#OTD in Irish History | 23 March:

1845 – Birth of John Thomas Browne in Ballylanders, Co Limerick. He was an Irish Catholic Mayor of Houston, Texas.

1846 – Henry George Grey, 3rd Earl Grey speaks in the House of Lords on the state of Ireland and accepts that ‘Ireland is our disgrace’. If such be the state of things, how then does it arise, and what is its cause? My Lords, it is only by misgovernment that such evils could have been produced: the mere fact that Ireland is in so deplorable and wretched a condition saves whole volumes of argument, and is of itself a complete and irrefutable proof of the misgovernment to which she has been subjected.

1847 – Choctaw Indians collect money to donate to starving Irish Hunger victims.

1897 – Birth of mathematician and physicist, John Lighton Synge, in Dublin.

1889 – Birth of illustrator and writer, Robert Gibbings, in Co Cork.

1893 – Birth of designer of the coveted Oscar statuette and winner of eleven Academy Awards himself, Cedric Gibbons, in Dublin

1917 – Birth of, singer, Josef Locke (Joe McLaughlin), in Derry. https://youtu.be/0UIOYJPRXUE

1918 – John Devoy claims Roger Casement to blame for the 1916 Easter Rising’s failure.

1921 – Scramogue Ambush: An IRA ambush is mounted on Strokestown-Longford road by south Co Roscommon IRA. One British soldier and two policemen were killed. Two Black and Tan constables (Agnew and Buchanan) surrendered and were later shot dead by the IRA. Arms and ammunition including a Hotchkiss machine gun were captured by the IRA, who lost one man killed.

1921 – The Press reported that 28 people were killed and 33 wounded in various ambushes on this day, bringing the total for the previous five days to 65 killed and 67 wounded.

1921 – Clogheen Ambush: Six IRA men from the 1st Battalion, Cork No.1 Brigade are killed when they are surrounded in a barn in Clogheen by the British Army.

1923 – A detachment of National Army troops surrounds a house on Albert Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin, which contains six Anti-Treaty fighters. One Free State soldier is killed and two wounded when the house is stormed, one Republican is also killed and another is wounded in the fire fight. The remaining four and a woman civilian are arrested. Some arms and hundreds of rounds of ammunition are seized by the Free State troops. In a separate incident, another Anti-Treaty fighter is killed in Rathmines. Another is shot dead trying to blow up the Carlton cinema in O’Connell Street

1926 – Fianna Fáil Founded by Éamonn de Valera, after a split in Sinn Féin. The aims of the Party were to secure the unity and independence of Ireland as a Republic.

1951 – Shannon Airport was the base for a rescue operation after a USAF C124 aircraft crashed into the sea – some wreckage was found 450 miles off the west coast, but all 53 people on board are lost.

1971 – Chichester Clark resigned as Prime Minister and was replaced by Brian Faulkner after defeating William Craig in a Unionist Party leadership election. Faulkner’s tenure of office was to prove very short.

1971 – The Local Government Boundaries (Northern Ireland) Act became law. The Act provided for the appointment of a Boundaries Commissioner to recommend the boundaries and names of district council and ward areas.

1973 – Three members of the British Army were shot dead by the IRA in a house in the Antrim Road, Belfast. The soldiers had been lured to the house.

1974 – The Ulster Workers’ Council (UWC), a new Loyalist grouping, issued a statement calling for new elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The UWC threatened civil disobedience unless the Executive was dissolved.

1976 – The EEC rejects the Irish government’s application for derogation from its directive for equal pay to men and women.

1985 – During his speech, Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), accused the Irish government, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and the Catholic hierarchy of having a vested interest in IRA atrocities.

1987 – Two RUC officers and a civilian employed by the Prison Service were killed in related incidents on the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster.

1987 – The report on the alleged ‘shoot to kill’ policy of the security forces was completed by Colin Sampson and delivered to Sir John Hermon, Chief Constable of the RUC.

1990 – Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), James Molyneaux, said that there would be no agreement on talks while Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution remained.

1990 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Brooke, said that there was no question mark over the future of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).

1993 – There was a meeting of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) in Belfast. The meeting agreed to increase security measures on both sides of the border.

1995 – There was a delay in discussions between Sinn Féin (SF) and Northern Ireland Office (NIO) ministers when SF said it wished to discuss ‘demilitarisation’ rather than decommissioning of paramilitary weapons.

1996 – Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), David Trimble, made a keynote speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council.

1996 – The Sinn Féin (SF) Ard Fheis began in Ambassador Cinema in Dublin. A SF decision on taking part in the 30 May 1996 elections was left for the party’s Ard Chomhairle to make.

1988 – After some initial doubts, Sinn Féin rejoined the multi-party talks at Stormont. Although the party had been expelled on 20 February 1998 and the date set for the return to the talks was 9 March 1998, SF had delayed until it had secured a meeting with the British Prime Minister and then decided to wait until after the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

1998 – Ian Paisley led his party back to the Northern Ireland peace talks for the first time in eight months — but only to protest at the re-entry of Sinn Féin following its suspension over IRA involvement in two murders.

1998 – The House of Commons Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs published a report that highlighted electoral malpractice in the region. The report drew attention to the particular problem of absent voting (postal votes) as well as a serious level of multiple registration in a number of areas.

1998 – History was made in Galway when all vehicles were banned from the city’s main thoroughfare, Shop Street, and its adjoining arteries. The streets were closed to traffic from 11am to 7.30pm as part of a pedestrianisation programme to tackle traffic problems in the city’s narrow streets.

1999 – Under the terms of the Good Friday peace agreement, IRA prisoners, Paul Kavanagh, Thomas Quigley and Gerard McDonnell were freed after a High Court judge rejected a legal challenge by British Home Secretary Jack Straw to keep them in jail.

1999 – The British government signals its growing impatience with the decommissioning deadlock when it issues a legal challenge to the release of Brighton bomber Patrick Magee and three other IRA prisoners.

1999 – The husband of Rosemary Nelson called for an inquiry into her death, but one that was independent of the RUC. The call followed a report by the Independent Commission on Police Complaints (ICPC), which had been investigating allegations of death threats against Rosemary Nelson made by members of the RUC. Although the report was not then published it was reported that the inquiry had run into various difficulties, including some from the chief inspector who, ‘appeared to have difficulties in co-operating productively’ with the barrister in charge of the inquiry. Later Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan, said that he would publish as much as possible of the report. The report had been prepared by Commander of the Metropolitan Police in London, Niall Mulvihill, and had been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions. A ‘review’ based on the report was issued on 30 March 1999.

1999 – British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, challenged the release of three Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners arrested and convicted in England. This action failed but was widely criticised and put additional pressure on the peace process.

2001 – Gardaí arrest 12 protesting students as thousands of secondary school pupils take to the streets all over the country demanding an end to the ASTI teachers strike.

2001 – At the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day Auction, the hottest collectible is Bono’s handmade Black Fly shades, which fetches £4,000.

2002 – At high tide, thirty-nine whales are washed onto Aughcasla Strand, in the Dingle Peninsula.

2003 – Peter O’Toole is awarded an honorary life achievement Oscar. Initially, rejected by Dublin’s Abbey Theatre because he could not speak Irish, he became a scholarship student at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where his classmates included Albert Finney and Alan Bates. He starred in ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in 1962, a performance voted number one in a poll of the 100 Greatest Performances of All Time.

2010 – Garda mobile phone protest is underway. Thousands of gardai begin a ‘work-to-rule’ – the first action of its kind in the history of the force. The so-called ‘withdrawal of goodwill’ by 11,000 members is in protest over public sector pay cuts and the pension levy.

2011 – Ian Paisley calls for a new era of sharing and reconciliation in an emotional farewell at his final sitting of the power-sharing Assembly he helped to create at Storming.

2017 – The funeral of Martin McGuinness took place in Derry’s Bogside. Thousands packed the streets of Derry City as the body of the former Stormont deputy first minister and ex-IRA commander was brought through the streets of his home town for the final time. https://youtu.be/ALwU3MrLoRs

Image | Lenticular clouds over Muckish Mountain in the Derryveagh Mountains, Co Donegal

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