CAIN Web Service
A Chronology of the Conflict - 1977
Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change
The following is a draft chronology of the conflict for the year 1977
1977 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Saturday 1 January 1977
A 15 month old baby boy was killed in a car bomb explosion
at Harmin Park, Glengormley, near Belfast. The car bomb had been
planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and an inadequate warning
A British soldier was shot dead in Crossmaglem, County Armagh by the IRA.
Tuesday 11 January 1977
[ Political Developments; Hunger Strike. ]
Wednesday 19 January 1977
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of booby-trap
bomb attacks on security force members. ??
Saturday 22 January 1977
Two people were found shot dead in a burning car in the Shankill
area of Belfast; they had been killed by Loyalist paramilitaries.
Monday 24 January 1977
[ Education. ]
Saturday 29 January 1977
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) explode seven bombs in a series
of attacks in the West End of London.
[ NAI Records – January 1977. ]
Wednesday 2 February 1977
Jeffrey Agate (59), then Managing Director of the American
Du Pont factory in Derry was shot dead by members of the Irish
Republican Army (IRA) outside his home at Talbot Park, Derry.
[This killing marked the beginning of a series of attacks on businessmen.
There were further killings on 2 March 1977 and 14 March 1977.]
Thursday 3 February 1977
Joseph Morrissey (52), a Catholic civilian, was found stabbed
and with his throat cut on the Glencairn Road, Belfast. Members of he Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang known as the 'Shankill Butchers' were responsible for the
killing. [See: 20 February 1979]
Friday 4 February 1977
The police in England uncover an Irish Republican Army (IRA)
'bomb factory' in Liverpool.
Thursday 10 February 1977
Those members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who were
arrested at the end of the Balcombe Street siege in London were
convicted of six murders. [The Balcombe Street siege had begun
on 6 December 1975.]
Tuesday 15 February 1977
Ian Smith, then leader of Rhodesia, thanked the Portadown
branch of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for its message
of support to him.
Monday 21 February 1977
Margaret Thatcher, then leader of the Conservative Party,
visited Belfast and Derry.
Thursday 24 February 1977
[ Employment. ]
Sunday 27 February 1977
Two members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) were killed
when a bomb they were planting exploded prematurely in Exchange
A former member of the British army was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Belfast.
Monday 28 February 1977
[ Political Developments. ]
[ NAI Records – February 1977. ]
Tuesday 1 March 1977
[ Political Developments; Reconcilation. ]
Wednesday 2 March 1977
Donald Robinson (56), an English businessman, was shot
dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at his place of work near
University Street, Belfast.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme 'Tonight'
carried out an investigation into interrogation techniques employed
at Castlereagh holding centre. [This programme subsequently led
Amnesty International to conduct its own investigation which was
published in June 1978. The reaction to the programme also led
to the publication of the Bennett Report
from British government
which was published in March 1979. Both these reports were critical
of the methods used to interrogate people suspected of paramilitary
Thursday 3 March 1977
Brian Faulkner died in a riding accident during a hunt. [Faulkner
had been Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1971 to 1972 and
had been Chief Executive in the power-sharing Executive of 1974.]
[ Education. ]
Tuesday 8 March 1977
Eight members of the SAS were each fined £100 in a Dublin
court for carrying guns without a certificate. The men had been
found in the Republic of Ireland and were arrested.
Friday 11 March 1977
Twenty-six members of the UVF were sentenced in a Belfast
court to a total of 700 years in prison. [The imprisonment of
so many members of the UVF is believed to have helped curtailed
paramilitary activities by this group.]
Saturday 12 March 1977
Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, denied that his officials
were engaged in 'black propaganda'.
Monday 14 March 1977
James Nicholson (44), an English businessman, was shot dead
by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as he left the Strathearn Audio
factory, Stockman's Lane, Belfast.
Tuesday 29 March 1977
There were reports that the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) was
boycotting the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC).
Wednesday 30 March 1977
Francis Cassidy (43), a Catholic civilian, was found shot
with his throat cut in the Highfield area of Belfast. Members of he Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang known as the 'Shankill Butchers' were responsible for the killing. [See: 20 February 1979]
[ Education. ]
[ NAI Records – March 1977. ]
Friday 1 April 1977
The British government came out in support of the idea
of treating Northern Ireland as a single constituency, returning
three members, for elections to the European Parliament. The government
also supported the use of Proportional Representation (PR) in
these elections. The proposals were supported by the Social Democratic
and Labour Party (SDLP) and the Alliance Party (APNI) but were
opposed by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic
Unionist Party (DUP).
Saturday 2 April 1977
Airey Neave, then the Conservative Party spokesperson on Northern
Ireland, said that Provisional Sinn Féin (PSF) should be
proscribed (declared illegal).
Monday 4 April 1977
[ Hunger Strike. ]
Friday 8 April 1977
Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were shot dead
by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Moneymore, County Derry.
Sunday 10 April 1977
Kevin McMenamin (10), a Catholic boy, was killed by the Ulster
Volunteer Force (UVF) when they carried out a bomb attack on a
Republican Clubs Easter commemoration parade in the Falls Road
area of Belfast. John Short (49), a Catholic civilian, was shot
dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Turf Lodge area
of Belfast. This killing was part of a feud between the Official
and Provisional wings of the IRA.
Sunday 17 April 1977
Cardinal Willian Conway, then Catholic Primate of Ireland,
died in Armagh.
Wednesday 20 April 1977
Two Catholic civilians were killed when the Ulster Volunteer
Force (UVF) carried out a bomb attack on the funeral of an Irish
Republican Army (IRA) member in the Ardoyne area of Belfast.
Saturday 23 April 1977
Paisley, in his role as head of the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC), threatened to organise a region-wide strike unless Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, acted against the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and also implemented the Convention Report. Thomas Passmore, then the County Grand Master of the Orange Order in Belfast, launched a verbal attack on the UUAC and its plans for a general strike. In addition he alleged that a member of the UUAC had been involved in discussions with the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Monday 25 April 1977
The United Unionist Action Council (UUAC), which was led by Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Ernie Baird, then leader of the United Ulster Unionist Movement (UUUM), announced that it would hold a region-wide strike in May 1977. The strike was organised to demand a tougher security response from the government and a return to 'majority-rule' government at Stormont. The strike was supported by the Ulster Workers' Council (UWC), the group that had organised the successful strike of May 1974, and also by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), the largest of the Loyalist paramilitary groups. The UUAC gave Roy Mason, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, seven days to respond to their demands. The threat of strike action by the UUAC was condemned by other groupings within unionism including the Vanguard Unionist Party (VUP), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and the Orange Order.
Wednesday 27 April 1977
A series of personal attacks on one another by leading figures such as Enoch Powell, James Molyneaux, and Ian Paisley, illustrated the growing disagreement within unionism on the issue of the planned United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike.
Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, announced that the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast was to receive an order worth some £70 million to construct two liquid gas carriers.
Thursday 28 April 1977
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Friday 29 April 1977
Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), warned in a statement that if the British authorities failed to alter its policies then loyalists might have to consider taking over the administration of Northern Ireland. He also called for people to consider a rent, rates and Value Added Tax (VAT) strike. A meeting was held in Harland and Wolff shipyard at which a large majority of workers voted not to support the planned UUAC strike. In addition workers at the Ballylumford power station made it clear that they would only support the stoppage if it obtained clear support across all sectors of Northern Ireland industry. Following a request by Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, it was announced that extra British soldiers would be sent to Northern Ireland to maintain law and order in anticipation of the UUAC strike taking place. [1,200 soldiers arrived on 1 May 1977.] It was reported that approximately 200 Ulster Defence Association (UDA) men from Scotland along with 50 more from Liverpool had arrived in Belfast to support the strike planned by the UUAC.
Saturday 30 April 1977
Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said that if the forthcoming United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike was not a success then he would quit political life in Northern Ireland. [Most political and media commentators viewed the UUAC strike as a failure however on the 13 May 1977 Paisley declared that the strike had been a success.] It was alleged by sources 'close' to the UUAC that plans had been made to establish a loyalist provisional government in Northern Ireland. There were reports of panic buying of food, bottled gas, and other provisions in the face of the threats to supplies posed by the forthcoming UUAC strike.
[ Education. ]
[ NAI Records – April 1977. ]
Sunday 1 May 1977
An additional 1,200 British soldiers were flown into Northern Ireland, and all Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) leave was cancelled, in anticipation of the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike. Fresh appeals were made from a range of organisations and political parties, including the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Vanguard Unionist Party (VUP), the Orange Order, the Peace People, and the trade union movement, for the UUAC to call off their planned stoppage.
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Monday 2 May 1977
In a last minute attempt to avoid the planned United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, met leaders of the UUAC including Ian Paisley and Ernest Baird but the talks broke up without any agreement. Ian Paisley rejected allegations that the UUAC was using the strike as cover to secure independence for Ulster but warned that if it did take place he could not guarantee that intimidation would not take place. At Belfast docks workers decided by a small majority not to support the UUAC strike. In areas of Belfast, including the Shankill and Crumlin Road, there were reports of a number of food vans being hijacked and their contents stolen. In an interview Fred Mulley, then British Defence Secretary, warned that it might be impossible for the Army to maintain essential services. Thomas Passmore, then County Grand Master of the Orange Order in Belfast, alleged that he had received death threats in the wake of his public opposition to the strike. An opinion poll carried out by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) highlighted that although some 78 per cent of people interviewed opposed the UUAC stoppage, 93 per cent of Protestants and 43 per cent of Catholics supported a tougher security response against the IRA. The RUC announce that it had set up a special anti-intimidation squad in order to try to counter the use of the tactic during the proposed strike. Just before midnight, in a reverse of an earlier decision, 400 workers walked out of the Belfast shipyard.
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Tuesday 3 May 1977
United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) Strike
Day 1 of the UUAC Strike
The United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) began a Northern Ireland wide strike. [Many factories managed to stay open although the port at Larne, County Antrim, was closed. Intimidation, or 'persuasion' as the Loyalist paramilitaries preferred to call it, was used as in 1974 to try to stop people from going to work. Despite this the majority of the Harland and Wolff shipyard workers voted against the strike. The strike was also criticised by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Ulster Vanguard, and the Orange Order. During the first three days of the strike the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) reported that it had removed 300 road blocks, arrested 23 people, and received 1,000 complaints of intimidation. In calling the strike the UUAC were copying the tactics of the Ulster Workers Council strike in May 1974 and were obviously hoping for similar success. However many of the conditions were different from 1974.
There was not the same anxiety among the Protest population that Britain was about to withdraw from Northern Ireland and this had the effect of reducing support for the strike. In particular those organising the strike were unable to secure the support of key groups of workers. Chief amongst these were the workers at Ballylumford power station who, although brought under great pressure, refused on a number of occasions to support the strike. The other major factor was that the British government had learnt some lessons from the 1974 strike and were more prepared for the tactics of the strikers.]
Wednesday 4 May 1977
Day 2 of the UUAC Strike
The UUUC parliamentary coalition was ended because of the support of Ian Paisley and Ernest Baird for the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike. This decision was taken by James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) at Westminster, on the grounds that elements of the UUAC were planning to establish a provisional government in Northern Ireland as the next stage of the stoppage. In Belfast loyalist paramilitaries were suspected of being responsible for a bomb explosion outside a police station on the York Road. Roy Mason argued that more people had attended work than on the first day of the strike. On the Newtownards Road in east Belfast the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) clashed with members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) when police officers attempted to remove a barricade. In spite of attacks on buses bus drivers voted to continue working. Andy Tyrie, then leader of the UDA and a member of the UUAC, appealed for members of the UDA to 'cool it'.
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Thursday 5 May 1977
Day 3 of the UUAC Strike
After three days of the strike the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) released figures showing that it had dismantled some 300 roadblocks, arrested 23 people, and dealt with over 1,000 cases of alleged intimidation. In addition it also claimed that the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) was deliberately choosing to employ women and children during confrontations with the police in order to draw support to its cause and to alienate people against the RUC. A bomb exploded outside the Lismore factory in Portadown. [It was believed that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for the bombing which was thought to be a response to the factory remaining open during the stoppage.]
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Friday 6 May 1977
Day 4 of the UUAC Strike
The United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) was unable to secure the support of the workers at the Ballylumford power station, near Larne, County Antrim. This meant that power would be maintained and factories and commerce could continue to operate. [The Ballylumford workers had control of a major part of Northern Ireland's power supply, approximately two-thirds, and thus were crucial to the outcome of the strike.] The Coachman's Inn, a hotel situated near Bangor, County Down, was attacked by a mob which set fire to the building. The premises had continued to remain open during the strike. Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, met a delegation led by Harry West, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Its members including representatives from the Orange Order, industrialists, farmers, and businessmen. The delegation pressed Mason to embark on a series of tougher security measures. Contrasting claims continued to be made about the progress of the UUAC strike. While the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) claimed that the business sector was 'near normal', leaders of the UUAC argued that support for their action was growing. In an attempt to increase the pressure the UUAC called for a complete shutdown of Northern Ireland on Monday 9 May 1977. This call was criticised by Harry West who said he had been guaranteed by Roy Mason that a tougher security policy would be implemented.
Saturday 7 May 1977
Day 5 of the UUAC Strike
The Peace People held a rally, its first public rally for some time, outside Belfast City Hall to protest at the levels of intimidation in the wake of the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike. Attention once again turned to the workers at Ballylumford power station, near Larne, which was increasingly being seen as crucial to the outcome of the UUAC strike. A delegation of four Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MPs, Robert Bradford, William Craig, James Molyneaux, and Harold McCusker, who were opposed to the UUAC strike, visited the Ballylumford power station and urged workers to remain at their posts. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), together with a delegation from the UUAC also held a meeting with workers at Ballylumford. Paisley claimed that he could close the plant at any point but instead had urged staff there to keep working in order to maintain 'essential supplies'. In the Lisburn-Hillsborough-Moira area, south of Belfast, some 600 farm vehicles took part in a cavalcade to call for an improvement in the security situation. Those behind the protest however made clear that their actions did not represent any support for the UUAC strike.
Sunday 8 May 1977
Day 6 of the UUAC Strike
The loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), announced that it might be forced to 'coerce' loyalists in Northern Ireland into supporting the UUAC strike. Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), reiterated his belief that the strike had already been a success even if at some point it had to be called off. However a spokesman for the UUAC stated that there was 'no chance' of the strike being called off.
Monday 9 May 1977
Day 7 of the UUAC Strike
There were many demonstrations and roadblocks across Northern Ireland in support of the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike. Ian Paisley joined farmers who were blocking the town of Ballymena in the middle of his North Antrim Westminster constituency. Across Northern Ireland there were a series of similar protests with demonstrations, roadblocks and cavalcades taking place in Belfast, Enniskillen, Larne, Portadown and Newtonards. Uncertainty still surrounded the situation at Ballylumford power station with reports continuing to emerge about meetings involving workers at the plant.
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Tuesday 10 May 1977
Day 8 of the UUAC Strike
Harry Bradshaw (46), a Protestant civilian, was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries as he drove a bus on the Crumlin Road, Belfast. He was killed because he was working during the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike. John Geddis (26), a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), was killed in a Loyalist bomb attack on a petrol station on the Crumlin Road, Belfast. Again this attack was carried out because the petrol station had opened during the strike. Two members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) were killed as the result of a premature explosion of an incendiary bomb they were working on at a derelict house in Monkstown, Newtownabbey, County Antrim.
At a roadblock outside Ballymena Ian Paisley, Ernest Baird, and other members of the UUAC were arrested. Paisley was charged with obstruction of the highway and then released. In Toomebridge, County Antrim a roadblock by farmers supporting the UUAC was attacked by local nationalists. In the disturbances that followed farm vehicles were pushed into the River Bann as the blockade was dispersed. It was reported that a number of shots were also fired during the disturbances.
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Wednesday 11 May 1977
Day 9 of the UUAC Strike
At Larne, County Antrim, there were a number of ferry sailings to and from the port despite the fact that workers were still on strike. To mark the death of Harry Bradshaw who had been killed by Loyalist paramilitaries on 10 May 1977, bus services were halted. However elsewhere the situation appeared to be stabilising with electricity supplies continuing as normal and with apparently fewer street disturbances. In Donaghdee, County Down the Copelands Hotel was destroyed in a suspicious fire. The incident is alleged to have followed the decision of the owners to stay open during the strike.
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Thursday 12 May 1977
Day 12 of the UUAC Strike
The port of Larne, County Antrim, was reopened and ferry sailings were resumed. In an incident on the Donegall Road in Belfast the driver of a petrol tanker was shot when he was forced to stop by a large crowd of loyalist protestors. During a debate at Westminster Don Concannon, then Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), defended the British government's security policy in Northern Ireland and pointed to figures which he claimed showed a fall in incidents over the past year. He also claimed that the UUAC strike was simply diverting the security forces from concentrating on the activity of paramilitary groups. On the political front Concannon also held out the possibility that the government hoped to launch a new initiative after the local council elections scheduled for 18 May 1977.
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Friday 13 May 1977
End of United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) Strike
Day 13 of the UUAC Strike
The United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) called an end to its strike. The strike had failed to stop many aspects of industry and commerce. Ian Paisley declared the strike a success. [However, many commentators considered that in comparison with the Ulster Workers Council Stike of 1974 the UUAC strike was not a success. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were to report later that 3 people had been killed, 41 RUC officers injured, and 115 people charged with offences committed during the strike.]
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Saturday 14 May 1977
Robert Nairac (29), a member of the British Army, was abducted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) outside the Three Step Inn, near Forkhill, County Armagh. His body was never recovered and he was presumed dead. He is listed as one of the 'disappeared'. [The IRA later stated that they had interrogated and killed a Special Air Service (SAS) officer. Nairac was posthumously awarded the George Cross.]
Wednesday 18 May 1977
District Council Elections
Elections were held to the 26 district councils in Northern Ireland. As the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) had broken
up the main Unionist parties stood against each other for the first time since 1974.
Friday 20 May 1977
Daniel McCooey (20), a Catholic civilian, died three weeks after he had been severely beaten by members of a British Army foot patrol in Castle Street, Belfast.
A member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in County Tyrone.
Monday 23 May 1977
Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, started a new round of
talks with the leaders of the main political parties.
Wednesday 25 May 1977
James Callaghan, then British Prime Minister, announced that
an all-party Speaker's Conference was to be established to consider
the merits of the argument for more Northern Ireland Members of
Monday 30 May 1977
A statement written by four members of the Church of Ireland, who were also graduates of Trinity College Dublin, appeared in the Irish Times and other newspapers. The statement contained an apology for the deeds of the 'Ascendancy Church' in its dealing with the Catholics of Ireland.
[ NAI Records – May 1977. ]
Thursday 2 June 1977
Three members of an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) mobile
patrol were shot dead by Irish Republican Army (IRA) snipers near
Ardboe, County Tyrone.
Friday 3 June 1977
Nine members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) who were
from the Coleraine, County Derry, area were jailed for a total
of 108 years.
[ Education. ]
Wednesday 8 June 1977
Roy Mason, then Secretary of State, announced that the strength
of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) would be increased by 1,200
and that of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) increased to 2,500
full-time members. He also announced that there would be more
undercover activity by troops, and that the spearhead battalion
would be withdrawn.
Wednesday 15 June 1977
[ Education. ]
Thursday 16 June 1977
The Fianna Fáil (FF) party won the general election
in the Republic of Ireland. FF had a majority of 20 seats. Jack
Lynch became the new Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister).
Sunday 19 June 1977
Robert Muldoon, then New Zealand Prime Minister, held talks
with representatives of the Peace People in Belfast. One of the
items discussed was the possibility of of ex-paramilitaries being
allowed to emigrate to New Zealand.
Tuesday 21 June 1977
The unemployment figures showed that the number of people
out of work stood at 60,000, the highest June total for 37 years.
Wednesday 29 June 1977
Two members of the British Army were shot dead by Irish Republican
Army (IRA) snipers at the entrance to North Howard Street Army
[ NAI Records – June 1977. ]
Monday 4 July 1977
[ UUAC Strike. ]
Tuesday 12 July 1977
The IRA threatened to disrupt the visit of the Queen to
Northern Ireland on 9 and 10 August 1977.
Wednesday 27 July 1977
Four people were shot dead and 18 were injured in the continuing
feud between the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) and
members of the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA).
An off-duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was shot dead by the IRA in Belfast.
[ Law Order. ]
n.d. July 1977
[ Education. ]
[ NAI Records – July 1977. ]
Tuesday 2 August 1977
[ Law Order. ]
Friday 5 August 1977
There was a series of fire bomb attacks in Belfast and Lisburn,
Tuesday 9 August 1977
The Queen began a two-day visit to Northern Ireland as part
of her jubilee celebrations. It was the first visit by the Queen
for 11 years.
Wednesday 10 August 1977
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a small bomb in a
garden on the campus of the New University of Ulster which was
visited by the Queen as part of her jubilee celebrations. The
bomb exploded after the Queen had left and it caused no injuries,
nor was the Queen's schedule affected. Members of the Social Democratic
and Labour Party (SDLP) refused to attend a reception in her honour.
Thursday 25 August 1977
The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) issued a policy
document (Facing Reality) which called for greater emphasis
on the 'Irish dimension'. [This was seen to be a response to the
perceived adoption of a greater integrationist stance by the British
government. Later Paddy Devlin resigned as Chairman of the SDLP
in response to the document.]
Tuesday 30 August 1977
Jimmy Carter, then President of the USA, gave a keynote speech
on Northern Ireland. In the speech he said that the American government
would support any initiative that led to a form of government
in Northern Ireland which had the support of both sections of
the community. In particular the support would take the form of
trying to create additional jobs in the region. He also called
on Americans not to provide financial and other support for groups
using violence in Northern Ireland.
[ NAI Records – August 1977. ]
Monday 12 September 1977
Roy Mason, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland,
marked the end of his first year in the region by stating that
'the myth of British withdrawal from Northern Ireland' was now
Tuesday 13 September 1977
[ Political Developments, UUAC Strike. ]
Wednesday 28 September 1977
James Callaghan, then British Prime Minister, and Jack Lynch,
then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), held a meeting in Downing
Street, London. One of the main issues discussed was economic
Thursday 29 September 1977
[ Hunger Strike. ]
[ NAI Records – September 1977. ]
Wednesday 5 October 1977
Seamus Costello, founder member and leader of the Irish Republican
Socialist Party (IRSP), was shot dead near North Strand, Dublin,
Republic of Ireland. Both the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA)
and the Provisional IRA denied that they were responsible for
Friday 7 October 1977
Desmond Irvine (38), then Chairman of the Northern Ireland
Prison Officers' Association, was shot dead by the Irish Republican
Army (IRA) in Wellington Park, Belfast.
The Irish Independence Party (IIP) was launched. The IIP was a
Nationalist political party which advocated British withdrawal
from Northern Ireland. The founding members of the IIP were Frank
McManus and Fergus McAteer. The IIP was seen as a potential challenge
to the domination of nationalist politics by the Social Democratic
and Labour Party (SDLP).
Saturday 8 October 1977
Margaret Hearst (24), a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment
(UDR), was shot dead, while she was off duty, by the Irish Republican
Army (IRA) at her parent's home near Tynan, County Armagh.
Monday 10 October 1977
Peace People Win Nobel Peace Prize
Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, who were both founding
members of the Peace People, were awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace
Prize. [The Unionist dominated Belfast City Corporation refused
to hold a civic reception in honour of the prize winners. The
associated prize money of £80,000 was later to be the source
of controversy within the Peace People.]
Tuesday 11 October 1977
Lenny Murphy was found guilty of possession of firearms and
sentenced to 12 years in jail. [It was later revealed that Murphy
was the leader of the 'Shankill Butchers' a Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) gang which
was responsible for the killings of at least 19 Catholic civilians.]
Friday 14 October 1977
Tomás Ó Fiaich was appointed as the new Catholic
Primate of Ireland.
Tuesday 18 October 1977
William Craig, then a Member of Parliament (MP) and a member
of the Council of Europe, was appointed by the council to report
on the updating of the European Convention on Human Rights. [This
appointment was criticised by some of those associated with the
civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.]
Thursday 20 October 1977
Roy Jenkins, then the European Commission President, paid
a visit to Belfast and confirmed the (then) European Community
(EC) would open a Northern Ireland information office.
Monday 24 October 1977
[ NAI Records – October 1977. ]
Michael Neill (16), a Catholic boy, was shot dead by the British
Army on Cliftonville Road, Belfast. He had been in the vicinity
of an attempted bus-hijacking.
[ Law Order. ]
Tuesday 1 November 1977
Timothy Creasey, then a Lieutenant-General, took over
from David House and the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the
British Army in Northern Ireland.
Sunday 20 November 1977
[ Hunger Strike. ]
Monday 21 November 1977
Roy Mason, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, suggested
that a 78 seat Assembly, without legislative powers, could be
established at Stormont with committees which would look after
non-controversial matters. [This 'Five Point Plan' was similar
in a number of respects to a scheme suggested by James Molyneaux,
then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and was not warmly
received by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Interest
in this proposal declined over the coming months.]
Saturday 26 November 1977
William Craig, then an Member of Parliament (MP), announced
that the Vanguard Unionist Progressive Party (VUPP) would cease
to exist as a political party as from 25 February 1978.
Monday 28 November 1977
[ Law Order. ]
[ NAI Records – November 1977. ]
Saturday 3 December 1977
Seamus Twomey, formerly Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican
Army (IRA), was arrested in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
Monday 12 December 1977
Colin McNutt (18), a member of the Irish National Liberation
Army (INLA), was shot dead by undercover British Army soldiers
at the junction of William Street and Little James Street, Derry.
[It was claimed that the soldiers were members of the Special
Air Service (SAS).]
Wednesday 14 December 1977
Paul Harman (27), a member of the British Army, was shot dead
by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) while driving an unmarked car
through the Turf Lodge area of Belfast.
Wednesday 21 December 1977
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of fire-bomb
attacks on hotels in Northern Ireland and damaged five hotels.
Thursday 22 December 1977
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced that there would
be ceasefire at Christmas.
[ NAI Records – December 1977. ]
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 1977.
For a full list of, and links to, on-line sources see the Guide to the Internet.
Notes Major security incidents
Each entry contains information, where relevant, on the following topic areas:
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.