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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1988



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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 1988

1988 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1988

January 1988

Friday 8 January 1988
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) searched three cars near Portadown, County Armagh and found a large number of firearms. The arms were on route to the Ulster Defense Association (UDA).
item mark Peter Robinson was re-elected as deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) at the party's annual meeting (he had resigned on 2 July 1987 ??).

Monday 11 January 1988
Hume Adams Meeting
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), met with Gerry Adams, then leader of Sinn Féin (SF). [This was the first in a series of discussions between the two men; the last meeting took place on 30 August 1988. Some commentators consider these meetings to mark the beginning of the Irish 'Peace Process'. The two leaders held another series of meetings beginning on 10 April 1993.]

Saturday 16 January 1988
item mark Two members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) were killed in separate incidents.
death button

Wednesday 20 January 1988
item mark The British government opposed the classification of Northern Ireland as one of Europe's poorest regions thus reducing the amount of regional structural funds that it received. (??)

Sunday 24 January 1988
item mark Representatives of constituency members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) stated their support for the talks between John Hume, then leader of the SDLP, and Gerry Adams, then leader of Sinn Féin (SF).

Monday 25 January 1988
item mark A member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) was killed in Belfast.
item mark A Catholic civilian was shot dead in County Down.
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item mark Sir Patrick Mayhew, then Attorney-General of the United Kingdom, announced that there were to be no prosecutions of security force members arising from the Stalker and Sampson inquiry into an alleged 'shoot to kill' policy by the security forces in Northern Ireland. The reason given was one of 'national security'.

Tuesday 26 January 1988
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) met with Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and proposed a form of devolved administration for Northern Ireland. The system proposed involved committees with chairpersons being decided on party strength.

Wednesday 27 January 1988
item mark Garda Síochána (the Irish police) uncovered one of the largest stores of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons in the Republic of Ireland. The find was made at a beach near Malin Head, County Donegal.

Thursday 28 January 1988
item mark The appeal of the 'Birmingham Six', the six men imprisoned for the Birmingham pub bombings of 1974, was rejected by the London Court of Appeal. Fresh evidence, particularly the fact that the original forensic tests were flawed, was rejected by the appeal judges. [The men were subsequently released on 14 March 1991.]

February 1988

Friday 5 February 1988
item mark John Stalker, who initially investigated the 'shoot to kill' inquiry, alleged that he was removed from the inquiry because his investigations would have caused political embarrassment.

Saturday 13 February 1988
item mark Representatives of Sinn Féin (SF) endorsed the talks between John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Gerry Adams, then leader of Sinn Féin (SF).

Monday 15 February 1988
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, met Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), following a European Community summit in Brussels.

Tuesday 16 February 1988
item mark William Quinn was extradited from the United States of America to Britain under extradition legislation that came into force in July 1986.

Tuesday 23 February 1988
item mark Ian Thain, a Private in the British Army and the first solder to be convicted of murder (14 December 1984) while on duty in Northern Ireland, was released from a life sentence. He had served 26 months (??) and was allowed to rejoin his regiment.

Wednesday 24 February 1988
item mark Two members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) were killed by a remote controlled bomb in Belfast. The attack was carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
death button

Thursday 25 February 1988
item mark John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), was invited to talks on devolution by Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Monday 29 February 1988
item mark Two Irish Republican Army (IRA) members were killed in a premature explosion in County Armagh.
death button

March 1988

Sunday 6 March 1988
Gibraltar Killings
item mark Three unarmed Irish Republican Army (IRA) members were shot dead by undercover members of the Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar. [The episode sparked intense controversy and began a chain of events that lead to a series of deaths in Northern Ireland on 16 March 1988 and 19 March 1988. The British government claimed that the SAS shot the IRA members because they thought a bomb was about to be detonated. Eye-witnesses claimed that those shot were given no warning.]
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Tuesday 8 March 1988
item mark A car believed to belong to those killed in Gibraltar was found in Marbella and was discovered to contain 140 pounds of high explosives.

Thursday 10 March 1988
item mark Sixty British Labour Party Members of Parliament (MPs) criticised the shootings in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988.

Friday 11 March 1988
item mark Andy Tyrie, then chairman of the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), resigned his post after losing a vote of confidence. A bomb had been planted under his car several days earlier and it was widely assumed to have been planted by Loyalists.

Wednesday 16 March 1988
Milltown Cemetery Killings
item mark During the funerals, at Milltown Cemetery in Belfast, for the three Irish Republican Army (IRA) members killed in Gibraltar (6 March 1988) a Loyalist gunman, Michael Stone, launched a grenade and gun attack on mourners. Three people were killed and 50 injured. The whole episode was recorded by television news cameras. The police and the army had withdrawn to avoid any confrontation with the mourners. Stone was chased to a nearby motorway were he was attacked by a number of mourners. The police arrived in time to save his life. [The main loyalist paramilitary groups denied any involvement with Stone. One of those killed, Kevin Brady, was a member of the IRA.]
item mark A Catholic civilian died eight months after being shot in Belfast.
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Saturday 19 March 1988
Army Corporals Killed
item mark During the funeral of Kevin Brady, killed at Milltown Cemetery (16 March 1988), a car approached the funeral procession at high speed. It was claimed by some present that they feared another attack by Loyalist gunmen. The car's passage was blocked and a group of the mourners attacked the two passengers. The two men in the car were later identified as corporals Derek Wood and David Howes of the British Army. One of the soldiers fired a warning shot but both were beaten and overpowered. The two soldiers were driven to waste ground and shot dead. Part of this incident was also recorded on television news cameras. [The presence of the two soldiers in plain clothes in a republican district of Belfast was never adequately explained.]
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Tuesday 22 March 1988
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) asked television companies (BBC, ITN and RTE) to give them untransmitted film of the incident involving the two British Army corporals on 19 March 1988. [The television companies initially refused but later allowed the RUC access to the material. The event caused further friction between the British government and the media.]

Thursday 31 March 1988
item mark The Human Rights organisation, Amnesty International, announced that it was to investigate the deaths of the three Irish Republican Army (IRA) members in Gilbraltar on 6 March 1988.

April 1988

Saturday 16 April 1988
item mark Proinsias De Rossa replaced Tomás Mac Giolla as leader of the Workers Party (WP).

Tuesday 26 April 1988
item mark Two members of the security forces were killed in separate incidents.
death button
item mark A delegation from the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) met with Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, at Stromont.

Thursday 28 April 1988
item mark A Thames Television documentary, Death on the Rock, about the deaths of the three Irish Republican Army (IRA) members in Gilbraltar on 6 March 1988 was screened. Sir Geoffrey Howe, then British Foreign Secretary, unsuccessfully tried to have the programme banned.

May 1988

Sunday 1 May 1988
item mark Three members of the Royal Air Force (RAF) were killed in two separate attacks carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Netherlands.
death button

Wednesday 4 May 1988
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, failed in an attempt to stop a Northern Ireland British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme about the Gibraltar inquests being shown on 5 May 1988.

Sunday 15 May 1988
item mark The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) killed three Catholic civilians and injured nine others in a machine-gun attack on the Avenue Bar, Union Street, in the centre of Belfast.
death button

Wednesday 25 May 1988
Government White Paper
item mark A White Paper on fair employment was issued by the British government. Suggestions included the compulsory monitoring of the religious composition of workforces in companies in Northern Ireland. A new Fair Employment Commission (FEC) was proposed to replace the Fair Employment Agency (FEA). [A Bill was brought forward on 15 December 1988.]

26 May 1988
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) met with Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, for what turned out to be the last in the series of 'talks about talks'.

June 1988

Tuesday 7 June 1988
item mark The Northern Ireland Police Federation (NIPF), an organisation representing the views of many Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officers, called for the introduction of internment in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Friday 10 June 1988
item mark A branch of the Conservative Party was established in Bangor, County Down. The 'Model Conservative Association' was part of an attempt to introduce British political parties into Northern Ireland.

Monday 13 June 1988
item mark Representatives of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF) met for further talks in Belfast.

Sunday 15 June 1988
Lisburn Killings
item mark An Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb in Lisburn killed six off-duty British Army soldiers.
item mark A member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was killed by the IRA in Belfast.
death button

Tuesday 28 June 1988
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, met Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), following a European Community summit in Hanover.
The British government announced that the Harland and Wolff shipyard was to be privatised.

Wednesday 29 June 1988
item mark The Northern Ireland Police Authority (NIPA) decided, by one vote, not to recommend action against John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and two other senior officers.

July 1988

Monday 4 July 1988
item mark John Hermon, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), announced that disciplinary proceedings were to be undertaken against 20 RUC officers as a result of the investigation into the 'shoot to kill' incidents in 1982.

Tuesday 5 July 1988
item mark Patrick Ryan, a Catholic priest from the Republic of Ireland, was arrested in Brussels. He was accused of providing support for the Irish Republican Army (IRA) (??).

Thursday 7 July 1988
item mark A member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and two Catholic civilians were killed in a premature explosion in Belfast.
death button

Thursday 21 July 1988
item mark The British government announced that Shorts aircraft company in Belfast was to be privatised.

Saturday 23 July 1988
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) 'mistakenly' killed a married couple and their six-year old son in a bomb attack at Killeen, County Armagh.
death button

August 1988

Monday 1 August 1988
item mark An Irish Republic Army (IRA) bomb killed one soldier and injured nine at an army barracks in London. It was the first IRA bomb in Britain since the 'Brighton' bombing on 12 October 1984.

Thursday 4 August 1988
item mark Two Protestant building workers, were killed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Belleek, County Fermanagh. The two workers had been carrying out repairs at Belleek police station.
death button

Monday 8 August 1988
item mark Two Catholic men were killed by the Protestant Action Force (PAF).
item mark A British soldier died from injuries received three weeks earlier.
death button

Saturday 20 August 1988
Ballygawley Bombing
item mark Eight British Army soldiers were killed when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb at Ballygawley, County Tyrone. A further 28 soldiers were injured.
death button

Tuesday 23 August 1988
item mark Gerard Harte was extradited from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland (??).

Saturday 27 August 1988
item mark Robert Russell was extradited from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland (??). Russell was one of those who had escaped from the Maze Prison on 25 September 1983.

Tuesday 30 August 1988
item mark Three members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were shot dead by soldiers of the Special Air Force (SAS) near Drumnakilly, County Tyrone.
death button
item mark Last in a series meetings between John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Gerry Adams, then leader of Sinn Fein (SF). A joint statement was issued following the meeting. (?)

Wednesday 31 August 1988
item mark Sean Dalton and Shelia Lewis, two Catholic civilians were killed by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) booby-trap bomb in the Creggan area of Derry. A third person, Gerard Curran, was injured and died on 31 March 1989. The three had gone to the flat of a neighbour they hadn't seen for a number of days. Dalton detonated the bomb when he climbed through a window of the flat. [The bomb was intended for members of the security forces.]
death button

September 1988

Saturday 3 September 1988
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) turned out in force to police the funeral of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) member. [This was a reversal of an earlier low-key approach.]

Tuesday 6 September 1988
item mark A loyalist paramilitary gun 'factory' was discovered by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) near Ballynahinch, County Down. [A former member of the Ulster Defense Regiment (UDR) was jailed for his involvement in the gun 'factory' in March 1989.]

Friday 30 September 1988
item mark An inquest held in Gibraltar (?) decided that the Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers who shot dead three Irish Republican Army (IRA) members on 6 March 1988 had acted lawfully. There was conflicting evidence on whether or not the IRA members had been given a warning before being shot.

October 1988

Wednesday 5 October 1988
item mark Integrated education in Northern Ireland was given a boost when Brian Mawhinney, then Minister for education, stated that the Department for Education of Northern Ireland (DENI) should promote integrated schools (?).

Tuesday 11 October 1988
item mark Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Northern Ireland, was physically removed from the European Parliament building when he mounted a protest at a speech being made by the Pope.

Friday 14 October 1988
Duisburg Meetings
item mark Members from four Northern Ireland political parties met for talks in Duisburg, West Germany. The parties involved were; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Little progress was reported from the meetings.

Saturday 15 October 1988
item mark Jim Craig, a leading member of the Ulster Defense Association (UDA), was shot dead by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) in a pub in Belfast. Victor Rainey, an innocent member of the public was also shot dead and four people injured in the same incident. Craig was killed as part of an internal UDA feud.
death button

Wednesday 19 October 1988
Broadcasting Ban
item mark The British government introduced broadcasting restrictions ('broadcasting ban') on those organisations proscribed in Northern Ireland and Britain. Douglas Hurd, then British Home Secretary, announced restrictions on the broadcasting of direct statements by members of specific proscribed organisations. The organisations affected were; Sinn Féin (SF), Republican Sinn Féin (RSF) and the Ulster Defense Association (UDA). The restrictions also applied to individuals who were canvassing support for the named organisations. [Media organisations eventually used a number of methods to try to overcome the effects of the ban. One approach was to employ actors to mimic the voices of those being interviewed.]

Thursday 20 October 1988
item mark Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced the introduction of legislation that had the effect of allowing a court to draw an inference from an accused person's decision to remain silent when questioned by the police. The announcement caused controversy.

Thursday 27 October 1988
item mark Three people from the Republic of Ireland were found guilty of conspiracy to murder Tom King, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

November 1988

Tuesday 15 November 1988
item mark Protests organised by Unionists against the Anglo-Irish Agreement were less well supported than previous years.

Tuesday 22 November 1988
item mark Remission of sentences for prisoners in Northern Ireland was reduced from a half to one third. It had been raised to 50 percent in 1976.

Wednesday 23 November 1988
item mark A Catholic civilian, and his granddaughter, were killed in an attack on the RUC basee in Benburb, County Armagh.
death button

Friday 25 November 1988
item mark Patrick Ryan, a Catholic priest arrested for alleged involvement with the Irish Republican Army (IRA), was deported from Brussels directly to the Republic of Ireland. The Belgian government had earlier refused an extradition request from Britain. The issue caused friction between the Irish and British governments.

Tuesday 29 November 1988
item mark The European Court of Human Rights decided that, by detaining suspects for more than four days, Britain was in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. This was one of a number of decisions by European courts that were decided against Britain.

December 1988

Tuesday 13 December 1988
item mark John Murray, then Attorney-General of the Republic of Ireland, refused an extradition request from Britain for Partick Ryan, a Catholic priest.

Thursday 15 December 1988
item mark Following a White Paper introduced on 25 May 1988 the British government brought forward a new Fair Employment Bill for Northern Ireland. The Fair Employment Agency (FEA) was replaced by the Fair Employment Commission (FEC). Compulsory monitoring of the religious composition of workforces of all companies with 25 or more employees was introduced.

Thursday 22 December 1988
item mark It was announced that, despite the European Court of Human Rights ruling on detention (on 29 November 1988), Britain would retain a seven-day detention period.

 


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 1988.
  • 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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