Dunloy, County Derry, when a large group of Apprentice Boys tried to parade through the village.

John Molloy (18), a Catholic man, was stabbed to death in Belfast.

Sunday 10 August 1997

The Sunday Times (a London newspaper) carried a claim by David Ervine, then a spokesperson for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) had tried to persuade Loyalist paramilitaries from calling a ceasefire in 1994. It was also claimed that the DUP had continued to try to undermine the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) ceasefire once it was in place.

[The DUP later responded to the claims by saying that Ervine was engaging in “fantasy politics”.]

Sinn Féin (SF) held a rally in Belfast and called on Unionists to join them at the talks in Stormont. While the rally was in progress the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) staged a publicity stunt involving armed members posing with weapons for a cameraman in west Belfast.

The INLA later released a statement that called the ceasefire by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) “bogus”.

Tuesday 10 August 1999

Two pipe-bombs were recovered after Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers stopped a car acting suspiciously in the Rathenraw estate in Antrim shortly after midnight. Two men were arrested and the devices were defused by British Army (BA) officers.

Thursday 10 August 2000

A pipe-bomb was discovered in Magherafelt, County Derry, and was diffused by the British army. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries. Loyalists also attacked 12 Catholic homes in Carrickhill and Ardoyne.

Friday 10 August 2001

Assembly Suspended For 1 Day

Two men were shot in separate paramilitary ‘punishment’ attacks in west Belfast. A 17-year-old youth was shot in both legs and arms in Andersonstown after he had been taken from his home. The second man was shot in both legs in Twinbrook.

John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that he was suspending the Northern Ireland Assembly, at midnight, for a short period and hoped the period of suspension would last just for the coming weekend.

[The suspension lasted just 24 hours. The effect of the suspension was to allow another period of six weeks (until 22 September 2001) in which the political parties would have a second opportunity to come to agreement and re-elect the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.]

There was a report in the Irish Times (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) on the scale of Loyalist paramilitary pipe-bomb attacks across Northern Ireland during 2001. Of the 134 pipe-bombs used during the year to date 50 had exploded and the rest were either defused or failed to explode. There had been 44 pipe-bomb attacks in Belfast; 19 in Coleraine; 12 in Ballymena; 6 in Larne; and 5 in Ballymoney.

Sam Kinkaid, then Assistant Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), said that the attacks have been carried out by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

Omagh Bomb

Some of the relatives of those killed by the Omagh Bomb (15 August 1998) announced that they were beginning a civil action against the “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA).

[The legal action would involve the families sueing five men (alleged to be members of the rIRA) for compensation. This action was thought to be the first of its kind.]

See Omagh Bomb

See The IRA’s Deadliest Massacre of Civilians

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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 10th August between 1971 – 1994

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 10 August 1971

Norman Watson  (53)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA) Shot while driving along Irish Street, Armagh.

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10 August 1971

Paul Challoner

Paul Challoner,  (23) nfNI

Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Shot while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Bligh’s Lane, Creggan, Derry.

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 10 August 1971

Edwards Doherty,  (28)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA) Shot while walking along Whiterock Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

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 10 August 1973

Joseph Murphy

Joseph Murphy   (22)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY) Shot while walking along Kennedy Way, Andersonstown, Belfast.

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 10 August 1975

Siobhan McCabe

Siobhan McCabe,   (4)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Shot during gun battle between Irish Republican Army (IRA) and British Army (BA), McDonnell Street, Lower Falls, Belfast.

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 10 August 1975

Patrick Crawford

Patrick Crawford,  (15)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk) Shot during gun battle between Irish Republican Army (IRA) and British Army (BA), grounds of Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

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 10 August 1976

Daniel Lennon

Daniel Lennon,   (23)

Catholic

Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA) Shot while driving car away from attempted ambush of British Army (BA) foot patrol, car went out of control and crashed into Maguire family, walking along Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

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 10 August 1976

John Maguire,   (3)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk) Died when hit by car, which went out of control and mounted pavement, after the Irish Republican Army (IRA) member driver had been shot by British Army (BA) patrol, Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

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10 August 1976

Joanne Maguire

Joanne Maguire,   (9)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk) Died when hit by car, which went out of control and mounted pavement, after the Irish Republican Army (IRA) member driver had been shot by British Army (BA) patrol, Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

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 10 August 1976

Andrew Maguire,  (0)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk) Died when hit by car, which went out of control and mounted pavement, after the Irish Republican Army (IRA) member driver had been shot by British Army (BA) patrol, Finaghy Road North, Belfast.

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 10 August 1979

Arthur McGraw,  (29)

Protestant

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Shot outside his home, Moneycarrie Road, Garvagh, County Derry. Mistaken for his Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) member brother.

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10 August 1984

Benjamin Redfern

Benjamin Redfern,  (32)

Protestant

Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),

Killed by: not known (nk) Crushed to death in back of refuse lorry during attempted escape from Long Kesh / Maze Prison, County Down.

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 10 August 1984

Francis Hand

Francis Hand,   (26) nfNIRI

Status: Garda Siochana (GS),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA) Shot during attempted armed robbery at post office, Drumcree, County Meath.

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 10 August 1988

Samuel Patton,  (33)

Protestant

Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) Found shot in field, off Ballyversal Road, near Coleraine, County Derry.

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 10 August 1988

James McPhilemy,   (20)

Catholic

Status: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA),

Killed by: British Army (BA) Shot while involved in attempted gun attack on permanent British Army (BA) Vehicle Check Point (VCP), Clady, near Strabane, County Tyrone.

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10 August 1991

James Carson,   (33)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Loyalist Retaliation and Defence Group (LRDG) Shot at his shop, junction of Falls Road and Donegall Road, Falls, Belfast.

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10 August 1994

Harry O’Neill

Harry O’Neill,  (60)

Catholic

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) Security man. Shot while in security hut at supermarket, Orby Link, Castlereagh, Belfast.

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3rd August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

3rd  August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Tuesday 3 August 1976

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of six bomb attacks on Portrush, County Antrim.

Monday 3 August 1981

 Liam McCloskey, then an Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoner, joined the hunger strike.

Sunday 3 August 1997

Nationalist residents of Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, protested against a Royal Black Preceptory march in the village.

The parade was escorted by Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in riot gear. Six people were injured in disturbances.

The Claudy Bombing

The 25th anniversary of the bombing of Claudy, County Derry was marked in the village when approximately 1,500 people attended an open air service

See Claudy Bombing

Although no group claimed responsibility for the explosions it was widely believed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) had planted the three car bombs in the village which resulted in the deaths of nine people. Inadequate warnings were given about the bombs.

Monday 3 August 1998

In the first break-through of its kind, Nationalists and Loyalists in Derry reached an agreement over the Apprentice Boys march in the city planned for 8 August 1999.

The agreement came after three days of shuttle (indirect) negotiations between the parties. [However, there were some minor disturbances following the march.]

Tuesday 3 August 1999

Security sources confirmed that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was considered responsible for the death of Charles Bennett on 30 July 1999.

Republican sources claimed he was killed to pacify hardliners over decommissioning and the lack of political progress.

Friday 3 August 2001

The Ardchomhairle of Sinn Féin held a meeting to consider the party’s response to the British and Irish governments’ Implementation Plan. The meeting took place in County Louth, Republic of Ireland.

The Ardchomhairle is comprised of 41 members, including Gerry Adams, then President of SF, Mitchel McLaughlin, then Chairman, Pat Doherty, then Vice-President, and Martin McGuinness.

Sinn Féin rejected Monday’s deadline and said that the party needed to see the detail and guarantees on policing reform and demilitarisation.

In the days following the meeting SF said it needed to see more detail on policing, demilitarisation and criminal justice before it could support the package.

 3rd August   2010

Óglaigh na hÉireann claimed responsibility for detonating a 200 lb car bomb outside Strand Road PSNI station in Derry.

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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.

10  People lost their lives on the 3rd of August between 1972  – 1992

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03 August 1972

William Clark,   (34) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed attempting to defuse bomb discovered by side of road, Urney, near Clady, County Tyrone.

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03 August 1972

Robert McCrudden,   (19)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot during gun battle, Hooker Street, Ardoyne, Belfast.

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03 August 1973
James Farrell,  (50) nfNIRI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot, during armed robbery, while delivering wages to British Leyland factory, Cashel Road, Crumlin, Dublin.

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 03 August 1974

Martin Skillen, (21)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot from British Army (BA) undercover observation post in Clonard cinema building, Falls Road, Belfast.

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 03 August 1974
Charles McKnight,   (25)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed by booby trap bomb when he entered the cab of his employer’s lorry, parked outside house, Ballycraigy, Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

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 03 August 1976
Alan Watkins,   (20) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) foot patrol, Dungiven, County Derry.

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03 August 1979
Whilliam Whitten  (65)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Died six weeks after being injured in bomb attack on Marine Hotel, Ballycastle, County Antrim. He was wounded on 19 June 1979. Inadequate warning given.

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 03 August 1980
William Clarke, (59)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot while travelling in his car along laneway, Gortnessy, near Pettigoe, County Donegal.

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 03 August 1988

Raymond McNicholl,  (30)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot by sniper, while driving his car to work, Desertcreat Road, near Cookstown, County Tyrone.

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03 August 1992
Damian Shackleton,   (24) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while on British Army (BA) mobile patrol, Duncairn Avenue, New Lodge, Belfast.

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Battle of the Bogside – Northern Ireland History

Battle of the Bogside –  Northern Ireland History

12–14 August 1969

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Start Of The Battle Of The Bogside, 12th August 1969

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Apprentice Boys March, Derry, 12th August 1969

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The Battle of the Bogside was a very large communal riot that took place during 12–14 August 1969 in Derry, Northern Ireland. The fighting was between residents of the Bogside area (organised under the Derry Citizens’ Defence Association), and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) along wih local unionists.

 

 – Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

The rioting erupted at the end of an Apprentice Boys parade which was passing along the city walls, past the Catholic Bogside. Fierce rioting broke out between local unionists and the police on one side and Catholics on the other. Rioting between police and Bogside residents continued for three days. The police were unable to enter the area and eventually the British Army was deployed to restore order.

The riot, which sparked widespread violence elsewhere in Northern Ireland, is commonly seen as one of the first major confrontations in the conflict known as the Troubles.

Background

Tensions had been building in Derry for over a year before the Battle of the Bogside. In part, this was due to long-standing grievances held by much of the city’s population. The city had a majority Catholic and nationalist population. In 1961, for example, the population was 53,744, of which 36,049 was Catholic and 17,695 Protestant.

However, because of gerrymandering after the partition of Ireland, it had been ruled by the Ulster Unionist Party since 1925.

Nationalist grievances

Unionists maintained political control of Derry by two means. Firstly, electoral wards were designed so as to give unionists a majority of elected representatives in the city. The Londonderry County Borough, which covered the city, had been won by nationalists in 1921. It was recovered by unionists, however, following re-drawing of electoral boundaries by the unionist government in the Northern Ireland Parliament.

 

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Battle of the Bogside;Full Documentary.

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Secondly, only owners or tenants of a dwelling and their spouses were allowed to vote in local elections. Nationalists argued that these practices were retained by unionists after their abolition in Great Britain in 1945 in order to reduce the anti-unionist vote. Figures show that, in Derry city, nationalists comprised 61.6% of parliamentary electors, but only 54.7% of local government electors.

There was also widespread discrimination in employment.

As a result, although Catholics made up 60% of Derry’s population in 1961,  due to the division of electoral wards, unionists had a majority of 12 seats to 8 on the city council. When there arose the possibility of nationalists gaining one of the wards, the boundaries were redrawn to maintain unionist control.

Control of the city council gave unionists control over the allocation of public housing, which they allocated in such a way as to keep the Catholic population in a limited number of wards. This policy had the additional effect of creating a housing shortage for Catholics.

Another grievance, highlighted by the Cameron Commission into the riots of 1969, was the issue of perceived regional bias; where Northern Ireland government decisions favoured the mainly Ulster Protestant east of Northern Ireland rather than the mainly Catholic west.

Examples of such controversial decisions affecting Derry were the decision to close the anti-submarine training school in 1965, adding 600 to an unemployment figure already approaching 20%; the decision to site Northern Ireland’s new town at Craigavon and the siting of Northern Ireland’s second university in the mainly unionist town of Coleraine rather than Derry, which had four times the population and was Northern Ireland’s second biggest city.

Activism

In March 1968, a small number of activists in the city founded the Derry Housing Action Committee, with the intention of forcing the government of Northern Ireland to change its housing policies. The group’s founders were mostly local members of the Northern Ireland Labour Party, such as Eamonn McCann, and members of the James Connolly Republican Club (the Northern manifestation of Sinn Féin, which was banned in Northern Ireland). The Housing Action Committee took direct action such as blocking roads and attending local council meetings uninvited in order to force them to house Catholic families who had been on council housing waiting list for a long time.

By the summer of 1968, this group had linked up with the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and were agitating for a broader programme of reform within Northern Ireland.

On 5 October 1968, these activists organised a march through the centre of Derry. However, the demonstration was banned. When the marchers, including Members of Parliament Eddie McAteer and Ivan Cooper, defied this ban they were batoned by the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The actions of the police were televised and caused widespread anger across Ireland, particularly among northern nationalists. The following day, 4,000 people demonstrated in solidarity with the marchers in Guildhall Square in the centre of Derry.

This march passed off peacefully, as did another demonstration attended by up to 15,000 people on 16 November. However, these incidents proved to be the start of an escalating pattern of civil unrest, that culminated in the events of August 1969.

 

Free Derry Corner in the Bogside; the slogan “You are now entering Free Derry” was first painted in January 1969 by John Casey

 

January to July, 1969

In January 1969, a march by the radical nationalist group People’s Democracy from Belfast to Derry was attacked by off-duty Ulster Special Constabulary members and other Ulster loyalists during the Burntollet bridge incident, five miles outside Derry.[13][14][15] The regular police refused to protect the marchers. When the marchers (many of whom were injured) arrived in Derry on 5 January, fighting broke out between their supporters and the police. That night, police officers broke into homes in the Catholic Bogside area and assaulted several residents.

An inquiry led by Lord Cameron concluded that:

 

“a number of policemen were guilty of misconduct, which involved assault and battery, malicious damage to property…and the use of provocative sectarian and political slogans”.

After this point, barricades were set up in the Bogside and vigilante patrols organised to keep the police out. It was at this point that the famous mural with the slogan “You are now entering Free Derry” was painted on the corner of Columbs Street by a local activist named John Casey.

On 19 April there were clashes between NICRA marchers, loyalists and the police in the Bogside area. Police officers entered the house of Samuel Devenny (42), a local Catholic who was not involved in the riot, and severely beat him with batons. His teenage daughters were also beaten in the attack. Devenny died of his injuries on 17 July[17] and he is sometimes referred to as the first victim of the Troubles.

Others consider John Patrick Scullion, who was killed 11 June 1966 by the Ulster Volunteer Force, to have been the first victim of the conflict.

On 12 July (“The Twelfth“) there was further rioting in Derry, nearby Dungiven, and Belfast. The violence arose out of the yearly Orange Order marches. During the clashes in Dungiven, Catholic civilian Francis McCloskey (67) was beaten with batons by police officers and died of his injuries the following day.

 

Image result for battle of the bogside

Following these riots, Irish republicans in Derry set up the Derry Citizens Defence Association, with the intention of preparing for future disturbances. The members of the DCDA were initially Republican Club (and possibly IRA) activists, but they were joined by many other left-wing activists and local people. This group stated their aim as firstly to keep the peace, but if this failed, to organise the defence of the Bogside. To this end, they stockpiled materials for barricades and missiles, ahead of the Apprentice Boys of Derry march on 12 August.

The Apprentice Boys march

 

 

The Bogside in 2004, looking down from the city walls. The area has been greatly redeveloped since 1969, with the demolition of much of the old slum housing and the Rossville Street flats.

 

The annual Apprentice Boys parade on 12 August commemorated the Protestant victory in the Siege of Derry in 1689 and was considered highly provocative by many Catholics. Derry activist Eamonn McCann wrote that the march:

“was regarded as a calculated insult to the Derry Catholics”.

Although the march did not pass through the Bogside, it passed close to it at the junction of Waterloo Place and William Street. It was here that trouble broke out. Initially, some loyalists had thrown pennies from the top of the walls at Catholics in the Bogside below, in return marbles where fired by catapult. As the parade passed the perimeter of the Bogside, Catholics hurled stones and nails resulting in an intense confrontation.

The police, who had suffered a barrage of missiles, then moved in. Whilst the police fought with the rioters at William Street, officers at the Rossville Street barricade encouraged civilian Protestants catapulting stones across the barricade at the Catholics. The police then tried to alleviate the pressure they were under by dismantling the barricade.

The result of this was the creation of a gap allowing Protestants through, convincing the Catholic residents that their homes were going to be attacked.

Image result for battle of the bogside

The police were unable to get into the Bogside. Nationalists lobbed petrol bombs from the top of the Rossville Flats, halting the police advance, with 43 of the 59 officers who made the initial incursion injured.

As this happened the people of Derry, numbering in their hundreds, continued to fight each other, with petrol bombs and stones thrown between loyalists and nationalists.

The Battle

The actions of the Bogside residents were co-ordinated to some extent. The Derry Citizens Defence Association set up a headquarters in the house of Paddy Doherty in Westland Street and tried to supervise the making of petrol bombs and the positioning of barricades. They also set up “Radio Free Derry.” Many local people, however, joined in the rioting on their own initiative and impromptu leaders also emerged, such as Bernadette Devlin, Eamonn McCann and others.

Local youths climbed onto the roof of the High Flats on Rossville Street, from where they bombarded the police below with missiles. When the advantage that this position possessed was realised, the youths were kept supplied with stones and petrol bombs.

The police were in many respects badly prepared for the riot. Their riot shields were too small and did not protect their whole bodies. In addition, their uniforms were not flame resistant and a number were badly burned by petrol bombs. They possessed armoured cars and guns, but were not permitted to use them. Moreover, there was no system in place to relieve officers, with the result that the same policemen had to serve in the rioting for three days without rest.

The police responded to this situation by flooding the area with CS gas, which caused a range of respiratory injuries among the local people. A total of 1,091 canisters containing 12.5g of CS; and 14 canisters containing 50g of CS, were released in the densely populated residential area.

After two days of almost continuous rioting, during which police were drafted in from all over Northern Ireland, the police were exhausted, and were snatching sleep in doorways whenever the opportunity allowed.

On 13 August, Jack Lynch, Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland made a televised speech about the events in Derry, in which he said that he “could not stand by and watch innocent people injured and perhaps worse.” He promised to send the Irish Army to the border and to set up field hospitals for those injured in the fighting. Lynch’s words were widely interpreted in the Bogside as promising that Irish troops were about to be sent to their aid. Unionists were appalled at this prospect, which they saw as a threatened invasion of Northern Ireland. In fact, although the Irish Army was indeed sent to the border, they restricted their activities to providing medical care for the injured.

By 14 August, the rioting in the Bogside had reached a critical point. Almost the entire community there had been mobilised by this point, many galvanised by false rumours that St Eugene’s Cathedral had been attacked by the police. The police were also beginning to use firearms. Two rioters were shot and injured in Great James’ Street. The B-Specials, a reserve quasi-military, mostly Protestant police force with no training in crowd control, much feared by Catholics for their alleged role in killings in the 1920s, were called up and sent to Derry, provoking fears of a massacre on the part of the Bogsiders.

 

James Chichester-Clark 1970.jpg

On the afternoon of the 14th, the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, James Chichester-Clark, took the unprecedented step of requesting the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson for troops to be sent to Derry. Soon afterwards a company of the 1st Battalion, Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire (who had been on standby at HMS Sea Eagle) relieved the police, with orders to separate the police and the Bogsiders, but not to attempt to breach the barricades and enter the Bogside itself.

This marked the first direct intervention of the London government in Ireland since partition. The British troops were at first welcomed by the Bogside residents as a neutral force compared to the police and especially the B-Specials.

Only a handful of radicals in Bogside, notably Bernadette Devlin, opposed the deployment of British troops. This good relationship did not last long however, as the Troubles escalated.

Over 1000 people had been injured in the rioting in Derry, but no one was killed. A total of 691 police men were deployed in Derry during the riot, of whom only 255 were still in action at 12.30 on the 15th. Manpower then fluctuated for the rest of the afternoon: the numbers recorded are 318, 304, 374, 333, 285 and finally 327 at 5.30 pm. While some of the fluctuation in numbers can be put down to exhaustion rather than injury, these figures indicate that the police suffered at least 350 serious injuries.

How many Bogsiders were injured is unclear, as many injuries were never reported.

Rioting elsewhere

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A call by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association for people to stretch police resources to aid the Bogsiders led to rioting in Belfast and elsewhere, which left five Catholics and two Protestants dead.

That same night (the 14th) a loyalist mob burned all of the Catholic homes on Bombay Street. Over 1,500 Catholics were expelled from their homes in Belfast. Taken together with events in Derry, this period of rioting is widely seen  as the point in which The Troubles escalated from a situation of civil unrest to one of a three-way armed conflict between nationalists, state forces and unionists.

 

 – Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in these pages/documentaries are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.