Tag Archives: Jason Winter

20th August – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles – Ballygawley Bus Attack

20th  August

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Friday 20 August 1971

The Northern Ireland Government published a white paper entitled ‘A Record of Constructive Change‘, (Cmd. 558).

[The Command Paper set out the Northern Ireland Government’s reponse to criticism that it had failed to meet its commitments under the ‘Downing Street Declaration‘ of 19 August 1969.]

A man died nine days after being mortally wounded in Belfast.

Thursday 20 August 1981

Michael Devine

Tenth Hunger Striker Died Michael Devine (27) died after 60 days on hunger strike. Devine had been a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). The family of Patrick McGeown, who had been on hunger strike for 42 days, agreed to medical intervention to save his life. A by-election was held in Fermanagh / South Tyrone to elect a Member of Parliament (MP) to Westminster to the seat that became vacant on the death of Bobby Sands. Owen Carron, who had been Sands’ campaign manager, was proposed by Sinn Féin (SF). Carron won the by-election with an increased number of votes over the total achieved by Sands. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) had again decided not to contest the election.

Tuesday 20 August 1985

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot and killed Seamus McAvoy (46) at his home in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. McAvoy had sold portable buildings to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and was the first person to be killed for providing goods or services to the security forces in Northern Ireland.

[This killing marked the beginning of a campaign against what the IRA termed ‘legitimate targets’.]

Saturday 20 August

See bottom of page for more details on Ballygawley Bus Bombing

1988 Ballygawley Bombing

Eight British Army soldiers were killed when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb at Ballygawley, County Tyrone. A further 28 soldiers were injured.

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IRA kill 8 British soldiers in landmine attack!.

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See Ballygawley Bus Attack Post

Saturday 20 August 1994

Loyalists carried out a bomb attack on a Catholic public house in the Markets area of Belfast. Republicans held a ‘Time for Peace – Time to Go’ rally in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. There was an estimated crowd of 10,000 people at the rally.

Tuesday 20 August 1996

John Alderdice, then leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), was awarded a life peerage to the House of Lords. His name had been sponsored by the British Liberal Democrats.

Wednesday 20 August 1997

Up to 30 men who claimed to be members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) badly damaged a public house, The Golden Hind, in Portadown, County Armagh. The pub was allegedly a frequent meeting place for members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

Friday 20 August 1999

There were disturbances between Nationalists and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in the Seacourt Estate in Larne, County Antrim. During the trouble a shotgun was fired and stones thrown.

Nine men, including Gerard Rice, then spokesman for the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community, were charged with obstruction following the protest on 14 August 1999. There was a meeting between the Bogside Residents’ Group and the Apprentice Boys of Derry to discuss the Lundy’s Day parade planned for December.

Monday 20 August 2001 SDLP Support Policing Plan

The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held a meeting to decide on whether or not to accept the ‘Patten Report – Updated Implementation Plan 2001’ that was issued on 17 August 2001. Following the meeting the party announced that it would nominate representatives to the proposed 19 member Policing Board which would oversee the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). John Hume, then leader of the SDLP, said:

“We will respond positively to an invitation to join the Policing Board and we will be encouraging people from all sections of the community to join the new police service.”

The SDLP issued a document outlining its reasons for the change in policy.

[The decision represented a historic shift in SDLP policy given that the party had withheld support from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) since 1970. The decision was welcomed by the Irish government, the British government, the Catholic Church, and the Department of Sate in the United States of America (USA).]

There was a gun attack on a house at Mounthill Drive, Cloughmills, County Antrim, at approximately 10.30pm (2230BST). Two shots were fired at a bedroom window of the dwelling but none of the family of five in the house at the time were injured. The estate where the shooting happened was mixed and the house was owned by a Protestant family.

[The RUC have not established a motive for the attack.]

A ‘paint-bomb’ was thrown at the home of a Protestant man in Hesketh Park, north Belfast. The bottle of paint broke a window and caused paint damage to fittings and furnishings. The man had taken part in a Loyalist stand-off in Ardoyne in June which prevented primary school-children from going to the Catholic Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School. Nelson McCausland, then Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor, accused Republicans of being responsible for the attack.

There were two security alerts in west Belfast. One suspect device was thrown at a house in Tullymore Gardens in Andersonstown, while the other device was discovered on the Hannahstown Road. Sinn Féin accused the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) of being responsible for the attacks.

The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland published an annual report on the religions composition of the workforce in the region: A Profile of the Workforce in Northern Ireland, Summary of 2000 Monitoring Returns. The report showed that the overall composition of the monitored workforce was 60.4 per cent Protestant and 39.6 per cent Catholic. Other surveys showed that the economically active population is 58 per cent Protestant and 42 per cent Catholic. The imbalance between Catholic and Protestant employment rates has narrowed over the past 10 years. However the last year saw the smallest improvement at 0.1 per cent.


Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the follow  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

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.

13 people lost their lives on the 20th August between 1971 – 1988

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20 August 1971
John McKerr,   (49)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Died nine days after being shot while standing outside Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

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20 August 1972
James Lindsay,   (45)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Found shot, Glencairn Road, Glencairn, Belfast.

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20 August 1973

Charles O’Donnell,   (61)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Killed by bomb thrown into his home, Grampian Avenue, Strandtown, Belfast.

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 20 August 1981

Mickey Devine,  (27)

Catholic
Status: Irish National Liberation Army (INLA),

Killed by: not known (nk)
Died on the 60th day of hunger strike, Long Kesh / Maze Prison, County Down.

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 20 August 1985

Seamus McEvoy,  (46) Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot at his home, Eglinton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin. Contractor to British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) .

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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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See: Ballygawley Bus Bombing

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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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