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19th May – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

19th May

Sunday 19 May 1974

Day 5 of the UWC strike

Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, announced a State of Emergency (Section 40, Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973).

Rees flew to Chequers, the country home of the Prime Minister, for talks.

The United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) met and agreed to support the Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC). The UWC withdrew its call for a total stoppage as of midnight. Some shops reported panic buying. A memorandum was submitted by the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) to the Northern Ireland Office (NIO

Tuesday 19 May 1981

Five British soldiers were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) landmine attack near Bessbrook, County Armagh. The soldiers had been travelling in an armoured vehicle when the bomb exploded.

Tuesday 19 May 1987

Robert McCarty

The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) expelled Robert McCartney because of his criticism of UUP leaders and also for his involvement in the Campaign for Equal Citizenship.

Wednesday 19 May 1993

Local Government Elections

There were district council elections to choose 582 councillors for the 26 District Councils in Northern Ireland.

[When the results were declared they showed an increase in the percentage share of the vote for the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Sinn Féin (SF), and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI).]

gilford pub bombing

Three former detectives in the British police who had been involved in the investigations that led to the convictions of the Guildford Four were cleared of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The men were accused of having manufactured the interview notes of one of the Guildford Four.

See Guildford Bombing

Thursday 19 May 1994

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) published a 21 page British government response to Sinn Féin (SF) questions that arose from the Downing Street Declaration (DSD). SF had submitted a series of 20 questions via the Irish government. Albert Reynolds, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), described the clarification as “comprehensive and positive”.

Friday 19 May 1995

At the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin, Seamus Mallon, then deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), criticised the support by Sinn Féin (SF) for imposed all-Ireland institutions without a democratic assembly in Northern Ireland. Mallon argued in favour of the model in the Framework Documents (published on 22 February 1995).

Sunday 19 May 1996

Geoffrey Anderson, then a Royal Irish Regiment soldier, killed two people and injured a third before committing suicide.

See Irish Times for full story

There was a confrontation between the Royal Ulster Const abulary (RUC) and nationalists in the village of Dunloy, County Antrim, during an Apprentice Boys of Derry march

Monday 19 May 1997

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), and Martin McGuinness, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), travelled to Westminster to press their case for facilities within the House of Commons.

The two SF Members of Parliament (MPs) were denied access to the House when they refused to take their seats which would have involved taking an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

Tuesday 19 May 1998

John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), met on the stage at a U2 concert at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.

The concert had been arranged to support the ‘Yes’ campaign.

[Bono, then lead singer with the group U2, joined the two party leaders on stage and held their arms aloft. This event was thought to have given the ‘Yes’ campaign a much needed boost. Until then the two party leaders had not campaigned together.]

A ‘pipe-bomb’ contained in a parcel was delivered to the Dublin Tourist offices in St Andrew’s Street, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. The device was spotted and defused.

[An unknown Loyalist paramilitary group was thought to be responsible for the attack. Pipe-bombs were widely used by Loyalist paramilitaries over the coming years particularly in attacks on the homes of Catholic families in Northern Ireland.]

Wednesday 19 May 1999

John Pickering (Rev), then rector of Drumcree, together with his vestry, decided to defy the General Synod’s vote on 18 May 1999 and announced that they would go ahead with the service for the Orange Order at Drumcree on 4 July 1999.

Talks were held in Downing Street involving the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Sinn Féin (SF).

However the parties failed to reach agreement on outstanding issues.

Loyalists clashed with Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in Portadown, County Armagh.

Eddie Copeland was awarded £27,500 by Belfast High Court in compensation for injuries received when he was shot by a British Army soldier on 26 October 1993. The case was taken against the Ministry of Defence. Copeland had been attending the funeral of Thomas Begley who was killed planting a bomb on the Shankill Road on 23 October 1993.

Garda Síochána (the Irish police) opened an inquiry into the killing of Seamus Ludlow on 2 May 1976 who was found shot in laneway near to his home, Thistlecross, near Dundalk, County Louth. Gardaí initially blamed the Irish Republican Army (IRA) for the killing.

[However later it was claimed that Ludlow had been killed by the Red Hand Commando (RHC) / Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). There was also speculation of involvement by the Special Air Service (SAS) and also by the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).]

 

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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 19th May between 1972 – 1981

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19 May 1972
Harold Morris   (15)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot by sniper while walking along Boundary Street, Shankill, Belfast.

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19 May 1972


Manus Deery  (15)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by sniper from British Army (BA) observation post on city walls, while in entry off Westland Street, Derry.

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19 May 1973
Robert McIntyre   (24)

Protestant
Status: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)
Died two days after being shot by off duty Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) member while attempting to hijack a car, Shankill Road, Belfast.

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19 May 1973
Edward Coogan    (39)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot from passing car while walking along Adela Street, off Antrim Road, Belfast.

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19 May 1979
Jack McClenaghan   (64)

Protestant
Status: ex-Ulster Defence Regiment (xUDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while delivering bread, Garrison, County Fermanagh.

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19 May 1981


Andrew Gavin   (19)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) Armoured Personnel Carrier, Chancellor’s Road, Altnaveigh, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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19 May 1981


Paul Bulman  (19)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) Armoured Personnel Carrier, Chancellor’s Road, Altnaveigh, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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19 May 1981


Michael Bagshaw   (25)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) Armoured Personnel Carrier, Chancellor’s Road, Altnaveigh, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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19 May 1981
John King  (20)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) Armoured Personnel Carrier, Chancellor’s Road, Altnaveigh, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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19 May 1981


Grenville Winstone  (27)

nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) Armoured Personnel Carrier, Chancellor’s Road, Altnaveigh, near Bessbrook, County Armagh.

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See: Bessbrook : 

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Ballygawley Bus Bombing – 8 British Soldiers Slaughtered by IRA. Never Forgotten

Ballygawley Bus Bombing –

20th August 1998

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IRA kill 8 British soldiers in landmine attack!.

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The Ballygawley Bus Bombing was a roadside bomb attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) on a bus carrying British soldiers in Northern Ireland. It occurred in the early hours of 20 August 1988 in the townland of Curr near Ballygawley, County Tyrone. The attack killed eight soldiers and wounded another 28.

It was the second-deadliest attack on the British Army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, after the Warrenpoint ambush of 1979. In the wake of the bombing the British Army began ferrying its troops in and out of the region by helicopter.

Victims

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 20 August 1988

Jayson Burfitt,   (19) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) coach, Curr, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone

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 20 August 1988
Richard Greener,   (21) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) coach, Curr, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone.

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20 August 1988

Mark Norsworthy,  (18) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) coach, Curr, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone.

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 20 August 1988


Stephen Wilkinson,   (18) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) coach, Curr, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone.

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 20 August 1988


Jason Winter,   (19) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) coach, Curr, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone.

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20 August 1988


Blair Bishop,   (19) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) coach, Curr, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone.

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 20 August 1988
Alexander Lewis,   (18) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) coach, Curr, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone.

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20 August 1988


Peter Bullock,   (21) nfNI
Status: British Army (BA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in land mine attack on British Army (BA) coach, Curr, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone.

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Background

The Provisional IRA had been attacking British Army patrols and convoys with roadside bombs regularly since the early 1970s. Most of these attacks took place in rural parts of Northern Ireland; especially County Tyrone (where the IRA’s Tyrone Brigade was active) and southern County Armagh (heartland of the South Armagh Brigade). In August 1979, the IRA ambushed a British Army convoy with two large roadside bombs near Warrenpoint, killing eighteen soldiers. This was the deadliest attack on the British Army in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

In May 1981, five British soldiers were killed when their Saracen APC was ripped apart by a roadside bomb near Bessbrook, County Armagh. In July 1983, four British soldiers were killed when their vehicle struck an IRA landmine near Ballygawley, County Tyrone. In December 1985, the Tyrone IRA launched an assault on the police barracks in Ballygawley, shooting dead two officers and destroying the barracks with a bomb.

See: Bessbroke 

In June 1988, six off-duty British soldiers were killed when an IRA bomb exploded underneath their van in Lisburn. It had been attached to the van as they were taking part in a charity marathon.

Attack

On the night of 19/20 August 1988, an unmarked 52-seater  bus was transporting 36 soldiers of The Light Infantry from RAF Aldergrove to a military base near Omagh. The soldiers, who came from England, had just finished 18 months of a two-year tour of duty in Northern Ireland and were returning to the base after a short holiday.

As it was driving along the main road from Ballygawley to Omagh, at about 12:30AM, IRA members remotely detonated a roadside bomb containing 200 pounds (91 kg) of semtex. According to police, the bomb had been planted in a vehicle by the roadside and had been detonated by command wire from 330 yards (300 m) away.

The blast hurled the bus 30 metres down the road and threw the soldiers into neighbouring hedges and fields. It left a crater 6 feet (1.8 m) deep and scattered body parts and twisted metal over a wide area.  Witnesses described finding dead, dying and wounded soldiers strewn on the road and caught in the wreckage of the bus. Others were walking around, “stunned”.

Some of the first to arrive on the scene and offer help were loyalist bandsmen of the Omagh Protestant Boy’s Band returning from a parade in Portadown, who had also been travelling in buses.

Eight of the soldiers were killed and the remaining 28 were wounded. The soldiers killed were: Jayson Burfitt (19), Richard Greener (21), Mark Norsworthy (18), Stephen Wilkinson (18), Jason Winter (19), Blair Bishop (19), Alexander Lewis (18) and Peter Bullock (21).

This was the single biggest loss of life for the British Army since the Warrenpoint ambush in 1979.  An account from one of the survivors was published in Ken Wharton‘s book A Long Long War: Voices from the British Army in Northern Ireland, 1969–98.

See: Warrenpoint

An inquest into the attack was told that the road was usually off-limits to military vehicles, due to the threat from the IRA. The driver of the bus, who was also a soldier, claimed he had been directed on to the road by diversion signs. The inquest heard that signs had not been placed by the police or the roads service. The IRA denied placing any signs and said that military buses often used the road. The mother of one of those killed accused the British military of negligence and claimed it was “trying to conceal the truth”.[9]

Aftermath

Shortly thereafter, the Provisional IRA issued a statement claiming responsibility. It said that the attack had been carried out by its Tyrone Brigade and added:

“We will not lay down our arms until the peace of a British disengagement from Ireland”.

The security forces suspected that an informer may have told the IRA of the bus’s route and the time it would pass a specific spot.  After the attack the British military decided to start ferrying their troops to and from East Tyrone by helicopter to avoid any future attacks like this.

Tom King, then British Government’s Northern Ireland Secretary, said there was “some evidence” that the explosives used were part of a consignment from Libya (see Provisional IRA arms importation). He also stated that the possibility of reintroducing internment was “under review”. Libyan weaponry enabled the IRA to mount some of its biggest operations during its campaign. The Ballygawley bus bombing is believed to have been one of these attacks.

On 30 August 1988, three IRA members were ambushed and killed by the Special Air Service (SAS) at Drumnakilly, County Tyrone. The men—Gerard Harte, Martin Harte and Brian Mullin—were identified by British intelligence as the perpetrators of the bombing.

Two months after the attack, the British Government introduced the broadcasting ban. It meant that the voices of Sinn Féin and IRA members were not allowed to be broadcast on television or radio. The Ballygawley bus bombing is believed to have influenced the Government’s decision to introduce the ban.

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