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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1976



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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 1976

1976 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1976

January 1976

Sunday 4 January 1976
item mark Six Catholic civilians from two families died as a result of two separate gun attacks by Loyalist paramilitaries. item mark Three members of the same family, John Reavey (24), Brian Reavey (22) and Anthony Reavey (17) were shot at their home in Greyhillan, Whitecross, County Armagh. [Anthony Reavey died on 30 January 1976.] item mark At another family home in Ballydougan, near Gilford, County Down, Barry O'Dowd (24), Declan O'Dowd (19) and Joseph O'Dowd (61), were all shot dead.
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Monday 5 January 1976
Kingsmills Killings
item mark Ten Protestant civilians were killed by the Republican Action Force (RAF), believed to be a covername for some members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), in an attack on their minibus at Kingsmills, near Bessbrook, County Armagh. The men were returning from work when their minibus was stopped by a bogus security checkpoint.
item mark An RUC officer was shot dead by members of the IRA near Castledawson, County Derry.
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Wednesday 7 January 1976
item mark In response to demands for a tougher security response, a unit of the Special Air Service (SAS) was moved into the South Armagh area. [This was the first occasion when the deployment of SAS troops was officially acknowledged.]

Monday 12 January 1976
item mark Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, gave a speech to the House of Commons on the Convention Report. He announced that the Constitutional Convention was to be reconvened from 3 February 1976 for a period of four weeks. Harold Wilson, then British Prime Minister, stated that a United Ireland was not a solution which any British political party would wish to impose on the region.
item mark The trial of members of the Maguire family, known as the 'Maguire Seven', began at the Old Bailey in London. They had been arrested on 3 December 1974. They were on trial accused of possession of explosives. (The case was linked to that of the 'Guildford Four' and the making the bombs used in the explosions in Guildford on 5 October 1974.) item mark [The 'Maguire Seven' were convicted on 3 March 1976 of possession of explosives (although none were found) and some served 10 years in prison before the convictions were overturned.]

Tuesday 13 January 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians and two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were killed when a bomb exploded prematurely at a shopping arcade in North Street Belfast.
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Thursday 15 January 1976
item mark Harold Wilson, then British Prime Minister, held an all-party meeting at Downing Street, London, to consider the security situation in Northern Ireland.

Saturday 17 January 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians, Sarah O'Dwyer (47) and James Reid (47), were killed in a bomb attack on Sheridan's Bar, New Lodge Road, Belfast. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries. item mark Seamus O'Brien (25), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who alleged that he had been an informer. item mark Mark Ashford (19), a British soldier, was shot dead by the IRA at Great James' Street, Derry.
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Thursday 19 January 1976
[ proni on cain Constitutional Convention. ]

Wednesday 21 January 1976
item mark Government figures showed that 25,000 houses had been damaged in violence related to the conflict. item mark Gerry Fitt, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), told Members of Parliament (MPs) that some Tenant's Associations in Belfast were under the control of various paramilitary groups.

Thursday 22 January 1976
item mark Two members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were killed by a booby-trap bomb in Donegall Pass RUC base, Belfast. No group claimed responsibility. item mark A Catholic civilian was shot dead by Loyalists in Belfast. item mark A member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was shot dead by the IRA near Portglenone, County Derry. item mark In a case of mistaken identity, a Protestant civilian was shot dead by Loyalists in Belfast. item mark The IRA shot dead a man alleged to have been an informer in County Tyrone.
death button       [proni on cain Constitutional Convention. ]

Friday 23 January 1976
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) truce was officially brought to an end. [Indirect contact between the British government and the IRA were maintained for a period after the ending of the truce.]

Sunday 25 January 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians were killed by Loyalist paramilitaries who had left a bomb at the Hibernian Social Club, Conway Street, Lisburn, County Antrim. item mark A Protestant civilian was shot dead by Loyalists in Portadown.
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Tuesday 27 January 1976
item mark Two Protestant civilians were shot dead during a gun attack on Farmer's Inn, Dunmurry, near Belfast. The attack was carried out by Republican paramilitaries.
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Thursday 29 January 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians were killed in separate attacks in Belfast by Loyalist paramilitaries.
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February 1976

Tuesday 3 February 1976
item mark The Constitutional Convention was reconvened in an attempt to reach agreement on a constitutional arrangement for Northern Ireland. A series of inter-party talks were held over the next three weeks and these were chaired by Robert Lowry.

Friday 6 February 1976
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at Cliftonville Circus, Belfast.
item mark A Protestant civilian died then days after being shot by Republicans in Belfast.
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Saturday 7 February 1976
item mark Four civilians died in three separate attacks. item mark Thomas Quinn (55), a Catholic civilian, was beaten and had his throat cut. His body was found at Forthriver Way, Glencairn, Belfast. Members of he Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang known as the 'Shankill Butchers' were responsible for the killing. [See: 20 February 1979] item mark Two Protestant civilians, Rachel McLernon (21) and Robert McLernon (16), were killed by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) booby-trap bomb in Cookstown, County Tyrone. item mark Thomas Rafferty (14), a Catholic civilian, was killed by a booby-trap bomb planted by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in Portadown, County Armagh.
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Monday 9 February 1976
item mark Two Protestant civilians were shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in the Shankill area of Belfast. It was believed that the two men were mistaken for Catholics.
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Thursday 12 February 1976
item mark Frank Stagg, a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), died after 61 days on hunger strike in Wakefield Prison, Yorkshire, England. Stagg had been on hunger strike in protest at the British government's refusal to transfer him to a prison in Northern Ireland. item mark A member of the RUC was shot dead by the IRA in Claudy, County Derry. item mark A member of the youth section of the IRA was killed during an arson atttach on a warehouse in Belfast.
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item mark Talks between the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) broke down after only an hour. The UUUC would not agree on SDLP involvement in any future Northern Ireland cabinet. [This was a key element as far as Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, was concerned. The final meeting of the Convention took place on 3 March 1976. The British government brought the Convention to an end on 5 March 1976.]
[ proni on cain Constitutional Convention. ]

Friday 13 February 1976
item mark There were riots in Belfast and Derry following the news of the death of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) hunger-striker Frank Stagg in a prison in England on 12 February 1976.
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Sunday 15 February 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians, and a Protestant friend, were shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries at Wolfhill Drive, Ligoniel, Belfast. Another member of the family was shot but survived.
item mark An IRA member was killed by the British Army in Belfast.
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Monday 23 February 1976
item mark Francis Rice (24), a Catholic civilian, was abducted, beaten and had his throat and his body was found near Mayo Street, Shankill, Belfast. Members of he Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang known as the 'Shankill Butchers' were responsible for the killing. [See: 20 February 1979]
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Friday 27 February 1976
[ proni on cain Hunger Strikes. ]

n.d. February 1976
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

March 1976

Monday 1 March 1976
End of Special Category Status Prisoners
item mark Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, announced that those people convicted of causing terrorist offences would no longer be entitled to special category status. In other words they were to be treated as ordinary criminals. item mark [This was part of a process, which some commentators called 'criminalisation', which saw the British government move from trying to reach a settlement with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to treating the conflict. On 14 September 1976 Kieran Nugent was the first prisoner to be sentenced under the new regime and he refused to wear prison clothes choosing instead to wrap a blanket around himself. So started the 'Blanket Protest'.]

Wednesday 3 March 1976
'Maguire Seven' Convicted
item mark The trial of members of the Maguire family, known as the 'Maguire Seven', ended at the Old Bailey in London. They had been arrested on 3 December 1974. All seven defendents were found guilty of possession of explosives (although none were found). (Their case was linked to that of the 'Guildford Four' who were found guilty at the Old Bailey on 22 October 1975 of causing explosions on 5 October 1974.) Anne Maguire was sentenced to 14 years; Patrick (Paddy) Maguire 14 years; Sean Smyth 14 years; Giuseppe Conlon 14 years; Pat O'Neill 12 years; Vincent Maguire (aged 16) 5 years; and Patrick Jnr. (aged 13) 4 years.
[This was one of a series of high profile cases of miscarriage of justice involving Irish people living in England. On 26 June 1991 the Magure Seven had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal in London. On 9 February 2005 Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, issued an apology to the Maguire Seven and the Guildford Four.]
item mark A further meeting of the Constitutional Convention again called for the return of the Stormont government. The meeting ended in uproar and was to be the last meeting of the Covention. [The British Government brought the Convention to an end on 5 March 1976.]

Thursday 4 March 1976
[ proni on cain Constitutional Convention. ]

Friday 5 March 1976
item mark Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of State, announced the dissolution of the Constitutional Convention.
[ proni on cain Constitutional Convention. ]

Tuesday 9 March 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians were shot dead during a gun and bomb attack on their restaurant, the Golden Pheasant Inn, Ballynahinch Road, Baillies Mills, near Lisburn, County Down. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.
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item mark Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of State, announced the dissolution of the Constitutional Convention.

Wednesday 10 March 1976
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot and killed Sammy Smyth (46), a former spokesman for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), at his sister's house in Alliance Avenue, Ardoyne, Belfast.
item mark A Protestant civilian was shot dead by the IRA in an attack on a public house near Lisburn, County Antrim.
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item mark The Irish government referred Britain to the European Commission on Human Rights over the case of alleged ill-treatment of internees in 1971. [A decision by the Commission was announced on 2 September 1976. The case was then passed to the European Court of Human Rights who made a further ruling on 18 January 1978.]
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike. ]

Tuesday 16 March 1976
item mark Harold Wilson, then British Prime Minister, announced that he was resigning as leader of the Labour Party and thus as Prime Minister. [On 5 April 1976 James Callaghan succeeded Wilson.]

Wednesday 17 March 1976
item mark Four Catholic civilians were killed by a bomb planted by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) outside the Hillcrest Bar, Donaghmore Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone.
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Thursday 18 March 1976
item mark Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, indicated that he was opposed to any increase in the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) representing Northern Ireland. [At this time the number was 12 but it was to be increased first to 17 and later to 18.]

Thursday 25 March 1976
'Police Primacy' ('Ulsterisation')
item mark Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, made a speech in the House of Commons in which he indicated a change in security policy for Northern Ireland. The decision meant that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were to take the leading role in security in Northern Ireland; previously this had been the responsibility of the British Army. [The policy was referred to as 'police primacy' and also, by some commentators, as the 'Ulsterisation' of the conflict. This referred to the fact that the RUC and the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) were to find themselves more and more in the front line. This was reflected in the increase in numbers of personnel in the RUC and the UDR and the reduction in the level of British troops. The policy also lead to a period of poor relations between the police and the army.]

Friday 26 March 1976
item mark The Prevention of Terrorism Act (1976) took effect in Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 30 March 1976
item mark The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) called off its 'rent and rates strike' which had originally started as a campaign of civil disobedience against the introduction of Internment. [Many of those who had taken part in the protest were left with arrears and in many cases money was deducted from welfare benefit payments to recoup the amounts owing.]

Wednesday 31 March 1976
item mark Three British soldiers were killed in a land mine attack carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Belleek, County Armagh.
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n.d. March 1976
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

April 1976

Monday 5 April 1976
item mark James Callaghan succeeded Harold Wilson as the British Prime Minister.

Wednesday 7 April 1976
item mark Three members of a Protestant family were killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) when an incendiary bomb caused a fire in the drapery business below the Herron family home.
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Friday 9 April 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians were killed in separate Loyalist paramilitary attacks in Belfast and Armagh.
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Friday 16 April 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb at Servia Street, Lower Falls, Belfast.
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Thursday 29 April 1976
item mark An off-duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and a Protestant civilian died as a result of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) attack near Dungannon, County Tyrone.
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May 1976

Saturday 1 May 1976
item mark Kenneth Newman replaced Jamie Flanagan as the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). [This appointment marked the beginning of the policy of 'Ulsterisation' which had the full approval of the British government.]

Sunday 2 May 1976
item mark Seamus Ludlow (47), a Catholic civilian, who was an unmarried forestry worker from Thistle Cross, Dundalk, County Louth, was killed in the early hours of the morning. He was shot a number of times. [Initially the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was suspected by some members of the Garda Siochana (the Irish police). Later members of Ludlow's family came to the conclusion that the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) / Red Hand Commando (RHC) were responsible. The family have pressed the Iriish government for an Inquiry. On 3 November 2005 an interim report (PDF; 1650KB) into the killing was published.]
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Wednesday 5 May 1976
item mark Nine members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) escaped from the Maze Prison through a tunnel.

Thursday 6 May 1976
item mark Eight members of the Special Air Service (SAS) were arrested in the Republic of Ireland. The official explanation was that the soldiers had made a map reading error and accidentally crossed the border. [During the course of the Northern Ireland conflict there were many instances of British Army personnel and vehicles, including aircraft, making illegal crossings of the border. In March 1976 SAS soldiers had crossed the border and grabbed Seán McKenna, then an Irish Republican Army (IRA) commander, from his home before handing him over to a British Army patrol on the northern side of the border.]

Saturday 15 May 1976
item mark Five Catholic civilians were killed in two separate bomb attacks carried out by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). item mark One bomb killed two people at the Avenue Bar, Union Street, Belfast. item mark The second bomb was at Clancey's Bar, Charlemont, County Armagh. Many other Catholic civilians were injured in the explosions. item mark Three Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed in a landmine attack near Belcoo RUC station, County Fermanagh, carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). item mark Another RUC officer was killed in a gun attack at Warrenpoint, County Down.
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Sunday 16 May 1976
item mark Two Protestant civilians were shot dead by Republican paramilitaries outside a Social Club, Alliance Road, Belfast. item mark An off-duty Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Benburb, County Tyrone.
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Monday 17 May 1976
item mark James Gallagher (20) was shot dead, as he travelled, as a passenger on a bus, past Fort George British Army base, Strand Road, Derry. The soldier who shot him was on sentry duty in the base and as he handed over his rifle is reported to have said, "I'm cracking, I'm cracking". Two other passengers on the bus, a man and a woman, were injured in the incident. [Later Gallagher was listed on a Republican roll of honour as an Irish Republican Army (IRA) member.] item mark Two Protestant civilians were shot dead by Republican paramilitaries at a factory in Dungannon Street, Moy, County Tyrone.
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Saturday 22 May 1976
Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) Ceasefire
item mark The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) announced the beginning of a three-month ceasefire. [This ceasefire was, however, broken on a number of occasions the first of which was on 5 June 1976 when five civilians were shot dead.]

Tuesday 25 May 1976
item mark The Ulster Service Corps, a Loyalist paramilitary grouping, announced that it was going to mount 'patrols' because of the 'deteriorating security situation'.

Friday 28 May 1976
item mark A Catholic and a Protestant civilian were killed in a bomb attack on the Club Bar, University Road, Belfast. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.
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June 1976

Wednesday 2 June 1976
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot dead an off-duty member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) outside the Royal Victoria Hospital, Falls Road, Belfast. item mark The IRA also shot dead a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) at his home in Cambrai Street, Shankill, Belfast. item mark A Protestant civilian was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries in Comber, County Down; a Catholic man had been the intended target. item mark Linda Baggley (19), then an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer, died nine days after being shot by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at Chapel Road, Waterside, Derry.
death button

Friday 4 June 1976
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), disclosed information about a series of secret talks between the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). The two parties had held five meetings since March 1976.

Saturday 5 June 1976
item mark The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out a gun attack on the Chlorane Bar, Gresham Street, Belfast, and killed three Protestant civilians and two Catholic civilians. item mark In a separate bomb attack on the International Bar, Portaferry, County Down, the UVF killed a Catholic civilian. item mark Republican paramilitaries carried out a bomb attack on the Times Bar, York Road, Belfast, killing two Protestant civilians. item mark A member of Sinn Féin (SF) was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), at Camberwell Terrace, Belfast.
death button

Sunday 6 June 1976
item mark In response to the recent upsurge in violence the British government announced that it was sending an additional 200 troops to Northern Ireland.

Monday 7 June 1976
item mark The United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) took a vote opposing any talks between the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).

Monday 14 June 1976
item mark Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, gave details in the House of Commons of a committee which had been set up to see how the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) could be more effective in enforcing law and order in Northern Ireland. [This was an additional step in the policy of 'criminalisation'.]

Thursday 17 June 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians were shot dead, by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), as they travelled on a bus on Crumlin Road, Belfast.
item mark A Catholic civilian died 11 days after being shot by the IRA in a case of mistaken identity.
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Friday 25 June 1976
item mark Three Protestant civilians were shot dead during a gun attack on The Store Bar, Lyle Hill Road, Templepatrick, County Antrim. The attack was carried out by a group called the Republican Action Force (RAF), believed to be a covername for some members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
death button

July 1976

Friday 2 July 1976
item mark Six civilians, five Protestant and one Catholic, died as a result of a Loyalist paramilitary attack on the Ramble Inn, near Antrim, County Antrim. The attack was carried out because the public house was owned by Catholics.
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item mark Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, announced the outcome of a review of security force response to violence in Northern Ireland. The review made a number of recommendations including: increasing the manpower level of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC); establishing specialised investigation teams; making greater use of the RUC reserve; and trying to encourage more support from the Catholic community. [These were some of the practical consequences of the policy of 'police primacy' announced by Rees on 25 March 1976.]

Thursday 8 July 1976
item mark A Catholic civilian died one day after being shot by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
death button

Friday 9 July 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians, a husband and wife, were killed in an attack on their home by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).
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Saturday 17 July 1976
item mark Two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were killed when the bomb they were transporting in a car exploded prematurely. The explosion took place in Castlederg, County Tyrone.
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Wednesday 21 July 1976
British Ambassador to Ireland Killed
item mark Christopher Ewart Biggs (54), then the British Ambassador to Ireland, was killed in a landmine attack on his official car in Sandyford, Dublin. His secretary, Judith Cook (25), was also killed in the explosion. Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, was originally to have travelled in the car as well.
item mark A British soldier was killed by a booby trap bomb in an Army base in Derry.
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Tuesday 27 July 1976
[ proni on cain Education. ]

Thursday 29 July 1976
item mark Three Catholic civilians were killed as a result of a bomb attack on Whitefort Inn, Andersonstown Road, Belfast. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.
item mark An off-duty RUC officer was killed by a British soldier following an argument at a check point in Bessbrook, County Armagh.
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item mark Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, said in the House of Commons that there had been no contacts between government officials and Sinn Féin (SF) since the beginning of the year.

Friday 30 July 1976
item mark Four Protestant civilians died as a result of a gun attack on the Stag Inn, Belvoir, Belfast. The attack was carried out by the Republican Action Force (RAF), believed to be a covername for some members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
item mark A member of the UDR was killed by a booby trap bomb set by the IRA near Moneymore, County Derry.
death button      
[ proni on cain Education. ]

August 1976

Monday 2 August 1976
item mark Cornelius Neeson (49), a Catholic civilian, was killed with an axe as he walked home along the Cliftonville Road, Belfast. Members of he Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang known as the 'Shankill Butchers' were responsible for the killing. [See: 20 February 1979]
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Tuesday 3 August 1976
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of six bomb attacks on Portrush, County Antrim.

Sunday 8 August 1976
item mark A number of rallies were held to mark the fifth anniversary of the introduction of internment. Máire Drumm, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), addressed one of the rallies and said that the campaign for the reintroduction of special category status would continue. Drumm is reported as saying that Belfast would "come down stone by stone, and if necessary other towns will come down, and some in England too" as part of the campaign.
item mark A group of Republican demonstrators broke into the home of Gerry Fitt, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), who had to use his gun, issued for personal protection, to protect himself and members of his family and to force the crowd to leave the house.

Tuesday 10 August 1976
Peace People (Women's Peace Movement) Established
item mark A member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was shot dead, by a British Army mobile patrol, as he drove a car along Finaghy Road North, Belfast. The car then went out of control and ploughed into the Maguire family who were walking on the pavement. Three children were killed as a result of this incident, Joanne Maguire (9), John Maguire (3) and Andrew Maguire (6 weeks). [Two of the children died at the scene and the third died the following day. In the aftermath of these deaths there were a series of peace rallies held in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. There were rallies on 12 August 1976, 14 August 1976, 21 August 1976, 28 August 1976 and in London on 27 November 1976. The rallies were organised by the children's aunt, Mairead Corrigan, and another woman, Betty Williams (they were later joined by Ciaran McKeown). Initially the group called itself the Women's Peace Movement as the rallies were mainly attended by women from both the main communities. Later the name was changed to the Peace People. The rallies were the first since 'the Troubles' began where large number of Catholics and Protestants joined forces on the streets of Northern Ireland to call for peace. On 10 October 1977 it was announced that Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams would receive the Nobel Peace Prize for their work. On 5 October 1978 the original leaders of the Peace People announced that they were stepping down from the leadership of the organisation.]
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Wednesday 11 August 1976
item mark The third of the Maguire children died as a result of injuries received on 10 August 1976.

Thursday 12 August 1976
item mark A group of 1,000 women held a demonstration on the Finaghy Road in Andersontown at the place where the three Maguire children were killed on 10 August 1976. 6,000 people signed a petition in Andersonstown calling for peace.

Saturday 14 August 1976
item mark Majella O'Hare (12), a young Catholic girl, was shot dead by British soldiers while she was walking near her home in Ballymoyer, Whitecross, County Armagh.
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item mark A rally in Andersontown to call for peace attracted a crowd of approximately 10,000 people. This rally was organised by the Women's Peace Movement (later Peace People).

Monday 16 August 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians were killed in a bomb planted by Loyalist paramilitaries outside the Step Inn, Keady, County Armagh.
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Wednesday 18 August 1976
item mark Brian Faulkner announced that he would be retiring from active political life.

Saturday 21 August 1976
item mark Approximately 20,000 people, mainly women from Protestant and Catholic areas of Belfast, attended a Peace People's rally at Ormeau Park, Belfast.

Friday 27 August 1976
item mark Three members of a Catholic family, Joseph Dempsey (22), Jeanette Dempsey (19) and Brigeen Dempsey (10 months), were killed in a petrol bomb attack on their home in Hillman Street, New Lodge, Belfast. The attack was carried out by Loyalists.
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Saturday 28 August 1976
item mark The Peace People organised a rally which was attended by approximately 25,000 people. Those taking part in the rally walked from the Shankill Road to Woodvale Park.

September 1976

Wednesday 1 September 1976
item mark The Irish government declares that a state of emergency exists. This allows the Irish police to hold people for seven days without having to bring a charge against them.

Thursday 2 September 1976
European Commission on Human Rights Decision
item mark The European Commission on Human Rights decided that Britain had to answer a case of ill-treatment of internees in 1971 before the European Court of Human Rights. The Commission found that the interrogation techniques did involve a breach of the Convention on Human Rights because they not only involved inhuman and degrading treatment but also torture. [The case had been initially referred to the Commission by the Irish government on 10 March 1976. The European Court of Human Rights made its ruling on 18 January 1978.]

Saturday 4 September 1976
item mark There was a Peace People's rally in Derry which was attended by approximately 2500 people. [During the following weeks there were a number of rallies all over Ireland and Britain. Ciaran McKeown directed the movement. The Peace People were criticised by both Republicans and Loyalists and some of those taking part suffered intimidation.]

Thursday 9 September 1976
item mark The leaders of the main churches in Ireland issued a statement supporting the Women's Peace Movement.

Friday 10 September 1976
item mark Roy Mason succeeded Merlyn Rees as Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland. [Mason was to oversee a period involving a much more severe security regime in the region.]

Monday 13 September 1976
item mark Following the resignation of Brian Faulkner the Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (UPNI) elected Anne Dickson as its new leader. [Dickson became the first woman to lead a political party in Ireland.]

Tuesday 14 September 1976 (?)
'Blanket Protest' Began
item mark Kieran Nugent was the first prisoner to be sentenced under the new prison regime introduced on 1 March 1976 which meant that he would not receive special category status. Nugent was sent to the new 'H-Blocks' of the Maze Prison where he refused to wear prison clothes choosing instead to wrap a blanket around himself. [This marked the beginning of the 'Blanket Protest'. This protest was to culminate in the hunger strikes of 1981 when 10 Republican prisoners died. Eventually many of the elements of special category status such as, no uniforms, free association and no prison work, were conceded to paramilitary prisoners.]

Saturday 18 September 1976
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were shot by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) during a gun attack in Portadown, County Armagh. Albert Craig (33), then a Sergeant, was pronounced dead on arrival at Craigavon Hospital.
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Friday 24 September 1976
item mark Two Protestant civilians were shot dead by Republican paramilitaries during an attack on Crangle's Bar, Cavehill Road, Belfast.
item mark A Catholic civilian was shot dead by Loyalists in Belfast.
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Saturday 25 September 1976
item mark Two members of a Protestant family, James Kyle (61) and Rosaleen Kyle (19), died as a result of a gun attack on their home in Ormonde Park, Finaghy, Belfast. The attack was carried out by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).
item mark A Catholic civilian was shot dead by Loyalists in Belfast.
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Monday 27 September 1976
item mark Roy Mason, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, gave his first press conference since his appointment. In a statement he stressed the importance of trying to improve the Northern Ireland economy and in trying to reduce unemployment.

October 1976

Wednesday 6 October 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians were shot dead at their home in Victoria Gardens, Cavehill Road, Belfast, by Loyalist paramilitaries.
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Sunday 10 October 1976
item mark Brian Stewart (13) died six days after being shot by a plastic bullet near his home in Norglen Road, Turf Lodge, Belfast. The shot was fired by a British solider.
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item mark Rioting followed news of the boys death and representatives of the Peace People were attacked by some of the rioters. The Peace People organisation was also denounced by Republicans as being pro-British.

Wednesday 13 October 1976
item mark Two members of a Protestant family, William Corrigan (41) and Leslie Corrigan (19), died as a result of a gun attack outside their home near Portadown, County Armagh. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out the attack.
item mark A former British soldier from Scotland was killed by Loyalists in Belfast.
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Saturday 16 October 1976
item mark Michael Clerkin (24), then a member of the Garda (Irish police), was killed by a booby-trap bomb near Portlaoise, County Laois, Republic of Ireland. The bomb was planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). item mark Three members of the IRA were killed when a bomb they were planting exploded prematurely at Belfast Gas Works, Ormeau Road, Belfast.
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Sunday 24 October 1976
item mark Two British soldiers died as a result of a gun attack at Oakfield Street, Ardoyne, Belfast. The attack was carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
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Thursday 28 October 1976
item mark Máire Drumm, then Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries while she was a patient in the Mater Hospital, Crumlin Road, Belfast.
item mark An off duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was shot dead by the IRA near Pomeroy, County Tyrone.
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Saturday 30 October 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians were abducted and shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at Glenbank Place, Crumlin Road, Belfast. item mark Stephen McCann (20), a Catholic civilian, was abducted and killed at the rear of Glencairn Community Centre, Belfast. Members of he Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang known as the 'Shankill Butchers' were responsible for the killing. [See: 20 February 1979] McCann had been a founder member of the Witness for Peace movement and author of the song 'What Price Peace?'
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November 1976

Wednesday 3 November 1976
item mark Two Protestant civilians were killed in separate shooting incidents carried out by Republican paramilitaries in Dundrod, County Antrim and Tiger's Bay, Belfast.
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Saturday 6 November 1976
item mark Two Catholic civilians died as a result of separate shooting incidents carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries in New Lodge, Belfast and Whiteabbey, Belfast.
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Thursday 11 November 1976
item mark The Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (ULCCC) issued a plan, 'Ulster Can Survive Unfettered', for the setting up of an Independent Northern Ireland.

Friday 26 November 1976
item mark Roy Mason, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that the region might be left behind by 'the tide of devolution'.

Saturday 27 November 1976
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed two Catholic civilians in separate booby-trap bomb attacks in Lurgan, County Armagh and Bogside, Derry. The bombs had been intended for the security forces.
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item mark The Peace People held a rally in London which was attended by approximately 30,000 people. Republican sympathisers held a small counter demonstration and chanted 'troops out'.

December 1976

Wednesday 1 December 1976
Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act
item mark The Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act came into effect. The Act was introduced to give effect to the anti-discrimination provisions contained in the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. The Fair Employment Act established the Fair Employment Agency (FEA) which had two main functions: (i) the elimination of unlawful discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion, and (ii) the promotion of equality through 'affirmative action'. [The Act proved not to be strong enough and further legislation was introduced. A Command Paper was published in May 1988 entitled Fair Employment in Northern Ireland, and this was followed by the Fair Employment Act in 1989. The Fair Employment Commission for Northern Ireland was subsequently incorporated into The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland; see web site {external_link} for further details.]

Friday 3 December 1976
item mark Patrick Hillery became the President of the Republic of Ireland.

Saturday 4 December 1976
item mark The annual conference of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) debated a motion calling on Britain to declare its intention of withdrawing from Northern Ireland. The motion was defeated by 158 votes to 111.

Sunday 5 December 1976
item mark The Peace People organisation held a rally in Drogheda, County Louth, Republic of Ireland.

Wednesday 8 December 1976
[ proni on cain Employment. ]

Thursday 9 December 1976
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a series of fire-bombs in shops in Derry which caused an estimated £1 million in damages.

Sunday 12 December 1976
item mark The Ulster Loyalist Central Co-ordinating Committee (ULCCC) claimed that some loyalist politicians had been involved in the past in the arrangements to purchase arms and explosives, and in choosing potential bomb targets.

Friday 17 December 1976
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike. ]

Monday 20 December 1976
item mark Thomas Easton (22), a member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), was beaten to death by members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in Forthriver Road, Glencairn, Belfast. This killing was part of feud between the UDA and the UVF.
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Saturday 25 December 1976
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) held a three day ceasefire over the Christmas period (25 to 27 December 1976).

 


Sources
This chronology has been compiled from a number of sources:
  • Bew, P. and Gillespie, G. (1999) Northern Ireland A chronology of the Troubles 1968-1999. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan Ltd.
  • Elliott, S. and Flackes, W.D. (1999) Northern Ireland A Political Directory 1968-1999. Belfast: The Blackstaff Press.
  • Fortnight Magazine's monthly chronology of 'the Troubles'.
  • Sutton, M. (1994) An Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland 1969-1993. Belfast: Beyond the Pale Publications. The Sutton Index of Deaths 1969-2001 - see in particular the list of deaths for 1976.
  • Various newspapers
  • 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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