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'Bloody Friday', Belfast Friday 21 July 1972
- Background Events



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Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh
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Background events to 'Bloody Friday'

The Provisional IRA ceasefire and the Secret Talks

On Monday 26 June 1972 the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) called a "bi-lateral truce". The move was made as a prelude to secret talks with the British Government. The ceasefire was made possible when John Hume and Paddy Devlin, both members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held a meeting with representatives of the IRA in Derry on Wednesday 14 June 1972. At that meeting the IRA representatives outlined their conditions for talks with the British Government. The conditions were that: there should be no restriction on who represented the IRA; there should be an independent witness at the meeting; the meeting should not be held at Stormont; and political status should be granted to republican prisoners.

The following day, Thursday 15 June 1972, the SDLP representatives met William Whitelaw, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in London and presented the IRA conditions. Whitelaw accepted the proposal and the IRA made an announcement about the proposed ceasefire on Thursday 22 June 1972.

On Friday 7 July 1972 Gerry Adams, who had been released from detention for the purpose, was part of a delegation to London for talks with the Conservative British Government of Edward Heath. The IRA delegation held direct talks with Whitelaw and other Northern Ireland Office (NIO) ministers in the Chelsea home of Mr Paul Channon, then Minister of State for the North.

The talks failed and the breakdown in the IRA ceasefire finally occurred because of a dispute over the allocation of houses in the Suffolk area and the IRA and British army became involved in gun battles in Horn Drive. The 'Bloody Friday' bombings were part of a decision by the IRA to step up its campaign with a view to trying to bring ordinary life in the city to an end.

 


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