1971 To 1980

 

1971  IRL: The newly-formed Provisional IRA becomes active in attacks on security
forces resulting in the first death of a British soldier in Northern Ireland - Gunner
Robert Curtis (Feb 6th). In February, Chichester-Clark announces "Northern Ireland is at war with the IRA Provisionals." He resigns soon afterwards. In March, Brian Faulkner is elected leader of Unionist Party. He is a believer in internment. The Provisional IRA also attacks property and the general public. In the face of increasing calls for internment of IRA members, it is introduced on Aug 9th and around 350 people are immediately arrested and interned. The following 48 hours sees violence and protests against internment that leave 17 dead including 10 civilians. The Ulster Defence Association, a protestant/loyalist paramilitary group, is formed. Throughout the remainder of the year protests against internment continue. The protests include violence, withholding of council rents, strikes and resignations by officials. The UDA and the UVF attack nationalist civilians. The Westminster and Northern Ireland governments agree guidelines - the Downing Street Declaration - on Aug19th. The Army takes overall responsibility for the security situation. Democratic Unionist Party is formed (October). Two women were tarred and feathered in Belfast for dating British soldiers, while in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, a Catholic girl was also tarred and feathered for her intention of marrying a British soldier (Nov 10th). A UVF bomb in McGurk's bar in North Queen Street kills fifteen people (Dec 4th).

World: A military junta led by Major General Idi Amin siezes power in Uganda (Jan. 25th). Mao Zedong invites the US ping-pong team to visit Beijing (Apr 6th). President Nixon ends the US trade embargo against China. (Apr 14th). Erich Honecker assumes leadership of the East German Communist Party after Walter Ulbricht's resignation (May).India and the USSR sign a 20-year friendship pact (Aug 9th). President Mobutu renames the Democratic Republic of Congo, establishing Zaire (Oct 27th).

1972   IRL: A march organised by the NICRA against internment and the ban on marches takes place in Derry on Jan 30. In order to ensure that the march is peaceful the IRA promises to stay away. Soldiers put up barricades to prevent the marchers entering the city centre square. A section of the marchers and some observers confront soldiers manning the barricade. Paratroopers open fire killing 14 and injuring 13. They state they were first fired upon. This day is now known as Bloody Sunday. The British government-appointed Widgery Tribunal found that the soldiers were not guilty of killing the 13 marchers. Public enquiries into the events of this tragedy continue until 2005. In 2001 Martin McGuinness admits that he was 2nd in command of the IRA at the time of the massacre. Following Bloody Sunday there is a rise in support for the Provisional IRA. The British Embassy in Dublin is burnt (Feb 2nd). In an IRA reprisal bomb attack for Bloody Sunday, seven people killed in Aldershot military barracks, home of the 16th Parachute Brigade. (Feb 22nd). It is clear that the British government has to do something to try to quieten the situation. As a result, the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act sets up direct rule and the Northern Ireland government is suspended - Northern Ireland is to be directly ruled from Westminster (March 24th) The Parliament of Northern Ireland meets for the last time on March 28th. Since the collapse of the regional government at Stormont there have been various attempts to find a new political settlement.  One of the first actions by Westminster is to order the dismantling of the 'no-go' areas set up in 1969. The IRA responds by using increasing violence. In May PIRA prisoners led by Billy McKee begin a hungerstrike. Their demands include political status. The Official IRA declares an end to military action. On June 13 -14, PIRA proposes a ceasefire. The SDLP as intermediaries make an offer to the British government, who accept terms. The hungerstrikers end strike (June 20). A secret meeting is held in London between British representatives and members of PIRA and Sinn Féin, including Gerry Adams (July 7th). The British-IRA ceasefire ends (July 9). Nine people are killed and 130 injured when PIRA sets off 22 bombs in Belfast in the space of an hour and a quarter (July 21st). This is now called Bloody Friday. The UDA retaliates by killing five Catholics. On July 31st an IRA attack in Claudy, kills 9 people. In 2002 the case is reopened following allegations that Rev. Jim Chesney (d.1980), a deceased Roman Catholic priest, led the attack. On the same day Operation Motorman begins as the Army moves into the Bogside and Andersonstown to dismantle “no go” areas. Jean McConville is abducted from her home in Belfast on Dec 7th and is never seen alive again. Her 10 children are put into foster care. In 1999 the PIRA admits responsibility and reveals the location of her body. Her body is found in Aug 2003. Lord Diplock presents his report to UK Parliament; internment is changed to "detention" (Dec 20th). Sean O’Callaghan (18), PIRA member, is arrested for the first time. He is a bomb instructor for the PIRA at the time. Republic of Ireland votes to join the European Economic Community.

World: President Nixon of USA makes unprecedented eight-day visit to Communist China and meets with Mao Zedong (Feb 17th). Eleven Israeli athletes at Olympic Games in Munich are killed after eight members of an Arab terrorist group invades Olympic Village; five guerrillas and one policeman are also killed (Sept 5th). Nixon takes second term by a landslide on Nov 7th. Nixon orders "Christmas bombing" of North Vietnam (Dec).

1973  IRL:  The Special Powers Act is replaced by the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act (April 2nd).The Northern Ireland Assembly Act is passed at Westminster and leads to an election for a local Assembly on June 28th. The Northern Ireland Constitution Act authorizes the end of Stormont (July 18th). Britain announced a plan for moderate Protestants and Catholics to share power in Northern Ireland, Nov 22. An agreement is signed at Sunningdale between the British and Irish governments and representatives of the major parties of the Northern Ireland Assembly  to create a power-sharing executive and devolved government. The Sunningdale Agreement also seeks to establish an inter-governmental Council of Ireland (Dec 9th). This is unacceptable to many unionists. Opposition to the Council of Ireland commences. The Irish Navy arrests Joe Cahill as he tries to smuggle 5 tons of Russian-made explosives, guns and ammunition from Libya. Republic of Ireland joins the EEC (forerunner of the EU).

World: Great Britain, Ireland, and Denmark enter European Economic Community (Jan 1st). A ceasefire is signed, ending involvement of American ground troops in the Vietnam War (Jan 28th). US bombing of Cambodia ends, marking official halt to 12 years of combat activity in Southeast Asia (Aug15th). Chile's Marxist president, Salvadore Allende, is overthrown (Sept 11th).Gen. Augusto Pinochet takes power. Fourth and largest Arab-Israeli conflict begins when Egyptian and Syrian forces attack Israel as Jews mark Yom Kippur, holiest day in their calendar (Oct 6th). Egypt and Israel sign US-sponsored cease-fire accord (Nov 11th). Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) hikes oil prices tremendously in retaliation for Western countries' involvement in Yom Kippur War.

1974  The South Transcept is consecrated by Bishop Arthur Butler of Connor and The Chapel of Unity is consecrated by Bishop George Quinn of Down and Dromore on June 20th.

IRL: The NI Executive takes office (Jan 1st). The Ulster Unionist Council rejects the Council of Ireland on Jan 4th. Brian Faulkner who is both the First Minister of the Executive and leader of the Unionist Party resigns from the latter post on Jan 7th. The OUP and DUP withdraw delegates from Assembly. Harold Wilson (Labour) becomes Prime Minister of UK (Feb). Merlyn Rees becomes Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (March 5th).The Ulster Workers’ Council organises a province-wide strike against the Sunningdale Agreement (May 14th). Control of power-stations gives the UWC considerable influence. Petrol supplies are interrupted together with the free-flow of traffic. UWC carries out extensive power cuts in protest at agreement; several factories and Belfast shipyard is closed (May 15th).
Loyalist car bombs in Monaghan and Dublin kill 33 people (May 17th). On May 25th Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister, criticises the strikers and refers to the people of Northern Ireland as “spongers” on the British treasury. This speech makes a very difficult situation even moreso for moderate leaders willing to co-operate cross-community. A general strike leads all Unionists to resign from the Executive, which then collapses, returning NI to Direct Rule (May 28th). The Stormont Executive collapses. The Assembly is suspended for four months but it never meets again in this form. In May, Sean O’Callaghan,PIRA member, and 2 other teenagers gun down police inspector Peter Flanagan in Broderick’s Bar in Omagh. O’Callaghan later serves 8 years of a 539-year terrorism sentence and is released in Dec, 1996 for becoming an informer. In June the Price sisters who are serving sentences for PIRA offences in UK, end their 206-day hungerstrike (which included 167 days of force-feeding) for transfer to a Northern Ireland jail. They are transferred on Dec15th. On Oct 15th Republican prisoners attack guards and set fire to huts in Long Kesh. On Oct 16th Republican women prisoners in Armagh hold prison governor and 3 guards hostage. Between May and December the PIRA launches a bombing campaign which targets public areas both in Ireland and on the British mainland. Bombs explode in Guildford, Woolwich and Birmingham killing and injuring civilians. The bombings of Birmingham pubs kill 21 people and injure 162 others and which leads to the wrongful convictions of the Birmingham Six the following year. Other PIRA bombs were placed on buses to Catterick, at the Tower of London and in public houses in Guildford and Woolwich. The British government responds by introducing the Prevention of Terrorism Act which allows suspects to be detained without charge for up to seven days (Nov 27th).  Irish Republican Socialist Party forms (Dec 8th). The second cease-fire between PIRA and the UK government lasts from Dec 22nd, until approximately April 1975

The sale of contraceptives to married people is legalised in the Republic.

1974 World: Encouraged by Chairman Mao Zedong, the Cultural Revolution begins in China. OPEC ends the oil embargo begun in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War (Mar 18th). Nixon and Brezhnev meet in Moscow to discuss arms limitation agreements. Leftist revolution ends almost 50 years of dictatorial rule in Portugal (launched Apr 25th). India successfully tests an atomic device, becoming the world's sixth nuclear power (May 18th). Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is deposed. A collective military dictatorship assumes power (Sept 12th).

1975 IRL: The Gardiner Report is published and states that Special Category Status is a mistake (Jan 30th).Three members of Miami Showband are killed in a UVF gun attack (July 31st). Eamon Molloy, a Belfast IRA member, disappears after being branded a traitor. His body is recovered in 1999.

World: Pol Pot and Khmer Rouge take over Cambodia (April). The city of Saigon is surrendered and remaining Americans are evacuated, ending the Vietnam War (April 30th). American merchant ship Mayaguez, seized by Cambodian forces, is rescued in operation by US Navy and Marines, 38 of whom are killed (May 15th). Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft take off for US-Soviet link-up in space (July 15th).

1976  IRL:The government removes 'special prisoner status' for those imprisoned in Northern Ireland for crimes which the prisoners claimed were political acts. (March 1st). All convicted after this date are treated as ordinary criminals. James Calligan (Labour) succeeds Harold Wilson who resigns as Prime Minister in April. Roy Mason becomes NI Secretary of State.In August three children from the same family are killed in Andersonstown, west Belfast, when soldiers shoot dead a car hijacker who crashes into the family. Some 10,000 women march for peace (Aug 12th) which sparks off the Peace People.The aunt of the victims, Mairead Corrigan together with Betty Williams, co-found the Women's Peace Movement which later becomes the Peace People. The group's marches are attended by thousands cross-community in Belfast and London. Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Brian Faulkner resigns from politics on Aug18th. On Sept 14th, Ciaran Nugent is first IRA man to be admitted to Maze Prison without Special Category Status. He becomes first “blanketman” by refusing to wear prison clothes.The “blanket” protest by Republican prisoners begins. Sinn Fein Vice President Maire Drumm is killed by Loyalists in October. Pat McGeown, PIRA, was convicted in the bombing of Belfast’s Europa Hotel.

World: Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot becomes prime minister (and virtual dictator) of Cambodia after Prince Sihanouk steps down (April 2nd). Israeli airborne commandos attack Uganda's Entebbe Airport and free 103 hostages held by pro-Palestinian hijackers of Air France plane; one Israeli and several Ugandan soldiers killed in raid (July 4th).19-month civil war ends in Lebanon after threatening to escalate to global level (Nov.).

1977 World: Deng Xiaoping, purged Chinese leader, restored to power as Gang of Four is expelled from Communist Party (July 22nd). South African activist Steve Biko dies in police custody (Sept 12th). Nuclear-proliferation pact, curbing spread of nuclear weapons, is signed by 15 countries, including US and USSR (Sept 21st).

1978 IRL:  Twelve people killed in IRA bomb at La Mon House Hotel, Co Down (Feb 17th).

World: Rhodesia's Prime Minister Ian D. Smith and three black leaders agree on transfer to black majority rule (Feb 15th). US Senate approves Panama Canal neutrality treaty (March 16th) and votes to turn the canal over to Panama by year 2000 (April 18th). Former Italian Premier Aldo Moro is kidnapped by left wing terrorists, who kill five bodyguards (March 16th). He is found slain (May 9th). Pope Paul VI dies aged 80 (Aug 6th).His successor, John Paul I, 65, dies unexpectedly after 34 days in office (Sept 28th). Karol Cardinal Wojtyla of Poland is elected as Pope and takes the name of John Paul II (Oct 16th). A "Framework for Peace" in the Middle East is signed by Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin after a 13-day conference at Camp David led by President Jimmy Carter of the USA (Sept 17th). Jim Jones's followers commit mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana (Nov 18th).

1979  IRL: Eleven Protestants, known as the Shankill Butchers, who kidnapped and tortured Catholics, are sentenced to life imprisonment for nineteen sectarian murders (Feb. 20). They include Robert “Basher” Bates who pleads guilty to 10 murders. He receives 14 life sentences and is released in 1996 after turning state’s evidence and converting to be a born-again Christian. In 1997 he is shot to death in revenge. Airey Neave MP is killed at Westminster by a car bomb planted by INLA (March 30). IRA assassinates Lord Earl Mountbatten, a member of the British royal family who is on holiday in the west of Ireland. His 14-year-old grandson, Lady Bradbourne (82), and a teenage boat-helper are killed in this attack on a boat off the County Sligo coast. On the same day IRA bombers kill 18 soldiers near Warrenpoint, Co Down (Aug 27).


World: Vietnam and Vietnam-backed Cambodian insurgents announce fall of Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and collapse of Pol Pot regime (Jan 7th).The Shah leaves Iran after a year of turmoil (Jan 16th). Revolutionary forces under Muslim leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, take over from Feb 1st. The Conservatives win the British election. Margaret Thatcher becomes prime minister (May 3rd). US President Carter and USSR President Brezhnev sign SALT II agreement (June 14th). Nicaraguan President General Anastasio Somoza Debayle resigns and flees to Miami (July 17th). The Sandinistas form the government (July 19th). Iranian militants seize the US embassy in Teheran and hold hostages (Nov 4th). The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan stirs world protests (Dec 27th).

1980s  IRL:Hunger Strikes dominate the beginning of this decade. In 1976 the British government had removed 'special prisoner status' for those imprisoned for crimes which the prisoners claimed were political acts. The prisoners had campaigned for 'political prisoner status' since 1976 by using both the 'blanket protest'  - refusing to wear prison clothes and donning a blanket instead - and the 'dirty protest' where prisoners refused to clean their cells and smeared excrement on the walls. In June The European Commission on Human Rights rejects claims by four H-block prisoners. To regain the initiative, the Provisional IRA announces a hunger strike which commences Oct 27th and ends Dec18th.

1980 IRL: First National H-Block March (Jan 1st). Seven Republican prisoners go on hungerstrike in H- Blocks (Oct 27th). Thirty more Republicans join hungerstrike (Dec 15th). The belief that a settlement is imminent brings end to strike (Dec 18th).

World: Six U.S. embassy aides escape from Iran with Canadian help (Jan 29th). F.B.I.'s undercover operation “Abscam” (for Arab scam) implicates public officials (Feb 2nd). The USA breaks diplomatic ties with Iran (April 7th). Eight U.S. servicemen are killed and five are injured as helicopter and cargo plane collide in an abortive desert raid to rescue American hostages in Teheran (April 25th). The US Supreme Court upholds limits on federal aid for abortions (June 30th). The Shah of Iran dies at 60 (July 27th). Anastasio Somoza Debayle, ousted Nicaragua ruler, and two aides are assassinated in Asunción, Paraguay capital (Sept 17th). Iraq troops hold 90 square miles of Iran after invasion. An 8 year long Iran-Iraq war begins (Sept 19th). Ronald Reagan is elected President of the USA in a Republican slandslide (Nov 4th). Three U.S. nuns and a lay worker are found shot in El Salvador (Dec 4th). John Lennon of the Beatles is shot dead in New York City (Dec 8th). Smallpox is declared eradicated.