Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles
Thursday 26 March 1970
The Police (Northern Ireland) Act became law. The act provided for the disarmament of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the establishment of an RUC reserve force. The Act established the Police Authority of Northern Ireland (PANI) which was meant to contain representatives from across the community.
[None of the main Nationalist parties have ever taken part in the PANI.]
Sunday 26 March 1972
William Whitelaw, was appointed as the first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Tuesday 26 March 1974
[ Sunningdale; Ulster Workers’ Council Strike. ]
Friday 26 March 1976
The Prevention of Terrorism Act (1976) took effect in Northern Ireland.
Sunday 26 March 1978
At the Irish Republican Army (IRA) annual Easter Rising commemorations a number of speakers state that the campaign in Northern Ireland would be intensified.
Wednesday 26 March 1980
Announcement of End to Special Category Status
It was announced that as from 1 April 1980 there would be no entitlement to special category status for members of paramilitary organisations regardless of when the crimes had been committed.
[A policy change announced in March 1976 had ended special category status to people sentenced after that date for scheduled offences. The decision to end special category privileges for paramilitary prisoners led to a protest campaign by Republicans in prisons across Northern Ireland. The protests began on 15 September 1976 when Kieran Nugent refused to wear prison issue clothes and covered himself with a blanket; hence the ‘blanket protest’. The protest was to escalate and led eventually to two hunger strikes, one in 1980 and the most serious in 1981.]
Thursday 26 March 1981
Bobby Sands was nominated as a candidate in the by-election in Fermanagh / South Tyrone on 9 April 1981.
Friday 26 March 1982
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) said that it would grant an ‘amnesty’ to any informers who retracted evidence given to the security forces.
Thursday 26 March 1987
A feud between the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO) ended. It had begun with two deaths on 20 January 1987 and in total claimed 11 lives.
Tuesday 26 March 1991
Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) would involve a three-strand process. This process was to include relationships within Northern Ireland and achieving a devolved government (‘strand one’ of the talks), between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (‘strand two’), and between the British and Irish Governments (‘strand three’).
In addition the three strands were to form a complete agreement – ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.
Friday 26 March 1993
The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) uncovered five tons of fertiliser in west Belfast. The fertiliser was of a type that was used to manufacture home made bombs.
Tuesday 26 March 1996
The Police Authority published its Consultation Report. The parts of the report dealing with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) recommended no change to the name, uniform, or oath of allegiance to the Crown. It was suggested that letterheads used by the RUC should include the adjunct, Northern Ireland’s Police Service. David Cook, who had been sacked from the Police Authority on 8 March 1996, claimed that the report had been “watered down”.
Wednesday 26 March 1997
Gareth Doris (19), was shot and seriously wounded by Special Air Service (SAS) undercover soldiers in Coalisland, County Tyrone.
It was alleged that Doris was in the act of throwing a bomb at Coalisland Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station when he was shot. Seamus Rice, a Catholic priest from the area, escaped injury when his car was hit by SAS bullets.
A confrontation developed between the SAS and local residents and shots were fired in the air to disperse the crowd.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted two bombs at Windslow Railway Station in the north-west of England. The bombs caused widespread disruption to the rail network. The IRA also issued its annual Easter statement in which it confirmed its continuing objective of ending British rule, but added the IRA’s “willingness to facilitate … inclusive negotiations”.
Following the recommendation of the North Report, the five members of the Parades Commission were named. They were: Alistair Graham, Chairman, who was a former trade unionist; Frank Guckian, a businessman; David Hewitt, a solicitor; Roy Magee, a Presbyterian Minister who helped establish the 1994 Loyalist ceasefire; and Berna McIvor (?), who had been John Hume’s election agent. [The appointment of McIvor drew immediate criticisms from the Orange Order.]
Thursday 26 March 1998
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) published a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) document which had been leaked to the party. The document set out a detailed plan to try to obtain public support for any agreement reached during the multi-party talks at Stormont. Unionists attacked the document and claimed the government was using deceit and taxpayers money to manipulate public opinion.
Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, defended the document and accused some of her own civil servants and the DUP of not wanting an agreement. Colin Duffy, then a Republican activist based in Armagh, accused the security forces of being behind a series of posters which appeared in the town.
The posters bore the photograph of Duffy and part of the caption read: “This is north Armagh Republican terrorist Colin Duffy. If you see him in a Loyalist area contact the security forces or a leading Loyalist immediately.” Duffy said that he felt that he was being set up for assassination. David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), travelled to London for a meeting with Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister. The UUP insisted that the details of the meeting be kept private.
Friday 26 March 1999
A man in the Creggan area of Derry was shot in a paramilitary ‘punishment’ attack. The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) warned that there would be a great strain on its ceasefire if the Irish Republican Army (IRA) did not begin decommissioning. John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), donated all of his £286,000 Nobel Peace Prize cash to victims of violence and poverty in Northern Ireland.
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.
4 People lost their lives on the 26th March between 1972– 1986
26 March 1972
Ingram Beckett, (37)
Status: Ulster Defence Association (UDA),
Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Found shot, Conlig Street, Shankill, Belfast. Internal Ulster Defence Association dispute.
26 March 1973
Samuel Martin, (33)
Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by British Army (BA) sniper, from observation post in Newtownhamilton British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, while walking close to his home along Armagh Street, Newtownhamilton, County Armagh
26 March 1974
Joseph Hughes, (25)
Status: Civilian (Civ),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed when bomb in parked car exploded as he drove past, Springfield Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.
26 March 1986
Thomas Irwin, (52)
Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),
Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot at his workplace, sewage works, Mountfield, near Omagh, County Tyrone.