Tag Archives: Roberta Wakeham

12th October – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

Sunday 12 October 1975

There was a split in the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party (VUPP) following William Craig’s support for a coalition with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Craig was expelled from the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) for advocating a coalition with the SDLP.

Thursday 12 October 1978

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a bomb on the Belfast to Dublin train and one woman was killed and two others injured when it exploded without adequate warning.

Friday 12 October 1984

See Brighton Bombing

Brighton Bombing The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on the Grand Hotel, Brighton, England, which was being used as the base for the Conservative Party’s annual conference. Four people were killed in the attack and another person died later from injuries received.

[The attack was an attempt to kill Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, and members of her cabinet and it very nearly succeeded. It was later discovered that the bomb had been planted with a long delay timing device in one of the rooms of the hotel.

The IRA later issued a statement directed at Thatcher:

 Today, we were unlucky, but remember, we only have to be lucky once – you will have to be lucky always.

Neil Kinnock, then leader of the Labour Party, said during a television interview that Irish Unity would not be achieved for many decades.

Sunday 12 October 1986

Charles Haughey, then leader of Fianna Fáil (FF), said that since the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) the position of Nationalists in Northern Ireland had ‘seriously worsened’ and that when FF returned to government his party would seek to renegotiate the Agreement.

Thursday 12 October 1995

Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, spoke at the Conservative Party’s annual conference. He said that the British and Irish governments were willing to invite an international commission to look at the question of paramilitary weapons. At the same time preliminary talks could begin.

Saturday 12 October 1996

The Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) held its annual conference. Leaders of the PUP appealed to the loyalist paramilitary groups to maintain their ceasefire. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), warned that Northern Ireland was on the edge of an abyss and called for talks that would include SF.

Sunday 12 October 1997

Loyalists demonstrated against a parade held in Rosslea, County Fermanagh, to commemorate the United Irishmen rising in 1798. During the demonstration Loyalists clashed with Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers. Loyalists held a rally at Belfast City Hall to mark the third anniversary of the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) ceasefire. Among those taking part was a ‘colour party’ of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

[Nationalists later criticised the display on behalf of the UFF.]

Garry McMichael, then spokesperson for the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), paid tribute to the “resilience and fortitude” of Loyalist prisoners. David Andrews, then Irish Foreign Minister, said on Radio Telefis Éireann (RTE) that a United Ireland “is not achievable in my lifetime”. His comments drew criticism from Sinn Féin (SF). The Sunday Post (a Republic of Ireland newspaper) published a leaked memo that alleged that Mary McAleese, then Fianna Fáil (FF) candidate for President of the Republic of Ireland, had political sympathies towards SF. The memo came from an unnamed civil servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Monday 12 October 1998

It was announced that the Pope would pay a visit to Ireland.

Tuesday 12 October 1999

George Mitchell said he would hold the talks on the Review of the Agreement to London so as to try to avoid some of the close media scrutiny.

Thursday 12 October 2000

There was a pipe-bomb attack on the home of a father-of-two in east Belfast. No-one was injured when the device exploded under the man’s car in Bathgate Drive. Army bomb disposal experts had sealed off the area following a telephone warning to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) at 8.30pm. It is understood the man and his teenage son were at home at the time of the attack.

Friday 12 October 2001

Loyalist Paramilitary Groups ‘Specified’ John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, gave a press conference at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, and announced that he was “specifying” the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). This meant that the British government considered the UDA, UFF, and LVF ceasefires to be at an end.

The move was welcomed by Nationalists but some Unionists said that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) should also have been specified. In response to this criticism Reid said that: “the nature and scale of the organisations’ violence … [was] … different from any other organisations.

[Reid had given the Loyalist paramilitaries a warning about their activities on 28 September 2001. The action did not result in additional sanctions against the paramilitary groups. However, those prisoners who were released on licence can be return to jail if there is evidence that they have been engaged in paramilitary activities. The Loyalist groups had first called a ceasefire on 13 October 1994.]

Two men were shot in separate paramilitary ‘punishment’ attacks in Belfast. One man (23) was shot six times in the thighs as he lay in bed. Three masked men had entered the house where he was sleeping in Fortwilliam Park, north Belfast. The man was also beaten after being shot. A young man (17) was shot once in the calf as he lay in bed in a house in Dundonald, east Belfast. Both men were treated in hospital for their wounds. The British Army was called to deal with an “improvised explosive device” in Portadown, County Armagh. A suspicious object had been noticed under a vehicle in the driveway of a house in Hartfield Square shortly before 4.00am (04.00BST).

Colm Murphy

See Omagh Bombing

See 29 Innocent people slaughtered by Republicans

See deaths in the Troubles 15th August

The trial of Colm Murphy, charged in connection with the Omagh bombing, began in the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. Murphy was accused of conspiring with another person to cause an explosion. Murphy, originally from County Armagh, had an address at Ravensdale, County Louth, Republic of Ireland. He was also charged with membership of an illegal organisation.

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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.

13 People lost their lives on the 12th October  between 1971 – 1993

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12 October 1971
John Thompson, (21)

Protestant
Status: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Died one month after being injured in premature bomb explosion at house, Bann Street, Lower Oldpark, Belfast. Incident occurred on 13 September 1971.

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12 October 1973


Raymond McAdam,  (24)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed during bomb attack on shop, Annaghmore, near Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh.

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12 October 1974
Michael McKenzie,  (19)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Shot while walking along Ellis Street, Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

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12 October 1977
Francis Canavan,   (47)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot while driving school bus, Tirnaskeagh, near Ballygawley, County Tyrone. Off duty Ulster Defence Regiment member intended target.

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12 October 1978
Letitia McCrory,  (55) nfNI
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
From County Dublin. Killed in bomb attack while travelling on train, near Central Station, Belfast. Inadequate warning given.

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12 October 1979


John Donaldson,  (24)

Protestant
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Shot shortly after leaving Andersonstown British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, Belfast.

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12 October 1981


Robert Ewing, (34)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF)
Shot at his home, Deerpark Road, Oldpark, Belfast.

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12 October 1984


Anthony Berry,   (59) nfNIB
Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Member of Parliament. Killed in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England.

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12 October 1984


Eric Taylor,  (54) nfNIB
Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Member of Conservative Party. Killed in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England.

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12 October 1984


Roberta Wakeham,   (45) nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England.

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12 October 1984


Jeanne Shattock, (52) nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England.

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12 October 1984


Muriel MacLean,   (54) nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Injured in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England. She died 13th November 1984

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12 October 1993


Joseph Reynolds,   (40)

Catholic
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)
Shot while travelling in van to work, Sydenham Road, Harbour Estate, Belfast.

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The Brighton Bombing – 12 October 1984

Brighton Bombing

12 October 1984 anniversary

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Brighton Bomb

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The Brighton hotel bombing occurred on 12 October 1984 at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England. A long-delay time bomb was planted in the hotel by Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) member Patrick Magee, with the purpose of killing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet, who were staying at the hotel for the Conservative Party conference.[1] Although Thatcher narrowly escaped injury, five people were killed, including two high-profile members of the Conservative Party, and 31 were injured.

Guests at the Hotel

Preparation

Patrick Magee had stayed in the hotel under the pseudonym Roy Walsh during the weekend of 14–17 September 1984. During his stay, he planted the bomb under the bath in his room, number 629.[1] The device was fitted with a long-delay timer made from video recorder components and a Memo Park Timer safety device.[2] IRA mole Sean O’Callaghan claimed that 20 lb (9 kg) of Frangex (gelignite) was used.[3] The device was described as a ‘small bomb by IRA standards’ by a contemporary news report, and may have avoided detection by sniffer dogs by being wrapped in cling film to mask the smell of the explosive.[4]

Bombing

Thatcher’s Napoleon suite bathroom

The bomb detonated at approximately 2:54 a.m. on 12 October. The midsection of the building collapsed into the basement, leaving a gaping hole in the hotel’s façade. Firemen said that many lives were likely saved because the well-built Victorian hotel remained standing.[5] Margaret Thatcher was still awake at the time, working on her conference speech for the next day in her suite. The blast badly damaged her bathroom, but left her sitting room and bedroom unscathed. Both she and her husband Denis escaped injury. She changed her clothes and was led out through the wreckage along with her husband and her friend and aide Cynthia Crawford, and driven to Brighton police station.[1][6]

At about 4:00 a.m., as Thatcher left the police station, she gave an impromptu interview to the BBC’s John Cole, saying that the conference would go on as usual. Alistair McAlpine persuaded Marks & Spencer to open early at 8:00 a.m. so those who had lost their clothes in the bombing could get new ones. Thatcher went from the conference to visit the injured at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.[6]

Casualties

Victims

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12 October 1984


Anthony Berry,   (59) nfNIB
Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),Anniversary

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Member of Parliament. Killed in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England.

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12 October 1984


Eric Taylor,  (54) nfNIB
Status: Civilian Political Activist (CivPA),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Member of Conservative Party. Killed in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England.

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12 October 1984


Roberta Wakeham,   (45) nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England.

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12 October 1984


Jeanne Shattock, (52) nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Killed in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England.

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12 October 1984


Muriel MacLean,   (54) nfNIB
Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Injured in time bomb attack at Conservative Party Conference, Grand Hotel, Brighton, Sussex, England. She died 13th November 1984

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Five people were killed, although none of them were government ministers. Those killed were Conservative MP Sir Anthony Berry, Eric Taylor (North-West Area Chairman of the Conservative Party), Lady (Jeanne) Shattock (wife of Sir Gordon Shattock, Western Area Chairman of the Conservative Party), Lady (Muriel) Maclean (wife of Sir Donald Maclean, President of the Scottish Conservatives), and Roberta Wakeham (wife of Parliamentary Treasury Secretary John Wakeham). Donald and Muriel Maclean were in the room in which the bomb exploded.[6]

Several more, including Margaret Tebbit—the wife of Norman Tebbit, who was then President of the Board of Trade—were left permanently disabled. Thirty-four people were taken to hospital and recovered from their injuries. When hospital staff asked Tebbit whether he was allergic to anything, he is said to have answered “bombs”.[6]

Aftermath

IRA statement

The IRA claimed responsibility the next day, and said that it would try again. Its statement read

Mrs. Thatcher will now realise that Britain cannot occupy our country and torture our prisoners and shoot our people in their own streets and get away with it. Today we were unlucky, but remember we only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always. Give Ireland peace and there will be no more war

Defiance

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Margaret Thatcher Brighton Bomb Speech

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Margaret Thatcher began the next session of the conference at 9:30 a.m. the following morning, as scheduled. She dropped from her speech most of her planned attacks on the Labour Party and said the bombing was “an attempt to cripple Her Majesty’s democratically elected Government”:

That is the scale of the outrage in which we have all shared, and the fact that we are gathered here now—shocked, but composed and determined—is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.[8]

One of her biographers wrote that Thatcher’s “coolness, in the immediate aftermath of the attack and in the hours after it, won universal admiration. Her defiance was another Churchillian moment in her premiership which seemed to encapsulate both her own steely character and the British public’s stoical refusal to submit to terrorism”.[9] Immediately afterwards, her popularity soared almost to the level it had been during the Falklands War.[10] The Saturday after the bombing, Thatcher said to her constituents: “We suffered a tragedy not one of us could have thought would happen in our country. And we picked ourselves up and sorted ourselves out as all good British people do, and I thought, let us stand together for we are British! They were trying to destroy the fundamental freedom that is the birth-right of every British citizen, freedom, justice and democracy

Hostile reactions

Thatcher was a hated figure in some sections of British society. At the time of the bombing, the miners’ strike was underway. Morrissey, frontman of the popular English alternative rock band The Smiths, said shortly after: “the only sorrow of the Brighton bombing is that Thatcher escaped unscathed”. David Bret wrote in the book Morrissey: Scandal & Passion that “The tabloids were full of such remarks; jokes about the tragedy were cracked on radio and television programmes. A working-men’s club in South Yorkshire seriously considered a whip-round ‘to pay for the bomber to have another go’.”[12] In 1986, English punk band the Angelic Upstarts celebrated the IRA’s assassination attempt with their controversial single “Brighton Bomb”. They released an album of the same name in 1987.[13]

Patrick Magee

Once investigators had narrowed the seat of the blast to the bathroom of Room 629, police began to track down everyone who had stayed in the room. This eventually led them to ‘Roy Walsh’ (IRA member Patrick Magee).[1] On 24 June 1985 he was arrested in Glasgow, Scotland with other members of an IRA active service unit while planning further bombings.

In September 1985, Magee (then aged 35) was found guilty of planting the bomb, detonating it, and of five counts of murder. Magee received eight life sentences: seven for offences relating to the Brighton bombing, and the eighth for another bomb plot. The judge recommended that he serve at least 35 years. Later Home Secretary Michael Howard lengthened this to “whole life”. However, Magee was released from prison in 1999, having served 14 years (including the time before his sentencing), under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.[4] A British Government spokesman said that his release “was hard to stomach” and an appeal by then Home Secretary Jack Straw to forestall it was turned down by the Northern Ireland High Court.

Four members of an IRA unit were also imprisoned for involvement in the plot.[5] Magee, while admitting being part of the IRA unit responsible, maintains that the fingerprint evidence on a registration card from the hotel was faked.

In 2000, Magee spoke about the bombing in an interview with The Sunday Business Post. He told interviewer Tom McGurk that the British government’s strategy at the time was to depict the IRA as mere criminals while containing The Troubles within Northern Ireland:

As long as the war was kept in that context, they could sustain the years of attrition. But in the early 1980s we succeeded in destroying both strategies. The hunger strike destroyed the notion of criminalisation and the Brighton bombing destroyed the notion of containment […] After Brighton, anything was possible and the British for the first time began to look very differently at us; even the IRA itself, I believe, began to fully accept the priority of the campaign in England.[15]

Of those killed in the bombing, Magee said: “I deeply regret that anybody had to lose their lives, but at the time did the Tory ruling class expect to remain immune from what their frontline troops were doing to us?”[15]

Attitudes towards security

Daily Telegraph journalist David Hughes called the bombing “the most audacious attack on a British government since the Gunpowder Plot” and wrote that it “marked the end of an age of comparative innocence. From that day forward, all party conferences in this country have become heavily defended citadels