CAIN Web Service
A Chronology of the Conflict - 1989
Text and Research: Martin Melaugh
Material is added to this site on a regular basis - information on this page may change
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
Monday 16 January 1989
The case of the 'Guildford Four' was referred to the Court
Tuesday 17 January 1989
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
Monday 23 January 1989
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
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.
[ PRONI Records – January 1989 ]
1 February 1989
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
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.]
Tuesday 14 February 1989
John Davey, a Sinn Féin (SF) councillor, was shot dead
by Loyalist gunmen near Maghera, County Derry.
Monday 20 February 1989
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded three bombs in British
Army barracks at Tern Hill, Shropshire, England.
Wednesday 22 February 1989
The Fair Employment Agency was criticised when it was revealed
that Protestants were under-represented in its senior or operations
Thursday 23 February 1989
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.]
[ PRONI Records – February 1989 ]
Friday 3 March 1989
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
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
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed three Protestant men
in Coagh, County Tyrone.
Wednesday 8 March 1989
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.
Tuesday 14 March 1989
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
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
Monday 20 March 1989
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.
Wednesday 22 March 1989
The new Prevention of Terrorism Act became law and allowed
the authorities to check bank accounts for paramilitary funds.
Monday 27 March 1989
The 300th anniversary of the 'Siege of Derry' was celebrated
by the Apprentice Boys of Derry.
[ PRONI Records – March 1989 ]
Tuesday 11 April 1989
Restrictions on Sinn Féin (SF) under the 'Broadcasting
Ban' were lifted for the duration of the local government elections.
Friday 21 April 1989
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. [The three men from Northern Ireland were later named as Samuel Quinn (41), a member of the Territorial Army (TA), Noel Little (41), who resigned from the Ulster Defence Regiment in 1986 and became a prominent member of Ulster Resistance, and James King (50) from Armagh. (Source: The Irish Times, 26 April 1989, page 9.)]
Thursday 27 April 1989
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.
[ PRONI Records – April 1989 ]
Thursday 4 May 1989
Two people were killed in separate incidents.
Thursday 11 May 1989
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
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
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
Hugh Annesley succeeded John Hermon as the Chief Constable
of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
[ PRONI Records – May 1989 ]
Thursday 1 June 1989
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
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
Brian Mawhinney, then Minister for Education, announced reforms
which would allow financial support for integrated education.
Thursday 15 June 1989
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.]
[ PRONI Records – June 1989 ]
Sunday 2 July 1989
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed a British Army
soldier in Hanover, West Germany when they planted a bomb on his
Wednesday 12 July 1989
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
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.
[ PRONI Records – July 1989 ]
Wednesday 9 August 1989
Seamus Duffy (15) was killed by a plastic bullet fired
by a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
Monday 14 August 1989
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
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.]
Tuesday 29 August 1989 (?)
Claims of Collusion between Loyalists and Security Forces
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.]
[ PRONI Records – August 1989 ]
Saturday 2 September 1989
Two members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out a gun attack and killed a Catholic civilian standing outside the Ardoyne shops in west Belfast. As the UVF members were driving away on a motorcycle they were intercepted by an undercover unit of British soldiers. One UVF member, Brian Robinson (27), was shot dead and the other was wounded but survived. The book 'Lost Lives' reports that Robinson's mother sufferred a heart attack and died when the news of her son was given to her.
Thursday 7 September 1989
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot and killed Heidi
Hazell, the German wife of a British Army soldier serving in Dortmund,
Monday 11 September 1989
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
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
Tuesday 19 September 1989
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
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded a bomb in Deal Barracks ('The Depot'), Kent, England, which killed ten musicians 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.
Wednesday 27 September 1989
John Taylor, Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament,
issued proposals for a devolved assembly in Northern Ireland.
[ PRONI Records – September 1989 ]
Tuesday 3 October 1989
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
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
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
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
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.
Friday 27 October 1989
It was revealed that the religious balance of the Northern
Ireland Office was 78 per cent Protestant.
[ PRONI Records – October 1989 ]
Friday 3 November 1989
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
The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held its annual
conference in Newcastle, County Down.
Wednesday 15 November 1989
Unionist protests against the Anglo-Irish Agreement drew very
Thursday 16 November 1989
The document Scenario for Peace (Sinn Féin, 1987) was re-launched by Sinn Féin (SF).
Saturday 18 November 1989
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.
Saturday 25 November 1989
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
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).
[ PRONI Records – November 1989 ]
Wednesday 13 December 1989
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) launched an attack on
a border post at Derryard, County Fermanagh, killing two British
Sunday 17 December 1989
James Molyneaux, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
(UUP), denied that he had ended the UUP boycott of ministers.
Monday 18 December 1989
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
The European Community announced a £100 million grant
for transportation in Northern Ireland.
Sunday 31 December 1989
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.
[ PRONI Records – December 1989 ]
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.
For a full list of, and links to, on-line sources see the Guide to the Internet.
Notes Major security incidents
Each entry contains information, where relevant, on the following topic areas:
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.