CAIN Web Service
A Chronology of the Conflict - 1984
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 1984
1984 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sunday 15 January 1984
Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, sparked controversy when he criticised the visit of Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, to the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) base in Armagh. At the time several members of the UDR in Armagh were accused of the killing of Catholics and Ó Fiaich described the visit as 'disgusting'. The Cardinal also drew criticism when he stated that people may be morally justified in joining Sinn Féin (SF) if they joined to work on community issues. [The Irish government distanced itself from the Cardinal's remarks.]
Wednesday 18 January 1984
James Prior, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced a public inquiry into the scandal at the Kincora Boy's Home in Belfast.
Tuesday 24 January 1984
Londonderry District Council was given permission by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to change the name of the council to Derry District Council. The official name of the city remainsed Londonderry but many Unionists are upset by the name change. Derry District Council also voted to stop flying the Union Jack flag on council property.
Thursday 26 January 1984
The Hennessy Report, into the mass escape of 38 Republican prisoners from the Maze Prison on 25 September 1983, was published. Most of the responsibility for the escape was placed on prison staff. James Prior, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that there would be no ministerial resignations as a result of the report. [See also: 30 January 1984]
Monday 30 January 1984
The Prison Governors' Association and the Prison Officers Association both claimed that political interference in the running of the Maze Prison resulted in the mass escape on 25 September 1983. Nick Scott, then Minister for Prisons, rejected the allegations. [See also: 25 October 1984]
Tuesday 31 January 1984
Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) land mine attack on their armoured patrol car, near Forkhill, County Armagh.
[ PRONI Records – January 1984.]
Tuesday 21 February 1984
Two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and a British Army (BA) soldier were killed in a gun battle between an undercover BA unit and the IRA at Dunloy, County Antrim.
Saturday 25 February 1984
There was a Loyalist demonstration at Stormont, Belfast, against the proposal to change the name of Londonderry District Council to Derry District Council. [There was no proposal to change the official name of the city.]
Wednesday 29 February 1984
The Northern Ireland Assembly voted by 20 votes to 1 against a proposal to extend the 1967 Abortion Act, which covered Britain, to Northern Ireland.
[ PRONI Records – February 1984]
Thursday 1 March 1984
Frank Millar, Ulster Unionist Party, won a Northern Ireland Assembly by-election. He was returned unopposed.
Tuesday 6 March 1984
William McConnell (35), then Assistant Governor of the Maze Prison, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) outside his home in east Belfast.
Wednesday 14 March 1984
Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was shot and wounded by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), as he travelled by car through Belfast. Three other SF members were also wounded in the attack. The men were returning to west Belfast from a court appearance in the center of Belfast. [In March 1985 three men were sentenced for attempted murder as a result of the attack.]
Thursday 15 March 1984
Garret FitzGerald, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), addressed the United States Congress and called on Americans to urge the British to accept the proposals that were emerging from the New Ireland Forum. [The report of the Forum was published on 2 May 1984.]
Saturday 17 March 1984
Dominic McGlinchey, then considered leader of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was recaptured after an exchange of gunfire with the Garda Síochána (the Irish police) and immediately extradited from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland. He became the first Republican to be extradited to face charges related to the conflict in Northern Ireland.
Thursday 22 March 1984
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded three bombs in buildings in the centre of Belfast.
A new Prevention of Terrorism Act became law. The act allowed the Secretary of State to proscribe (declare illegal) organisations that were believed to be associated with terrorism. In addition to issue exclusion orders that prevent people from Northern Ireland travelling to other parts of the United Kingdom or from travelling from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland. The act allowed the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to arrest people without a warrant and to detain them for 48 hours, and a further five days on the authority of the Secretary of State.
Thursday 29 March 1984
During the trial of John Robinson, a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer, for the killing of Seamus Grew, a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), on 12 December 1982, Robinson said he had been ordered to lie about events leading up to the shooting. He claimed that senior RUC officers had told him what to say and gave the reason as protecting Special Branch officers and an RUC informer in the Republic of Ireland. [Robinson was later acquitted of the killing.]
The Haagerup Report [PDF; 4823KB] on the situation in Northern Ireland which was drawn up on behalf of the Political Affairs Committee, was passed by the European Parliament by124 votes to 3. The report called for a power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland together with an integrated economic plan. The preparation of the report had been opposed by Unionists and the British government.
[ PRONI Records – March 1984]
Wednesday 4 April 1984
The British government issued an apology to the Irish government about undercover operations by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in the territory of the Republic of Ireland in December 1982.
Saturday 7 April 1984
John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), denied there was a 'shoot to kill' policy being operated by security forces in Northern Ireland. He also said there was no cover-up in relation to events surrounding the killing of two Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) members at a vehicle check-point at Mullacreavie, County Armagh, on 12 December 1982. Hermon did admit that two unarmed RUC officers had entered the Republic of Ireland for 'observation purposes' in December 1982.
Sunday 8 April 1984
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a gun attack on Thomas Travers, then a Resident Magistrate, outside St Brigid's Catholic Church in Belfast. Travers was seriously injured in the attack but his daughter Mary Travers (22) was shot and killed.
Thursday 12 April 1984
Margaret Whyte (51), a Catholic civilian, and Michael Dawson (23), a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer, were killed in a bomb attack carried out by Loyalists on Mrs Whyte's home, University Street, Belfast.
Lord Lyell replaced Lord Mansfield as government spokesman on Northern Ireland in the House of Lords.
Thursday 26 April 1984
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) issued a series of proposals for the future of Northern Ireland. The UUP suggested that the area should have a regional council with administrative powers.
[ PRONI Records – April 1984]
Tuesday 1 May 1984
A trial involving a 'supergrass' informer, Robert Quigley, ended with 10 people being sentenced to jail.
Wednesday 2 May 1984
Report of New Ireland Forum
The Report of the New Ireland Forum was published. The authors of the report criticised Britain's policy of ‘crisis management’ since 1968. The report set out three possible options for the future of Northern Ireland: join with the Republic in a United Ireland; joint authority over the region by the Republic of Ireland and Britain; a federal or confederal arrangement. Charles Haughey, then leader of Fianna Fáil (FF), said that unity was the only option. The report rejects the use of violence to achieve political change in Northern Ireland.
Sunday 6 May 1984
There were riots in Nationalist areas of Belfast and other towns following the third anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands on hunger strike.
Friday 17 May 1984
Jim Campbell, then Northern Editor of the Sunday World, was shot and seriously injured by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at his home in north Belfast.
Saturday 18 May 1984
Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a land mine as their armoured patrol car travelled near Camlough, County Armagh. Two British Army (BA) soldiers were killed, and another died later as a result of injuries, after the IRA planted a booby trap bomb under their car in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. The soldiers were off-duty at the time and had just competed in a fishing competition.
Wednesday 23 May 1984
The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) announced that it was ending its boycott of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Thursday 24 May 1984
Stalker Inquiry Begins
John Stalker, then Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police, arrived in Belfast to begin an investigation into the alleged ‘shoot to kill’ policy of security forces in the region. [The investigation was to concentrate on three main cases that occurred on 11 November 1982, 24 November 1982, and 12 December 1982. However, in May 1986 before Stalker was to being the final part of his investigation he was removed from his duties as Deputy Chief Constable and ordered to return to England. He was subsequently reinstated but not allowed to return to Northern Ireland.]
Friday 25 May 1984
Security forces in Northern Ireland discovered large quantities of explosives in County Tyrone and County Down. In the United States of America (USA) both houses of Congress unanimously backed the Report of the New Ireland Forum.
Thursday 31 May 1984
The Lear Fan aircraft company in Belfast announced that almost all 350 jobs at the company would end. [The company ceased trading in May 1985. The government had invested £45 million in the firm since 1980.]
[ PRONI Records – May 1984]
Friday 1 June 1984
Reagan Visit to Ireland
Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States of America (USA), began a four-day visit to the Republic of Ireland.
Monday 4 June 1984
Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States of America (USA), addressed a joint session of the Dáil and Senate in Dublin. He stated that US policy was not to interfere in matters relating to Northern Ireland but he criticised violence in the region and supported the New Ireland Forum.
Tuesday 5 June 1984 or Tuesday 29 May 1984 ??
George Seawright, then a Belfast councillor and Loyalist, told a meeting of the Belfast Education and Library Board that Catholics and their priests should be incinerated. [The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) later withdrew the 'Whip' from Seawright because of the comments.]
Tuesday 5 June 1984
Three Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were acquitted of the murder of Eugene Toman (21) in 1982. Toman was a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at the time but was unarmed when shot at an RUC vehicle check point. Two other IRA members were shot dead in the same incident. The judge, Lord Justice Gibson, said that the RUC officers should be commended "for their courage and determination in bringing the three deceased men to justice, in this case to the final court of justice." [Many Nationalists found the judge's remarks offensive.]
Thursday 14 June 1984
European Parliament Election
The election to the European Parliament took place in Northern Ireland with the whole region treated as a single constituency under a system of proportional representation. [When the count was completed, Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), John Taylor, of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), were elected as MEPs. A total of eight candidates had contested the election]
Friday 15 June 1984
A member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer were killed in an exchange of gunfire after the RUC surrounded a house in Lenadoon Avenue, Belfast.
Wednesday 20 June 1984
Neil Kinnock, then leader of the Labour Party, said that he was in favour of a united Ireland by consent.
[ PRONI Records – June 1984]
Monday 2 July 1984
James Prior, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, addressed the House of Commons and rejected the three main options proposed in the Report of the New Ireland Forum.
Thursday 12 July 1984
The annual Orange Order 'Twelfth' parades took place across Northern Ireland. There was violence following the parades with attacks on security forces and shops in Derry. Catholic families were also attacked in Limavady, County Derry, in Ballymena, County Antrim, and in Ballynahinch, County Down. During speeches at the various centres across the region leading Orange figures condemned the Report of the New Ireland Forum.
Saturday 14 July 1984
Two Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) landmine attack at Castlederg, County Tyrone.
Wednesday 18 July 1984
The Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons said that the loss of £77 million of public money on the De Lorean Motor Company was one "of the gravest cases of misuse of public resources in recent years".
Wednesday 25 July 1984
James Prior, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said "I don't think parliament or Westminster or Great Britain is particularly concerned about the [New Ireland] Forum Report".
Saturday 28 July 1984
Martin Galvin, then leader of NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), was banned from entering the United Kingdom (UK). [Despite the ban Galvin appeared at rallies in Derry (9 August 1984) and Belfast (12 August 1984) where a Catholic civilian was killed by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).]
Tuesday 31 July 1984
A man suspected of membership of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and involvement in two killings in 1981 was extradited from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland. [The man was later acquitted of the charges in December 1985.]
[ PRONI Records – July 1984]
Thursday 9 August 1984
Martin Galvin, then leader of NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), appeared at a rally in Derry despite being banned from the UK. [Galvin appeared at another rally in Belfast on 12 August 1984.]
Friday 10 August 1984
A member of the Garda Siochana (GS) was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in County Meath.
A member of the
Ulster Defence Association (UDA) was accidentially killed as he tried to escape from the Maze Prison.
Sunday 12 August 1984
Martin Galvin, then leader of NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), appeared at another rally this time in Belfast. Galvin was banned from the UK and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers moved to arrest him. During an altercation with protesters an RUC officer fired a plastic baton round at close range and killed Sean Downes (22), a Catholic civilian.
An RUC officer was killed by the IRA in County Tyrone.
Monday 13 August 1984
There was a march in west Belfast in honour of Sean Downes killed on 12 August 1984 by a plastic baton round fired by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The march was followed by serious rioting in the area.
Tuesday 14 August 1984
James Prior, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that the decision to ban Martin Galvin, then leader of NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee), from the UK had been "a bad mistake". [The decision and subsequent police action had led to the death of Sean Downes on 12 August 1984.]
Wednesday 15 August 1984
There were serious riots in Protestant areas of Belfast following protests against a 'surpergrass' trial involving William 'Budgie' Allen. [The riots continue for three nights.]
Thursday 16 August 1984
Loyalist paramilitaries opened fire on Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers on the Shankill Road as riots continued in Protestant areas of Belfast.
Friday 17 August 1984
Clive Soley, then Labour Party spokesperson on Northern Ireland, called for 'harmonisation' of Northern Ireland society to that in the Republic of Ireland in preparation for the reunification of the island.
Wednesday 22 August 1984
Gerry Curran, then Armagh coroner, resigned after discovering "grave irregularities" in Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) files related to the killing of two Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) members on 12 December 1982.
[ PRONI Records – August 1984]
Monday 3 September 1984
The inquest into the shooting of two Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) members on 12 December 1982 was postponed to await an investigation of the killings by John Stalker, then Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police.
Thursday 6 September 1984
The government announced that the proposed project to build a pipe-line to bring natural gas from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland would be cancelled. It was also announced that subsidies to the 'town gas' industry in Northern Ireland would end with the loss of 1,000 jobs.
Friday 7 September 1984
A member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and a Protestant civilian were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) attack in County Tyrone.
Monday 10 September 1984 or Tuesday 11 September 1984 ??
Douglas Hurd replaced James Prior as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Rhodes Boyson became the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).
Thursday 20 September 1984
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) put forward proposals for devolution of power to Northern Ireland. The scheme would have involved a majority cabinet government with a Bill of Rights and minority representation on department committees.
Monday 24 September 1984
Oliver Napier resigned as leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI). His successor was John Cushnahan.
Thursday 27 September 1984
There were serious disturbances at the Maze Prison involving Republican and Loyalist paramilitary prisoners. Eight Prison Officers and five prisoners were injured in the clashes.
Friday 28 September 1984 or Saturday 29 September 1984 ??
Security forces in the Republic of Ireland intercepted a trawler, the Marita Ann, off the coast of County Kerry and uncovered seven tons of arms and explosives believed to be on route to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Five men were arrested during the operation. The haul represented the largest find in the Republic of Ireland since 1973. [In June 1987 four American men were sentenced by an American court for their part in the incident. In August 1987 two American men and two Irish men were also sentenced by a French court.]
[ PRONI Records – September 1984]
Friday 5 October 1984
At the Labour Party annual conference in Blackpool, England, a motion was passed that opposed the use of Diplock courts and supergrass evidence in Northern Ireland. The conference also called for a ban on the use of plastic bullets and an end to strip-searching of prisoners.
Thursday 11 October 1984
The European Parliament voted in favour of a motion calling on the British government to ban the use of plastic bullets by the security forces in Northern Ireland. An opinion poll published in the Belfast Telegraph, a Northern Ireland newspaper, showed that 58 per cent of Protestants and 50 per cent of Catholics, among those questioned, were 'basically satisfied' with direct rule.
Friday 12 October 1984
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on the Grand Hotel, Brighton, England, which was being used as the base for the Conservative Party's annual conference. Four people were killed in the attack and another person died later from injuries received. [The attack was an attempt to kill Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, and members of her cabinet and it very nearly succeeded. It was later discovered that the bomb had been planted with a long delay timing device in one of the rooms of the hotel. The IRA later issued a statement directed at Thatcher: "Today, we were unlucky, but remember, we only have to be lucky once - you will have to be lucky always."] Neil Kinnock, then leader of the Labour Party, said during a television interview that Irish Unity would not be achieved for many decades.
Saturday 13 October 1984
Douglas Hurd, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, delivered a speech to the Conservative Party annual conference in Brighton, England. Hurd rejected the three main options that had been proposed in the report of the New Ireland Forum.
Tuesday 16 October 1984
Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, said that she was not in favour of any "sudden new initiative" on Northern Ireland.
Friday 19 October 1984
A British soldier and a Protest civilian were shot dead in separate incidents.
Monday 22 October 1984
The European Commission on Human Rights decided that the use of plastic bullets by security forces in Northern Ireland was justified in riot situations.
Thursday 25 October 1984
Nineteen Republican prisoners appeared in court on charges related to the killing of a Prison Officer. [The men had been part of the group of 38 who escaped from the Maze Prison on 25 September 1983.]
[ PRONI Records – October 1984]
Thursday 1 November 1984
The Report of the unofficial Kilbrandon Committee was published. The Committee was established by the British Irish Association and consisted of politicians and academics. The Report was seen as a response to the New Ireland Forum Report. The Kilbrandon Report recommended that Northern Ireland should be governed by a five member Executive and that one of the members should be an Irish government minister.
Sunday 4 November 1984
In an article in the Sunday Press it was claimed that Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, had twice asked her advisors to produce assessments on the possibility of repartition, redrawing the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Tuesday 6 November 1984
New measures were announced to try and combat the problem of impersonation during Northern Ireland elections. [The local phrase of "vote early, vote often" was a reflection of the belief that there was a widespread problem even if it could not be quantified.]
Sunday 18 November 1984
Garret FitzGerald, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), travelled to Chequers in England for an Anglo-Irish summit meeting with Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister. [FitzGerald held a private meeting with Thatcher during the evening and the main summit meeting took place on the following morning (19 November 1984).]
Monday 19 November 1984
Anglo-Irish Summit Meeting
Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, held an Anglo-Irish summit meeting with Garret FitzGerald, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), together with British and Irish ministers and officials, at Chequers in England. A joint communiqué was issued following the summit meeting. At 5.00pm Thatcher gave a press conference at 10 Downing Street, London. Responding to a question from a member of the press Thatcher ruled out the three options proposed in the Report of the New Ireland Forum: "... a united Ireland was one solution. That is out. A second solution was confederation of the two states. That is out. A third solution was joint authority. That is out." [Thatcher's 'out, out, out' comments were considered by many Nationalists as being perfunctorily dismissive.] Douglas Hurd, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, also gave a press conference. At 6.00pm FitzGerald gave a press conference at the Irish Embassy in London.
Wednesday 21 November 1984
[It was reported that Garret FitzGerald, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), had told a Fine Gael party meeting that the behaviour of Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, during the press conference on 19 November 1984 had been "gratuitously offensive". In his autobiography FitzGerald maintained that he was commenting on the fact that he "... recognised that her remarks were seen as gratuitously offensive ..." (FitzGerald, 1992; p525).]
[ PRONI Records – November 1984]
Sunday 2 December 1984
An undercover British soldier, believed to be a member of the Special Air Service (SAS), and two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were killed in an exchange of gun fire near Kesh, County Fermanagh.
Tuesday 4 December 1984
Douglas Hurd, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, told the Northern Ireland Assembly that Unionists would have move their political position in order to find an accommodation with Nationalists.
Thursday 6 December 1984
Two members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were shot dead by undercover British soldiers in the grounds of Gransha Hospital, Derry.
Friday 14 December 1984
First Soldier Convicted of Murder
Ian Thain, a Private in the British Army, was convicted of murdering a civilian. [He was the first British soldier to be convicted of murder during the course of the conflict. Thain was released in January 1987 and allowed to rejoin his regiment and resume active service.]
Tuesday 18 December 1984
The court cases against 35 people from Derry, involving 180 charges, were dropped. [The case revolved around the evidence of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) 'supergrass' informer Raymond Gilmour. Most of those released had been held in prison for over two years.]
Sunday 23 December 1984
Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, said that Catholics in Northern Ireland felt an 'unprecedented level' of alienation.
Monday 24 December 1984
The Court of Appeal in Belfast quashed the convictions of 14 men who had been sentenced on the evidence of an Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) 'supergrass' informer Joseph Bennett.
[ PRONI Records – December 1984]
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 1984.
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.