Key Incidences, Belfast 1970s
The ten most significant events of violence in Belfast in the 1970s as related to political and/or religious discord are Derry March, Introduction of Direct Rule, 'Bloody Sunday', Deployment of British Troops, Sunningdale Agreement, Dublin and Monaghan bombs, Anglo-Irish Agreement, United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) Strike, Omagh Bomb, and Violence flares as Devlin is arrested.
Research for a list of political and religious events in Belfast in 1970 revealed that there was the "Northern Ireland conflict" from 1968 to 1998 that was caused by both political and religious events and it was referred to as "The Troubles"
By searching newspapers, newspaper archives, and articles, we found some useful information from news and newspaper web portals such as BBC, CNN, and The Guardian. These sources were used to answer the request and below you can dive into our findings.
EVENTS OF VIOLENCE IN BELFAST IN THE 1970S
DERRY MARCH (5 OCTOBER 1968)
On October 5th, 1968 a march was organized in Derry with the support of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) to draw attention to a number of grievances over issues related to housing, electoral practices, and unemployment in the city. Derry is an area dominated by Catholics who form the majority Nationalist population and the city is specially controlled by the Protestant Unionist authority. The October 5th, 1968 march proceeded to Duke-street which had already been declared as out of bounds by William Craig, Nothern Ireland Minister of Home Affairs. A barricade of police officers armed with batons had already covered this road. They urged the crowd to disperse but the protesters remained stubborn. Violent skirmishes quickly broke out between the police and the crowd and the street was filled with police wielding batons and charging very quickly against the crowd. The violence resulted in 30 people being injured including children and an MP, Gerard Fitt. Recordings of these scenes by television cameras together with subsequent news coverage sparked more rioting in Derry, which resulted in the beginning of "The Troubles" on October 5th, 1968.
DEPLOYMENT OF BRITISH TROOPS (14 AUGUST 1969)
In 1969, the UK government sent British troops into Northern Ireland and this was a "limited operation" for the purposes of restoring law and order. The government intended to pull out the troops within days but this wasn't to be as more and more British troops showed up in Northern Ireland and the public began to raise questions about the role of Westminster government. Despite the Nothern Ireland Army being under the control of the London Secretary of State for Defense, the majority of the Catholics viewed it as a tool for the Unionist Government in Stormont.
Troubles started during the Annual Apprentice Boys march. As the violence continued, the Royal Ulster Constabulary went for tear gas for the first time in history to quell the riots. However, tensions continued to rise when B Specials were mobilized. The special constables who are usually armed and work mostly on part-time were supposed to help RUC bring back law and order but the Roman Catholics deeply viewed them with suspicion. In Belfast, the presence of B Specials escalated the violence while the special constables were just standing by and watching.
VIOLENCE FLARES AFTER DEVLIN IS ARRESTED - 1970
At the age of 21, Bernadette Devlin was the youngest-ever female MP who was elected in 1969. She represented Mid Ulster from 1969-1973. Devlin had survived an attack by gunmen at her house as she continued to champion the cause of Catholics in Londonderry. After the youths had this news, violence flared up as they started throwing stones and petrol bombs to the police. In response to the violence, the army decided to use CS gas on the crowd. In the end, 20 soldiers were reportedly injured and Devlin was charged by 3 cases of incitement and 1 of rioting. She was sentenced to six months in jail for her role in the 1969 Bogdside riots. She made an appeal to this decision but the "Northern Ireland Court of Appeal" rejected this application.
INTRODUCTION OF DIRECT RULE (30 MARCH 1972)
In 1972, the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended and a direct rule was imposed by Westminster. This was to avoid power-sharing with Sinn Fein as they pulled out their two ministers, Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds. All these changes happened to produce the Good Friday Agreement which allowed the inclusion of Sinn Fein only if they pursued their objectives by democratic and peaceful means. A police raid found an IRA spy ring operating within the party. As people were arrested by police, Sinn Fein angrily protested and politically attacked the Good Friday Agreement. One of the results of Direct rule is Bloody Sunday.
"Bloody Sunday" is a date marking the day soldiers from the British Parachute Regiment opened fire on 30 January 1972, against the civil rights march in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. In this event, 13 people were killed and the day has come to be known as Bloody Sunday.
The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association had gathered around 10,000 people in Creggan area of Londonderry, Northern Ireland to protest at internment without trial and such type of protests had been banned by the Stormont government. As Army barricades blocked protesters from the city center, the crowd turned to Rossville Street and some protesters threw stones on soldiers. This prompted a shootout from the army who used rubber bullets, cs gas, and water cannon. During this event, 2 men were shot and wounded. After 25 minutes of shoot out, it was found that 13 protesters were killed and 13 were wounded. One out the 13 wounded died later on. The result of Bloody Sunday was shock and revolution around the world. The British Embassy was burnt by a crowd of protesters in Dublin. This marked the end of the nonviolent campaign by the civil rights protesters as the youngsters who were not interested in politics joined the IRA. Direct rule was imposed.
SUNNINGDALE AGREEMENT (6 DECEMBER 1973 TO 9 DECEMBER 1973)
A Sunningdale Agreement was signed in 1973 during the Troubles by British Prime Minister Edward Heath, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Irish premier Liam Cosgrave, representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party, and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. The agreement led to a disagreement between the parties of the parliament and the role of the Council of Ireland became unclear. One of the results of this agreement was the Direct Rule which resulted in violence in 1972. Also, power-sharing executives were established and announced.
DUBLIN AND MONAGHAN BOMBS (17 MAY 1974)
Bombs were planted in Dublin and Monaghan just before the Ulster Workers Council strike against the Sunningdale power-sharing agreement was about to start. Four car bombs exploded in Dublin and Monaghan On May 1974. Three bombs exploded in Dublin and one bomb in Monaghan on May 17, which resulted in the deaths of 33 people , with more than 200 people wounded including pregnant women and children.
UNITED UNIONIST ACTION COUNCIL (UUAC) STRIKE (3 MAY 1977 TO 13 MAY 1977)
The 1977 strike arranged by the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) was led by Rev Ian Paisley and also supported by the UDA and Ulster Workers Council. The strike was against the demand of a return to unionist majority-rule government at Stormont and alleged lack of security. Lt Col. Evans was threatened for political ends by extreme right-wing elements of the Protestant loyalist faction. The strike was conducted against the discussions and decision taken in the meeting of Permanent Secretaries at Stormont Castle.
ANGLO-IRISH AGREEMENT (15 NOVEMBER 1985)
An agreement was signed between Britain and the Republic of Ireland in 1985 during “the Troubles” to end the violence and to give a new role to Dublin in Northern Ireland. The treasury minister resigned from the deal in protest. This agreement was set up to impose a power-sharing executive of unionist politicians, nationalist and unionist politicians, and an all-Ireland Council. Thousands held demonstrations against the agreement and this was led by unionist MPs. Consequently, Mr. Grow was killed by a bomb planted by the IRA.
OMAGH BOMB (15 AUGUST 1998)
A bomb was planted in 1500 BST and 100 people were injured or maimed. A warning had been made to the police 40 minutes before the blast. This bomb was planted to reduce the process of peace work in Northern Ireland. No group took responsibility for this bomb but later on it was found that it was planted by Vauxhall Astra.