#OTD in Irish History – 7 April:

1720 – The Declatory Act defines the right of the British Parliament to legislate for Ireland and denies the appellate jurisdiction of the Irish House of Lords.

1776 – Wexford born Navy Captain John Barry, commander of the American warship Lexington, captures the British warship HMS Edward off the coast of Virginia.

1801 – The trial of United Irishman, Napper Tandy, begins.

1839 – Medal of Honor winner, John Lonergan is born in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary. His family emigrated to the United States in 1848. Lonergan would win the award for his bravery during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

1861 – A census shows the population to be 5,798,967. Only 393 Jews are recorded.

1868 – Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of the Canadian Fathers of Confederation is assassinated by Irish Republicans, in one of the few Canadian political assassinations, and the only one of a federal politician.

1922 – Special Powers Act is introduced in the north of Ireland as a response to ongoing IRA and nationalist activity. It provided sweeping powers authorizing the Minister of Home Affairs to ‘take all such steps and issue all such orders as may be necessary for preserving the peace and maintaining order’, and to delegate his powers to any officer of the RUC. Meetings (almost exclusively nationalist) and publications could be banned and suspects interned without trial. Police could search persons and vehicles without warrant.

1926 – Dublin-born, Violet Albina Gibson, daughter of Lord Ashbourne, shot Benito Mussolini in Rome on this date.

1927 – The world’s first ever paid television broadcast takes place. An Irishman, Mr. A. Dolan was employed by the American Telephone and Telegraph company to provide a “short act of monologue and song”. Interestingly, the first professional artist to be seen on television in Britain, a year later, was Irish singer Peg O’Neil.

1928 – Birth of James White, a prolific Northern Irish author of science fiction novellas, short stories, and novels. He was born in Belfast and returned there after spending early years in Canada.

1941 – A Luftwaffe bomb kills 13 people in Belfast. Ultimately, the city is devastated by air raids; 700 people are killed and 400 seriously injured in what becomes known as Belfast’s Blitz. The British government appeals to De Valera for help and he authorizes fire brigades from Dublin, Dundalk, Drogheda and Dún Laoghaire to give assistance.

1947 – Death of Henry Ford, American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, automobile production pioneer and son of Irish immigrants.

1965 – Irish general election was held. The newly elected members of the 18th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 21 April when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed. The general election took place in 42 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 144 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann. The Taoiseach, Seán Lemass immediately dissolved the Dáil and the campaign began in earnest. Fianna Fáil ran its campaign on its record in government. Over the last number of years the economy had seen a huge improvement and the party played up on its record in government. The party also played up heavily on the personality of the party leader with the slogan “Let Lemass Lead On”.

1970 – Birth of Shana Morrison, born Shana Caledonia Morrison, in Kingston, New York She is an Irish-American singer-songwriter and the daughter of singer-songwriter, Van Morrison.

1973 – Death of Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid.

1981 – Joanne Mathers, a Protestant civilian who was acting as a census enumerator, was shot dead in the Gobnascale area of Derry, while she was collecting census returns. Republican paramilitaries were responsible for the killing.

1984 – John Hermon, Chief Constable of the RUC, denied there was a ‘shoot to kill’ policy being operated by security forces in Northern Ireland. He also said there was no cover-up in relation to events surrounding the killing of two INLA members at a vehicle check-point at Mullacreavie, Co Armagh, on 12 December 1982.

1996 – Republicans held a series of rallies to commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916. Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, addresses a rally in the Bogside, Derry. The IRA issued an Easter statement which did not mention a renewed ceasefire.

1998 – British Prime Minister Tony Blair, travelled to Northern Ireland to be present during the final stages of the search for agreement. On arriving in Northern Ireland the Prime Minister said, ‘I feel the hand of history upon our shoulder’. Blair held a two-hour meeting with David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down.

1999 – Martin McGuinness, Vice-President of Sinn Féin, said the IRA would not accept decommissioning as a precondition to his party’s entry into a power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland.

1999 – Billy Armstrong, Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member, described the Hillsborough Declaration as unacceptable. Sources in the Ulster Volunteer Force were reported as saying that the organisation would not decommission its weapons ‘to get Sinn Féin into government’.

2000 – Four environmental protesters, including Diana Peuker shown here, who had been jailed for their part in the Glen of the Downs protest in Co. Wicklow, are freed in the High Court

2001 – The longest running legal action in the history of the State ends when the Superwood Group of companies, which claimed £90 million compensation from three insurance companies, are awarded a total of £300,000.

2003 – A member of the British army’s 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards, Lance Corporal Ian Malone from Ballyfermot, Dublin, is killed in the battle for Basra in southern Iraq.

2004 – Death of Maureen ‘Mo’ Potter, aged 79. Born in Dublin, she enjoyed a 70-year career that embraced variety, pantomime, television, cinema and straight theatre. Billed as the Pocket Mimic, she toured with Jack Hylton’s band in the 1930s. She was given the freedom of Dublin in 1984 and an honorary degree by Trinity College in 1988. In 1999, her life was celebrated at the Gaiety theatre, and, two years later, she became the first star to put her handprints in the theatre’s walk of fame.

Photo: Holmpatrick Church, Skerries, Co Dublin, Mac Creative Photography

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