CAIN logo
CAIN Web Service

A Chronology of the Conflict - 1986



[CAIN_Home]
[Key_Events] [Key_Issues] [CONFLICT_BACKGROUND]
BACKGROUND: [Acronyms] [Glossary] [NI Society] [Articles] [CHRONOLOGIES] [People] [Organisations] [CAIN_Bibliography] [Other_Bibliographies] [Research] [Photographs] [Symbols] [Murals] [Posters] [Maps] [Internet]

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 1986

1986 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1986

January 1986

Wednesday 1 January 1986
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were killed while on foot patrol in Thomas Street in Armagh. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a remote controlled bomb that had been hidden in a litter bin.
death button

Friday 3 January 1986
item mark Pascal O'Hare, then a Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Assembly Member, resigned from the party because he believed the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) secured the union with Britain and reduced the chance of a united Ireland.

Tuesday 14 January 1986
item mark Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that the forthcoming Westminster by-elections, brought about in protest to the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA), would not change the government's support for the Agreement.

Thursday 16 January 1986
item mark Security forces in Holland raided a flat in Amsterdam and arrested two Republicans, Brendan McFarlane and Gerard Kelly, who had escaped from the Maze prison on 25 September 1983. [The two men were extradited to the United Kingdom (UK) on 3 December 1986.]

Thursday 23 January 1986
Westminster By-Elections
item mark Fifteen Westminster by-elections were held across Northern Ireland. The by-elections were caused when Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs) resigned their seats in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Unionists fought the election under the slogan 'Ulster Says No' and wanted the elections to act as a referendum on the AIA. The SDLP decided not to nominate candidates in safe Unionists seats but instead fought in four marginal constituencies. [When counting of the votes was completed it became clear that Unionists had increased their vote on the 1983 general election. The vote for Sinn Féin (SF) was down by 5 per cent on the 1985 local government election. Seamus Mallon of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) won the Newry and Armagh seat from Jim Nicholson of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). As most of the constituencies were uncontested by Nationalist candidates, Unionists put up dummy candidates called 'Peter Barry' in four seats. Peter Barry was at the time Irish Foreign Minister.]
item mark Brian Mawhinney, then Member of Parliament (MP) for Peterborough, was appointed as a junior minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). Mawhinney was originally from Northern Ireland.

Friday 24 January 1986
item mark Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that he was encouraged by the swing away from Sinn Féin (SF) in the Westminster by-elections.

Thursday 30 January 1986
item mark Fianna Fáil (FF) said that it welcomed the comments of Harold McCusker, then deputy leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), who had suggested a conference of British, Irish, and Northern Ireland politicians to discuss the 'totality of relationships'.

February 1986

Wednesday 5 February 1986
item mark John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), instructed leaders of the Northern Ireland Police Federation (NIPF), the main union for RUC officers, not to give interviews to the media without receiving clearance from RUC headquarters. The chairman of the Federation later stated that the Police Act (1970) protected the organisation's freedom of speech.

Friday 7 February 1986
item mark The High Court in Belfast ordered that Belfast City Council should end the on-going adjournment of council business in protest to the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). The court also instructed the council to remove the large 'Belfast Says No' banner from the front of the City Hall. The court action had been brought by the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI).

Sunday 11 February 1986
item mark An off-duty RUC officer and a Catholic civilian were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) gun attack on the Talk of the Town bar in Maguiresbridge, County Fermanagh.
death button

Sunday 18 February 1986
item mark Francis Bradley (20), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by undercover British soldiers at the back of a farmhouse, near Toome, County Derry.
death button
item mark The government in the Republic of Ireland announced its intention to sign the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. [The Republic signed the Convention on 24 February 1986.]

Tuesday 25 February 1986
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), travelled to Downing Street, London, for a meeting with Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, to discuss the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Following the meeting the two Unionist leaders said that they welcomed Thatcher's promise to consider their proposals for talks on devolution for Northern Ireland. [When Moylneaux and Paisley returned to Northern Ireland and held talks with other Unionist representatives in the region, including the leaders of workers in the power stations and the shipyard, they decided that they would hold no further discussions with the Prime Minister until the AIA was overturned.] Belfast City Council voted to refuse to set a 'rate' (local government tax) in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). [In seventeen other councils across Northern Ireland, where Unionists were in a majority, a similar decision was taken.]

Wednesday 26 February 1986
item mark Leaders of Unionism announced that there would be a general strike, or 'Day of Action', on 3 March (1986) against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

March 1986

Monday 3 March 1986
Unionist 'Day of Action’

item mark There was a widespread general strike, or 'Day of Action', in Northern Ireland in support of Unionist demands for the ending of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Most aspects of life across the region were disrupted as factories and shops closed. Public transport including air travel was also affected. [While many Protestants supported the strike and voluntarily stayed at home there was also a high level of intimidation with masked Loyalists setting up barricades. There were riots in Loyalist areas during the evening and night and shots were fired at the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Later RUC figures showed that there had been 237 reported cases of intimidation, 57 people arrested, and 47 RUC officers injured. The government and the security forces were later criticised for not keeping the main roads open and for not trying to end the intimidation.]

Tuesday 4 March 1986
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), issued a joint statement which condemned the violence and the intimidation during the 'Day of Action' (3 March 1986). Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, speaking in the House of Commons said that Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs) had made common cause with men in paramilitary uniforms.

Sunday 9 March 1986
item mark John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), defended the action of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) during the 'Day of Action' on 3 March 1986. [The RUC had been criticised for not dealing with the high level of intimidation and for not keeping main roads open.]

Monday 10 March 1986
item mark Unionist leaders said that they would resume talks with the British government if the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) was suspended.

Tuesday 11 March 1986
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) arrested three Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Assembly Members when they tried to enter Stormont Castle where the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference was in session. [The DUP members were attempting to cut through a wire fence when they were arrested.] The House of Representatives in the United States of America (USA) unanimously voted to approve a $250 million aid package, over a five year period, to Northern Ireland to support the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Wednesday 12 March 1986
item mark Evelyn Glenhomes, then wanted by British police on suspicion of involvement in the Brighton bombing on 12 October 1984, was arrested in Ireland. [The British authorities began a process to extradite Glenhomes. However, on 24 March 1986 Glenhomes was released from custody due to administrative errors in the extradition warrant.]

Thursday 13 March 1986
item mark It was announced that additional British Army soldiers would be sent to Northern Ireland to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The move was the result of Unionist protests against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). In the High Court in Glasgow, Scotland, two men were sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for attempting to acquire arms for the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

Monday 17 March 1986
item mark Garret FitzGerald, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), was in Washington for the St Partick's Day celebrations and to meet with Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States of America (USA).

Tuesday 18 March 1986
item mark A new prison at Maghaberry, County Antrim, received its first batch of prisoners.

Wednesday 19 March 1986
item mark Richard Needham, then a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Minsiter, announced that the Department of the Environment would take over the function of setting the 'rates' (local government tax) in the 18 district councils that were refusing to do so. The councils were protesting against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Monday 24 March 1986
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, wrote a letter to Unionist leaders in which she rejected a demand for a suspension of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) to allow talks on devolution to begin.

Monday 31 March 1986
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) announced a ban on a planned Apprentice Boys of Derry march in Portadown, County Armagh. The decision sparked serious rioting between Loyalists and the police that was to continue off and on over the following weeks. Loyalist gangs carried out petrol bomb attacks on 11 Catholic homes in Lisburn, County Antrim. RUC officers were also the subject of intimidation from Loyalists.

April 1986

Tuesday 1 April 1986
item mark There were further periods of rioting in Portadown, County Armagh. During the riots Keith White (20), a Protestant civilian, was fatally wounded by a plastic baton round fired by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). [White died on 14 April 1986 and was the first Protestant to be killed by a plastic bullet. Police figures released later showed that there were: 38 civilians injured; 39 RUC officers injured; 147 plastic baton rounds fired; 38 cases of damage to property; and 33 arrests. These figures were to increase over the following weeks.]

Thursday 3 April 1986
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), praised the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) for its even-handed approach to the disturbances in Portadown, County Armagh.

Friday 4 April 1986
item mark The leaders of the main Protestant churches condemned Loyalist attacks on the homes of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers and Catholic-owned property.

Tuesday 8 April 1986
item mark There was further rioting in Belfast and more attacks by Loyalists on the homes of Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers.

Wednesday 23 April 1986
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), announced a 12-point plan of civil disobedience in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Among the measures was a 'rates' (local government taxes) strike.

Friday 25 April 1986
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Executive voted to end the special relationship with the British Conservative Party. [The relationship dated from the first Home Rule crises. The Conservative and Unionist Party was the official title of the conservatives.]

May 1986

Thursday 1 May 1986
item mark The cigarette company Rothman announced the closure of its factory in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, with the loss of 800 jobs.

Friday 2 May 1986
item mark John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), stated that fifty RUC families and 79 Catholic families had their homes fire-bombed by Loyalists between 1 and 26 April 1986. Hermon condemned the attacks and accused some Unionist politicians of "consorting with paramilitary elements".

Tuesday 6 May 1986
item mark There was a vote at Belfast City Council to resume normal business that had been adjourned in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). The vote was carried by 27 to 23 votes. The vote was taken to avoid a £25,000 court fine, however the council began a policy of deferring business.

Wednesday 7 May 1986
item mark Two people died as the result of separate incidents in Belfast.
death button

Sunday 11 May 1986
item mark Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, recommended the release of William (Budgie) Allen who had served two years of a 14 year sentence. [Allen had acted as a 'supergrass' informer against his former colleagues in the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).]

Wednesday 14 May 1986
item mark The pressure group 'Campaign for Equal Citizenship' was established at a meeting in Belfast. The CEC argued that British political parties, such as the Labour and Conservative, should organise and stand for election in Northern Ireland. The CEC was also in favour of the full administrative integration of Northern Ireland into the United Kingdom.

Thursday 15 May 1986
item mark There was a series of protests and demonstrations to mark the six-month anniversary of the imposition of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). One demonstration took place in Hillsborough, County Down, where the AIA had been signed. In Belfast members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) occupied the switchboard of the parliament buildings at Stormont. There was also a brief strike by power workers at Ballylumford, County Antrim.

Friday 16 May 1986
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), spoke at a seminar in Amsterdam, Holland. Adams criticised the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) saying that it secured the partition of the six counties of Northern Ireland.

Tuesday 20 May 1986
item mark Nicholas Scott, then a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Minister, provided information in the House of Commons on the level of intimidation that Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers had faced from Loyalists during protests at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Scott said that there had been 368 cases of intimidation. [Later information provided by the RUC indicated that the final number was over 500 homes attacked and 150 RUC families forced to move.]

Thursday 22 May 1986
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers and one British soldier were killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) near Crossmaglen, County Armagh. The three men had been part of a joint RUC / British Army (BA) foot patrol when the IRA detonated a remote controlled bomb hidden in a ditch.
death button

Thursday 29 May 1986
item mark Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, informed the House of Commons of the decision to dissolve the Northern Ireland Assembly.

June 1986

Wednesday 4 June 1986
item mark Ian Gow, a former Conservative minister, was part of a group of people who launched a new organisation called 'Friends of the Union'.

Thursday 5 June 1986
Stalker Removed From Inquiry

item mark John Stalker, then Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police, was removed from the investigation into the alleged ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy of the security forces in Northern Ireland. Colin Sampson, then Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, took over the investigation. [Stalker was suspended from duty on 30 June 1986. Allegations were made about Stalker's association with 'known criminals' but he was cleared of these allegations and reinstated on 22 August 1986.]

Wednesday 11 June 1986
item mark Five people, one of whom was Patrick Magee, were found guilty at the 'Old Bailey' court in London of conspiring to cause explosions in Britain including the Brighton bomb on 12 October 1984. [Magee later received eight life sentences.]

Thursday 12 June 1986
item mark Security forces in France arrested five people following a major arms find.

Friday 13 June 1986
item mark The Loyalist Workers' Committee '86 issued a warning to delegates travelling from the Republic of Ireland to the ICTU conference in Belfast to 'stay at home'.

Friday 20 June 1986
item mark John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), threatened to take libel action against those in the media who accused him of being involved in the decision to remove John Stalker, then Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police, from the 'shoot to kill' investigation.

Monday 23 June 1986
Northern Ireland Assembly Dissolved
item mark The Northern Ireland Assembly was officially dissolved. A group of 200 Loyalist protesters gathered outside Stormont and when trouble erupted the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) baton-charged the crowd. Inside the debating chamber 22 Unionist politicians refused to leave the building. [Early the next day the RUC removed the Unionist politicians, including Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).]

Tuesday 24 June 1986
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said that Northern Ireland was on the verge of civil war.

Thursday 26 June 1986
item mark A constitution referendum on the issue of divorce was held in the Republic of Ireland. [When the votes were counted the population had rejected the opportunity to introduce a restricted form of divorce by 63.5 per cent to 36.5 per cent. Many Unionists in Northern Ireland saw the result as confirming their view that the Republic was intolerant of Protestants. Garret FitzGerald, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), said that the Republic had a long way to go to create "a society that would seem welcoming to, open to and attractive to people of the Northern Unionist tradtion.]

Monday 30 June 1986
item mark John Stalker, then Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police, was suspended from duty while an investigation was conducted into allegations of misconduct. [Stalker had been removed on 5 June 1986 from the investigation into the allegations of a 'shoot to kill' policy by security forces. Stalker was cleared of the allegations of misconduct and reinstated to his post on 22 August 1986.]

July 1986

Wednesday 2 July 1986
item mark Unionist politicians established their own version of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast City Hall. [These proceedings were maintained for several months until November 1986 when they were discontinued.]
item mark In Belfast four members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Adrian Carroll, a Catholic civilian, on 8 November 1983. [Later a campaign was started to press for the release of the 'UDR Four' as the men became known. Three of the 'UDR Four' were released on 29 July 1992 when their convictions were quashed.]

Sunday 6 July 1986
Riots in Portadown
item mark The annual Orange Order parade in Portadown, County Armagh, to Drumcree Church was permitted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) to pass through the mainly Catholic Obins Street area of the town. The RUC also announced that the 'Twelfth' parade would be re-routed from Obins Street. There was rioting in the town when the RUC prevented George Seawright, a Loyalist councillor, and other non-local Orangemen from entering the Catholic area.

Monday 7 July 1986
item mark The National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) published a report which opposed the routine use of strip-searching of prisoners held in Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom (UK).

Wednesday 9 July 1986
item mark Two British soldiers were killed by a remote controlled bomb while they were on foot patrol near Crossmaglen, County Armagh. The attack was carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
death button

Thursday 10 July 1986
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the DUP, along with 4,000 Loyalists staged an early morning protest in which they 'took over' and 'occupied' Hillsborough, County Down. The action was part of the continuing protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Friday 11 July 1986
item mark The Orange Order agreed to accept an alternative route through Portadown, County Armagh, to avoid the mainly Catholic Obins Street area. [The route suggested by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) caused resentment among Nationalists in the town as it took the parade along the mainly Catholic Garvaghy Road. Trouble over the new route broke out again in 1995.] item mark During the evening the RUC fired plastic bullets at Loyalists following disturbances at the traditional bonfire celebrations. There was rioting in Protestant areas of Belfast and Portadown and the disturbances continued for most of the week.

Saturday 12 July 1986
item mark There were further periods of violence following the Orange Order 'Twelfth' parades. [Later the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) released figures that showed there had been 128 RUC officers and 66 civilians injured and 127 arrests made. 281 plastic baton rounds had been fired and there were 79 reported cases of intimidation.] Brian Leonard (20), a Catholic civilian, died two days after been shot while working on a building site in Shugville Street, Shankill, Belfast. The Protestant Action Force (PAF) claimed responsibility for the killing. [The PAF killed two more Catholic civilians during July 1986 and two in September 1986.]

Sunday 13 July 1986
item mark John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), suspended two senior RUC officers following the investigations into the alleged 'shoot to kill' policy of the security forces in Northern Ireland.

Monday 14 July 1986
item mark Around 50 Loyalists attacked Catholic homes in the village of Rasharkin, County Antrim.

Wednesday 16 July 1986
item mark Rioting continued for a sixth night in areas of Belfast and Portadown, County Armagh. [Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) figures showed that 167 RUC officers and 125 civilians had been injured since 11 July; 200 people had been arrested; 300 plastic baton rounds fired; 111 cases of reported intimidation (including 11 cases against the homes of RUC officers).]

Thursday 17 July 1986
item mark Eighteen people, who had been sentenced on the evidence of Republican 'supergrass' informer Christopher Black on 5 August 1983, had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal in Belfast. Four others had their convictions confirmed by the court.

Friday 18 July 1986
item mark The Orange Order announced the results of its inquiry into rioting in Portadown. The Orange Order blamed the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) for the trouble.

Tuesday 22 July 1986
item mark A report on the Northern Ireland Civil Service showed that Catholics and women were under-represented in the top grades. The report did show however that there had been an improvement in the percentage of Catholics employed in the Civil Service compared to five years earlier. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) 'supergrass' informer Joe Bennett was sentenced by a Nottingham Crown Court to 10 years imprisonment for an armed robbery. [Bennett had carried out the crime having been relocated to England by the security services and given a new identity with the name John Graham.]

Saturday 26 July 1986
item mark Three Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Market Street, Newry, County Down. The officers had been sitting in a parked armoured patrol car when the attack took place.
death button

Monday 28 July 1986
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement threatening any civilians who worked for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) or the British Army (BA). [On 30 July 1986 the IRA killed a civilian contractor who worked for the RUC. On 5 August 1986 the IRA issued a further threat to people working with the security forces.]

Wednesday 30 July 1986
item mark John Kyle (40), a Protestant civilian, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as he sat in McCullagh's Bar, Greencastle, County Tyrone. Kyle had been working as a contractor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). [This killing followed threats made by the IRA on 28 July 1986.]
death button

August 1986

Tuesday 5 August 1986
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued another warning that contractors who were carrying out work for the security services in Northern Ireland would be considered 'part of the war machine' and would be 'treated as collaborators'.

Thursday 7 August 1986
DUP 'Invade' Republic
item mark Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), marched with 500 Loyalists into the village of Clontibret, County Monaghan, in the Republic of Ireland. The Loyalists entered the Garda Síochána (the Irish police) station in the village and physically assaulted two Garda officers. [Robinson was later arrested and fined £17,500 in a Drogheda court because of the incident.] The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), announced that it was extending its list of 'legitimate targets'. [This was in response to Irish Republican Army (IRA) statements on 28 July 1986 and 5 August 1986.]

Wednesday 13 August 1986
item mark Gerard O'Reilly, then being held awaiting extradition from the Republic of Ireland, was freed from a Dublin court following an error in the extradition warrant.

Friday 15 August 1986
item mark Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was remanded to Ballybay, Republic of Ireland, following a hearing in Dundalk, County Louth, because of a demonstration he led on 7 August 1986. A number of Robinson's supporters were attacked in Dundalk with stones and petrol-bombs.

Friday 22 August 1986
item mark John Stalker, then Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police, was cleared of all allegations of misconduct and reinstated in his police position. However, Stalker was not returned to the inquiry into the 'shoot to kill' allegations in Northern Ireland. The Shorts aircraft company in Belfast ordered that all flags and emblems displayed by workers should be removed. The company had received complaints of intimidation against Catholics. [The decision led to the walk-out of 1,000 employees on 27 August 1986. A letter issued later by senior management stated that the Union Jack flag would be flown from the company's flagstaff at all times.]

Tuesday 26 August 1986
item mark The cigarette company Gallagher announced the closure of its factory in Belfast with the loss of 700 jobs.

Wednesday 27 August 1986
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issues further threats to civilians who are working with the security forces.

Thursday 28 August 1986
item mark Mervyn Bell (22), a Protestant civilian, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on the Strand Road in Derry. Bell had been working as a contractor to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). [This killing followed threats made by the IRA on 28 July 1986 and on 27 August 1986.]
item mark A Protestant civilian was killed by Loyalists in Belfast.
death button

September 1986

Friday 5 September 1986
item mark A group of politicians from the main Unionist parties advised district councillors to resign on 15 November 1986 (the first anniversary of the Anglo-Irish Agreement; AIA) as a protest against the Agreement and to force the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to appoint commissioners to run the councils. [Later the councillors themselves decided against mass resignations.]

Wednesday 10 September 1986
item mark There was a ministerial reshuffle at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). Nicholas Scott was promoted to Minster of State and Deputy Secretary of State while Peter Viggers replaced Rhodes Boyson at Economic Development.

Tuesday 16 September 1986
item mark A number of Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Members of Parliament (MPs) attended the funeral of John Bingham (33) who had been a leading member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). [Bingham was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 14 September 1986 who claimed he had been behind the recent killings of a number of Catholic civilians.]

Thursday 18 September 1986
International Fund for Ireland

item mark The International Fund for Ireland was established by the British and Irish governments. [The fund was designed to support economic developments in Northern Ireland and the border counties in the Republic of Ireland. The initial £36 million for the fund was donated by the United States of America (which gave the bulk of the money), Canada, New Zealand and, since 1988, the European Community Commission.]

Tuesday 23 September 1986
item mark Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillors held separate meetings and decided to continue the protests in council chambers against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). However they decided against mass resignations.

Wednesday 24 September 1986
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), called off the 'rates' strike that had been announced on 23 April 1986. The two leaders advised people on strike to now pay the amounts owed in full.

Thursday 25 September 1986
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), revealed a leaked Department of the Environment document on proposed changes to government policy on the Irish language and the use of Irish street names.

Monday 29 September 1986
item mark Amnesty International called for a full judicial inquiry into disputed killings in Northern Ireland.

October 1986

Thursday 2 October 1986
item mark George Seawright, then a Loyalist councillor, was sentenced to nine months imprisonment for his part in disturbances following a protest at Belfast City Hall on 20 November 1985.

Monday 6 October 1986
item mark There was a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Dublin. The group discussed border security and agreed to implement a proposal that citizens from the Republic of Ireland who were living in Northern Ireland would be given the right to vote in local government elections in the region.

Sunday 12 October 1986
item mark Charles Haughey, then leader of Fianna Fáil (FF), said that since the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) the position of Nationalists in Northern Ireland had 'seriously worsened' and that when FF returned to government his party would seek to renegotiate the Agreement.

Monday 13 October 1986
item mark Following long campaigns by residents associations the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive took the decision to begin a phased demolition of most of the high-rise flats in the Divis area of Belfast and all of the high-rise flats in Rossville Street in Derry.

Wednesday 15 October 1986
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement in which it said that it would support Sinn Féin (SF) in the decision to end the policy of 'abstentionism'. [This policy meant that any member of SF elected to the Dáil would refuse to take the seat. The policy was debated by SF at its Ard Fheis on 2 November 1986.]

Thursday 16 October 1986
item mark Terence Mullan (31), a Catholic civilian, and his mother Kathleen Mullan (79), were shot dead at the family house in Ballynahinch, County Down. The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), carried out the attack.
death button
item mark An article in the republican newspaper An Phoblacht / Republican News confirmed that sometime in the previous weeks the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) had held a meeting of the General Army Convention, the organisation’s supreme decision-making body. This was the first gathering of the General Army Convention that had taken place in 16 years. The meeting was held in secret and debated those aspects of the PIRA’s constitution that dealt with its opposition to the taking of seats in Dáil Éireann - its policy on abstentionsim. Motions were accepted (by the necessary two-thirds majority) allowing members of the PIRA to discuss and debate the taking of parliamentary seats, and the removal of the ban on members of the PIRA from supporting any successful republican candidate who took their seat in Dáil Éireann.

Friday 24 October 1986
item mark The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) announced that legislation would be introduced to allow public houses in Northern Ireland to open on Sundays.

November 1986

Saturday 1 November 1986
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), attended an Orange Order rally in Glasgow, Scotland. At the rally the Unionist leaders launched the start of a campaign in Britain against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Sunday 2 November 1986
SF End Abstentionism / Split in SF
item mark During the second day of the Sinn Féin (SF) Ard Fheis in Dublin, a majority of delegates voted to end the party's policy of abstentionism - that of refusing to take seats in Dáil Éireann. The change in policy led to a split in SF and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, a former President of SF, Dáithí Ó Conaill, a former vice-President of SF, and approximately 100 people staged a walk-out. [Ó Brádaigh and Ó Conaill went on to establish a new organisation called Republican Sinn Féin (RSF).]

Tuesday 4 November 1986
item mark It was revealed that Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, had written to Garret FitzGerald, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), and rejected suggestions by the Irish government that Diplock courts in Northern Ireland should be heard by three judges instead of one.

Friday 7 November 1986
item mark Sammy Wilson, then Lord Mayor of Belfast and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor, prevented Northern Ireland Office (NIO) ministers from attending the Remembrance Day service at Belfast City Hall. This was in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Saturday 8 November 1986
item mark The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a covername used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), planted four bombs in the centre of Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

Monday 10 November 1986
Ulster Resistance Formed

item mark Loyalists held a closed meeting at the Ulster Hall in Belfast. The main speakers at the meeting were Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Peter Robinson of the DUP, and Ivan Foster. During the meeting a new organisation, Ulster Resistance, was formed to 'take direct action as and when required' to end the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). [Ulster Resistance was to take the place of the 'Ulster Clubs' that had been formed on 2 November 1985.]

Tuesday 12 November 1986
item mark The Queen's speech, at the opening of a new parliament at Westminster, reaffirmed the British government's commitment to the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Saturday 15 November 1986
Unionist Rally Against AIA

item mark Unionists and Loyalists held a large demonstration in front of Belfast City Hall to protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) on the first anniversary of the signing of the Agreement. Following the demonstration some shops in the centre of the city were damaged when Loyalists clashed with the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Monday 17 November 1986
item mark Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), defied a ban and marched in Portadown with other members of Ulster Resistance in paramilitary style uniforms.

Tuesday 18 November 1986
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), travelled to London to hold a meeting with Neil Kinnock, then leader of the Labour Party.

Friday 21 November 1986
item mark The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held its annual conference in Newcastle, County Down. The delegates rejected Unionist calls for a suspension of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Wednesday 26 November 1986
item mark Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) councillors decided not to resign from district councils in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). The decision was taken although the leadership of the UUP was in favour of mass resignations. The Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights (SACHR) recommended that Diplock courts in Northern Ireland should have three judges to hear cases. However, the Commission did not support calls for a return to jury trials for scheduled (terrorist) offences.

Friday 28 November 1986
item mark The Fair Employment Agency (FEA) published a report that concluded that the geographical distribution of government sponsored jobs did not disadvantage Catholics.

December 1986

Monday 1 December 1986
item mark Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that there would be a number of changes to legislation covering demonstrations and incitement to hatred. He also announced that the Flags and Emblems Act would be repealed.

Wednesday 3 December 1986
item mark Two Republicans, Brendan McFarlane and Gerard Kelly, who had escaped from the Maze prison on 25 September 1983 were extradited from Holland to Northern Ireland and appeared in a Lisburn court on charges related to the escape.

Tuesday 9 December 1986
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was expelled from the European Parliament for constantly interrupting a speech by Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister.

Wednesday 10 December 1986
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), was reported, at the launch of his book Politics of Irish Freedom, as saying that he had never been a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Tuesday 16 December 1986
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a 'proxy' bomb attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station on the Lisburn Road in Belfast. The station was destroyed in the blast and an estimated 700 homes and scores of business premises were damaged.

Sunday 21 December 1986
item mark Thomas McCartan (31), then a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), was shot dead by the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) in Andersonstown, Belfast. This was the first killing in an INLA / IPLO feud that was to last until 22 March 1987.
death button
item mark Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, said that he believed the morale of Nationalists had improved since the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Tuesday 23 December 1986
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, paid a visit to Northern Ireland. During the visit she stated her government's commitment to the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). She also said that she did not believe a change in government in the Republic of Ireland would affect the Agreement. The Court of Appeal in Belfast quashed the convictions of 24 men jailed on the evidence of 'supergrass' informer Harry Kirkpatirck. The men were freed.

 


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 1986.
  • 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.


    go to the top of this page go to the top of this page
    ARK logo
    Last modified :