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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1970



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Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change

A Chronology of the Conflict - 1968 to the Present 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003            

The following is a draft chronology of the conflict for the year 1970.

1970 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1970

January 1970

Thursday 1 January 1970
item mark The Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) came into existence but was to become operational on 1 April 1970.

Sunday 11 January 1970
Sinn Féin Split
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) held an Ard Fheis (party conference) in Dublin at which the party split between those who were in favour of ending the policy of abstentionism - of not taking any seats won in the parliaments of Dublin, Belfast, and London - and those where against. A majority of delegates (although not the two-thirds required under the party's rules to change policy) were in favour of ending the abstentionist policy. Those opposed to the move, 257 supporters of the 'Provisional Army Council', walked out of the meeting thus leaving the organisation and established offices in Kevin Street, Dublin. This new grouping became know as 'Provisional Sinn Féin' (PSF). The majority who remained behind continued to occupy the offices in Gardiner Place, Dublin, and were known as 'Official Sinn Féin' (OSF). [This split mirrored the split that had occurred on 28 December 1969 when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) broke up into the Provisional IRA (PIRA) and Official IRA (OIRA).]

Wednesday 14 January 1970
item mark Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers began to patrol the Falls Road area of Belfast for the first time since August 1969.

February 1970

Sunday 1 February 1970
item mark Chichester-Clark, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, and Brian Faulkner, Minister of Development met with James Callaghan, then British Home Secretary, on matters related to the Northern Ireland economy.

Wednesday 4 February 1970
[ proni on cain Policing; Law Order; Political Developments. ]

Thursday 19 February 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Victims. ]

March 1970

Tuesday 10 March 1970
item mark Members of the Stormont parliament were given police protection.

Wednesday 18 March 1970
item mark Five Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs), including William Craig and Harry West, were expelled from the Unionist Parliamentary Party.

Thursday 26 March 1970
item mark 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 29 March 1970
item mark There were serious disturbances in Derry following a march to commemoration the Easter Rising. The British Army later established a cordon around parts of the Bogside.

Tuesday 31 March 1970
item mark There were riots in the Springfield Road area of Belfast following an Orange parade. The British Army used 'snatch squads' to make arrests of Catholic youths. The confrontations were intense with 38 soldiers injured together with an unknown number of civilians. The Army used CS gas for the first time in large quantities.

April 1970

Wednesday 1 April 1970
UDR Began Operations
item mark Serious riots continued in the Ballymurphy estate in Belfast between Catholic residents and the British Army.
item mark The Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) became operational. The UDR was introduced to replace the 'B-Specials' (the Ulster Special Constabulary). The UDR was a locally recruited regiment of the British Army. Roy Hattersley, then Minister of Defence, visited Northern Ireland to mark the occasion. [Initially Catholics formed 18 per cent of the membership of the UDR, however it was to become almost exclusively Protestant and in its time attract almost as much controversy as the 'B-Specials'. Many ex-members of the 'B-Specials' joined the new force.]

Thursday 2 April 1970
item mark Serious rioting continued in Belfast.

Friday 3 April 1970
item mark As part of a new 'get tough' policy, Ian Freeland, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the British Army, warned that those throwing petrol bombs could be shot dead if, after a warning, they did not stop using them. If arrested those using petrol bombs could face a sentence of 10 years in prison.
item mark A member of the Garda Siochana (Irish police) was shot dead during a robbery in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
death button

Thursday 16 April 1970
Paisley Won Stormont By-Election
item mark In a by-election to the Stormont parliament, Ian Paisley, standing on behalf of Protestant Unionist, won the seat formerly held by Terence O'Neill. Terence O'Neill, the former Northern Ireland Prime Minister, had vacated his seat following his elevation to the peerage. A second person, William Beattie, was also elected for Protestant Unionist. These elections provided further evidence of the break-up of the unionist block and the unease among a large section of Protestants about the reform measures introduced under Chichester-Clark, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister.

Tuesday 21 April 1970
Alliance Party Formed
Leaflet by Alliance Party of Northern Ireland The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) was formed. The founders of the party were attempting to appeal to Catholics and Protestant to unite in support of moderate policies. [Oliver Napier became leader of the party in 1972.]

Wednesday 22 April 1970
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Thursday 30 April 1970
'B-Specials' Disbanded
item mark The 'B-Specials' (the Ulster Special Constabulary) were officially disbanded. The USC had been replaced by the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) on 1 April 1970.
[ proni on cain Law Order; Policing. ]

May 1970

Wednesday 6 May 1970
item mark Jack Lynch, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), sacked Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, then both ministers in the Irish government, over allegations of illegal arms importation. Lynch then survived a vote of confidence in the government. [On 28 May 1970 Haughey and Blaney appeared in court at the beginning of what became known as the 'Arms Trial'.]

Thursday 28 May 1970
Arms Trial Began
item mark Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, both former Irish government ministers, together with two other men James Kelly (Captain), then an Irish Army Intelligence Officer, and John Kelly, a Belfast Republican, were charged in a Dublin court with conspiracy to illegally import arms for use by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). It was alleged that the arms were to be smuggled to the IRA in Northern Ireland. The men denied any involvement in the affair. [This was the first day of the 'Arms Trial'. Blaney was found not guilty on 2 July 1970, Haughey and the others were found not guilty on 23 October 1970.

Friday 29 May 1970
Front Cover of the Macrory Report item mark The Macrory Report, Review Body on Local Government in Northern Ireland (Cmd 546), dealing with local government structures was published. The main recommendation is the abolition of the old structure of local government and its replacement with 26 new district councils. The new system would also involve the creation of area boards to manage the health, education, and library services in Northern Ireland. It was envisaged that the control of the new system would rest with the Northern Ireland government. [Following the introduction of direct rule on 30 March 1972 much of the control of the main services passed effectively to Westminster. Elected councillors only had responsibility for a number of matters including refuse collection, public conveniences, crematoria and cemeteries ('bins, bogs and burials' as it was termed in Northern Ireland). The term 'the Macrory Gap was coined to highlight the lack of local accountability on the part of those controlling the centralised services.]

June 1970

Thursday 18 June 1970
Westminster General Election
Election Poster by NILP item mark A general election was held across the United Kingdom with the Conservative Party replacing the Labour Party to form the government at Westminster. Edward Heath became Prime Minister. Reginald Maudling, was appointed as Home Secretary and had responsibility for Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland the Unionist Party held 'only' eight of the 12 seats. Ian Paisley, gained North Antrim, Frank McManus, a Nationalist unity candidate, gained Fermanagh-South Tyrone, Gerry Fitt held West Belfast and Bernadette Devlin held Mid-Ulster.

Friday 19 June 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

Monday 22 June 1970
item mark Bernadette Devlin, then Member of Parliament (MP), lost her appeal against a six-month prison sentence imposed for taking part in riots in Derry. She was arrested on 26 June 1970.

Tuesday 23 June 1970
item mark A five-year economic plan was published for Northern Ireland?

Thursday 25 June 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

Friday 26 June 1970
Five People Killed in Premature Explosion
item mark Two young girls, aged 9 years and 4 years, died in a premature explosion at their home in the Creggan area of Derry. Their father, a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), had been making an incendiary device, presumably for use against the British Army. The explosion killed two other members of the IRA. The girls were the first females to die in 'the Troubles'.
death button
item mark Bernadette Devlin, Member of Parliament (MP), was arrested and jailed for six months for riotous behaviour during the 'Battle of the Bogside'. There was rioting between the British Army and local residents in Derry following the news of the arrest. The riots spread to Belfast.

Saturday 27 June 1970
Major Gun Battle in Belfast
item mark There was serious rioting in Belfast involving Protestants and Catholics. During the evening groups of Loyalist rioters began to make incursions into the Catholic Short Strand enclave of east Belfast. Catholics in the area believed that they were going to be burnt out of their homes and claimed that there were no British Army troops on the streets to protect the area. Members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) took up sniping positions in the grounds of St Matthew's Catholic Church and engaged in a prolonged gun battle with the Loyalists. This was the most significant IRA operation to date. Across Belfast six people were killed of whom five were Protestants shot by the IRA.
death button
item mark A Protestant man was mortally wounded when struck on the head by a missile. He died on 3 July 1970.
death button

Sunday 28 June 1970
item mark Around 500 Catholic workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard were forced to leave their work by Protestant employees. Most of the Catholic workers were unable to return and lost their jobs. Serious rioting continued in Belfast.

Tuesday 30 June 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

July 1970

Wednesday 1 July 1970
item mark Reginald Maudling, then Home Secretary, paid a visit to Northern Ireland. [As he boarded the flight out of Northern Ireland again he was reported to have said: "For God's sake bring me a large Scotch. What a bloody awful country!".]
item mark The Criminal Justice (Temporary Provisions) Act was passed by the Stormont government introducing a mandatory prison sentence of six months for rioting.

Thursday 2 July 1970
item mark Neil Blaney was found not guilty of illegal arms importation by a Dublin jury. The 'Arms Trial' had begun on 28 May 1970. [The case against Charles Haughey continued until 23 October 1970.]
item mark The Prevention of Incitement to Hatred Act (Northern Ireland) was introduced. [It proved difficult to secure convictions under the provisions of the Act and it was seldom enforced.]

Friday 3 July 1970
Falls Road Curfew
Election Poster by NILP item mark Beginning in the afternoon, the British Army carried out extensive house searches in the Falls Road area of Belfast for members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and IRA arms. A military curfew was imposed on the area for a period of 34 hours with movement of people heavily restricted. The house searches lasted for two days and involved considerable destruction to many houses and their contents. During the searches the army uncovered a lot of illegal arms and explosives. However the manner in which the searches were conducted broke any remaining goodwill between the Catholic community and the British Army. During the period of the curfew there were gun battles between both wings of the IRA and the Army. Two people were killed by the British Army during the violence; one of them deliberately run over by an Army vehicle. Another person was shot and mortally wounded by the Army and died on 10 July 1970.
death button

Saturday 4 July 1970
item mark The Falls Road curfew continued throughout the day. A man was killed by the British Army.
death button       [ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Sunday 5 July 1970
item mark At approximately nine in the morning the Falls Road curfew was lifted after a march by women had breached the British Army cordon. The women, mainly from the Andersonstown area of west Belfast, had brought supplies of basic foodstuff and marched to the Falls area. The British soldiers initially tried to hold back the women but were forced to let them through; so ending the curfew. [It was later reported that two Unionist ministers, William Long and John Brooke, had been driven through the area in British Army vehicles.]

Monday 6 July 1970
item mark Partick Hillery, then Irish Minister for External Affairs, paid an unofficial visit to the Falls Road area of Belfast. The visit was criticised by Chichester-Clark, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, and by the British government.
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Tuesday 7 July 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Law Order. ]

Thursday 9 July 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Law Order. ]

Friday 10 July 1970
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Monday 13 July 1970
item mark The annual 'Twelfth' parades pass off without serious incident. [These parades are not normally held on a Sunday hence they took place on 13 July.]

Friday 17 July 1970
item mark Chichester-Clark, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, and Robert Porter, then Minister of Home Affairs, met with Reginald Maulding, then British Home Secretary, in London.

Monday 20 July 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Law Order. ]

Thursday 23 July 1970
Election Poster by NILP item mark A ban on parades and public processions until January 1971 was announced by the Stormont government.

Thursday 30 July 1970
item mark There were further riots in Belfast.

Friday 31 July 1970
item mark Daniel O'Hagan (19), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the British Army during a serious riot in the New Lodge Road area of Belfast.
death button

August 1970

Sunday 2 August 1970
Rubber Baton Rounds Introduced
item mark The British Army began to use 'rubber bullets' (baton rounds) for riot control. [Between their introduction and their replacement with the 'plastic bullet' in 1975, approximately 55,000 were fired by the Army. The rounds were intended to be fired at the legs of rioters or the ground in front of rioters were the bullet would bounce, losing some of its velocity, and then hit the intended target. Often the weapons were fired directly at people at close range and on a number of occasions at civilians who were totally innocent. These weapons were to result in a number of deaths and serious injuries.]

Monday 3 August 1970
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Monday 10 August 1970
item mark Reginald Maulding, then British Home Secretary, threatened to impose direct rule on Northern Ireland if the agreed reform measures were not carried out.

Tuesday 11 August 1970
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) when they set off a booby trap bomb planted in a car near Crossmaglen, County Armagh.
death button

Wednesday 12 August 1970
[ proni on cain Victims. ]

Friday 21 August 1970
SDLP Formed
item mark The Social and Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) was established. The first leader of the party was Gerry Fitt and the deputy leader John Hume. Other prominent members included, Paddy Devlin, Austin Currie, Ivan Cooper, Paddy O'Hanlon and Paddy Wilson. [The party effectively took over from most of the various Nationalist and Labour party groupings and became the main political voice of Nationalists in Northern Ireland until Sinn Fein began to contest elections in the early 1980s.]

Wednesday 26 August 1970
item mark Robert Porter, then Minister of Home Affairs, resigned from the Stormont government. [The official reason was given as 'health' but Porter later said that he had not been consulted about the Falls Road curfew. Initially Chichester-Clark, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, took over responsibility for Home Affairs, but later appointed John Taylor who was very critical of the reform programme.]

Monday 31 August 1970
[ proni on cain Policing. ]

September 1970

Tuesday 1 September 1970
[ proni on cain Policing. ]

Thursday 3 September 1970
[ proni on cain Policing. ]

Friday 4 September 1970
item mark An Irish Republican Army (IRA) member, Michael Kane (35), was killed in the premature explosion of the bomb he was planting at an electricity transformer in Belfast.
death button

Wednesday 9 September 1970
[ proni on cain Policing. ]

Monday 14 September 1970
item mark Economic Council for Northern Ireland held its first meeting.

Tuesday 15 September 1970
item mark Another landmark in the violence was reached when the one hundredth explosion in 1970 occurred.
item mark Officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) voted narrowly in favour of remaining unarmed. [The policy was overtaken by events and eventually all officers were rearmed.]
[ proni on cain Policing. ]

Thursday 17 September 1970
[ proni on cain Victims. ]

Wednesday 23 September 1970
item mark Arthur Young, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced his resignation as from 23 November 1970.
[ proni on cain Policing. ]

Saturday 26 September 1970
item mark There was serious trouble in Belfast when groups of Protestant youths attacked the Catholic Unity Flats. Rioting continued in the Protestant Shankill Road area for four nights.

Monday 28 September 1970
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Wednesday 30 September 1970
item mark A Protestant man was shot and killed by Loyalists in Belfast. ['Lost Lives' claimed that the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) was responsible.]
death button       [ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

October 1970

Friday 2 October 1970
item mark It was announced that local government elections would be postponed. [The next local government elections took place on 30 May 1973.]

Thursday 8 October 1970
item mark The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) proposed that a system of Proportional Representation (PR) should be used in elections in Northern Ireland. [PR was introduced on 30 May 1973 for local government elections.]

Sunday 11 October 1970
item mark A claim of maladministration in housing allocation against Dungannon Rural District Council was upheld by the Commissioner for Complaints.

Tuesday 13 October 1970
item mark A man died in a premature explosion in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
death button

Thursday 15 October 1970
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Wednesday 21 October 1970
item mark Bernadette Devlin was released from prison having served four months of her six month sentence for riotous behaviour.

Friday 23 October 1970
item mark Charles Haughey, and two others were found not guilty of illegal arms importation by a Dublin jury. The 'Arms Trial' had begun on 28 May 1970. Neil Blaney, a co-accused, had been found not guilty on 2 July 1970.

Thursday 29 October 1970
item mark The Electoral Reform Society called for the introduction of Proportional Representation (PR) in elections in Northern Ireland.
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

Friday 30 October 1970
item mark There were serious riots in the Catholic Ardoyne area of Belfast which lasted for three nights.
item mark Chichester-Clark, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, met with Reginald Maulling, then British Home Secretary, on matters related to reforms and security.

November 1970

Thursday 5 November 1970
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Monday 9 November 1970
item mark The Irish School of Ecumenics was founded by Michael Hurley.

Thursday 12 November 1970
item mark The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) was formed. [The NIHE gradually took over control of the building and allocation of public sector housing in Northern Ireland. The responsibility for public sector housing had previously rested with local government and the Northern Ireland Housing Trust (NIHT). There had been many allegations of discrimination in the provision and allocation of housing by the various local government councils in Northern Ireland and this was the main reason for setting up the Housing Executive.]

Monday 16 November 1970
item mark Two men were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). [It was alleged that the two men were involved in anti-social behaviour. This was the first occasion on which the IRA had killed anyone alleged to have been involved in criminality.]
death button

Wednesday 18 November 1970
[ proni on cain Policing. ]

Thursday 19 November 1970
item mark Figures were released by the Commissioner for Complaints showing that there had been 970 complaints in the first ten months of his office, with 74 of them alleging discrimination.

Monday 23 November 1970
item mark Arthur Young resigned as Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). He had announced his decision to resign on 23 September 1970. He returned to his former role as Commissioner of the City of London Police. He was succeeded by the deputy Chief Constable, Graham Shillington.

Monday 30 November 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Reconciliation. ]

December 1970

? December 1970
item mark The Northern Ireland government announced its acceptance of the Macrory Report on local government reform. The report had been published on 29 May 1970.

Tuesday 8 December 1970
item mark Cardinal William Conway, then head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, published a pamphlet on the topic of segregation in education in Northern Ireland.

Friday 11 December 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

Wednesday 23 December 1970
item mark A Protestant man was shot dead at his home in Belfast. ['Lost Lives' speculated that the incident resulted from an attempted robbery of guns stored in the house.]
death button

Wednesday 30 December 1970
item mark The financial cost of the disturbances and riots during 1969 and 1970 were estimated to be £5.5 million.

n.d. December 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Reconciliation. ]

n.d. December 1970
[ proni on cain Policing. ]

n.d. December 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

n.d. December 1970
[ proni on cain Political Developments. ]

 


Sources
This chronology has been compiled from a number of sources:

See Also:

  • Material listed in the CAIN Bibliography which was published during 1970.
  • For a full list of, and links to, on-line sources see the Guide to the Internet.

Notes

  • Each entry contains information, where relevant, on the following topic areas:
    • Major security incidents
    • Political developments
    • Policy initiatives
    • Economic matters
    • Other relevant items
  • Information contained within square brackets [   ] may contain commentary or information that only became publicly available at a later date.
  • Any piece of information which is followed by a question mark in parenthesis (?) is a best estimate while awaiting an update.

 


A Chronology of the Conflict - 1968 to the Present 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
2000 2001 2002 2003            

CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


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