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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1987



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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 1987

1987 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1987

January 1987

Saturday 3 January 1987
item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) organised a petition against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Eventually 400,000 signatures were collected and the petition handed into Buckingham Palace on 12 February 1987.

Friday 16 January 1987
item mark Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), pleaded guilty in a Dublin court to unlawful assembly. Robinson paid £17,500 in fines and compensation and was freed.

Tuesday 20 January 1987
item mark When two Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) members were shot dead by members of the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) in Drogheda, County Louth, Republic of Ireland, a feud began between the two organisations. [The feud continued until 26 March 1987 with a final death toll of 11.]
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item mark The coalition government in the Republic of Ireland, led by Garret FitzGerald, ended after the Labour Party withdrew its support.
item mark John Taylor, then Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Northern Ireland, left the European Democratic Group to join the European Right Group.
item mark The case of the 'Birmingham Six' was referred to the Court of Appeal by Douglas Hurd, then British Home Secretary.

[Wednesday 21 January 1987
item mark The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) announced that it would disband in its present form. (??)]

Saturday 24 January 1987
item mark Neil Kinnock, then leader of the British Labour Party, visited Northern Ireland.

Thursday 29 January 1987
item mark The New Ulster Political Research Group (NUPRG), an organisation associated with the views of the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) and whose chairman was then John McMichael, published a document called Common Sense. The document proposed a constitutional conference, a devolved assembly and a coalition government.

February 1987

Saturday 7 February 1987
item mark Incendiary devices planted in County Donegal and in Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland, were believed to be the responsibility of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

Tuesday 10 February 1987
item mark An opinion poll published in the Daily Express (a British newspaper) found that 61 per cent of the British public were in favour of British withdrawal from Northern Ireland.

Thursday 12 February 1987
Unionist Petition
item mark A 400,000 signature petition was delivered to Buckingham Palace by Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs). The petition was in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Thursday 19 February 1987
item mark A general election was held in the Republic of Ireland. [Fianna Fáil won 81 seats, three short of an overall majority. A minority government was formed on 10 March 1987.]

Monday 23 February 1987
item mark Belfast City Council became the latest in a line of Northern Ireland councils to be fined for failing to conduct normal business. Many Unionist controlled councils had been refusing to conduct council business as part of a protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). The Department of the Environment appointed a commissioner to set a rate in those councils which have refused to do so.

Tuesday 24 February 1987
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) announced the establishment of a 'task force' to produce an alternative to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The Unionist Task Force reported on 2 July 1987.

March 1987

Monday 2 March 1987
item mark The Ulster Clubs announced a plan to set up an alternative system of government.

Sunday 8 March 1987
item mark The body of Lorraine McCausland's (23), a Protestant civilian, was found in a stream near a Tynedale loyalist club in north Belfast. McCausland had been drinking in the club the night before her half-naked body was discovered. She had been beaten to death. [The book 'Lost Lives' (2004; p1064) included a claim that "Reliable loyalist sources said the men who killed her belonged to the UDA". However, currently (2007) the motivation for the killing remains unclear.]

Monday 9 March 1987
item mark In a sex-discrimination case against the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), 31 women RUC officers were awarded £240,000 compensation.

Tuesday 10 March 1987
item mark Fianna Fáil (FF), then led by Charles Haughey, formed a minority government in the Republic of Ireland.

Wednesday 11 March 1987
item mark Garret FitzGerald resigned as leader of Fine Gael (FG). He was replaced on 21 March 1987 by Alan Dukes.

Sunday 15 March 1987
item mark Two men were shot dead by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in Belfast.
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Tuesday 17 March 1987
item mark St Patrick's Day. Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States, announced the first payment of $50 million to the International Fund for Ireland (IFI). The IFI was one of the initiatives in the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Saturday 21 March 1987
item mark Alan Dukes was elected as leader of Fine Gael.

Sunday 22 March 1987
item mark James Miller, a former MI5 (British Intelligence) agent, claimed that the intelligence service had helped to promote the Ulster Workers' Council (UWC) strike of 1974 in an effort to destabilise the then Laour Government led by Harold Wilson.

Monday 23 March 1987
item mark Two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers and a civilian employed by the Prison Sevice were killed in related incidents on the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster.
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item mark The report on the alleged 'shoot to kill' policy of the security forces was completed by Colin Sampson and delivered to Sir John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

Tuesday 24 March 1987
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), called for peaceful protests against the new Public Order legislation on 11 April 1987.

Thursday 26 March 1987
item mark A feud between the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) and the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) ended. It had begun with two deaths on 20 January 1987 and in total claimed 11 lives.

April 1987

Friday 3 April 1987
item mark The IRA killed two members of the security forces in separate incidents.
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Friday 10 April 1987
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and eight other Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs) took part in an illegal march in Belfast to protest at new Public Order legislation.

Saturday 11 April 1987
item mark The IRA killed two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers in Portrush, County Antrim.
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item mark There were low turnouts at demonstrations on the Unionist 'Day of Defiance'.

Thursday 23 April 1987
item mark Peter Archer, then British Labour Party spokesman on Northern Ireland affairs, expressed support in a letter for the MacBride principles.

Saturday 25 April 1987
item mark A senior Northern Ireland judge and his wife were killed by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb at Killeen, County Armagh. The judge was the fifth member of the Northern Ireland judiciary to be killed by the IRA.
item mark A member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) was shot dead by the IRA in County Tyrone.
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May 1987

Friday 1 May 1987
item mark Sinn Féin published a discussion paper entitled Scenario for Peace (Sinn Féin, 1987). The document demanded a British withdrawal and called for an all-Ireland constitutional conference.

Tuesday 5 May 1987
item mark In response to speculation about the content of the Unionist Task Force report, Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), stated that the DUP would have no involvement in any power-sharing arrangement.

Wednesday 6 May 1987
item mark Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced the recruitment of an extra 500 full-time Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) reservists.

Friday 8 May 1987
Loughgall Killings
item mark One civilian and eight members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were shot dead by soldiers of the Special Air Service (SAS) in Loughgall, County Armagh. The IRA members were in the process of attacking the police station at Loughgall when they were ambushed by 40 SAS soldiers. The innocent civilian was shot dead by one SAS group as he drove through the village. This incident was the highest loss of life suffered by the IRA in any one incident.
[On 2 December 2011 some details of an Historical Enquires Team (HET) report into the incident were released by The Belfast Telegraph. The newspaper article claimed that the HET report would conclude that members of the IRA opened fire first and thus the SAS soldiers were within their rights to open fire. (Source: Belfast Telegraph.)]
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Tuesday 19 May 1987
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) expelled Robert McCartney because of his criticism of UUP leaders and also for his involvement in the Campaign for Equal Citizenship.

Thursday 21 May 1987
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), issued a joint general election manifesto.

June 1987

Tuesday 2 June 1987 (or Tuesday 9 June ?)
item mark Lord Gerry Fitt criticised the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) for its lack of socialist principles.

Thursday 11 June 1987
General Election
item mark A general election was held across the United Kingdom (UK). The Conservative Party was returned to power. In Northern Ireland the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) increased their vote and their share of the poll. The overall Unionist vote fell as did the vote of Sinn Féin (SF). Enoch Powell, formally an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP), lost his South Down seat to Eddie McGrady of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).
[see: election results]

Monday 15 June 1987
item mark Tom King was reappointed as Secretary for State for Northern Ireland. Nicholas Scott, formerly the Minister for State at the Northern Ireland Office, was replaced by John Stanley.

July 1987

Thursday 2 July 1987
item mark The Unionist Task Force published a report on an alternative to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. The reports main authors were Frank Millar, then general secretary of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The failure of the two party leaders to respond to the document led to the two main authors resigning their positions. Peter Robinson returned to his position later.

Friday 3 July 1987
item mark The first taxi driver to be killed during the 'Troubles' was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). [In the coming years taxi drivers were to become regular targets for the paramilitary groups.]
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item mark In a dispute over the display of emblems in the workplace Shorts Aircraft company suspended work in three production plants.

Sunday 5 July 1987
item mark Shorts Aircraft company resumed operation at three plants affected, on 3 July 1987, by a dispute over the display of emblems.

Wednesday 8 July 1987
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said they would use the Unionist Task Force report in talks with the British government.

Wednesday 22 July 1987
item mark An inquiry, by the Fair Employment Agency (FEA), into claims of discrimination by Derry City Council against Protestants, cleared the council of these allegations.

August 1987

Wednesday 12 August 1987
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), turned down a plan for talks between the four main constitutional parties in Northern Ireland (UUP, SDLP, DUP and APNI) that had been suggested by Robin Eames, Church of Ireland Archbishop.

Wednesday 26 August 1987
item mark In a shooting in a Belfast bar two Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers were shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). A number of bystanders were injured.
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September 1987

Saturday 5 September 1987
item mark Eleven Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs) were summoned for their part in demonstrations on 10 and 11 April 1987.

Sunday 6 September 1987
item mark Chris Mullin, then English Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP), claimed that he had tracked down and interviewed those who were really responsible for the Birmingham pub bombs.

Monday 7 September 1987
item mark John Cushnahan, then leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) announced that he was to resign as party leader.

Saturday 12 September 1987
item mark Tomás MacGiolla, then leader of the Workers Party (WP), announced that he was to resign as party leader.

Monday 14 September 1987
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), met Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The meeting was the first of a series of 'talks about talks'. This was the first meeting between government ministers and leaders of Unionist parties in 19 months.

Tuesday 15 September 1987
item mark The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) issued guidelines on fair employment Religious Equality of Opportunity in Employment: An Employers' Guide to Fair Employment. Many commentators saw this initiative as a response to growing pressure from supporters of the MacBride Principles in the United States of America.

October 1987

Saturday 3 October 1987
item mark Dr John Alderdice was elected as leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI). He replaced John Cushnahan.

Wednesday 7 October 1987
item mark Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), resigned as deputy leader. (??)

Sunday 11 October 1987
item mark Charles Haughy, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), expressed his disappointment in the achievements of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Tuesday 20 October 1987
item mark Unionist councilors in Belfast City Council agreed to pay the fine imposed on 23 February 1987 for action taken as part of their protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Friday 23 October 1987
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) gained by-election victories in elections to Belfast City Council.

November 1987

Sunday 1 November 1987
item mark A ship, the Eksund, was searched off the French coast and was found to be carrying 150 tons of arms bound for the Irish Republican Army (IRA). [It later emerged that this shipment was one of four consignments of arms which originated in Libya. The other three shipments were believed to have been obtained by the IRA.]

8 November 1987
Enniskillen Bombing (Remembrance Day Bombing)
item mark During the annual Remembrance Day ceremony in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, a bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded at the War Memorial killing 11 people and injuring another 63, many seriously. Among the dead were three married couples: Wesley and Bertha Armstrong; Kit and Jessie Johnston; and William and Agnes Mullan. The others killed were: Edward Armstrong, Samuel Gault, John Megaw, Georgina Quinton, and Marie Wilson. One of the injured, Ronnie Hill, went into a coma a few days after the explosion and died 13 years later on 28 December 2000. Gordon Wilson was injured in the explosion and was with his daughter Marie when she died. Gordon Wilson gave a moving account of his daughter's death in media interviews but stated that he forgave her killers. [Gordon Wilson's quiet dignity had a profound effect on many people in Northern Ireland. He was later involved with initiatives to improve community relations in Enniskillen and eventually was appointed to the Senate in the Republic of Ireland. Gordon Wilson died on 27 June 1995 aged 68.]
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[Photograph: The scene in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, shortly after the explosion]

Thursday 12 November 1987
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), led a protest march against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) in London.

Saturday 14 November 1987
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), attend a protest rally against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) in Hillsborough.

Thursday 19 November 1987
item mark A Loyalist activist, George Seawright, was shot and fatally wounded by the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO); a splinter group of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). [George Seawright achieved notoriety for his extreme anti-republican and anti-Catholic views. He died of his injuries two weeks later.]

Sunday 22 November 1987
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, attended a service of remembrance at Enniskillen. Over 7000 people took part.

Monday 23 November 1987
item mark An amendment bill on extradition was published in the Republic of Ireland. The amendment required prima-facie evidence of a case before someone could be extradited from the Republic of Ireland.

Monday 30 November 1987
item mark The revised extradition act became law in the Republic of Ireland.

December 1987

Wednesday 2 December 1987
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), again met Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in an on-going series of 'talks about talks'.

Thursday 3 December 1987
item mark George Seawright died from wounds having been shot by the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) on 19 November 1987.
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Tuesday 22 December 1987
item mark John McMichael, then deputy leader of the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), was killed by a booby-trap bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Following his death there were many accusations of collusion between senior UDA members and the IRA in the killing. [This incident was seen by many commentators as part of a process of change in the leadership of the UDA. A younger group of men were to assume the leadership of the organisation and were to introduce a change in the tactics of the UDA. (?)]
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Sources
item mark 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 1987.
  • Various newspapers
  • For a full list of, and links to, on-line sources see the Guide to the Internet.

    Notes
    item mark 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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