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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1980



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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 1980

1980 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1980

January 1980

Tuesday 1 January 1980
item mark Two undercover members of the British Army (BA) were shot dead by other undercover members of the BA while there were setting up an ambush near Forkhill, County Armagh. item mark Doreen McGuinness (16), a Catholic teenager, was shot dead by British soldiers while she was 'joy-riding' in a stolen car on the Whiterock Road, Ballymurphy, Belfast.
death button
item mark John Hermon succeeded Kenneth Newman as Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Friday 4 January 1980
item mark Alexander Reid (20), a Catholic civilian, was found beaten to death in a derelict garage in Berlin Street, Shankill, Belfast.
death button

Saturday 5 January 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Sunday 6 January 1980
item mark Three members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) where killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in a land mine attack near Castlewellan, County Down. [These deaths brought the 'official' death toll, as compiled by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), to over 2,000. RUC figures do not count those killed outside of Northern Ireland.]
death button

Monday 7 January 1980
Constitutional Conference / Atkins Talks
item mark The talks called by Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, got under way at Stormont. As part of the wider Atkins talks a constitutional conference was arranged at Stormont involving the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and the Alliance Party (APNI). The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) refused to take part in the conference. Atkins conceded a parallel conference which would allow the SDLP to raise issues, in particular an 'Irish dimension', which were not covered by the original terms of reference. The DUP refused to get involved with the parallel conference. [The Atkins talks continued until 24 March 1980 but did not succeed in achieving consensus amongst the parties.]
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Tuesday 8 January 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Wednesday 16 January 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Thursday 17 January 1980
item mark Three people were killed and two injured when a bomb, being planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), exploded prematurely on a train at Dunmurray, near Belfast. One of those who died was a member of the IRA and the other two people were civilians.
item mark James Kilfedder, then Member of Parliament (MP) for North Down, launched a new political party called the Ulster Progressive Unionist Party (UPUP). [The UPUP later changed its name to the Ulster Popular Unionist Party; UPUP.]
death button [ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Monday 21 January 1980
item mark Anne Maguire was found dead in what was believed to be a case of suicide. Anne Maguire was the mother of the three children who were killed in an incident on 10 August 1976 which led to the formation of the Peace People.

Tuesday 29 January 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Thursday 31 January 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

February 1980

Friday 8 February 1980
item mark Leonard Kaitcer, a Belfast antiques dealer, was killed following his kidnapping and demand for a £1 million ransom.
death button

Sunday 10 February 1980
item mark Betty Williams, one of the founding members of the Peace People, resigned from the organisation for family reasons. [There was speculation that there had been serious disagreements among the main members of the organisation. On 5 March 1980 another member of the Peace People, Peter McLachlan, also resigned.]
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Employment.]

Monday 11 February 1980
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed in a land mine attack at Rosslea, County Fermanagh.
death button

Tuesday 12 February 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Employment.]

Saturday 16 February 1980
item mark An off-duty colonel in the British Army was shot dead outside his home in Bielfeld, West Germany.
death button
item mark At the Fianna Fáil (FF) conference in Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), called for a joint initiative, on behalf of the British and Irish governments, to try to find a political solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Monday 18 February 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Employment.]

March 1980

Wednesday 5 March 1980
item mark Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, and Edward Daly, then Bishop of Derry (?), held a meeting with Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to express their concerns about conditions within the Maze Prison. A former chairman of the Peace People, Peter McLachlan, resigned from the organisation.

Tuesday 11 March 1980
item mark The body of Thomas Niedermayer, a West German industrialist who had disappeared in December 1973, was found at Colinglen Road, West Belfast. (?)

Wednesday 12 March 1980
[ proni on cain Law Order. ]

Friday 14 March 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Monday 24 March 1980
item mark The Constitutional Conference / Atkins Talks were adjourned indefinitely at Stormont with little hope that agreement between the various parties would be possible.
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Tuesday 25 March 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Wednesday 26 March 1980
Announcement of End to Special Category Status
item mark It was announced that as from 1 April 1980 there would be no entitlement to special category status for members of paramilitary organisations regardless of when the crimes had been committed. [A policy change announced in March 1976 had ended special category status to people sentenced after that date for scheduled offences. The decision to end special category privileges for paramilitary prisoners led to a protest campaign by Republicans in prisons across Northern Ireland. The protests began on 15 September 1976 when Kieran Nugent refused to wear prison issue clothes and covered himself with a blanket; hence the 'blanket protest'. The protest was to escalate and led eventually to two hunger strikes, one in 1980 and the most serious in 1981.]

Thursday 27 March 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

April 1980

Thursday 3 April 1980
Kincora Scandal
item mark Three staff members of the Kincora Boys Home, Belfast, were charged with acts of gross indecency. [These charges, and subsequent revelations, led to years of accusations that elements of the security service, civil servants and a number of Loyalists had been involved in the sexual abuse of young boys at Kincora.]

Tuesday 15 April 1980
item mark Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, travelled to Dublin for talks with Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), and members of the Irish government.

Tuesday 22 April 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Thursday 24 April 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Law Order.]

Wednesday 30 April 1980
item mark Marion Price, who had been serving a sentence along with her sister Dolours for a car bombing in London on 8 March 1973 (?), was released from Armagh women's prison on humanitarian grounds. Marion Price had been suffering from anorexia nervosa.

? April 1980
[ proni on cain Law Order.]

May 1980

Thursday 1 May 1980
[ proni on cain Law Order.]

Monday 5 May 1980
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on the North-South electricity link at Crossmaglen. The British and Irish governments had been attempting to re-establish the link following an earlier explosion.

Tuesday 13 May 1980
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), travelled to Downing Street, London, to hold a meeting with Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister.

Tuesday 20 May 1980
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, stated in the House of Commons: "The future of the constitutional affairs of Northern Ireland is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland, this government and this parliament and no one else." This statement was made the day before Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), was due to arrive in London with talks with Thatcher.

Wednesday 21 May 1980
item mark Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), travelled to London to attend a meeting with Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister. A communiqué released after the meeting promised greater political co-operation between the two governments on the issue of Northern Ireland and referred to the "unique relationship" between the two countries.

Sunday 25 May 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Employment.]

Wednesday 28 May 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

June 1980

Monday 2 June 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Wednesday 4 June 1980
item mark John Turnley, then chairman of the Irish Independence Party (IIP), was shot dead by Loyalists while on his way to a political meeting in Carnlough, County Antrim. [The IIP was a Nationalist party that had been established on 7 October 1977.]
death button

Thursday 5 June 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Friday 6 June 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Monday 9 June 1980
item mark Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), argued on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme Panorama that it was in the best interest of both Britain and Ireland for Britain to withdraw from Northern Ireland. He indicated that some form of federation could be possible in the event of a British withdrawal.

Wednesday 11 June 1980
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement that threatened to renew attacks on prison officers.

Thursday 12 June 1980
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a car bomb attack on Markethill, County Armagh, which seriously damaged property in the centre of the town.

Monday 16 June 1980
item mark Brooks Richards was appointed as security co-ordinator for Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 17 June 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Wednesday 18 June 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Thursday 19 June 1980
item mark The European Commission on Human Rights rejected a case brought on behalf of Republican prisoners taking part in the 'blanket protest' at the Maze Prison. The Commission found that the conditions were self-inflicted but the Commission also criticised the British government for being inflexible.

Wednesday 25 June 1980
item mark The Democratic Party in the United States of America (USA) adopted as policy a proposal put forward by Edward Kennedy, then a Senator. The new policy called for an end to the divisions of the Irish people and a solution based on the consent of all of the parties.

Thursday 26 June 1980
item mark Miriam Daly, a prominent member of the National H-Block / Armagh Committee, was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries at her home in Andersontown, Belfast.
death button

Monday 30 June 1980
item mark The Grundig company announced that its factory in Belfast would close with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

? June 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

July 1980

Wednesday 2 July 1980
Government Proposals Published
item mark The British government published a discussion document, The Government of Northern Ireland: Proposals for Further Discussion (Cmnd 7950), suggesting two possible options as potential solutions to the conflict. [However, Unionists rejected the option which involved power-sharing and non-Unionists rejected the option of majority rule. By 27 November 1980 Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, told the House of Commons that there was still no consensus amongst the parties in Northern Ireland and little prospect for a devolved government in the region.]

Sunday 20 July 1980
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a car bomb in Lisnaskea, County Fermanagh, which caused extensive damage to the centre of the town.

Friday 25 July 1980
[ proni on cain De Lorean; Employment.]

Monday 28 July 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

? July 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

August 1980

Tuesday 5 August 1980
[ proni on cain De Lorean; Employment.]

Wednesday 6 August 1980
item mark The British government announced an extra public spending package of £48 million for Northern Ireland to try to alleviate the high level of unemployment in the region which stood at 14.7 per cent. This announcement came after a meeting between the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTUs) and Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister.

Friday 8 August 1980
item mark There was widespread violence following commemorations of the ninth anniversary of the introduction of Internment.

Saturday 9 August 1980
item mark Following protests on the ninth anniversary of Internment there was continuing violence and three people were killed and 18 injured in a number of incidents.
death button

Tuesday 12 August 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Wednesday 13 August 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments.]

Friday 15 August 1980
item mark An elderly Protestant man and his daughter were found dead at their home in Belfast; they had been beaten, stabbed and shot.
death button

September 1980

Thursday 11 September 1980
item mark The Du Pont company announced the closure of one of its plants in Derry with the resultant loss of 400 jobs.

Wednesday 24 September 1980
item mark Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, said that he was hopeful of progress on the issue of the blanket protest at the Maze Prison.

Sunday 28 September 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

October 1980

Monday 13 October 1980
item mark The ICI company announced the closure of one of its plants at Kilroot, County Antrim with the resultant loss of 1,100 jobs.
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Wednesday 15 October 1980
item mark Noel Lyttle (44) and Ronnie Bunting (32), both members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), were killed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) in the Turf Lodge area of Belfast. [Bunting was the son the Major Ronald Bunting who had been a close associate of Ian Paisley.]
death button

Thursday 23 October 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Friday 24 October 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Monday 27 October 1980
1980 Hunger Strike Began
item mark Seven Republican prisoners began a hunger-strike to protest at the ending of special category status. One of their key demands was that they should be allowed to wear their own clothes rather than prison uniforms. The Republican prisoners viewed themselves as 'prisoners of war' and were refusing to be treated, as they saw it, as ordinary criminals. [The tactic of the hunger strike has a special place in Republican history and it was to have a profound affect on Nationalists in Northern Ireland. This particular strike was to be called off on 18 December 1980. However, it also marked an escalation of the campaign which was to see a larger more serious hunger strike take place in 1981.]

Tuesday 28 October 1980
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, said that the British government would not make any concessions to those on hunger strike.

Thursday 30 October 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Friday 31 October 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

November 1980

Friday 7 November 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Monday 17 November 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Thursday 20 November 1980
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, stated in the House of Commons: "The government will never concede political status to the hunger strikers, or to any others convicted of criminal offences in the province."

Thursday 27 November 1980
item mark Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, told the House of Commons that there was still no consensus amongst the parties in Northern Ireland and little prospect for a devolved government in the region.

December 1980

Monday 1 December 1980
item mark Three women Republican prisoners in Armagh Prison joined the hunger strike.

Wednesday 3 December 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Monday 8 December 1980
British PM in Dublin Summit Meeting
item mark A senior British government team comprised of Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, Lord Carrington, then Foreign Secretary, Geoffrey Howe, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Humphrey Atkins, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, went to Dublin for talks with Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), and senior members of the Irish government. It was agreed at the meeting to conduct joint studies on a wide range of subjects. [This represented the first visit to Dublin by a British Prime Minster since partition in 1921. The phrase 'totality of relationships' was first used at this meeting. However it was later revealed that the constitutional position of Northern Ireland had not been discussed at the meeting.]
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Thursday 11 December 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Friday 12 December 1980
item mark Six members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in the Maze prison start a hunger strike in support of their demand for segregation from Republican prisoners. [This Loyalist hunger strike was called off on 17 December 1980.]
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Monday 15 December 1980
item mark 23 Republican prisoners join those already on hunger strike. [Of the original seven hunger strikers, Sean McKenna's medical condition was the most serious. McKenna was moved to Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast.]
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

Tuesday 16 December 1980
item mark Three members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) escaped from Brixton Prison, London. One of the escapees was Gerard Tuite who had been imprisoned for bombing offences in London in 1978.

Wednesday 17 December 1980
item mark Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, called on the hunger strikers to call off their strike. He also appealed to Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, to intervene personally in the protest.
[ proni on cain Education.]

Thursday 18 December 1980
1980 Hunger Strike Ended
item mark The Republican hunger strike at the Maze Prison, and other prisons in Northern Ireland, was called off following the appeal by Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, on 17 December 1980. The strike had lasted for 53 days. [There had been suggestions towards the end of the strike that there would be a move towards conceding aspects of special status. Republicans claimed to have a document setting out proposals which would have met many of their demands.]

Friday 19 December 1980
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, held a meeting with Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to discuss the meeting with Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), on 8 December 1980.

Tuesday 23 December 1980
[ proni on cain De Lorean; Employment.]

Monday 29 December 1980
[ proni on cain Political Developments; Employment.]

Tuesday 30 December 1980
item mark A Loyalist paramilitary group called the Loyalist Prisoners Action Force (LPAF) shot dead William Burns (45) a prisoner officer in Belfast. [It is believed that the LPAF was a cover name used by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).]
death button

? December 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

? 1980
[ proni on cain Hunger Strike.]

 


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 1980.
  • 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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