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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1989



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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 1989

1989 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1989

January 1989

Monday 16 January 1989
item mark The case of the 'Guildford Four' was referred to the Court of Appeal.

Tuesday 17 January 1989
item mark Douglas Hogg, then a British Home Office Minister, made a number of comments to the effect that he was critical of a "number of solicitors in Northern Ireland who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA". [On 12 February 1989 Patrick Finucane, a Belfast solicitor who had represented a number of Republicans, was shot dead by Loyalists.] Three Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) councillors in North Down joined the 'Model Conservative Association'.

Monday 23 January 1989
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued a statement that it had "stood down and disarmed" its West Fermanagh Brigade. This action followed the killing (on 15 January 1989) of a man whom, it was claimed, was an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) informer.

Thursday 26 January 1989
item mark The report of an independent inquiry into the claims made in the Thames Television documentary Death on the Rock vindicated the programme. Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, criticised the report.

February 1989

1 February 1989
item mark Details of the meeting on 14 October 1988 between members of the four main Northern Ireland political parties in Duisburg, West Germany were revealed in a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) programme. 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).

Sunday 12 February 1989
Finucane Killing
item mark Patrick Finucane (38), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Finucane was a Belfast solicitor who had represented a number of Republicans. He was killed at his home, Fortwilliam Drive, off Antrim Road, Belfast, in front of the members of his family. The shooting followed comments made (on 17 January 1989) by Douglas Hogg, then a British Home Office Minister, about a "number of solicitors in Northern Ireland who are unduly sympathetic to the cause of the IRA". [There were a number of accusations that there had been collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and the security forces in the killing of Finucane. There were futher claims of collusion on 29 August 1989. On 17 April 1999 John Stevens, then deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, returned to Northern Ireland to launch a third Inquiry specifically into the killing of Finucane. He also began to investigate allegations raised by campaign group British-Irish Rights Watch and the United Nations. Stevens' third report was presented to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on 17 April 2003. The report concluded that there had been collusion in the killing of Finucane between members of the security forces, especially the Force Research Unit (FRU), and Loyalists. See: Stevens summary report.]
death button

Tuesday 14 February 1989
item mark John Davey, a Sinn Féin (SF) councillor, was shot dead by Loyalist gunmen near Maghera, County Derry.
death button

Monday 20 February 1989
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded three bombs in British Army barracks at Tern Hill, Shropshire, England.

Wednesday 22 February 1989
item mark The Fair Employment Agency was criticised when it was revealed that Protestants were under-represented in its senior or operations staff.

Thursday 23 February 1989
item mark Hugh Annesley, then Assistant Commissioner at the Metropolitan Police, was appointed by the Northern Ireland Police Authority (NIPA) as the next Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). [Hugh Annesley took over the post on 31 May 1989.]

March 1989

Friday 3 March 1989
item mark Michael Stone, the Loyalist gunman responsible for killing three mourners at Milltown Cemetery on 16 March 1988, was sentenced to prison for 30 years. [Stone was released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.]

Sunday 5 March 1989
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), delivered a speech in which he said that he sought a "non-armed political movement to work for self-determination" in Ireland.

Tuesday 7 March 1989
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed three Protestant men in Coagh, County Tyrone.
death button

Wednesday 8 March 1989
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed two soldiers and injured six others in a landmine explosion on the Buncrana Road near Derry. The Emergency Provision Act was renewed in the House of Commons.
death button

Tuesday 14 March 1989
item mark Eighteen members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were reprimanded and one cautioned over their part in incidents surrounding the shootings which led to the 'shoot to kill' allegations.

Wednesday 15 March 1989
item mark The Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Act became law. One of the requirements of the Act was that candidates standing in district council elections should sign a declaration that they would not express support for illegal organisations or acts of violence.

Monday 20 March 1989
item mark Harry Breen, who was then a Chief Superintendent of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), and Ken Buchanan, who was then a Superintendent, were both killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) ambush as they crossed the border in South Armagh.
death button

Wednesday 22 March 1989
item mark The new Prevention of Terrorism Act became law and allowed the authorities to check bank accounts for paramilitary funds.

Monday 27 March 1989
item mark The 300th anniversary of the 'Siege of Derry' was celebrated by the Apprentice Boys of Derry.

April 1989

Tuesday 11 April 1989
item mark Restrictions on Sinn Féin (SF) under the 'Broadcasting Ban' were lifted for the duration of the local government elections.

Friday 21 April 1989 (or 22 ?)
item mark Three Loyalists were arrested in Paris, France, as they were in the process of giving parts from a Shorts Aircraft Company Blowpipe missile to a South African embassy official. The incident revived claims of links between the then South African Government and Loyalist paramilitaries.

Thursday 27 April 1989
item mark Bob Cooper was appointed to head the new Fair Employment Commission (FEC). The Northern Ireland Office refused to provide compensation to Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), for injuries received when he was shot and wounded by Loyalist gunmen in 1984.

May 1989

Thursday 4 May 1989
item mark Two people were killed in separate incidents.
death button

Thursday 11 May 1989
item mark Christopher Neeson, a Sinn Féin (SF) councillor in Cookstown, was jailed for three years on an arms charge.

Wednesday 17 May 1989
Local Government Elections
item mark Local government elections were held across Northern Ireland. [The percentage share of the vote was: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 31.4%; Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 17.8%; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 21.2%; Sinn Féin (SF) 11.3%; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 6.8%; Workers Party (WP) 2.1%; Others 9.4%; Turnout 56.0%. (See detailed results.)]

Wednesday 24 May 1989
item mark The scheduled assessment of the working of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) was published in a review document. The review was conducted under Article 11 of the AIA which stated that an assessment of the operation of the Intergovernmental Conference should be undertaken to see "whether any changes in the scope and nature of its activities are desirable".

Wednesday 31 May 1989
item mark Hugh Annesley succeeded John Hermon as the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

June 1989

Thursday 1 June 1989
item mark Two men were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of two British Army corporals on 19 March 1988. [This was the first in a number of trials connected with the killings.]

Wednesday 7 June 1989
item mark It was announced that Shorts Aircraft Company, then Northern Ireland's largest industrial employer, was to be sold to Bombardier, a Canadian company.

Tuesday 13 June 1989
item mark Brian Mawhinney, then Minister for Education, announced reforms which would allow financial support for integrated education.

Thursday 15 June 1989
European Elections
item mark Elections to the European Parliament were conducted in Northern Ireland. [The percentage share of the vote was: Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 29.95%; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 25.5%; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 21.5%; Sinn Féin (SF) 9.2%; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 5.2%; Ecology Party (EP) 1.2%; Workers Party (WP) 1.1%; Others 1.6%; Turnout 48.3%. (See detailed results.)] Elections took place in the Republic of Ireland to the Dáil. Although Fianna Fáil (FF) gained that largest number of seats the party it did not win sufficient support to form a government. [FF formed a government with the Progressive Democrat (PD) party on 12 July 1989.]

July 1989

Sunday 2 July 1989
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed a British Army soldier in Hanover, West Germany when they planted a bomb on his car.
death button

Wednesday 12 July 1989
item mark Charles Haughey was re-elected as Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). Fianna Fáil (FF) formed the new government with the support of the Progressive Democrats (PDs). This was the first occasion that FF had been part of a coalition government.

Monday 24 July 1989
item mark Peter Brooke was appointed as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. John Cope became Minister of State, and Lord Skelmersdale and Peter Bottomley were appointed as Under-Secretaries.

August 1989

Wednesday 9 August 1989
item mark Seamus Duffy (15) was killed by a plastic bullet fired by a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
death button

Monday 14 August 1989
item mark Twentieth anniversary of the deployment of the British Army on the streets of Northern Ireland. Peter Brook, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, had talks with James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Friday 25 August 1989
item mark Loughlin Maginn was shot and killed by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF). [Claims were made on 29 (?) August 1989 that the UFF had received security force details on Loughlin Maginn.]
death button

Tuesday 29 August 1989 (?)
Claims of Collusion between Loyalists and Security Forces
item mark The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) claimed that they had received security force files on Irish Republican Army (IRA) suspects. It was claimed that the death of Loughlin Maginn on 25 August 1989 was due to information supplied to the UFF by members of the security forces. [These claims revived accusations of security force collusion with Loyalist paramilitaries.]

September 1989

Thursday 7 September 1989
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot and killed Heidi Hazell, the German wife of a British Army soldier serving in Dortmund, West Germany.
death button

Monday 11 September 1989
item mark Further security forces documents, containing details of suspected Irish Republican Army (IRA) members, were reported to have gone missing. Nationalists called for the disbandment of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).

Tuesday 12 September 1989
item mark Margaret Thatcher, then British Prime Minister, paid a visit to Northern Ireland and described the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) as a group of "very, very, very brave men". In Dublin Sinn Féin (SF) announced the launch of the Irish National Congress.

Tuesday 19 September 1989
item mark The Board of the International Fund for Ireland announced that £4 million would be spent on urban development grants in 30 'disadvantaged' towns.

Friday 22 September 1989
Deal Bombing
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in Deal Barracks ('The Depot'), Kent, England, which killed ten musicans who were part of the staff band of the Royal Marines . [Another Royal Marines musican died on 18 October 1989 from wounds received in the bombing.] The explosion occured at 8.22am in the concert hall on Canada Road which formed part of the Royal Marines' School of Music.
death button

Wednesday 27 September 1989
item mark John Taylor, Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament, issued proposals for a devolved assembly in Northern Ireland.

October 1989

Tuesday 3 October 1989
item mark It was confirmed that the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) would, in future, be armed with plastic bullet guns for riot control.

Sunday 8 October 1989
UDR Members Arrested
item mark Twenty-eight members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) were arrested by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) as part of the Stevens inquiry into the leaking of security force documents to Loyalist paramilitary groups.

Tuesday 10 October 1989
item mark A vote was taken by the British Conservative Party conference to organise in Northern Ireland for the first time.

Thursday 19 October 1989
Guildford Four Released
item mark Three of the 'Guildford Four' were released by the Court of Appeal after they had spent 14 years in jail. Those released were Patrick Armstrong, Gerard Conlon, and Carole Richardson. Paul Hill was held in custody pending a hearing in another case but was released later. The court decided that the original confessions had been fabricated by the police. [John May was later appointed to head an inquiry into the circumstances of the Maguire family and the 'Guildford Four'. However, no police officers were ever prosecuted for their part in the fabrication of confessions.]

Thursday 26 October 1989
item mark A member of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and his six-month old daughter were killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) attack in Germany.
death button

Friday 27 October 1989
item mark It was revealed that the religious balance of the Northern Ireland Office was 78 per cent Protestant.

November 1989

Friday 3 November 1989
item mark In a speech, Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) could not be defeated militarily. He also said that he would not rule out talks with Sinn Féin (SF) in the event of an end to violence. [His remarks caused controversy.]

Saturday 4 November 1989
item mark The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held its annual conference in Newcastle, County Down.

Wednesday 15 November 1989
item mark Unionist protests against the Anglo-Irish Agreement drew very little support.

Thursday 16 November 1989
item mark The document Scenario for Peace (Sinn Féin, 1987) was re-launched by Sinn Féin (SF).

Saturday 18 November 1989
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated a landmine killing three British Army soldiers near Mayobridge, County Down. The soldiers were members of the parachute regiment.
death button

Saturday 25 November 1989
item mark The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held its annual conference. The DUP decided to contest all 'safe' Unionist seats so ending an electoral pact with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

Wednesday 29 November 1989
item mark The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) shot and killed two Catholic men in Coagh, County Tyrone. One of the men was a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
death button

December 1989

Wednesday 13 December 1989
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) launched an attack on a border post at Derryard, County Fermanagh, killing two British Army soldiers.
death button

Sunday 17 December 1989
item mark James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), denied that he had ended the UUP boycott of ministers.

Monday 18 December 1989
item mark Richard Needham, then Minister of Economic Development, announced a £65 million investment in Derry half of which was being invested by a Boston developer.

Friday 22 December 1989
item mark The European Community announced a £100 million grant for transportation in Northern Ireland.

Sunday 31 December 1989
item mark An opinion poll in the Observer (a British Newspaper) estimated that 51 per cent of the British population wanted the British Army withdrawn from Northern Ireland.

 


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 1989.
  • 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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