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A Chronology of the Conflict - 1991



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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 1991

1991 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sources Notes

1991

January 1991

Wednesday 2 January 1991
item mark A proposal to extend an official invitation to Mary Robinson, then President of the Republic of Ireland, to pay a visit to Belfast was rejected by Unionist councillors on Belfast City Council.

Saturday 5 January 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a series of incendiary devices in premises in the Belfast area. A factory and six shops were destroyed in the attacks.

Monday 7 January 1991
item mark Richard Needham, then a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Minister, criticised Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), for his support of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The criticism followed a recent fire-bomb campaign by the IRA. Needham queried whether the jobs for west Belfast, that were demanded by Sinn Féin (SF), would also be fire-bombed. Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), accused Needham of "theatrical hysterics".

Monday 14 January 1991
item mark Tom King, then Secretary of State for Defence, paid a visit to Northern Ireland.

Thursday 17 January 1991
item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, met with representatives of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) at Westminster. The SDLP objected to aspects of the arrangements for proposed talks on the future of Northern Ireland. Specifically the SDLP criticised the fact that Brooke would determine the point in the talks at which representatives of the government in the Republic of Ireland would be invited to attend.

Thursday 24 January 1991
item mark A British Army spokesperson confirmed that the British government had withdrawn the 600 soldiers brought to Northern Ireland before Christmas.

Saturday 26 January 1991
item mark The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) carried out a raid on the premises of An Phoblacht (Republican News) in west Belfast. The RUC removed computer equipment and computer disks from the building.

Sunday 27 January 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out two incendiary bomb attacks on shops in Belfast. [Richard Needham, then a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Minister, later announced that 25 million would be redirected from social and economic schemes to pay compensation for the damage.]

Thursday 31 January 1991
item mark There was a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference in Dublin. Following the meeting Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said that political talks were "a possibility, not a probability".

February 1991

Friday 1 February 1991
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), described rumours of a possible Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire as being "unfounded speculation".

Saturday 2 February 1991
item mark An interview with Garret FitzGerald, former Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), was published in the Irish Independent (a Republic of Ireland newspaper). Fitzgerald said that he had considered holding a referendum on Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution at the time of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Sunday 3 February 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a 'proxy bomb' attack on a Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) base in Magherafelt, County Derry. A man, who was employed by a company that carried out work for the security forces, was forced to drive his van containing a bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, into the UDR base. He managed to get away from the vehicle before the bomb exploded. The bomb caused extensive damage to the UDR base and also damaged approximately 50 nearby houses.

Thursday 7 February 1991
Mortar Attack on Downing Street
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) launched an attack on 10 Downing Street, London, while the British Cabinet was holding a meeting. There were no injuries. The attack took the form of three home-made mortars fired from a parked van in nearby Whitehall and represented a serious breach of security in the area. One of the mortars fell in a garden at the back of Downing street and caused some damage. [It was reported later that ministers dived under the cabinet table during the attack.]
The Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) announced that scientific evidence against the 'Birmingham Six' had been dropped. The announcement came during proceedings at their renewed appeal.
item mark In a ruling by the House of Lords the broadcasting ban on 'proscribed' organisations was upheld.

Friday 8 February 1991
item mark The government in the Republic of Ireland agreed to abide by the arrangements for planned political talks on the future of Northern Ireland. The arrangements meant that Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, would decide the point in the talks at which the Irish government would be invited to attend.

Thursday 14 February 1991
item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, told the House of Commons that there were still differences between the Northern Ireland political parties, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), and Irish ministers, over the proposals for talks.
item mark Charges against Desmond Ellis, who had been extradited from the Republic of Ireland to Britain, were changed when he appeared in court. The introduction of new charges was contrary to Irish law and the incident sparked a row between the two countries. [The decision was reversed on 4 June 1991 and the original charges reinstated.]

Monday 18 February 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb at Victoria Station in London. An inadequate warning was given and one person was killed and over 40 people injured in the attack.
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Thursday 21 February 1991
item mark The High Court in Belfast ruled that actions taken by Belfast City Council to try to exclude Sinn Féin (SF) from the business of the Council were illegal.

March 1991

Friday 1 March 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a (horizontal) mortar attack on a Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) mobile patrol on the Killylea Road, Armagh. One UDR soldier was killed and another, who was mortally wounded, died on 4 March 1991.
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item mark The European Court of Human Rights agreed to hear another complaint against the British government. The case involved the United Kingdom's (UK) derogation from the European Convention of Human Rights on the matter of the seven-day detention of suspects under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Sunday 3 March 1991
item mark The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out a gun attack on a public house in Cappagh, County Tyrone, and killed four Catholic men. [Some time later the Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced that three of its members had been killed in the attack. The fourth person killed was a Catholic civilian. As the men had only decided to go to the pub on the spur of the moment they were unlikely to have been the original target of the attack.]
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Monday 4 March 1991
item mark Councillors in Belfast City Council voted by 21 to 19 to end the ban on visits by government ministers. [The first visit by a government minister since the signing of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) took place on 25 March 1991.]

Wednesday 6 March 1991
item mark In a court in Paris, France, five people were sentenced for attempting to smuggle guns from Libya to Ireland in 1987. The men had been members of the crew of the ship Eksund.

Wednesday 13 March 1991
item mark An opinion poll carried out for The Guardian (a British newspaper) by International Communications and Marketing showed that 43 per cent of people were in support of the withdrawal of the British Army from Northern Ireland. Of those questioned, 43 per cent were in favour of the reunification of Ireland, while 30 per cent wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom (UK).

Thursday 14 March 1991
'Birmingham Six' Freed
item mark Six men, known as the 'Birmingham Six', who had spent 16 years in jail were freed by the Court of Appeal in London. The six were: Hugh Callaghan, Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, Billy Power, and Johnny Walker. The men had been convicted for the bombings that occurred in two public houses in Birmingham on 21 November 1974. The six had been found guilty on the basis of forensic evidence and confessions that the men claimed were beaten out of them. The forensic evidence was shown to be unreliable and there was evidence that the police had forged notes of interviews and had given false evidence at the original trial. Kenneth Baker, then Home Secretary, accepted that this was the third case of a miscarriage of justice involving Irish people in the previous 18 months.
item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced to the House of Commons that an agreement had been reached with the Irish government whereby he would decide when they would enter the political negotiations. In addition he also set Easter as the deadline for all the parties deciding on the arrangements for new political talks. [The talks were to involve the four main political parties and were the first in a series that lasted from April 1991 to November 1992 and later became known as the Brooke / Mayhew Talks. Patrick Mayhew took over from Brooke as Secretary of State before the talks were concluded.]

Monday 25 March 1991
Arrangements for Talks Agreed
item mark The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), all agreed to the arrangements for political talks on the future of Northern Ireland. Richard Needham, then a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Minister, became the first NIO minister to visit Belfast City Hall since the Unionist protest began over the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

Tuesday 26 March 1991
item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) would involve a three-strand process. This process was to include relationships within Northern Ireland and achieving a devolved government ('strand one' of the talks), between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland ('strand two'), and between the British and Irish Governments ('strand three'). In addition the three strands were to form a complete agreement - 'nothing is agreed until everything is agreed'.

Thursday 28 March 1991
item mark The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out a gun attack on a mobile shop in Craigavon, County Armagh, and killed three Catholic civilians. Two of the people killed were teenage girls.
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Sunday 31 March 1991
item mark Republicans held commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the Easter Rising that took place in Dublin in 1916.

April 1991

Thursday 4 April 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb, estimated at 1,000 pounds, in the centre of Banbridge, County Down. The bomb caused widespread damage.

Tuesday 9 April 1991
item mark The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference held a meeting in Belfast. Following the meeting Gerry Collins, then Irish Foreign Minister, announced that there would be a 10 week gap after its next meeting on 26 April 1991. [The break in meetings was designed to allow Unionists to enter talks on the future of Northern Ireland.]

Saturday 13 April 1991
item mark Two people were killed in separate incidents.
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Sunday 14 April 1991
item mark Bishop Desmond Tutu, from South Africa, attended an Anglican conference in Newcastle, County Down. Tutu said that Sinn Féin (SF) should be invited to attend the forthcoming talks on the future of Northern Ireland.

Monday 15 April 1991
item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, began a week-long visit to the United States of America (USA) to promote the forthcoming talks on the future of Northern Ireland.
item mark The then head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, retired and was replaced by David Fell. [Bloomfield was later appointed as the first Victims' Commissioner.]

Tuesday 16 April 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on the Shorts aircraft factory in east Belfast.

Wednesday 17 April 1991
item mark The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC), acting on behalf of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), and the Red Hand Commandos (RHC), announced that there would be a ceasefire beginning on 30 April 1991. [The ceasefire was to facilitate the proposed political talks and would last as long as the talks. Attacks by all three organisations continued in the period before the ceasefire.]

Sunday 21 April 1991
Census
item mark The United Kingdom (UK) census was held with information being collected across Northern Ireland. Unlike the situation in 1981 there was no protest against the census by Republicans. [When the religion report was published in 1993 it showed that the total population was 1,577,836. The breakdown of the main denominations was: 605,639 Catholic; 336,891 Presbyterians; 279,280 Church of Ireland; and 59,517 Methodists. A large number of people did not provide information on religion with 7.3 per cent not stating a denomination and 3.8 per cent stating 'none' to the religion question. Later analysis revealed that the likely size of the Catholic population was approximately 41.5 per cent. (See section on Population and Vital Statistics.)]

Monday 22 April 1991
item mark The Fair Employment Commission (FEC) published its first report on the religious composition of the workforce in Northern Ireland in those companies with more that 25 employees. The report showed that 65 per cent of the workforce was Protestant while Catholics accounted for 35 per cent.

Friday 26 April 1991
item mark There was a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. This was the last meeting for a 10 week period to allow talks to take place between the political parties.

Monday 29 April 1991
CLMC Ceasefire
item mark The ceasefire announced on 17 April 1991 by the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) began at midnight. [The ceasefire was ended by the CLMC on 4 July 1991.]

Tuesday 30 April 1991
Preliminary Talks Began
item mark The preliminary round of political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks), involving the four main political parties, on the political future of Northern Ireland began. [Initially there were a series of bilateral meetings between Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and representatives of the parties.] Problems soon arise however concerning Strand One of the talks over details such as where the discussions should be held and who should subsequently chair the later stages of these negotiations.

May 1991

Wednesday 1 May 1991
item mark The British government said that proposals for Northern Ireland select committee at the House of Commons were worth considering. [The ideal was one favoured by Unionists in favour of more integration between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom (UK) but it was opposed by Nationalists and Republicans. The select committee was eventually established in 199x(?).]

Tuesday 7 May 1991
item mark A series of bilateral political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) were held at Stormont but there was no agreement among the parties about the venue of the main talks.

Thursday 9 May 1991
item mark Danny Morrison, formerly publicity director for Sinn Féin (SF), and seven other people were convicted of falsely imprisoning an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) informer. [Morrison was later sentenced to eight years in jail.]

Wednesday 15 May 1991
item mark The leaders of the main Unionist parties refused to accept the deadline imposed in the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) and instead travelled to London for a meeting with John Major, then British Prime Minister. Unionist representatives spoke to Major about the issue of the venue and nominations for the role of independent chairman of the talks. In particular they voiced their objection to the nominee of the British government, Lord Carrington, as the independent chair for the Strand Two negotiations, because of comments he had made concerning Northern Ireland politicians in his memoirs.

Monday 20 May 1991
item mark The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) announced that it was leaving the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) until such time as the procedures for the main talks were agreed by the other parties.

Wednesday 22 May 1991
item mark In the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) the venue for Strand Two (the North-South Stage) of the main talks was agreed by the parties.

Saturday 25 May 1991
item mark Eddie Fullerton, then a Sinn Féin (SF) councillor in Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). [This killing took place despite a Loyalist ceasefire announced by the Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) that began at midnight on 29 April 1991. The UDA stated that the ceasefire did not apply to the Republic of Ireland.]
item mark A British soldier was killed in an Irish Republican Army (IRA) attack in Belfast.
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Sunday 26 May 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a large bomb in a Protestant housing estate in Cookstown. Thirteen people were injured and over 100 houses were damaged by the explosion.

Friday 31 May 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on a Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) base at Glenanne, County Armagh, and killed three UDR soldiers. The bomb, estimated at 2,000 pounds, was placed in a lorry that was then rolled down a hill and into the perimeter fence.
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June 1991

Monday 3 June 1991
item mark Undercover British Army soldiers, believed to be members of the Special Air Service (SAS), shot dead three Irish Republican Army (IRA) men as they travelled in a car near Coagh, County Tyrone. Approximately 200 shots were fired by the SAS soldiers at the car. Two rifles were later recovered from the car.
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Wednesday 5 June 1991
item mark The main political parties in Northern Ireland agreed to the start of the main political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) on 17 June 1991.

Sunday 9 June 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a large bomb, estimate at 600 pounds, in a Protestant housing estate in Donacloney, County Down.

Wednesday 12 June 1991
item mark David Dinkins, then Mayor of New York, United States of America (USA), signed a law which would stop companies in the State of New York from doing business with Northern Ireland firms that did not comply with the MacBride principles.

Saturday 15 June 1991
item mark (Sir) Ninian Stephen, then an Australian High Court judge and a former Governor-General of Australia, was named as the independent chairman for the strand of the forthcoming talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) involving relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Monday 17 June 1991
Political Talks Began
item mark The four main political parties met at Stormont, Belfast, to begin talks on the future of Northern Ireland. The talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) began with opening statements from each of the parties. Prospects of a breakthrough however are slim given the fact that a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) is scheduled for the middle of July. This event is important given the fact that Unionists have stated that they will withdraw from the talks once the two governments begin their preparations for the AIIC.

Tuesday 18 June 1991
item mark An additional 500 British Army soldiers arrived in Northern Ireland bringing the total number deployed to approximately 11,000.

Wednesday 26 June 1991
Maguire Seven Freed
item mark The convictions of the group of people known as the 'Maguire Seven' were quashed by the Court of Appeal in London. The seven had been convicted of supplying the bombs that were used in Guildford and Woolwich. [This was the latest in a series of high profile cases of miscarriage of justice involving Irish people living in England.]

Friday 28 June 1991
item mark Cahal Daly, then Archbishop, was elevated by the Pope to Cardinal.

Saturday 29 June 1991
item mark Cecil McKnight, then a Ulster Democratic Party member and a former senior member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) at his home in Derry. [The IRA claimed that McKnight had been involved in the planning of the killing of Eddie Fullerton on 25 May 1991.]
item mark An alleged informer was shot dead by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) in Belfast.
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item mark The Queen paid a visit to Northern Ireland and presented 'colours' to four Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) battalions. [On 23 July 1991 it was announced that the UDR would be merged with the Royal Irish Rangers (RIR).]

July 1991

Wednesday 3 July 1991
Political Talks End
item mark In order to try to prevent the complete collapse of the negotiations Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced at Westminster that he was bringing this stage of the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) to an end. [Unionists had stated that they were unwilling to continue the talks beyond 9 July 1991.]

Thursday 4 July 1991
End of CLMC Ceasefire
item mark The Combined Loyalist Military Command (CLMC) announced the end of the ceasefire, as of midnight, that had begun on 29 April 1991. [The ceasefire had been called to coincide with the period of the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks).]

Friday 5 July 1991
item mark Four suspected members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were acquitted in a court in Holland of charges related to the killing of two Australian tourists in Roermond in May 1990.

Sunday 7 July 1991
item mark Nessan Quinlivan and Pearse McAuley use a gun smuggled into them to escape from Brixton Prison in England.

Friday 12 July 1991
item mark The results of a survey of public opinion on the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) was published. It showed a high level of support for the resumption of the talks (73 per cent of people questioned in Northern Ireland; 87 per cent in the Republic of Ireland; and 79 per cent in Britain). The survey was carried out by Ulster Marketing Surveys, Irish Marketing Surveys, and Gallup.

Tuesday 16 July 1991
item mark The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) held a meeting in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. Meetings of the AIIC had been suspended for 11 weeks to allow the political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) to proceed.

Wednesday 17 July 1991
item mark Nicholas Fenn was replaced as Britain's Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland by David Blatherwick.

Friday 19 July 1991
item mark Thomas Oliver (43), then a civilian from Dundalk, Republic of Ireland, was shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) who claimed that he had been a Garda Síochána (the Irish police) informer. This claim was denied by the man's family and by the Gardaí. [The shooting provoked a series of anti-IRA rallies in the area.]
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Tuesday 23 July 1991
Announcement of Merger of UDR and RIR
item mark A White Paper, outlining plans for changes to British Defence policy, was published. The plans included the news that the Royal Irish Rangers (RIR) and the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) would merge to form a new regiment to be called the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR). [The British government denied Unionist claims of political interference in the decision. The UDR had been the subject of sustained criticism by Nationalists since the regiment was first formed. In particular it was claimed that there was collusion between members of the UDR and Loyalist paramilitary groups. A British Army spokesperson said that while the UDR was 96 per cent Protestant the RIR was 30 per cent Catholic and many of its members were drawn from the Republic of Ireland. Later the Army admitted there was an error in the figures and only 6 per cent of members of the RIR were Catholic. David Trimble, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) MP, said that only 83 of the 1,413 members of the RIR were form the Republic of Ireland.]

Thursday 25 July 1991
item mark The case of the 'Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) Four' was referred to the Court of Appeal by Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. [The four soldiers had been convicted of the murder of Adrian Carroll on 8 November 1983.]

Sunday 28 July 1991
item mark The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) exploded seven incendiary devices in shops in the Republic of Ireland.

Monday 29 July 1991
item mark Rhonda Paisley, then a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor and daughter of Ian Paisley, said that the bomb attacks the previous day by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) were "perfectly understandable" given the "betrayal" of Northern Ireland by the British government.

August 1991

Friday 9 August 1991
item mark Garry Lynch (28), who was an election worker with the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), was shot dead in an attack at his workplace in Derry.

Sunday 11 August 1991
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) held a rally in Belfast to mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of Internment and the 10th anniversary of the hunger strike.

Monday 12 August 1991
item mark Pádraig Ó Seanacháin (33), who was Sinn Féin (SF) election worker, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), in Killen, County Tyrone.
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item mark It was announced that there would be a review of the case of Judith Ward who had been convicted of the Bradford coach bombing in 1974.

Wednesday 14 August 1991
item mark Loyalist paramilitaries attacked a bus near Markethill, County Armagh, that was carrying families of Republicans prisoners. Two women were injured in the attack.

Friday 16 August 1991
item mark Thomas Donagh (38), then a Sinn Féin (SF) member, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), in Kilrea, County Derry. item mark Martin O'Prey (28), then a member of the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO), was shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in the lower Falls area of west Belfast. [These killings were part of an upsurge in Loyalist violence following the ending of the CLMC ceasefire on the 4 July 1991.]
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Wednesday 21 August 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a large bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, near an Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) station in Kilrea, County Derry. The explosion causes damage to nearby homes and churches.
item mark Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), wrote a letter, seeking 'open-ended discussions', to the British and Irish governments and to political and Church leaders in Northern Ireland.

Monday 26 August 1991
item mark The Northern Ireland Emergency Provision Act came into force in Northern Ireland.

Wednesday 28 August 1991
item mark Liam Kearns and David Madigan left Newry Cathedral ten days after seeking sanctuary in the building. They had entered the Cathedral following an order by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to leave Ireland.

Thursday 29 August 1991
item mark Sinn Féin (SF) won a by-election for a seat on Belfast City Council. This victory brought the party's representation to 9 members making it the second-largest party in the council.

September 1991

Sunday 1 September 1991
Visit by USA Delegation
item mark A delegation of politicians from the United States of America (USA) arrived in Northern Ireland for a fact-finding visit. Tom Foley, then Democrat Party member and Speaker of the House of Representatives, led the delegation. Foley called on Americans not to provide financial support for NORAID (Irish Northern Aid Committee). Foley also refused to meet representatives of Sinn Féin (SF) until it had renounced the use of violence.

Tuesday 3 September 1991
item mark John Taylor, then a senior member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), addressed a meeting of the Young Unionist conference. He said that one in three Catholics was "either a supporter of murder or worse still a murderer".

Friday 13 September 1991
item mark The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), planted two bombs planted in Catholic areas. The devices were defused by the British Army.
item mark The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) held a meeting at Stormont in Belfast.

Monday 16 September 1991
item mark Bernard O'Hagan (37), then a Sinn Féin (SF) Councillor, was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), at his place of work, Magherafelt College of Further Education, County Derry.
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item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a series of meetings (16 September - 20 September) with leaders of the political parties in Northern Ireland in an effort to restart the talks process (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks). However, with renewed speculation about the date of the next Westminster general election no progress was made towards setting a date for a resumption of the discussions halted in July 1991.

Saturday 21 September 1991
item mark Loyalist prisoners started a fire in the dining-hall of Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast.
item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, left Northern Ireland to begin a five-day visit to the United States of America (USA).

Sunday 22 September 1991
item mark About 50 Republican prisoners rioted in Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast, and tried to barricade off part of the prison. [The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said that the disturbances by Republican and Loyalist prisoners was part of a deliberate campaign to force the prison authorities to introduce segregation.]

Friday 27 September 1991
item mark The Irish Times carried a report of an interview with Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Brooke was reported as stating that Articles 2 and 3 of the Republic of Ireland's constitution were "not helpful" in finding an agreement in Northern Ireland. He also warned that people should not seek to stretch the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

October 1991

Tuesday 1 October 1991
item mark A motion on Northern Ireland was debated at the Labour Party conference in Brighton in England. The motion would have required the Labour Party to organise and contest elections in Northern Ireland. However, the motion was heavily defeated.

Wednesday 2 October 1991
'The Committee' Broadcast
item mark The Channel 4 broadcasting company showed a documentary called 'The Committee' in its Dispatches series. The programme claimed that there was an 'inner circle' in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) which was colluding with Loyalist paramilitaries in the killing of Catholics. [A subsequent book on the controversy, also entitled 'The Committee', was not released in the United Kingdom (UK) by the American publishers who feared libel proceedings.]

Tuesday 8 October 1991
item mark The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), set fire to a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) hall in Kircubbin, County Down. Later in the day the UFF in a statement said that in future members of the GAA would be considered 'legitimate targets'. [The threat was condemned by Protestant church leaders and Unionist politicians. The next day the UFF issued another statement which said that it would only attack those GAA members with strong Republican links.]

Wednesday 9 October 1991
item mark The Conservative Party held its annual conference. Delegates praised the efforts of Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to find an agreement, and they also recognised the need for an 'Irish dimension' in any settlement. The conference also pledged support for Conservative candidates contesting elections in Northern Ireland.

Thursday 10 October 1991
item mark The Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) shot dead a Protestant civilian during a gun attack on a public house on the Shankill Road in west Belfast. item mark Hours later the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), shot dead a Catholic civilian near the Oldpark Road in west Belfast. [A further four Catholic civilians were killed by the UFF over the following six days.]
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Tuesday 15 October 1991
item mark A bill that would have endorsed the MacBride principles was vetoed by the Governor of California, United States of America (USA).

Wednesday 16 October 1991
item mark The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) held a meeting in London.

Monday 21 October 1991
item mark A programme in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) series Panorama laid the blame for the failure of the recent political talks (later known as the Brooke / Mayhew talks) at the feet of Unionists.

Friday 25 October 1991
item mark The Fair Employment Commission (FEC) announced that a Belfast company had been disqualified from receiving government contracts because it did not comply with the fair employment legislation. The company had failed to provide details of the religious composition of its staff.

Tuesday 29 October 1991
item mark Peter Robinson, then Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said that Unionists were being 'edged into a united Ireland'.

Wednesday 30 October 1991
item mark Desmond Ellis was acquitted of conspiring to cause explosions at a court in London. [Ellis had been involved in an extradition dispute between the Republic of Ireland and Britain earlier in the year. On the following day the British Home Secretary signed an 'exclusion order' which banned Ellis from living in Britain.]

November 1991

Saturday 2 November 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb at the military wing of Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast killing two British soldiers. Eighteen people were also injured in the attack.
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Tuesday 5 November 1991
item mark At a football match at Windsor Park in Belfast, the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), threw a grenade at the supporters of the Cliftonville team. [Supporters of Cliftonville are perceived as being mainly Catholic. The UFF said the attack was in retaliation for the bombing on 2 November 1991.]

Wednesday 6 November 1991
item mark Plans for public expenditure in Northern Ireland for the year 1992 to 1993 were published. Total expenditure was estimated at 7,030 million, which represented an increase of 8.4 per cent on the previous year.

Friday 8 November 1991
item mark The Equal Opportunities Unit of the Northern Ireland Civil Service produced a report containing information on the religious composition of the Civil Service. The report showed that 57 per cent of civil servants were Protestant, 36 per cent Catholic, and the rest were born outside Northern Ireland. The report also indicated that 21 per cent of senior posts were held by Catholics.

Saturday 9 November 1991
item mark Two Catholic civilians, Kathleen Lundy (40) and her son Colin Lundy (16), were burned to death when Loyalists carried out a petrol-bomb attack on their home in Glengormley, County Antrim.
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Monday 11 November 1991
item mark Dublin City Council in the Republic of Ireland voted for a resolution not to allow Sinn Féin (SF) to use the Mansion House for its annual Ard Fheis. The reason given was SF's support for the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Wednesday 13 November 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a series of attacks in Belfast and killed four Protestant civilians.
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item mark The United Nations Committee on Torture issued a report that criticised the British government's refusal to introduce a policy of using videotape to record interviews of paramilitary suspects while in police custody.

Thursday 14 November 1991
item mark The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) shot dead three people in an attack near Lurgan, County Armagh. Two Catholic civilians and one Protestant civilian were killed as they were travelling home from work. [The UVF later apologised for killing the Protestant civilian.]
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item mark [Following the killing of twenty people since the 10 October 1991 the British government announced that the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) would be allowed to recruit an additional 440 members and that 500 additional soldiers would be sent to Northern Ireland. In addition soldiers were moved into Belfast from other areas of the region and 1,200 part-time Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) members were put on full-time duty.]

Friday 15 November 1991
item mark Two Irish Republican Army (IRA) members were killed when the bomb they were carrying exploded prematurely in St Albans, Hertfordshire, England.
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Monday 18 November 1991
item mark Councillors in Belfast City Council voted to take part in a community relations project.

Wednesday 20 November 1991
item mark The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) held a meeting in Dublin. Ray Burke, then Minister for Justice in the Irish government, confirmed that there would be changes to the laws on extradition.

Thursday 21 November 1991
item mark The report of the British Attitudes Survey showed that, of those questioned, 60 per cent were in favour of the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland, and 56 per cent were in favour of the reunification of Ireland.

Friday 22 November 1991
item mark The Fair Employment Commission (FEC) announced that the display of religious or political symbols at places of work might be considered as being intimidatory.

Sunday 24 November 1991
Explosion Inside Crumlin Prison
item mark Two Loyalist paramilitary prisoners were killed by an explosion inside Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast. The explosives had been smuggled into the prison, and fabricated into a bomb, by Republican paramilitary prisoners.
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Wednesday 27 November 1991
item mark Four members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) were arrested outside the home of Laurence Kennedy, then leader of the Northern Ireland Conservative Party.

December 1991

Monday 2 December 1991
item mark The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) held a meeting in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. One of the outcomes of the meeting was a suggestion by the AIIC that there should be a single railway authority for the whole of Ireland.

Wednesday 4 December 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb, estimated at 1,200 pounds, in Glengall Street in Belfast. The bomb caused extensive damage to the Grand Opera House which is close to the headquarters of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).
item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, again met the leaders of the political parties in Northern Ireland to try to begin all-party talks. John Major, then British Prime Minister, travelled to Dublin, Republic of Ireland, to meet with Charles Haughey, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister). This was the first visit by a British Prime Minister since 1980. The two leaders agreed to hold biannual meetings.

Sunday 8 December 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a number of incendiary devices in shops in Blackpool and Manchester, England. [Other firebombs exploded in the same cities on the following day.]

Monday 9 December 1991
item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, announced that there would be freeze on spending on capital projects in Northern Ireland. The reason given was the increased cost of bomb damage. [The decision was widely criticised.] Brian Mawhinney assumed responsibility for law and order at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO).

Thursday 12 December 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb, estimated at 2,000 pounds, outside a police station in Craigavon, County Armagh. Nearby buildings were also damaged in the attack.

Saturday 14 December 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a number of incendiary devices in a shopping centre in London.

Sunday 15 December 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded an incendiary device at the National Gallery in London.

Monday 16 December 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb on a railway line in south London causing disruption to the rail service.

Wednesday 18 December 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb, estimated at 500 pounds, at the Belfast law courts. The buildings were damaged in the attack.
item mark There was a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) in London.

Thursday 19 December 1991
Initiative '92 Launched
item mark A meeting was held to announce the launch of Initiative '92. The initiative was designed to seek the opinion of a broad cross section of individuals and organisations in Northern Ireland on the "ways out of the violent deadlock" of the previous 25 years. [A commission (The Opsahl Commission) was established to conduct oral hearings, to collect written submissions, and to write a report on the findings. The report 'A Citizen's Inquiry' was published in 1993.]

Friday 20 December 1991
item mark Peter Brooke, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, outlined a fresh set of proposals to the Northern Ireland parties in the hope that these would lead to the resumption of the political negotiations that have been suspended since July 1991.

Saturday 21 December 1991
item mark The Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) killed two Protestant civilians in a gun attack on a public house in the Village area of Belfast. item mark Hours later a Catholic civilian was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), in the same area. item mark The Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) killed a Protestant civilian in Moy, County Tyrone.
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Monday 23 December 1991
item mark The Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a series of incendiary devices at train stations in London and caused disruption to rails services. The IRA later announced that it would be observing a three-day ceasefire over the Christmas 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 1991.
  • 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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