#OTD in Irish History – 24 January:

1851 – Charles Plummer, Irish language scholar and editor of Lives of the Irish Saints, is born.

1897 – Death of novelist, Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, née Hamilton. Born in Rosscarbery, Co Cork, her light romantic fiction was popular throughout the English-speaking world in the late 19th century and is best known by her book, Molly Bawn. She died at Bandon of typhoid fever.

1899 – Humphrey O’Sullivan patented the rubber heel for shoes. Born in Skibbereen, Co Cork, O’Sullivan emigrated to the Unites States and worked in a print shop in Lowell, Massachusetts, where standing on the shop floor all day resulted in sore feet and other ailments. To ease his aching feet, he started to stand on a small rubber mat, which acted as a makeshift cushion; it proved to be a good idea, saving O’Sullivan from further physical stress, though his print shop colleagues kept taking the mat for their own personal use.

1901 – Proclamation of Edward VII as King in Dublin Castle.

1916 – Robert Monteith’s letter to Sir Roger Casement indicates that they still think that they will go to the front. Presumably Turkey via Vienna.

1918 – The President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, denied reports that he sought to influence the British government regarding the Irish question.

1920 – Death of Percy French, writer of many popular Irish songs, including the Mountains of Mourne.

1921 – Birth of artist, Patrick Scott, in Kilbrittain, Co Cork.

1921 – While the War of Independence was supported (actively or passively) by the majority of Irish, the Catholic church railed against the violence. A letter from the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. Thomas P Gilmartin is read at masses, following an ambush on English forces near Kilroe, Co Galway. “The misguided criminals who fired a few shots from behind a wall… have broken the truce of God, they have incurred the guilt of murder… and then having fired their few cowardly shots, they beat a hasty retreat, leaving the unprotected and innocent people at the mercy of uniformed forces.”

1933 – Fianna Fáil wins a general election, when they were re-elected in the Irish general election winning 50% of the votes.

1969 – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce, Brian Faulkner, resigned from the Northern Ireland cabinet in protest at the policies of Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Terence O’Neill, and the lack of ‘strong government’.

1972 – Chief Superintendent of the RUC, Frank Lagan, notified Andrew MacLellan, Commander 8 Infantry Brigade, of his contact with the Civil Rights Association, and informed him of their intention to hold a non-violent demonstration protesting against Internment on 30 January 1972. He also asked that the march be allowed to take place without military intervention. MacLellan agreed to recommend this approach to General Ford, Commander of Land Forces in Northern Ireland. However Ford had placed Derek Wilford, Commander of 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment, in charge of the proposed arrest operation. The broad decision to carry out arrests was probably discussed by the Northern Ireland Committee of the British Cabinet. Edward Heath, British Prime Minister, confirmed on 19 April 1972 that the plan was known to British government Ministers.

1973 – Death of piper and folklorist, Willie Clancy.

1974 – The official Unionist Party is founded.

1978 – Eddie Gallagher and Rose Dugdale, both jailed for their part in the kidnapping of Tiede Herrema, are married in Limerick prison.

1979 – Two Catholic teenagers, Martin McGuigan (16) and James Keenan (16), were killed by the IRA in a remote-controlled bomb explosion at Darkley, near Keady, Co Armagh. It is believed that the two teenagers were mistaken in the dark for a British Army foot patrol.

1984 – “Londonderry” District Council was given permission by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to change the name of the council to Derry District Council. The official name of the city remained “Londonderry” but many Unionists were upset by the name change. Derry District Council also voted to stop flying the Union Jack flag on council property.

1986 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Tom King, said that he was encouraged by the swing away from Sinn Féin in the Westminster by-elections.

1988 – Representatives of constituency members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) stated their support for the talks between John Hume, leader of the SDLP, and Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin.

1989 – Death of architect, Michael Scott. Born in Drogheda, some of his buildings included the Busáras building in Dublin, the Abbey Theatre, and Tullamore Hospital.

1991 – Death of legal academic and Fine Gael politician, John Maurice Kelly. Born in Co Kildare, he served in Garret FitzGerald’s first Cabinet from 1981 until 1982. Kelly declined appointment to FitzGerald’s second administration (1982–87). Kelly felt that Irish politics should be aligned more on European ideological lines, and he promoted closer alignment with Fianna Fáil and the end of coalition with the Labour Party. He did not seek re-election to the Dáil at the 1989 general election.

1991 – A British Army spokesperson confirmed that the British government had withdrawn the 600 soldiers brought to Northern Ireland before Christmas.

1994 – Incendiary devices that had been planted by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a pseudonym used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), were found at a school in Dundalk, Co Louth, and at a postal sorting office in Dublin.

1995 – The report of the Parliamentary Boundary Commission proposed that the number of Westminster constituencies should be increased by one to 18. The new constituency was to be West Tyrone. All the other constituencies, with the exception of North Antrim, had revisions to their boundaries.

1996 – The report of the International Body on arms decommissioning, the Mitchell Report, was published (the report is dated 22 January 1996) in Belfast. Included in the report were six principles (the ‘Mitchell Principles’) by which parties could enter into all-party talks and at the end of the report there were a number of confidence building measures. The main conclusion of the report was that decommissioning of paramilitary arms should take place during all-party talks rather than before or after as some parties wanted. The report was welcomed by the Irish Government and opposition parties, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI). Sinn Féin (SF), the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) accepted the report as a way forward. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) rejected the report and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) expressed reservations. In a move which surprised many observers British Prime Minister, John Major, ignored the main elements of the report and focused on the ‘elective process’ mentioned as one of a series of confidence building measures. The UUP and the DUP welcomed the proposed elections while the SDLP initially rejected the proposal. The Irish Government accused the British of not consulting them on the announcement. Relations between the two Governments were soured for some days afterwards.

1998 – A car bomb exploded outside an entertainment club, the ‘River Club’ on Factory Road in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. Warnings about the bomb were received at 7.30pm and the bomb exploded at around 9.30pm. The building was extensively damaged but there were no injuries. A Republican paramilitary group, the ‘Continuity’ Irish Republican Army (CIRA) was thought to be responsible.

1998 – In west Belfast, Loyalists kill taxi driver, John McColgan, by shooting him in the back of the head. It is the sixth sectarian murder in a week.

1998 – Deputy leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Seamus Mallon, said, in an interview, that the multi-party talks process now faced a moral dilemma. Mallon said that he found it morally questionable and distasteful that ‘parties connected with those that kill should remain in the talks’. The Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) held a meeting in Dublin to discuss the killings in Northern Ireland. The IRSP is considered to be the political wing of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

1998 – A march to commemorate the dead of ‘Bloody Sunday’ took place in London. Anthony Farrar-Hockley, Commander of British Army land forces in Northern Ireland, said that he saw no need to apologise for the killing of 14 people in Derry on ‘Bloody Sunday’.

1999 – After months of negotiations and two special delegate conferences, Democratic Left merges with the Labour Party.

2000 – Tánaiste Mary Harney warns the IRA to begin decommissioning or run the risk of derailing the Northern peace process.

2001 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson, resigned from the British cabinet (for the second time in his political career) over his alleged role in the Hinduja passport affair. His departure came in the midst of a further crisis over the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. Secretary of State for Scotland, John Reid, was appointed to succeed Mandelson. He was the first Catholic to hold the post.

2002 – Irish doctors are among the worst-paid in Europe and charge less than they need to run a viable business, according to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

2002 – Chief Constable of the PSNI, Ronnie Flanagan, travelled to Omagh, Co Tyrone, to present his response to the earlier report by Nuala O’Loan, then Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI), on the investigation into the Omagh Bombing (15 August 1998). The summary of O’Loan’s report was published on 12 December 2001 and it was critical of some aspects of the investigation into the bombing. In his (unpublished) report Flanagan stated that he dealt with each of the points raised by O’Loan. With regard to O’Loan’s recommendations, some were accepted but a key one was changed. This was the recommendation by O’Loan that a police officer from outside Northern Ireland should be appointed to takeover the Omagh investigation. Flanagan announced that a senior detective from Merseyside would be appointed to ‘advise’ the investigation. Flanagan met the relatives of the victims of the bombing and later gave a press conference. Some of the relatives said they were not satisfied with the outcome of the meeting. Some relatives revealed that they were close to withdrawing support for the police investigation.

2005 – Former Fianna Fáil Minister Ray Burke is jailed for six months for tax evasion. Prosecuting authorities found that Burke had failed to fully declare his income over a nine-year period.

Image | Mizen pedestrian bridge, Co Cork

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