#OTD in 1981 – Francis Hughes, Irish political prisoner, dies on hunger strike in Long Kesh Prison.

Fuair siad bás ar son Saoirse na hÉireann! The death of Francis Hughes at the age of 25 after a 59 day hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. Hughes was such an effective guerrilla fighter that British authorities at one stage named him as the most wanted man in the north of Ireland. […]

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#OTD in 1981 – Joe McDonnell begins his hunger strike at the H Blocks in Long Kesh prison.

Fuair siad bás ar son Saoirse na hÉireann. McDonnell was born on Slate Street in the Falls Road of west Belfast on 14 Sept 1951, and was the fifth of 10 children and went to a nearby Roman Catholic school. McDonnell was arrested in Operation Demetrius and interned on the prison ship HMS Maidstone. He […]

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#OTD in 2000 – Kieran Nugent, the first IRA ‘blanket man’ in the H-Blocks, was found dead in his home.

When sentenced to three years, Nugent refused to wear a prison uniform and said the prison guards would have to “…nail it to my back”. Nugent’s adolescence came at a time when the north of Ireland was exploding into turmoil. On 20 March 1973, aged 15, he was standing with a friend on the corner […]

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#OTD in 1914 – Large supply of guns from Germany were landed at Larne for the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

The UVF gun-running of April 1914, known as Operation Lion, was an effective military operation; though many of the 100,000-strong UVF remained unarmed after it. The Ulster Volunteer Force had been formed in January 1913 and from that date, small-scale gun-running had been carried out. In fact, up until December 1913, when royal proclamations made […]

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#OTD in 1969 – Bernadette Devlin, a newly elected MP, made a controversial maiden speech in the House of Commons.

I understand that in making my maiden speech on the day of my arrival in Parliament and in making it on a controversial issue I flaunt the unwritten traditions of the House, but I think that the situation of my people merits the flaunting of such traditions. I remind the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. […]

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#OTD in 1994 – Northern Ireland Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Hutton, quashed the conviction of Paul Hill for the murder of a former British soldier in 1974. Hutton declared that the conviction was ‘unsafe and unsatisfactory’.

An appeals court overturned a 19-year-old murder conviction against Paul Hill, who spent nearly 15 years in prison for two IRA attacks that he insisted he never committed. The decision was the latest rebuke to the British police for mishandling high-profile terrorist cases in which innocent people have gone to jail. The court ruled that […]

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#OTD in 1972 – Lord Widgery’s report exonerating “Bloody Sunday” troops was issued.

Publication of the Widgery Report into the events of Bloody Sunday brings an avalanche of criticism and incredulity amongst nationalist and independent commentators. The man who served as the Lord Chief Justice of England from 1971-80 found that British paratroopers were not responsible for the deaths of 13 civilians on the day and that “there […]

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#OTD in 1941 – 15/16 | In the Belfast Blitz, two-hundred bombers of the German Luftwaffe attacked Belfast, killing one thousand people.

Belfast was poorly prepared for the blitz compared with cities in Britain, few children had been evacuated, air raid shelters were sparse and defensive arrangements weak. Yet the Harland and Wolff ship building yards and Northern Ireland’s strategic role in the battle of the Atlantic made it a likely target. When German bombers struck on […]

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#OTD in 1981 – Bobby Sands was elected to Westminster in the Fermanagh/South Tyrone by-election, while on hunger strike in Long Kesh Prison, as MP for the constituency.

Shortly after the beginning of the strike, Frank Maguire, the Independent Republican MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, died suddenly of a heart attack, precipitating the April 1981 by-election. The sudden vacancy in a seat with a nationalist majority of about five thousand was a valuable opportunity for Bobby Sands’ supporters to unite the nationalist […]

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#OTD in 1886 – Home Rule Bill introduced in English Parliament by William Gladstone.

The Acts of Union 1800, united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland (previously in personal union) to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. At various intervals during this time, attempts were made to destabilise Anglo-Irish relations. Rebellions were launched in 1803, 1848, 1867, and 1916 to try to […]

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